How am I to explain the depth of my love towards Rashed? To talk about love is so irrational compared to my feelings towards him. To describe my feelings is yet another quirky unsolved puzzle, he awakes my senses; he stirs my feelings and makes my heart beat in an insanely weird symphonic pattern. I myself do not understand my feelings, but all I could say is that its love. The past 25 years have been the best thing that has ever happened to me in. To share your life with your soul mate, to wakeup beside the man you love every single day makes you thankful to God for keeping you alive yet another day to spend time with the man you love. I want to talk to you about my future, my now, and how I’ve ended up here: 25 years after all the incidents I spoke about to you in the previous posts.
I’ll simply begin by summarizing the key events that took place back then. Shall I start off by what happened after that ingenious night at my place?
Well, my uncle (Rashed’s father) came to us a week after the incident. I never saw him this way before, and let me tell you things passed by smoothly. He came to apologize, which was something extremely odd especially since he isn’t the kind of man who would apologize for such things. He didn’t say it directly, but you could tell from the way he looked, the way he spoke to us and the way he described why he came.
Jawaher, you are now officially my daughter-in-law. He held my hand and he took a long deep breath. Please try to understand what I am trying to say, because it isn’t easy for me. You may not know this but my past was just like yours. My parents – may they rest in peace - died when I was about your age, leaving me and my brother Rashed behind on our own. We couldn’t quiet grasp the whole notion of them being gone forever, we were two mindless 20-year olds left with a fortune filled with investments, properties, money and so on. My parents died of old age; it took them a long time to have healthy children who were able to live. My mother suffered years of having either miscarriages or giving birth to a child who would live a couple of years and then passing away due to an unknown reason. So when she gave birth to us, it was like they were playing a game of tug-o-war between keeping us alive. We were born in excellent health El7emdellah, but maintaining this standard of health was at times challenging. So after my parents passed away, my uncle married us both to his daughters. Because he knew that it was best to keep all what was inherited within the family, and that no one exploits us for their own benefit. Rashed rejected, he didn’t want to get married but it wasn’t a matter of choice it was mandatory. So the years passed and we both became extremely successful with what we had, we had evenly split the work between us and Rashed loved working and expanding the business abroad therefore he travelled a lot more. I realized that the reason why he travelled so much was because of his miserable life here with your stepmother, he changed so much within years and I barely knew what was going on between the two. Little did we know what was going on between the two, until Rashed finally decided to get a divorce. No one really knew about the divorce, until your mother came into our lives unannounced. It was so sudden!
Is that why you hate me? I interrupted
I don’t hate you dear. I never have. At first, it was hard to accept your mother because I never expected Rashed to do things behind my back. But I soon realized, why he loved her so very much. My son Rashed and I would come and visit them most of the time, whenever we could. When your mom passed away, it was like Rashed was cursed with what my parents had. I saw it all over again on repeat… I never had the audacity to look back, he passed away and it tore me…
It became awfully quiet; I never realized my uncle has been through a lot.
I’m sorry… My voice was faint.
No dear, I should be the one who says I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not being there for you as an uncle, as a father. What happened to you, happened to me too and I was as lost as you were but my brother and I managed to work things together and continue. But you don’t have anyone to guide you… I was so angry with myself, not at you. I’m sorry… I really am. I’m sorry for now, for the past and I’m sorry with whatever you may encounter in the future. His voice soon became shaky, which made it harder on him to continue.
I hugged him, really tight. Who’d have known that things would turn out this way? Our relationship from that day just became a steep incline. And I am so very thankful for that.
So, 4 months later Rashed and I got married. I have three beautiful children, two boys and a girl who are now all grown up. I named my daughter after my sister Rodha who surprisingly looks a lot like her. She has the same frosty blue eyes, and that clear and even complexion. She’s 21 years old.
Since Rashed stepped into my life, my modelling career ended. And when we got married, Rashed and my uncle promised me not to mention this to any of kids. Unfortunately, the one child in particular that we did not want to mention it to, found out on her own. Well not really on her own, Rodha found out with the help of her friends. She was only in 11th grade when I came to pick her up at the end of the day in school. She got in the car and didn’t say a single word, which wasn’t the usual her- let me warn you from now, she’s very talkative! The more I tried to talk to her, the more she ignored me.
Sweetie what’s wrong? Is everything all right? Did something happen in school?
Is everything all right? Why did you lie to me?
Excuse me? I didn’t lie to you! Don’t you dare talk to me like that do you understand?
Then explain this! She showed me a picture of me. You were a supermodel and you never told me?
How’d you expect me to tell you? It’s not easy.
Oh no, it isn’t. But modelling is easy isn’t it?
Listen to me. You need to stop it with that attitude right now do you hear me? And to think that you have the guts to accuse me of doing something wrong when I obviously had no one to advise me? I wasn’t as fortunate as you to have my parents tell me what’s right from what’s wrong; I lived my life alone with Aibileen. I was fooled into this. Yes I enjoyed the fact that I was a supermodel, but I wasn’t aware of the price I was going to pay!
I’m sorry… I didn’t mean it that way. I just hate the fact that my friends knew before me, you know? And you said that there won’t be any secrets between us, but you kept this as a secret. I could tell she was on the verge of crying, and that she was really upset. So I told her everything, including Yousef…
Despite that my dear readers, there wasn’t much of an incident that took place. You may be wondering about my stepfamily, well things are exactly the same since that night 25 years ago. Let’s just ignore that for now. Here I am in the city of love with the ones I love. Paris is always a good idea! An escape from reality, into a whimsical dream city. I had promised Rodha that we are to spend most of the time together: shopping. We went out for breakfast first thing in the morning, at around 9-ish. Rashed was informed about our whereabouts the week before. I somehow adapted a more motherly like style (with a lot of blacks being involved for some reason) and Rodha, obviously dressed according to her mood.
Mom, can I go to the next store while you pay for this?
I watched Rodha go to the next store, while I was standing by the cashier counter. I noticed the stares I got from the sales assistants but I dare not ask what or why they were staring. After I finished paying, I walked to the next store that Rodha entered. And there it was… A huge welcome sign to my past, a picture of me… I reread the name of the store… it was written in a bold writing, why wasn’t I warned about this earlier! Why didn’t I read the name before entering!! The warning signs were clear but I just barged in, what have I done. I saw the sales assistant cover her shocked face with her mouth and overheard a conversation.
Mother! Look who’s here! She moved aside and there he stood. Years old, the same face but a bit wrinkly, the blue hair has gone silver due to age. And in that instant moment, shivers bolted down my spine.
Yousef.. I felt a pang of fear mixed with emotions hit me.
You haven’t changed, not a single bit… It’s been 25 long years.
It has… I assume you met my daughter Rodha.
I did have the pleasure of meeting her; she’s as beautiful as you. I blushed then smiled. I hope entering this store wasn’t a big mistake… We remained silent for what seemed like hours, my eyes wandered around the store and I saw the dress I wore during the after party of the runway in a glass case.
Well, I better get going. I’ll go back to the hotel, I’m tired Mom.
All right darling. Call me once you reach.
I hope this wasn’t planned. I really do.
What a small world. Who’d have known we were to see each other, here. I was about to reply when someone interrupted me.
Oh my god Dad! It’s her!!! You look exactly the same, but like way beautiful-er in reality. For the past what, 20 years? My dad has been constantly talking about the legendary Jawaher. And I finally met you! I laughed at her enthusiasm. She was undoubtedly cute, she looked so much like Yousef. In fact, she was the girl version of Yousef. I’m Jawaher by the way, my father named me after you. I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say, the harder I searched for something to say the longer it took me to actually say it, so I found the easy route out: smile.
I was about to go out for a walk, care to join me? He said, as a way to ease down the awkwardness.
I better get going…
Can I drop you off to some place? It wasn’t a question, it was more of him imploring, and you know what I mean by that.
Sure. It’s a pleasure to meet you Jawaher. I hugged her then Yousef and I walked out together. I felt like I was the old me for some strange reason and it wasn’t something I liked. I called Rashed just to let him know that Rodha went to the hotel and I went out for a walk. We walked until we reached the Arc de Triomphe; we sat on a bench facing it.
If Aibileen were here she would’ve said Retrouvailles.
What does that mean?
It means the happiness of meeting again after a long time…
What do you mean?
How did we end up like this Jawaher? I never wanted this to happen… Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you. It’s been 25 years! How insane! I couldn’t let you just slip away out of my mind, you live in me since the day you bumped into me and the papers fell everywhere. Remember? He laughed.
There’s no use looking at the past Yousef, we’re here, now…
Why did you reject me?
Why did you reject me?
I understood your question, but it wasn’t I who rejected you. It was you, you told me to shut up and get out because you never wanted to see my face again. Do you have any idea what that did to me? You crushed me into a million pieces. So please do explain how on earth I rejected you. I felt so angry for a second, why on earth is he saying that? I could feel my tears rising, so I quickly cut myself off before things got waaaay out of control.
Explain to you? You know exactly what I mean!
No I don’t. Is this some kind of joke to you Yousef? Because if it is, I have better things to do.
You clearly don’t know what’s going on…. At all?
I proposed to you 6 times. And every time you rejected.
When did you ever propose to me?
What do you mean when? Jawaher do you know what you made me go through?
Yousef, I don’t know what you’re talking about in general! How do you expect me to know how you felt?
Things are going on all kinds of directions. I think I should start from the beginning. Remember when I used to travel for no reason? Sometimes no one knew about where I went and so on? Well I was planning on getting married to you. I called my father the night you and my mom met, and I explained everything because my mother told me if you love someone, don’t let it go to waste. And my father was extremely understanding and happy for me, for finally making the decision and marrying someone within the region- an Emirati! So we met up with your family and we told them about you and how I want to get married to you. Your uncle told me that there was no one called Jawaher, instead there was these two other girls called Dana and Sara. I thought we went to the wrong house so we excused ourselves and my dad was as confused as I was. That happened the other 2 times we went over and I proposed and I was so certain that there was a Jawaher but I didn’t know why they kept on making me sound like some insane idiot, until one day your uncle says “I know who you’re referring to.” And he sends in a totally different girl claiming to be Jawaher. I apologized to her, to your family and to my father. The other two times we called to ask if there was a Jawaher, your uncle said that she was already taken. And whenever I was back, I was so lost; I thought I had the right person. Until I figured the right way out, is to show them a picture of you. And that’s when they told me they didn’t know who the girl in the picture was… So I couldn’t stand you because I thought you lied to me all along, and that’s when I knew it was best if I had ended it right there. And I regret doing such a stupid thing. I fought back my tears, I fought back my enter feelings. I pushed them aside because I didn’t want to show him how I felt.
To be honest with you… I didn’t know anything about this. I told you things about my family, yet you insisted on going to them to ask them if you could marry me or not.
What was I supposed to do?
You could’ve always told me, and we could have sorted things out. The moment you left me, it was like living in hell. My family in a sense abandoned me because you showed them my picture. They found out about my modeling career and everything literally went downhill.
Do you regret us? Do you regret meeting me?
No. Do you?
Never. I’m glad we met. I really am. Now that I know how you’re doing, I can finally ease my worries and maybe think of you less often. Do you mind me having pictures of you in my store?
No not at all.
Can I design collections for you? I laughed.
Oh Yousef, you didn’t change. I don’t mind you designing clothes for me, as long as it makes you happy.
We stayed quiet for a while. Things between us has finally settled, we're no longer fighting for each other or against each other. We're neutral, which made me feel a thousand times better.
Well, I think I should go now. It was so nice to see you Yousef.
Let’s stay in touch.
Sure. He stood up and hugged me. Then he kissed my hand, the same old charming Yousef. He watched me as I walked down the Champs-Élysées, heading towards the hotel. I felt like I was backstabbed by my family, and then I remember my uncle saying he’s sorry for whatever I may encounter in the future. Maybe he did this to protect me. Or maybe he did this because he didn’t want me to be with Yousef. Whatever the reason may be, it doesn’t matter anymore because I’m happily married to Rashed.
Imagine driving under a tunnel and the road then has two ways to exit, you never know what’s coming. Do you follow your heart or do you follow your logic? Is it your instincts or your gut feeling? In the end you still don’t know what’s coming but you still manage to make it out of that tunnel picking either exit. That’s how I was most of the time. In life there are things that get into your way, sometimes it’s just a hiccup and you could easily ignore it or force that hiccup down. But how you choose to handle such things is your choice. I made mistakes in life, but these mistakes are like a reference to what’s right and what’s wrong. But it takes time to discover what you really want and who you really are, know that you are the one that decides who you want to be not others. I want to end you my story with a quote that speaks up to me significantly..
The longest journey of any person is the journey inward. ~Dag Hammarskjold.