BY: Boodie Shawky
Shahy stretched in bed, she knew that she must get up; the relentless light behind her eyelids tells her that the sun has already found its way through the shutters into her bedroom. She stretched one more time, wishing she could continue sleeping for five more minutes.
“Shahy, it’s time to get up” her husband’s voice came drifting from the living room, irritating the hell out of her.
She sighed, sitting up in bed, despite of her aching muscles screaming at her not to move.
Yesterday, she stayed awake until well past midnight, cooking dinner and cleaning the dishes, while at the same time nudging her eldest son to finish his homework and stop texting his friends funny messages. And shunning her four years old daughter out of the room, telling her to stop bothering her brother for the umpteenth time.
And when she went to bed at last, where her husband had stretched for the past two hours, watching an old classic movie, he had the audacity to run his hands up and down her back seductively.
“Good night dear” she managed to say in a dismissive tone.
She could feel him hesitating a little behind her, knowing that he wanted to say something, but then he decided against it and went back to watching his movie.
“Good morning darling” he came in with a towel draped over his shoulders. He bent and planted a kiss on her forehead, he smelt of shaving cream and expensive shampoo.
“Morning” she mumbled, forcing her legs down on the floor, looking for her slippers. “Did you wake the children?”
“Not yet, you wake them up honey” he simply said, whistling to himself, he started sifting through his drawer, looking for his socks.
She gave him an exasperated look and got out of the bedroom, she has stopped arguing a long time ago, but she hated the idea that she should be the one who is expected to do everything.
She walked to her elder son’s bedroom.
The fourteen years old was fast asleep, oblivious to the fact that he was fifteen minutes late and will definitely miss the school bus.
“Honey wake up” She started shaking him gently.
The boy didn’t budge; she was growing irritable by the minute, her shake became less gentle and more of “pushing-him-off-the-bed” shake.
“Come on,” her voice was getting angrier by the minute, “we’re not going to do the same thing every morning, you’re not gonna be late today again for the bus and have us running down the stairs. I’m going to have a shower and when I come out, you’d better be fully awake and eating your breakfast”
With these words, she left him and headed for the master bathroom.
In the sanctuary of the bathroom, she rested her head on the cold tiles for a minute.
I was so not cut out for this, she thought to herself.
With a sigh she began to undress.
Before she stepped into the shower, she looked at herself in the mirror, her full naked body in front of her.
“Shahinaz”- or “Shahy” to her friends – was a pretty woman … she had dark auburn hair and light brown eyes, delicate features and a figure to die for, she was always laughing and joking and she had great expectations for herself.
That was before!
Before she had two children, before she had to work and earn a big salary to make ends meet, before she had to rush home after work to do the housework and the cooking and the cleaning and on top of that make sure that her son has finished his homework and that her daughter is not bringing the house down.
She has tried so hard to keep her form, but her belly was sagging, she was gaining weight despite of her struggle against it, but eating all that junk food sure doesn’t help. Beside how many things in life can she enjoy other than eating?
“Darling, we are out of milk” her husband greeted her as she came out of the bathroom.
He was sitting at the breakfast table sipping coffee with a big goofy smile on his face. Her elder son was eating breakfast quietly … he never did like his father and he usually did his best to stay out of his way. They had so many fights, because his father was refusing to notice that the boy has actually grown into a young man, that he needs a father to guide him, to be his friend and adviser, rather than his executioner.
“Omar, hurry up or you’ll be late” she addressed her son, choosing to ignore her husband completely.
“Don’t you want any breakfast?” Her husband asked
“I’ll grab a cappuccino on my way to work” she told him as she headed towards the bedroom to dress.
She looked at her wardrobe and sighed … back in college she used to shop at the most expensive shops, looking for the highest brands existing in Egypt, she bought whatever she wanted and she knew that she was one of the best well dressed girls in her circle.
But now … she was trying, but as much as money was not an issue in the past, it was a big issue now. She cannot thoughtlessly squander every dime she has on clothes anymore, and when she needed more money she would run to daddy for more. Oh no … she had school fees to think of, she had grocery to buy and she had bills to settle.
Why did she get married? Good question.
Because every girl in Egypt has to get married, she has to have a family. Otherwise she would have failed in life, no matter what else she had achieved.
Sometimes, people fall in love and get married.
However, most of the time it is a family thing, a friend of the family introduces an acquaintance whom she thinks is suitable for their daughter.
Both families meet and if the boy and girl do not find each other totally repulsive and if the two families agree on all financial matters and obligations; then usually, after six or ten months, a big wedding; ridiculously expensive and utterly unnecessary takes place.
The girl is so happy at the time, what with the white wedding gown, the carefully applied makeup and the undivided attention of everyone around her. For one night, she is a princess.
Then comes the honey moon … the girl is still happy and the boy is ever so gentle, sweet and romantic.
And the sex … she has been a virgin until her wedding night and she did not know what it felt like to have an orgasm, there are places that no one has ever touched, not even the girl herself, and she gets to wear all those fancy sexy lingerie.
If the girl is lucky, then the boy would know what he is doing and be good in bed, and if she is unlucky … which is 80% of the time … the boy would be inexperienced and the sex would be close to nightmarish.
Then the honeymoon ends.
Day after day and night after night, their life falls into a monotony, children come and financial obligations appear … even the sex, whether good or bad, becomes totally mundane … boys and girls in Egypt are not allowed to know about sex or even discuss sex, there is no sexual education in Egypt. So they grow up lacking imagination or innovation and soon it is not enjoyable anymore. Especially for the woman, because men are so selfish and there is actually so few ways to please a man, and so many ways to please a woman that usually the macho Egyptian man chose to ignore.
As she looks at her unfamiliar reflection in the mirror, Shahy sighs. As a teenager, she has promised herself that she will not turn into her mom, but the more she gazes into the mirror the more she sees an image of her mother rather than herself. She tries to apply more makeup to hide the dark circles, the sad lines around her mouth, but it is getting harder each passing day.
“Mom” a small voice seeps through her thoughts “We’re gonna be late”
She wakes up from her reverie to smile at her little daughter’s chubby face.
The only thing that she got out of this marriage is her children, her heart warms up as the little girl runs out of the bedroom, her biggie tail swinging behind her.
Probably that is the only the reason that people get married in Egypt … to have children, 98% of marriages are for this one and only reason, the remaining 2% marry out of love, but they say that love doesn’t last long.
In a few minutes, she is running down the stairs with her son and daughter, she watches as her son runs towards his bus, he crosses the street without looking left and right as she has told him so many times to do.
She shakes her head after him as she takes her daughter’s hand and heads for her car.
Her husband is still upstairs, stretched somewhere reading the newspaper, he still has half an hour before he comes down to his car and heads for work.
She is the one who has to rush to take her daughter, Farida, to her kindergarten class, before rushing all the way across town to her work.
As she maneuvers her way through the busy streets, she remembers the words whispered by her husband in the dark, she remembers them vaguely, like in a dream.
As he lay beside her, he murmured softly “I know you don’t love me anymore”
As she drives the car with her daughter, a morning talk show host blabbing on about nothingness on in the radio, moving through the busy streets, through her busy life like a zombie.
She whispers to herself, what she never dared to tell him face to face.
“I never loved you”