Sunday, September 30, 2007


His birthday, 2006

Me : 7abibi, people are looking. You can't be trying to seduce me 24/7 anytime anywhere!
Him (with a confused frown - taking both hands off me): Seduce you? Here? No. No, I think I just like to touch you.
Me (offended): You THINK?
Him : What now? Thought you wanted me to stop.
Me : No, no, no. I mean YES! I want you to stop now because I don't like having an audience. Bas I also want you to be SURE you like touching me. I mean, if you only THINK you like to touch me, then haven't you rushed into this marriage? Shouldn't you have waited to be absolutely sure?
Him: Women!

We get interrupted. And lose the thread of the convo for the rest of the evening. Much later, in the car, on the way home:

Him: L.?
Me(sleepily): Yes?
Him: I love to touch you. Anytime, anywhere, everywhere. With seduction in mind, with nothing in mind. That's just a constant. Ok?
Me (half-asleep): Yeah, ok.

I love to touch you, too. Should have said.

I wish I was there. Or you were here. Or something.


My birthday, 2007

Me : I'm getting sick of trying to convince complete strangers that my marriage is genuine & not an immigration ploy. That woman is racist.
Him: Ma3laish lazim tihdi. Racist 3ala nafsaha. There are rules. Don't let her get to you.
Me : She does get to me, K. The stuff she asks me! I mean, does she ask this of everyone?
Him: Ok, I'm starting to get worried here. L., we've got to avoid getting into confrontations.
Me : I know, 7abibi, but it's so irritating. I keep wanting to scream that a) it's none of her business and b) Screw this, I don't even WANT to immigrate! Am happy where I am. Am immigrating to keep my marriage together - not getting married to immigrate. What a stupid little cow!
Him (laughing): I think that's the strongest language I ever heard you use. She's really getting to you.
Me : Sorry.
Him: No, it's cute. But....
Me : But, but, but. Dear God, help me to know why is there always a but with my beloved life partner?
Him: Think about it. Maybe because your beloved life partner does not want to have to go through an appeal? Maybe because he really can't go on like this for long?
Me : Go on like what?
Him: Like we are now?
Me : Hmmm....Listening to that, some people might be led to believe my beloved life partner kind of misses me?
Him: They might at that.
Me : And would they be right, do you think?
Him: Batali ghalasa.
Me : 7adir. Sorry. I'll stop asking if you miss me. I mean, I don't want to put you on the spot or anything.
Him: Kwais awi.

On second thoughts, I don't wish I was there. Rather have you here. And if wishes were horses.........


Last Night

Me : Please come back. I need you to hold me. Just for 2 minutes.
Him: Why 2 minutes?
Me : Am scared I'll forget what it feels like.
Him: So forget. When the time comes, I shall enjoy reminding you.
Me : 7abibi, do you ever get sentimental about anything?
Him: Just can't see the point in struggling to memorize things we did or felt in the past. I'd rather think about what we're going to do next. Makes me feel I have a plan.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

This Ramadan

It's so different. I was seriously dreading it. As it turned out, on the first day, I was invited to have iftar with my uncle's family (the aunt & uncle I was supposed to stay with if I hadn't met & married K before my parents left AD and also the aunt & uncle who gave me my wedding dress as a present). When it was time to leave, I must have looked so miserable, that before I knew it, they had me agreeing to spend Ramadan with them.

What a relief! Lack of privacy notwithstanding, I hated going home to that empty apartment. And it would have been my first Ramadan ever while living alone. Actually my first time living alone ever. Let's face it, am not the stuff people who live alone are made of. Am not even the stuff people who can be alone for 5 minutes are made of. I am too neurotic/obssessive/anxious/excitable, you name it.

Part of the dependance on my husband that everyone so deplores is that a husband is a sort of unpaid full-time companion, no? It's great to have someone whose job it is to be your companion. He's not like other people. I don't have to be grateful for his time. I have rights. If I don't think am getting enough of his time & attention, I have a right to complain & demand that he shape up etc....Can't do that with anyone other than a husband/partner. You can do it with your parents but only when you're little.

He saved me so much grief. All my life, I've hated being alone so much that I became utterly indifferent to who I hang out with. I had no standards virtually. Sure I knew who my friends were. But none of them could be with me 24 hrs a day because well, they had lives, no? So whenever they weren't available, I would hang out with whoever. I would hang out with people who I knew talked about me behind my back, people who were using me, total strangers I'd just struck up a conversation with, guys who I knew only wanted to get laid & were going to stop calling the second they realized that wasn't going to happen, just people who were really, really bad news. For years, I'd go out, get in my car & start calling people on my cell to see who could join me. If you had time to meet me today, if I could count you to keep me company for these 2 or 3 hrs, I was willing to disregard what you did yesterday & what you were likely to do to me tomorrow.

I got a lot of lectures about being too extroverted, about that being a sign of low self-esteem, about it attracting the Mr.Wrongs & repelling the Mr.Rights etc....But I don't think it was low self-esteem. I didn't hang around with bad people because I thought I was bad & didn't deserve any better. I knew I deserved better. But 'better' wasn't always around when I needed human company so I was willing to put up with 'worse' until 'better' was free. I mean, you don't need blind faith in someone's integrity to go dancing or ice-skating or sheesha-smoking with them, I didn't think. And really, it beats doing any of those things all by yourself.

Yeah, I got myself bitten a lot. It's amazing the way some people can get to you & hurt you or cause you problems no matter how much distance you keep & how much on your guard you think you are around them.

My husband saved me a lot of that in two ways. First, because he sort of pushed me to get rid of people I was really too lazy to bother getting rid of myself incase they came in handy one day or something. He made me feel so ashamed of some of the lowlives whose company I tolerated that I finally cut them off for good. Second, he WAS my companion, like 80% of the time. The remaining 20% was just about enough to keep in touch with my closest friends. And so suddenly I had no time for the rest. My time became a valuable commodity. I learnt to ask myself who was worth my time & who wasn't.

One thing am afraid of, is that now I'll slip back into my old habits. I'd already started, sort of. But then this invitation to spend Ramadan with relatives saved me. Now my social schedule is practically full of safe & trust-worthy people. I can't be a guest in somebody's house & not spend time with them, right? And it becomes obligatory to help them entertain guests & to go out with them etc...It's keeping me so busy that I haven't been tempted to do anything too stupid yet. And while I won't be getting any packing done in Ramadan, I think that can wait. I have enough time to worry about it after Ramadan.

I still miss my husband more than is decent. I hadn't realized it was possible to miss one person in so many different ways. But at least it doesn't hurt so much that I hate him for putting me through it anymore. Because I did for a while. I kept wanting to kill him for making me feel so crappy all the time.

The desire to kick him has receded considerably. The edge is coming off. As a result, it's becoming easier for us to interact. Am more tolerant & less likely to bite his head off or put the worst interpretation on everything he utters.

It would be an exaggeration to say am getting used to not having him here, though. But the passing of time without him isn't as excruciatingly slow as it was at first. When you have to wait 9 months, it really doesn't help to be checking your watch every 10 minutes to see how much time is left. At least, I've stopped doing that.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Him : Hello?

Me : Hala 7abibi.

Him : Ana asif ita'akhart 3laiki. Are you in bed?

Me : Yeah. Here they go to bed early to get up for su7oor.

Him : Aseebik tinami?

Me : No. Am not really sleepy.

Him : Bti3mili eh?

Me : Just thinking.

Him : Anything special?

Me : You.

Him : Ostor yally btostor.

Me : Yasalam. Shayif iblis godamak inta?

Him : Ma3laish. Mahi aslaha 7aga mataminsh.

Me : Why are you so hard on me? I'll bet if any other woman told you she was thinking about you in bed, you'd be flattered. And you'd say something nice to her.

Him : You're not any other woman. You're in a class of your own.

Me : Yeah. Am supposed to be the love of your life.

Him(singing): Tool 3omri bakhaf min el7ob. Wi sineen el7ob.....

Me (Laughing): Stop! She doesn't say wi sneen el7ob!

Him : La mish hiya da ana illy ba2ool.

Me : Leave that song alone. It's one of my favorites!

Him : Mashi ya 3am. Sibtahalik. Yalla warini shatartik.

Me : What?

Him : Sama3ini sotik.

Me : You want me to sing?

Him : Aiwa.

Me : Why?

Him : Fakra lama konti ma bitbatalish ghona?

Me : You can't call that singing. I just walked around humming to myself. No big deal.

Him : Call it what you want. Point is, it hasn't happened in a long time & I kind of miss it.

Me : You want me to sing for you?

Him : Malik bit2ooliha b2araf kida? Winti 3andik aghla mini tghanilo?

Me : Elsara7a aghla minak la ma 3indi.

Him : Tab yala ba2a.

Me : Bas seerti el7ob sa3ba. Ma3rif aghani Om Kulthoom. Can I sing something else?

Him : Wala sa3ba wala 7aga.

And he started singing. And eventually I joined in.

A couple of lunatics singing old Arabic songs to each other on the phone long distance. And you've got admire the choice. A song about being afraid to love. Very romantic.

All of a sudden.

Him: You wanted to be pregnant, didn't you?

I was caught completely off-guard.

Me : What?

Him : When you got your period & you went to the hospital, you were upset because you wanted to be pregnant. That's why you didn't say anything.

Me : When it started to hurt, I thought it was another miscarriage.

Him: Oh. F***.

Me : My period never hurt like that before. You know I don't really get cramps.

Him : But why were you in so much pain? Did you get yourself checked out properly? Is everything ok?

Me : Everything is fine. Sure, I did all the tests. You know how concerned I am about my reproductive health since.....

Him(interrupting): So then why?

I thought briefly about lying. Then decided against it.

Me : My hormones were a little disrupted. The doctor thinks it's the stress of...

Him : Of what?

Me : Of going off birth control.

Silence. Then I heard him take a deep breath.

My hands were so sweaty by then that the phone slipped out of my hand & fell off the bed onto the floor. We were disconnected. I waited for him to call back. When he didn't, I called.

Me : Hello?
Him : How long?
Me (gulping) : In Sweden.
Him : Leah 3amalti keda?

Me : You used to nag all the time about birth control. You insisted on using condoms even when I told you there was no need. You seemed so adamant about it. And then suddenly you stopped. You didn't seem to care anymore. It just stopped being an issue.

Him : I had other things on my mind, L. You know. So I decided to trust you.

Me : Well, I thought, hoped that you'd changed your mind, that since you seemed to forget about birth control, I could forget too.

Him : And you decided to spring this on me now because...

Me : Since you brought it up, you'd have had to find out eventually because am not going back on birth control again.

Him : What? You mean never?!!

I had to smile at the horror in his voice. The relief was overwhelming. He wasn't really mad. He just thought he should be.

Me : Well, not unless I have a baby.

Him : And you think you can just decide that on your own?

Me : You decide an awful lot of things on your own K & I put up with it, don't I?

Him : What is this? Payback?

Me : If you want to call it that.

Him : Come on. You can't just unilaterally decide to have a child.

Me : No, but since you're the one who doesn't want a baby, contraception is now your responsibility, not mine. So I guess in the future, you'd better not come near me without a condom.


Me : Or we could give up on sex altogether until you're ready to have a baby. We could have try all that Platonic stuff. I think it'd be good for us actually.

He burst out laughing at that.

Me : What?

Him : If you knew what I'm thinking right now, you wouldn't say that.

Me : What are you thinking?

Him : You. Naked on white sheets. And no condoms.

Me : And that's all you have to say on the subject of becoming a father?

Him : Well, it's a pointless discussion now, isn't it? I mean, we're on different continents so it's not like pregnancy is a clear & present danger. We can't talk about this sort of thing on the phone.

Me : And you're not mad at me?

Him : I'm not completely insensitive, L. You've been through enough. You think I don't know what it must have been like for you thinking you're miscarrying again? That's like your worst nightmare. I should've been there for you and I wasn't. I'm not about to make things worse by coming down hard on you about it.

Me : So you don't think am a terrible wife for keeping things from you?

Him : If you are, then I guess I shouldn't complain. I'm the one who walked out on you. Not winning any husband medals myself.

So he forgives me - more or less. I get away with it.

And all I had to do was sing Om Kulthoom!

I am ridiculously happy. Buoyant, walk-on-air happy. He's not as anti-fatherhood as he used to be. Probably hasn't been for a while but too macho to go back on his word.

Ramadan Kareem everyone!


Monday, September 10, 2007

What do I do?


Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Difference

1) Movie-buff am not. Always hated TV. Am too restless. Doesn't matter how great a movie is, I just don't have the attention span or the patience to sit still for that long.

As for sports? Are you kidding?!! If I liked ANY sport that much I'd be out there playing it!

He loves TV. All kinds. Hence, the TV war when we first got married. I fought hard against having a TV set in the bedroom. I was insulted that he'd suggested. Didn't he find ME entertaining enough? What about our quality time? I accused him of wanting it there only to avoid having to talk to me etc.....

He gave in at first. But then after I moved in, he'd be watching TV or DVD's in the living room & I'd be somewhere around him. Am not very good at not being somewhere around him really. I sort of gravitate. It's compulsive.

Slowly but surely, I started to get hooked on TV. The habit sneaked up on me.

With time, the TV did invade our bedroom. I bought it actually. A huge LCD screen. It was repayment for money he'd lent me & then refused to let me pay back. So I waited a while & then went out & bought something I knew he'd love. He was so surprised to see it hanging on the bedroom wall that I don't think he ever did the math or figured out why I bought it.

He saw it as a huge concession on my side , given my previous feelings on the subject. And he was very appreciative. But the thing is, it wasn't much of a concession really because I didn't mind. By that time, I enjoyed watching TV in bed as much as anyone.

I thought I was well & truly converted but guess what? Last night, I went out to watch a movie with friends. And I counted the following:

** I went outside for a smoke a total of 8 times.
** I went out to get things from my car which eventually turned out to be in my handbag 3 times.
** I went to the bathroom 2 times - once to put on make up & once to wash it off.
** I went out to make or take calls - a total of 4 times.
** I went out to get snacks from the lobby - 3 times.

It's a throwback to the days when - everytime my friends would succeed in dragging me - kicking & screaming - to the movies, they'd always place me on an aisle seat as close as possible to the exit. Otherwise, people would start complaining that I jump around too much & am distracting them and I'd wind up getting us all kicked out.

The two TV sets at home are now as silent as death. I can't do TV anymore. I can tolerate them for 5 min max. Just long enough to catch a glimpse of the headlines. I can't even leave them on while I do something else. The background noise drives me nuts.

I guess what I had really learnt to enjoy was watching HIM have fun, the running commentary he'd keep up to make me laugh when we watched things together, the way I'd always end up laughing even if I started out revolted or crying my heart out, the arguments & discussions we'd have about things before & after, the shared jokes we'd have about them etc...

But other than that, I haven't changed really. The show still can't hold my attention. It's been him all along. He really can't help holding my attention whatever he does. Even when he doesn't particularly want to.

2) Was never a morning person. But once I had him to wake up with, the morning routine changed.

I loved thinking up new ways to disturb him. And I loved how well he took it when I disturbed him. Oh, he always moaned & complained that I was a jealous witch who was begrudging him the extra hours he could sleep in the morning because I had to get up so early myself etc....

But he wouldn't sound very convincing & he always did everything he could to make me late for work i.e. keep me around to disturb him for as long as possible.

He was the reason I'd leave home every morning a little late but laughing to myself like an idiot & walk into the office ready to hug everyone good morning.

Now am the morning grouch again. Don't even speak to me or expect me to utter a word in response to anything you say before at least half an hour & 2 mugs of black coffee. Am not safe!

3) I never liked watching him with some of his friends. The fact that he could be so close to - and get along so well with - people I just can't begin to like or understand or get along with would make me feel left out.

Now when I run into these same friends out & about, I can't look because he's not with them. I keep my back to them & imagine that he's out there behind me, that he's just busy with his friends, that later, he'll be coming home to me.

Sometimes I can almost hear his voice & his laugh coming from behind me.

(I always had this heightened sensitivity to his voice anyway. In a crowded room, with the two of us involved in conversation with different people, am only half-listening to whoever am talking to. Half of my mind is tuned in to what he's saying. It irritates me sometimes when am trying to concentrate on something else. I want to ask him to keep quiet so I can listen to what I need to listen to.)

And I want that so much, I start thinking please let him be with them. I don't care if they corrupt him. I'd rather have him sitting there stoned blind drunk with some slut on his lap then not have him there at all. I don't care anymore. I don't care about any of the things I thought I cared about before.

Last time it happened, I found myself trying to imagine what he'd say if I told him that. And I knew. He'd get all embarrassed & say something flippant like if he'd known I'd feel that way about things, he'd have gone away sooner. He'd do everything he can to provoke me out of the mushy mood which intimidates him so much. And then once my mood changed and I snapped out of the mushiness, the relief in his voice would be clearly audible.

Thinking of his reaction made me smile but then I missed him so much I had to get up & go to the Ladies. And hide in a cubicle until I was fit to be seen in public again.

My friends say am acting like he died. They say it's only 9 months, one month already gone. And they're right. The thought that it's temporary, that there's light at the end of the tunnel does help sometimes.

But there are times when I want him like right now. And I don't care about tomorrow.

And then 9 months feels like never.