18 May 2015

Village life. Fragment from "Taboos in Arabic" - in progress. Scene four

Bisan is sixteen. History class. She’s doodling in the corner of her notebook. Her phone vibrates in her back pocket. She takes it out to find a Whatsapp message from Jumana, who’s sitting two rows behind her. ‘I’m so in love with Hamza, but my parents probably won’t let us marry, because he’s going to work in his father’s garage. Not a doctor or an engineer. Heart about to break.’ Bisan looks to her left, at Hamza. He’s lanky, his fingers too long for his hands. Pimpled forehead. Wears socks with sandals. ‘Ugh... Hamza? Yuck!’ She quickly checks her email before sliding her phone back into her pocket. To her right, Dalia is staring – no, glaring – at the teacher, head resting in her palm, a dreamy look on her face. Bisan counts the seconds between each eyelash bat. Thirty one, twenty seven, thirty four. She moves her gaze to Dalia’s arms, slick and bare – freshly waxed. Three new glittering gold bangles on her left wrist, a gift from her fiancé’s mother. Dalia got engaged two weeks earlier to a 28 year old lawyer from a village in the Triangle. They’re building a house; Bisan knows because her Facebook page is full of photos of the building site. Dalia stretches her sandaled legs – ten perfectly manicured rose-coloured toes. Twelve minutes till the end of class. Bisan is aware now of Dalia’s gaze on her. She looks up from the rose-coloured toes and meets her eyes. Dalia smiles. Bisan becomes all of a sudden aware of an unfamiliar tingling in her stomach. She quickly resumes her doodling, and realizes the source of the tingling was Dalia’s body. She throws a quick glance in Dalia’s direction – who’s now busy writing in her notebook – and is horrified to discover that the tingling only intensifies.
(c) khulud khamis, 2015

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