It is necessary for you to feel pain before you embrace joy.
I stare at the words that are sprawled all over the blackboard that was currently hanging on the street wall. I had never noticed it before, maybe it had been hung up there recently. I had been travelling on the same street every day for many years now, never seeing such words of wisdom adorn the walls of this street. It was a run-down area and the street had lost its allure, its trees drooping into the ground, weeds covering every house of the street as if there was no one living in them. It was almost always empty. There were never any strangers loitering around or any wanderers. It was simply nothing. It was a street that existed just because it had to not because it wanted to. It seemed as if life had been drained out of it.
It was odd to imagine that someone had made the effort to try to fill this street with words since it had been empty for so long. It made me wonder about the person behind the words. Did they live here? As the bus moved along the road, I watched every house pass by in a blur. A figure in black stood outside the yellow house. The bus suddenly halted, making me lurch forward. Everyone looked at each other, wondering what had happened. I made eye contact with the old lady in pink and we shrugged our shoulders at each other. The sound of horns blaring rang in the air. I peeked out of the window and saw that a car was blocking the road. I looked for the yellow house and saw that there was nobody standing outside. Maybe I had imagined it.
The bus begins to move forward and continues down the road.
I reach my street and realise I’m late the moment I see my husband’s car parked outside our two-storey house. I wonder if he will forgive me. I climb the three steps and stand outside the front door. After taking a deep breath, I open the door.
“Where have you been?”
He stands by the door leading to the living room, right next to the front door, right next to me. His posture is calm but his curled up fist conveys the opposite. I gaze up at him, his eyes are a vivid green, swirling with emotions. I look down at my feet and try to form some words,
“I was caught up in a bus commotion, I’m sorry, I know we were supposed to go to your mother’s party, I’ll quickly get ready and then we can leave.”
I knew better than to ask him why he was home so early when the party was at 5 PM.
I quickly walk up the stairs to my bedroom, afraid to say all the things that were rushing through my head. I change into a dress more suitable for the occasion, knowing that Sultan’s mother was very particular about how her daughter-in-law’s dressed. As soon as I’ve changed and added some jewellery and make-up to my appearance, I pick up my bag and a shawl. I rush downstairs and open the shoe closet, reaching for my red heels when a hand on my shoulder stops me.
“Don’t wear them.”
My heart accelerates, anticipating what will come next but he walks out of the front door. I touch a hand to my beating heart, trying to calm it down. I pick out my red flats and put them on. I hurry outside and sit inside his car. He drives off instantly and remains silent the whole 30 minute journey to my in-law’s house.
We arrive an hour early. At least I thought we were early but the event looks like it had already started without us. Cars line the driveway and street of my in-laws house with all sorts of noises coming from the house. Before we reach the front door, Sultan stops me.
“Don’t make a fool out of me.”
He carries on walking, leaving me standing still on the driveway. Even after three years of marriage, he still feels the need to demand that of me. I remember the first time he said that to me and all the other times. He said the same seven words to me before every event we have ever attended together. Each time, leaving me stunned. I wonder why I wasn’t used to it by now. I guess the hopeful part of me hadn’t died, just yet.
I compose myself, smoothing my hands down my dress to straighten out any crinkles before walking into the house.
My mother-in-law loved throwing parties and calling everyone that was anybody in this town. She just needed an excuse and today’s occasion was her younger son’s promotion in the company that he worked in. He was standing in the middle of the living room, soaking up all the attention from a group of his friends. Sultan was standing with his mother when I walked towards them. They both stop talking as soon as I reach a hearing distance.
I hug my mother-in-law and ask,
“How are you doing?”
“I’m fine. I need to go to check the food preparations. Excuse me.”
She leaves me standing with Sultan who walks away into the crowd. I stand by the back wall of the living room, observing all the people in the room. Men and women flitter across the room, moving from one group of people to the next, as if they are dancing around each other. I always end up people-watching rather than actually mingling with people, knowing the consequences.
“What are you doing, standing here in the shadows?”
The deep voice of a man startles me but before I can look to my right at its owner, I notice Sultan staring at the man and then he turns his gaze to me. The fury emanating from my husband is noticeable from across the room and I shake as fear crawls through my bones and into my heart.
Sultan crosses the room, grabs my hand, and drags me across the room and out of the front door. He does not say a word. He unlocks his car, seating himself and staring impatiently at me from the window. I rush to the passenger side and he instantly drives off.
We reach home in half the time it usually takes. As soon as we enter the house, he begins shouting at me, his face contorted with anger.
“Why were you talking to him? How many times do I have to tell you to not to make a fool of me? What is wrong with you?”
His questions stir something in me but I know better than to retaliate. I concentrate on my breathing and keep my gaze on the ground, knowing that my reaction will either fuel his anger or calm him down.
With a shaky voice, I respond,
“I didn’t even look at him. I don’t even know who he was. I’m sorry.”
“You’re lying. He was standing so close to you for more than five minutes and you’re trying to fool me into thinking you didn’t even speak to him?”
I don’t know what to say to him. I know that he will never listen to anything I say. Everything I say will be turned back around onto me so I remain silent. He stares at me for some moments before slamming his fist into the wall right next to the previous hole in the wall. He storms off and slams the front door, leaving me in the house, alone.
I walk to my bedroom, drowning in my thoughts. After a few minutes, there’s a knock on the door. I rush downstairs, wondering who it could be. Was it Sultan? But he wouldn’t return this quick, would he? I reach the front door and open it in a haste.
It’s a woman, standing with a man. I don’t know who they are and Sultan isn’t home. Before I can think about inviting them in, the woman speaks.
“Hi, you’re Rania right? I’m Aliza and this is my husband, Aram. We’re good friends of Sultan’s. We thought we’d drop by since we were in the area.”
I can’t stop staring at them. They stand side by side, watching me whilst I stare at them. They are so beautiful. Aliza interrupts my thoughts with her words,
“I hope you don’t mind but I really wanted to meet you.”
I wonder why she wanted to meet me. It makes me anxious but I invite them inside.
I had just sat them down on the sofa in the living area when the front door opens and Sultan walks into the house. I can see traces of anger in his face but when he sees Aram and Aliza, he brightens. An uncomfortable knot of jealousy forms in my stomach, working its way into my heart and mind. I wish he would look at me and brighten up in that way. Memories of the loving Sultan come crashing into me, memories that seem like dreams, memories that I will never live again.
A single tear drops onto my cheek. I wipe it away before anyone notices. Sultan is engrossed in his conversation with Aram so I look at Aliza, noticing that her eyes are on me. I wonder if she saw that tear. I hope not. Her face gives nothing away so I ask,
“Would you like some tea?”
Sultan glances at me as if only then realising that I was still standing there. He tells me to make some tea before either of his friends can reply. They watch us both, their gazes filled with curiosity.
I walk into the kitchen and make some tea. When I walk back into the living room, Sultan is laughing at something Aram is saying. He looks so beautiful when he laughs. I put tea in for everybody and walk back into the kitchen but when I reach the door, Aram stops me.
“Rania, sit down with me and my friends.”
I gaze at him, confused. He’s never invited me to sit with him and socialise with people. I realise that they are all staring at me, expectantly. I sit near Aliza on the sofa. I feel uncomfortable. I have no idea what I should say to her. Before I can think of something, she asks me,
“How long have you been married to Sultan?”
“Five years, what about you and Aram?”
“Wow, that’s a long time.”
“It doesn’t feel that long. The days have passed us by so quickly. We have a ten year old son called Asher, he’s gone on a school trip otherwise we would’ve brought him.”
“Ah, that’s so lovely. I’d love to meet him.”
“You should come around to our house someday. I’ll invite you around to dinner one of these days.”
I freeze when Aliza says this because I realise how comfortable we’re becoming with one another. I glance at Sultan but he seems to be paying no attention to us and is immersed in his conversation with Aram. I relax a little before Sultan asks Aliza where Asher is and she tells him she was just mentioning that he’s gone on a school trip. I can feel Sultan’s stare on my face but I don’t look up, fear clawing my heart. I sit still whilst conversation continues around me.
Aram and Aliza leave after an hour and Sultan is still sitting in the living room, watching the news on TV. I walk to the living room and sit with him after cleaning up the kitchen. He watches me for a while before saying,
“I forgive you.”
A feeling of despair threatens to overtake me. I can feel it spreading through my body. I have nothing to be sorry about and he has nothing to forgive me for. I guess I should still be grateful that he has forgiven me. I should be used to this. I shouldn’t be feeling so much pain at his words but I can’t help it. I can’t help loving him. I can’t help loving someone who doesn’t deserve it.
It wasn’t always like this. In the first year of our marriage, Sultan was the perfect husband. Before everything changed and I became entangled in a bond with a man I don’t even recognise anymore.
Four Years Earlier…
“Rania, come over here.”
Sultan was shouting even though he was somewhere near, probably in the living room. I stopped cutting the ingredients of the dinner I was preparing for us and walked to the doorway of the kitchen which was also the entrance to the living room.
I found him lounging on the sofa, looking at a piece of paper with a puzzled expression. I crossed my arms across my chest and asked,
He peeled his eyes away from the paper and looked at me, face blank.
“What is this?”
I walked across the room towards him and the paper, wondering what it could possibly be. He held out the paper to me and I took it. The paper had been folded once so there was a slight crease in the middle. It had Sultan’s handwriting on it and he had written one line:
“I never want to learn how to live without you.”
I stared at the words on the page for some moments until I was so overwhelmed by my emotions that I dashed around the sofa where Sultan was still sitting, watching me. As soon as I reached him I sat on his lap and hugged him, tight.
I released him from my hold and left enough space between us so that I could look at him. He was smiling, his eyes twinkling.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
I unfold the paper and stare at the words, just as I did four years ago. The note has the same words scrawled across it but the emotions behind the words no longer exist.
Maybe I am living in false hope, waiting for the day when my husband will become mine again. Maybe I am living in artifice but there is nowhere else I’d rather be. Even whilst I am suffering at the hands of the man who is supposed to bring me joy, I continue to love him. Wishing he would love me too.
We were going out to dinner with Aliza and Aram. Sultan arrived yesterday from work and informed me of our plans for today. I was pleasantly shocked but refused to dwell on this change too much. I was getting ready when Sultan walked in the bedroom. He stopped and stared at me through the mirror. There was something different in his eyes. Something I didn’t recognise. Before I could pinpoint exactly what it was, he looked away and broke the trance of his stare. He started getting dressed and told me to hurry up.
We arrive at the restaurant on time, exchange greetings with Aliza and Aram and are lead to a table of four by the waiter. We sit, Aliza and I on one side and Sultan and Aram opposite us.
Whilst Aliza and I are immersed in conversation, I notice Sultan’s gaze on me. His gaze does not hold the usual intensity; it has a certain softness to it. I was disorientated and didn’t know whether to return his stare or carry on talking to Aliza. After years of his control, I couldn’t figure him out. Never knowing what his reaction would be, I stopped paying attention to Aliza. She carried on conversation with Sultan and Aram.
We finished eating and Sultan paid the bill after a light dispute between the two men. We all leave the restaurant together and make our way to the car park. Aliza and Aram walk together in front of us. Sultan is silent beside me. We finally reach our cars and say good-bye to each other.
Something was changing. I was filled with fear and hope, not knowing which emotion to embrace. Over the next few days, Sultan said nothing to me but he continued to gaze at me for long periods of time. Not knowing what to make of this, I never looked back at him. I carried on as normal, pretending that everything was as it always is.
I am standing in the kitchen, staring out at the lawn when he comes up behind me. Not close enough to be in my space but closer then he’d ever been, willingly. He stood there, not saying a word, obviously wanting my attention. I turn my body towards him and look him in the eye.
His mouth moves to form the words, “Do you hate me?”
For a moment, I am startled. That wasn’t what I was expecting. He is gazing at me, expectantly and I’m not sure what to say. Afraid of what my answer could do to him.
I swallow and shake my head, “No, I don’t.”
He smiles, “Good.”
I am momentary dazed by his smile. It was the same smile I was longing for. The smile that makes me see the good in him. He suddenly stops smiling and his eyes become serious and intense, almost sad.
“I’d apologise for all the hurt I’ve caused you but I’d rather show you how sorry I am.”
His voice is hoarse, displaying the truth behind his words. Before I can reply, he turns and walks out of the kitchen.
I am completely flustered. My hands tremble and I’m afraid I’ll do something crazy, like cry. Hope blooms in my chest like a seed finally finding the nutrition’s it needs to grow and blossom. I spend the rest of the day at home, drowning in my thoughts while Sultan is at work.
I am in the living room, watching TV when the front door slams open. Sultan walks in, stony-faced and all the hope that I had been building in my heart, shatters to the ground. I am so afraid of what is going to come next that I brace myself. Guarding my heart from the war that I am certain will take place. He says nothing to me. Instead he walks towards the dining table that is by the window and slams his fist into it.
The gleaming mirror is smashed into ten pieces. The mirror that once held all the splendours of the world is now crushed. Plates, glasses and knives remain traumatised on the carpet. On the far side of the room sits a wooden table that has been broken into two; cracked straight through the middle. Above the table is the window which has four cracks. The window that looks out towards the perfectly mowed lawn.
I cannot feel anything. Frozen in the corner of a room. Numb to the core, if only for an instant. A sudden burst of tears travels down my cheeks.
My eyes wander to the photo frame that has also been victim to the trauma. I pick it up and turn it around. We fit together perfectly like two pieces of a jigsaw. I was tucked under the crook of his arm. Instead of looking towards the camera, we were lost in each other’s eyes, smiling. Lost in the abyss of each other. His hand gently placed on my right cheek as he looked at me with pure adoration. My gaze was filled with innocence and immense love for the man holding me.
That day was filled with rays of sunshine. Hues of orange, red and yellow covered the sky like a blanket of fire just waiting to be extinguished by the gloomy grey clouds. I walked down the gravelly path towards my home. He was standing, waiting for me to reach him at the end of the path. I rushed towards him and my hands were placed between his and everything around us ceased to exist.
Darkness slowly descends upon the room. Even the light from the sky is leaving me to bathe in darkness. The front door slams open against the wall. Loud footsteps make their way towards where I am sitting.
He stands before me, looking down at me. Regret clouds his eyes as tears roll down his cheeks as he stares at the mess he has made. All the mess scattered in pieces, so many pieces. I flinch as he reaches out to hold my hand. My hand curls around his, fitting perfectly.
“I’m so sorry. So sorry.”
Until the next time.
An hour later, we have cleaned everything up and it is only then that I realise that Sultan held my hand for the first time in four years.
When all you can see and feel is pain, you forget the joy that is also surrounding you, waiting for you to reach out and hold it. Sometimes it’s hard to look beyond all the reasons why you shouldn’t but I was done. I was done holding onto pain. I was done listing all the reasons why I shouldn’t. I was going to do it. I was going to confront him.
Lying here in the darkness beside the man I loved and hated at the same time, the love overpowering the hate every time, it was easy to think like this but in the light of the day, my thoughts were very different. Many of my nights were spent like this, lying awake through the darkness.
The fajr alarm blared from my phone, breaking me away from my thoughts. It was times like this when I knew that God was saving me. Saving me from my own thoughts, from my own self. If I was able to see any light in this darkness, it was only through Him. He held me together time and time again when it felt like the ground was slipping out from beneath me.
Before my alarm woke Sultan (he was a deep sleeper and hardly ever woke up), I turned it off and got out of bed to do my wudhu before I prayed.
He was sitting on the sofa in front of the TV when I walked into the living room in the morning. Instead of sitting on the other sofa that faced the window, I sat next to him. My newfound courage was still with me but wavered a bit when he didn’t even glance my way. He didn’t even notice that I was there. Or at least he was good at pretending. Because I was being courageous (for once) and I wanted to get everything out there before I backed out, I started speaking, without looking at him, the words tumbling out from my mouth,
“I’m done, Sultan. Four years of living in hell, waiting and wanting the slice of heaven I only lived for one year. I know along the way I’ve made mistakes; you’ve made mistakes but I can’t do this anymore. I can’t live in fear and hope. I can’t live like this.”
I can’t live with you. I wanted to say it but maybe I was still holding onto a tiny sliver of hope. I made the mistake of looking at his face. His face was hard, his lips pressed in a tight line, “Come here.”
All my courage flew away, leaving me. I was already sitting next to him but before I could react to his words, he reached out, snagged me around the waist, pulling me right next to him. Our thighs were side by side, touching. I was almost in his lap. Almost. Obviously he couldn’t wait for me to obey his command. Then he gave it to me straight, he was never one to beat around the bush but this kind of straight-talk was new and I didn’t know what to do with it,
“You’re not leaving me.” It was like he heard my thoughts. How did he get into my head? “You’re staying right here and I’m going to make things right with us. No more lies, no more secrets. We’ve spent most of this marriage in silence. I was waiting for you but it seems I gave you too much time and now we’re here.”
His words made me angry, hurt and annoyed. Why was all the blame on me? As if I was the one who created all this mess in the first place. Oblivious to my thoughts, Sultan charged on, each word striking me like a bullet straight to my chest, fuelling my anger,
“We’re going to start over. I can’t change the past no matter how much I want to but I want to make the present and future better. I want to be better. With you.”
My anger whooshed away, leaving me completely speechless. His words affected me more than I wanted them to. The little sliver of hope getting bigger, wrapping itself around my chest. I took a few breaths, trying to appear unaffected. I was failing miserably and the moment my eyes locked on Sultan’s, I knew he could see right through me. Usually his eyes were guarded, never revealing anything to me but now I could see that his eyes were intensely warm. That look was familiar. I tried to remember when I’d seen him looking at me like that before but I couldn’t. He was gazing at me, probably waiting for a response.
Instead of holding on to the hope, knowing that I could possibly drown in it, I held onto the remains of my anger and retorted, my voice laced with my emotions, “What do you mean, you were waiting for me? I was waiting for you. After all you have put me through, you’re turning around and putting the blame on me? I don’t believe you. Who does that?”
He looked slightly amused, I didn’t know what was amusing about this whole situation but apparently Sultan found something to be amused about, “I’m not going to let you use that as an excuse to guard your heart from me.”
Well, I was so sure.
As if he knew exactly what I was doing and thinking. This was ridiculous. I glared at him. He started laughing. His laughter threw me for a second, I completely forgot to glare at him and I knew my face had softened into a smile, giving in to his laughter. It didn’t take long for the smile to turn into tears and then I was sobbing uncontrollably. Right. In. Front. Of. Him.
He gathered me in his arms, holding me. The tears subsided and I found that I never wanted to leave the comfort of his arms. He held me for a long while, silently letting his comfort seep into me.
I woke the next day to the sun streaming through the blinds. Sultan was next to me. I stared. I couldn’t help it. It wasn’t often that I saw him like this. He was unguarded and there was a softness in his face that made my heart constrict as if someone was pressing something against my chest. I reached out my hand to touch his face but before my hand connected with his face, he opened his eyes. His eyes were warm and when he saw my hand close to his face, he smiled. I loved his smile but this one was different than all the rest. It was a lazy, playful smile that took my breath away.
I continued staring at him until he spoke, “Good morning sweetheart.”
He called me “sweetheart”. Oh My God. I was close to hyperventilating when he reached out and touched my face and I froze. He felt me freeze and his smile vanished, his eyes changed, becoming serious.
“I know you don’t get this yet but this is part of us starting over. No more distance. I’m not letting you stay away from me anymore. The time for that has gone. I’m not playing these games anymore.”
I unfroze and instead of caving under his stare, which is what I would have usually done, I powered through my anxiety and snapped, “Well, that’s just great. Are you trying to say I’m playing games?”
His lips twitched, as if he was controlling his amusement. I didn’t find anything amusing about this situation. It just made me angry thus I shouted, “So after all these years you expect me to just lie here and get used to all the stuff that I never had. All the things I wanted you to do but never got and now you’re here, telling me to stop playing games when I don’t even know what game you’re talking about.”
While I was talking, I didn’t realise that his face had changed from being amused, to being very very serious. The air in the room was thick and filled with an emotion I cannot explain. I was in trouble.
His face was a mixture of sad and angry and his words confirmed this, “I can’t change the past. I regret it but instead of drowning in regret, I’m trying to move forward but I can’t without you.”
I didn’t know what to say so I stalled. He was obviously finished with this conversation and didn’t want to wait for my reply as he got up and exited the room.
Before he went, he said, “I’ll give you today to get up to speed with all this but tonight, you’re mine again.”
I stared at the door long after he had gone, wondering what he meant. I couldn’t come up with a single explanation for his words. Before I could delve deeper into it, he returned. He walked to the wardrobe and started changing his clothes, putting on his black suit with a white shirt and a red tie. All the while, I watched him move around the room, still lying there.
He turned to me and said, “I’m going to work, when I get back we’re going out to dinner so don’t make anything.”
I spent the day wondering what was happening. All these major changes in my life were disorientating. I didn’t know what to do. Whilst I was thinking this, the phone rang, it was an unsaved number which was unusual but I picked it up, thinking it could be something important,
“Hi, its Aliza. How are you?”
I was confused at first until I remembered giving my number to Aliza during our last meeting but I didn’t get the chance to get hers. Her voice was genuine and triggered something inside me.
Before I could stop myself I gave in to my panic and blurted out, “I’m confused, Sultan told me he’s taking me out to dinner but I don’t know where and I don’t know what to wear!”
I was completely freaking out and I didn’t realise how stupid it sounded that my husband was taking me out and I was stressing out about what to wear. I didn’t think about what Aliza would think, considering she knew Sultan. I just carried on and continued to speak, in my panic,
“I’m sitting here and there’s only four hours left until he gets back from work! What should I do?”
Aliza was quiet for a while and when she finally spoke, it hit me somewhere deep, somewhere I didn’t often take notice of,
“I’ll come over, Asher is in school and Aram can pick him up. I’ll round up the girls and we’ll all come down to help you out.”
The girls? What girls? Before I could respond, she had cut off and was probably getting ready to come down here. I’d never had any real friends that would come over to “help me” dress up. I had always been a recluse and the only friends I did have, I lost after I got married.
I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I guess I’d find out what it was all about when they got here.
A group of women sit in my living room. Aliza and Saniya sitting with me on one sofa and Khadija, Anya and Leyla on the other sofa. They are all chatting away as I stare back and forth between them.
Saniya turns to me, “So, Aliza told us about your problem. Shall we help you find something to wear?”
Khadija joins in from the other side of the room, “Yeah, after Aliza told us, I brought some of my stuff and after seeing you, I think they will look great on you!”
“Where’s your room?”
I get up and guide them all to my room. They instantly spur into action. Whilst Anya and Khadija look through my wardrobes, Leyla starts doing my hair and Saniya grabs my cosmetics bag from my dressing table. Aliza sits on the bed and chats to me. I let them do whatever they want because I can tell that if I disagree with anything they say, it won’t go down well.
I stare at myself in the mirror. I look like a different person. My hair is curled in soft ringlets, my eyes look bigger than usual, probably something to do with Saniya’s magic make-up touch and I am wearing Khadija’s long white gown that has ruffles at the neck and flows right down to my ankles.
I turn to the women, who are gazing at me anxiously waiting for a response.
“Thank you. I look like a completely different person.”
“I can’t wait to find out Sultan’s reaction.”
“You better call us and let us know what he says and does.”
I look back and forth between Saniya and Khadija, wondering how to let them down gently, knowing that I wouldn’t be calling them at all.
“I’ll phone you tomorrow.”
I lie effortlessly, as if I had been lying my whole life.
“You look beautiful.”
We stand in the living room, staring at each other as if we had never seen each other before. I was the first to break eye contact.
“I’ll just go get my bag and then we can go, okay?”
I turn to leave but a hand on my arm stops me.
“Nothing. I just wanted to say I love you.”
It’s been so long since I’ve heard him say that but I still reply instantly.
“I love you too.”
Sultan takes me to a restaurant by the beach. We live in a small town that has the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. With white sand and deep blue sea-water, it was my favourite place to go. I hadn’t come here for so long, living in my fear of Sultan. He holds my hand as soon as we leave the car and we walk to the restaurant, hand-in-hand.
The restaurant is one we’ve been to before, the owner is a close friend of Sultan’s. I look around, noting that it is still the same. The same lights dangle from the ceiling, the same wooden tables and chairs but there are new pictures adorning the walls which gives the place more life. We are seated by the far window, facing the beach.
It’s awkward at first, I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s almost as if I’m meeting Sultan for the first time. Sultan is completely in control, not feeling the same discomfort that is rooted deep inside me. He smiles at me more than he ever has before, listening to me intently when I speak. All his attention seems like it is on me.
My suspicions are confirmed when he says, “Why are you so uncomfortable?”
“I don’t know.”
“Stop thinking so much and loosen up.”
I stare at him for a long while before replying, “I can’t help over-thinking.”
“If we want this to work, you have to tell me what you’re thinking.”
“But what if it’s stupid?”
“Nothing’s stupid, angel.”
Angel. That one word has such a deep effect on me. All the old memories come crashing into me and I can’t help but say, “You haven’t called me that in so long.”
He stares at me, his eyes swirling with emotion. He reaches across the table, picks my hand and places it in his.
“You’ve always been my angel. Even when I was too lost to see it.”
“I wish we could go back and undo the past few years.”
“I know, so do I.”
I gaze out of the window towards the beach. There are a few people loitering around, some out for an evening jog whilst some are walking across the shore. The weather is beautiful. I still wasn’t used to it, my body too used to the cold weather in my hometown, where I lived before I married Sultan. My parents and siblings still live in our childhood home. I am the only one so far away from home. I haven’t been back home since I’ve been married. Four long years. My parents came to visit last year but due to financial reasons and other reasons, they were unable to come often.
A waiter approaches our table asking if we would like to order dessert. Sultan asks for the bill. The waiter returns with the bill, Sultan pays and we walk out of the restaurant, in the same way we entered it, hand-in-hand.
“Do you want to get ice-cream from Ice-Cream Haven?”
I replied instantly, “Yes.”
Ice-Cream Haven is my favourite dessert place. It has the best ice-cream in town and reminds me of home. We walk hand-in-hand towards the town centre where the place was located. The breeze is getting colder as it gets darker, the sun beginning to set.
We reach the dessert place and Sultan orders for me. He still remembers which ice-cream is my favourite. We walk outside the shop, to sit on the seats there.
“I can’t believe you still remember which ice-cream is my favourite!”
“Of course I do. I remember everything.”
A commotion in the town square diverts my attention. A man is shouting at the top of his lungs, another man is trying to get him to be quiet because his daughter is sleeping but the man refuses to stop. His words are incoherent and I can’t really make out what he’s saying.
“What is wrong with people? We can’t even enjoy a quiet night out.”
“Maybe something’s wrong. Shall we go and check?”
“No. Just sit. I’m sure he’ll stop soon enough.”
The man never did stop, completely ruining Sultan’s mood. We quickly finish our ice-creams and then head back home.