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!