It has come to my attention that some people (especially Jam3iya) are still za3laneen 3alay fa gelt ba7e6likom this short post 3ashan aratheeekom...did it work?!
Zeina didn’t know how long she had been in the balcony but the only thing that brought her back to reality was the clicking of the front door as it shut behind Manaf. She froze not knowing what to do, the news she had received a while ago still hadn’t registered with her and she still hadn’t thought of what to do or what to say to him.
“Zeina?” Manaf’s voice called out to her from the bedroom where he had gone to look for her. Zeina emerged from the balcony still in her pajamas, her hair a mess and looked at her husband. His tall stature, his broad chest, his much shorter hair…she stared at his eyes trying to look for the man she once knew. The same man that had swept her off of her feet that day at the university when she had accidently stumbled upon him. The same man that held her hand while they dropped from the highest point Zeina had ever been on. He didn’t seem to be there.
Replacing him was a man with dark circles under his eyes that Zeina had thought once to be from all the work but wasn’t sure anymore. The new man in front of Zeina looked over her very much unlike the old one, it was as if he acknowledged her body and face in front of him but didn’t stare too long at it enough to let them register in his mind. He swept through her and her words quite often now and Zeina was beginning to understand why. Her husband, her Manaf, had a secret; one that was bound to reveal itself if he looked at her for too long, if he hugged her too tightly, if he spoke to hear more regularly.
Manaf was pushing himself away from her in order to hide.
“Ah there you are” Manaf said finally noticing her walking in from the balcony, “fakartay sheno tabeen ghada?” He asked flipping through papers in his hand a wrinkle forming on his forehead. The same wrinkle Zeina had seen a million times since she had arrived in New York but had always blamed on work. Zeina didn’t speak as she stood there staring at him wondering what the right words to say were.
“Shfeech?” Manaf asked putting down the papers and staring at her with worry in his eyes. Tears formed at the corners of Zeina’s eyes but she held them back.
“Tell me.” She whispered.
Manaf’s face fell as he took in the seriousness of Zeina’s expression; he knew she was talking about something solemn.
“Tell you what?” He tried feebly, still holding on to the glimmer of hope that Zeina hadn’t found out.
“…What the doctor said” She continued. It was here that Manaf’s gaze fell to the floor and for the next several minutes refused to look up. Zeina took a step forward and stood inches from his face.
“Manaf…look at me! And tell me!” She snapped at him her voice refusing to quiver.
“Shlon 3araftay?” He asked her.
“Not by you…”
Manaf continued to be quiet for a few seconds before he gave Zeina his back and walked into the bedroom. Dumbfounded Zeina froze in her spot not knowing if she should follow him or not. Finally her feet began to work and they made their way into the bedroom but Manaf wasn’t there; looking around she heard the sound of the showerhead in the bathroom. She sat on the edge of the bed and waited for him, a sea of emotions crashing inside of her. She still hadn’t managed to distinguish what the strongest emotion inside of her was. Was it anger? Hurt? Or was it mind blowing, earth shattering fear?
Was she going to be left alone, without Manaf? A world with a crabby, stressed, busy Manaf was one that was a million times better than one without him completely. It was a thought she was not willing to explore just yet because she knew that once she began to consider this world, she would enter a dark abyss that she was not likely to ever escape.
Minutes later Manaf came out of the bathroom and slightly taken aback by Zeina’s position sitting firmly and stubbornly in front of him, he froze.
“Meta kent nawi etgooly?” She whispered.
“I just found out Zeina” He replied.
“Shlon ya3ni? Eshdarak? Shlon mata7acha?!” Her voice began to rise uncontrollably. Manaf walked towards her and sat down next to her on the bed and for the first time in weeks stared right at her and held her gaze unwaveringly.
“I couldn’t tell you” He whispered still not looking away.
“What? Why?” Her strong calm voice began quivering as the tears that would undoubtedly make their way began to form behind her eyes.
“Shagoolich? Khalaitich etwagfeen derastich, sa7abtich min ahalich, ga6aitich ib deera ibroo7ich, majabaltich wela 7atan shift ishlonich feeha, o akher shay ayeech wagoolich I might be dying o because of me ra7 et9eereen a widow?!”
“DON’T SAY THAT” Zeina screamed the tears, this time of anger, flowed freely… “you can’t say that!” She whimpered grabbing his arm.
“Zeina 7abeebti…” he began to speak then stopped and looked down, taking her hands off of his arm and kissing them gently. He then looked back up for a brief second, enough for Zeina to see the tears forming inside his eyes, then got up and in two swift strides walked out of the bedroom and into the living room. Zeina marched after him violently wiping the tears that were pouring across her face. She caught up with Manaf on the balcony and stared at him as he gave her his back.
“Manaf it’s not that bad 9a7? People get cured all the time…a9lan 9ar shay 3adi…we shouldn’t even worry” Zeina rambled half to fill the silence and the other half to convince herself.
“You’re right. Eli Allah katba be9eer Zeina whether I’m sick or not..” He turned around, the tears now gone from his eyes. He walked up to Zeina and grabbed her firmly from her face, “Zayoon, I am so sorry you had to deal with this o inich you got stuck with insan mithli ana…bes atkhayal il ta3ab ili I already put you through at the possibility of putting you through more and it kills me wala!”
Suddenly all the tears that had been forming in Zeina’s eyes disappeared as a wave of anger washed over her, “enta ma geltli 3ashan 3abalik I can’t handle it?” She said slowly, “3abalik when I find out banhar o babchi o ra7 at3ab?” Her voice slowly began to rise, “la, don’t you dare let me take the easy way out. Ra7 etwareeni every single test you did o ra7 aroo7 ma3ak every single appointment you have o you’re going to fight this, because qa9bin 3alaik you get better! Fahem?!” Her voice had risen to screams at the end of her sentence and she realized that she was holding on to Manaf with all of her strength.
“Enshallah” Manaf whispered before kissing her forehead.
He led Zeina inside and sat her down on the couch before going into the bedroom and coming back out with a stack of folders and envelopes.
“f7oo9atik?” Zeina asked quietly, her heart beating severely.
Manaf nodded and sat down next to her extending his arm towards her. Just as Zeina grasped the folders and pulled them into her lap Manaf’s hand touched hers and she looked up.
“Zayoon. Please help me” He whispered.