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I was running, my lungs burning me to death. I couldn’t stop screaming, calling out her name but she wouldn’t listen. She just kept on running through the forest, as it got darker and darker. I tripped on a tree vine and then she disappeared in a bright blinding light. RODHA!! NO I screamed. I woke up panting, my throat burning me. My dreams had been nightmares of my sister, my father or my uncle. I remained in my position, staring at the ceiling as last night’s scene kept on replaying.
I have to freshen up. So I got out of bed, barely able to walk on my two feet, noticing that it was late in the afternoon. I got in and showered then put on some comfy clothes. I stared at my reflection; my cheek has a shade of a purpled bruise. I brushed my teeth and made my way downstairs.
Jawaher? I heard her call out for me from the living room. I didn’t feel like talking. In fact, I didn’t feel like doing anything today.
I walked slowly towards the living room and saw a man seated facing the view, looking at Atlantis. His haircut was called a burr or an induction cut, I wasn’t familiar with anyone with such short hair, so I stood halfway between the hallway and the living room.
Jawaher, come in dear. There’s someone here to see you. She smiled warmly. I always get the pronunciation wrong, Rashied?
Rashed. He stood up, turning towards me. He smiled sincerely. Jawaher, its nice to see you again.
I’m sorry I don’t seem to recognize you.
I didn’t have the privilege to introduce myself again last night. I’m Rashed, your uncle’s son. I’m sorry about last night.
Is this some kind of joke?
I appreciate your concern. Thank you. But-
But, perhaps we could sit and have lunch together. She had to interrupt. I was in no mood to interact with anyone, and certainly not a relative.
I’m surprised someone like you would show up in a place like this. I am after all a disgrace to the family. So what brings you down here, down to the humiliating loathsome level? More slapping? More shouting? Or just to enlighten yourself with a little entertainment by making a fool out of me, just like what your father did to me last night.
Ouch. That was not my intention. I came here to check up on you.
Right. So, after years of my existence no one really gave a shit about me. And now, because they see me in front of the cover of a magazine they say Oh hey, that’s the fat Jawaher isn’t it? Let’s call her and show her we care. As if you all cared about me when I used to live here. Back then when I was fat. What really brings you down here? Huh?
Jawaher, I think you should stop.
You don’t understand what it feels like to be angry right to your bones. You don’t understand what it feels like to be all alone your entire life and there’s no one but one person who cares about you. And the rest are just there to use you. So please don’t act as if you care, I don’t believe such a thing exists in this family. I stormed out of the room. My blood boiling in anger and hatred, I know I was rude and I wasn’t supposed to say these things to him but he should understand that what happened last night was not simple or easy.
He followed me, and then grabbed my wrist to stop me. I’m not like them. Ok? At least give me a chance, let me explain. You need to calm down. I’m not my father. I saw resemblance in his eyes. The same as Yousef’s except his eyes held in so many feelings and they were a dark shade of brown. I shuddered at his touch.
He sighed out loud. I’m sorry for showing up at your place unexpectedly. I’m not here to apologize on the behalf of my father. Let’s go outside so you could get some fresh air. So I took the lead and we walked by the shore. We walked in silence for a while, until I felt calm. Something is different with this guy, I don't know what it is but I suddenly felt different too..
How are you feeling, now?
A little better, I guess. We walked back to my place and sat on one of the chairs outside and faced the spectacular view.
I knew your father. In fact, I was named after him. I used to visit him all the time, whenever I had a holiday I would beg my father to take me to London to see your dad. And sometimes he would come over for a couple of days. I would always call him, and if there were ever a time I forgot to call he would immediately call. I loved him so much; to an extent I loved him more than my own father. I looked at him, he was thinking hard and saying the truth. I was so surprised. I knew your mother too. They would let me sleep over at your house back in London during my entire holiday. We would sit together at night; watch cartoons and your father would make us the most delicious hot chocolate. Then I had to come back here because I had school, I would regret the fact that your parents weren’t mine. One day, my father told me the tragic news of your mother but he said that she gave birth to twins. A year later they discovered that one of the twins, Rodha was her name had a weaker heart. I would still visit your father and I would play with the two of you, but I’m sure you don’t remember me. I was 10 at that time and you were about 2. Then I heard that your father passed away, I was more than heartbroken. I was broken, inside out, I was so depressed. And then a while later I heard about one of the twins passing away, so I assumed it was Rodha. Years later I discovered that you came to Dubai, and I was so glad that someone from my uncle’s family members was still alive. But I never met you, because I was studying abroad. By the time I came back, you were already studying in Tokyo.
I was speechless by everything he had said. I never knew something like this would have happened. I wanted him to talk more about my parents.
I came here today to let you know that I’m a lawyer. And there’s a case in court that is related to your father’s will and your stepmother’s divorce. I thought maybe I could personally come here and talk to you about it and help you win this case.
I don’t want to be rude, but why do you want to help me?
Because, after seeing you yesterday you were nothing like the person I had thought you were. Also, what they said about you was all not true. I studied your case nicely and know that you deserve to keep all that your father has left you, and that your stepmother and sisters do not deserve it. Yes they are my cousins, but no they don’t deserve to take over what your father has built all of these years.
I… I don’t know what to say. I feel so impolite for what has happened earlier. Please do forgive me. I will be forever in your debt. I don’t think I can thank you enough. Your visit means a lot to me Rashed. I truly appreciate everything.
You don’t need to thank me. You deserve so much more than this. He looked down at his watch. Well I should be going now; I have a client who’s waiting for me in Abu Dhabi. It’s nice to see you again Jawaher, all grown up into the princess your father has been dreaming of. I blushed. A smile spread across my face. I walked out with him, then stopped by his car as he got into his car.
I’ll let Aibileen know what time I’ll be coming over.
See you tomorrow?
See you tomorrow Rashed AlFlani. He reversed and drove away. I suddenly no longer felt lonesome or the hatred that I had towards my family. Scratch that, I certainly don’t hate Rashed and I don't think I ever will. I have a good feeling about this. (ps. I can't wait until tomorrow. Watch out stepmom & stepsisters, someone's about to change your life ;) )