Saturday, 7 May 2016

Star-Crossed Lovers

Okay, I chose this picture and thought to run with it. I might get some big comments about how I approached this. However, I'm only going on personal experience and so, if you think I'm being too hard on how Islamic women are being treated, that's okay. But I've lived with families of them in a townhouse complex and they were treated horribly by their husbands. But, as they say, this is just one experience from one person.

“Seriously, man, do you think she’s pretty?” Pete shoved his shoulder, “She’s wearing one of those cloth thingies on her head – she’s not like us.”
Rick took the shove with a smirk as he looked to his hands, rubbed his heavily tattooed arms and back up at the young woman walking around with the clipboard, “Yeah, she’s …” pretty, really pretty. He liked like her a lot, “nice.”
Pete could see past his small comment of ‘nice’ and knew straight off that his best friend had the hots for the Muslim chick, “Dude, she’s probably married or somethin’… besides, she wouldn’t be allowed near you because you’re Catholic and she’s… well, look at her!”

She turned and looked over at the group of men she had to approach about building a mosque in the area. They looked tough and horrible. But there was one who just looked at her who appeared tough, but he was… different… somehow. His friend just shoved him, laughing at him. He looked down at his hands and rubbed his tattooed arms, blushing.

He liked her.

This was going to be a problem if she showed that she liked him too.
“Are you okay, Akira?” her sister, Melia, asked at her shoulder, “My husband can come and pick you up if you are tired. You know he likes being around you.”
“No. I’m okay.” She smiled, “I will talk to those men over there. We are supposed to be okay with the Westerners.” She turned and walked toward the man who was being bullied by his friend and they left him alone. Besides, she didn’t like Melia’s husband; he was always trying to touch her and feel in personal places when her sister wasn’t around.
“Hi.” The man smiled, “What’s that you got?”
“Hello. My name is Akira…” she talked about the mosque and how it would benefit the area and how big it would be. He listened to her watching her face, smiling as she pointed out something on the clipboard, but not really taking any notice. Her hands were lovely and young, pretty, just like she was.
“I’m Rick – Richard. Would you like to have a meal with me?” he asked.
Akira hesitate, blushing, “I … um… may not be allowed to. You are Westerner, I am Islam.”
“We are two people. I like you, doesn’t matter what either of us look like.” He said standing from where she found him on the concrete block at the park, “Are you allowed to have something to eat?” he held out his arm, “There’s a café over the road which is owned by a Lebanese family… they serve great food there.” He smiled and she felt her heart race, “I’ll be there in an hour.”

He sat by the window after a shower and a change of clothes. He left the scarf at home and wore his best clothes. When he arrived, Lenny gave him a coffee – the best around, it was hot, so strong you could stand your spoon up in it – and Rick loved this place. It was the food, the atmosphere and the small lot of shelves along the side which held just about anything to do with that part of the world he’d never been to; and yet, the aroma of the spices and food hung in the air like cigar smoke.
Akira rushed inside with her sister and stood at the counter, ordered something in Islamic and hesitated as she stood at the table he was at. He rose to his feet as she approached, something his father had told him to do when a woman approached the table, to pull out her chair, but she sat quickly and he almost didn’t get a chance to do it, “I should not be here. If I am discovered socialising with you in a familiar way, I do not wish to know what will happen to me.”
Rick sighed, “Wow. I didn’t know the rules were so strict.”
“I have an arranged marriage… and even though I think you are… quite handsome in your own way… we can never be together; not in the way you wish.” She shook her head as her eyes traveled to his tattoos, which peaked from under the sleeves at his wrists.
Taking a risk, he reached across and touched her hand. It was so soft, so beautiful to touch, “I just wanted to have a meal with you. I wanted to see what kind of person you are, without your family around you – the real you.” He rubbed his thumb along the knuckles of her left hand, “Is that so bad – for me to want you like that?”
His hand was warm. She was surprised to find how nice it was to be touched by a man who didn’t want anything but friendship – and by a Westerner of all people. She looked up at him, “It seems what I have been told of Westerners is wrong. Not all of you are bad, or racists, or horrible people.” She covered his hand with her other hand, “I would like to be around you more, Richard, but … no, I am not allowed to.”
Suddenly, Melia rose from the next table and walked to the shelves and began picking up items. She had seen somebody approach from outside. Akira stood, racing to her sister’s side, “What?”
“My husband is demanding to know why we are taking so long.” Melia said, “I told him I was doing some shopping. But he is coming… I must have something to show him.” She turned and looked at Richard, “Get rid of him.”
“Akira.” Richard stood nearby, with a shopping bag in his hands, “Here, I thought you might be caught and had Lenny put aside some items for you and your sister.”
Melia grabbed the bag off Richard, “Time to go, Akira.” She rushed to the door and waited for her sister.
“I’m so sorry.” She said.
“I’ll be okay.” He smiled.
Turning she walked to the door, stopped and looked at Richard. She needed to know something – it was something she had always wanted to know about them. Rushing up to him she stood on her toes and kissed him as he leaned down. He was careful not to take off her scarf – wishing he knew what her hair felt like – and kissed her back, holding her close. Before he knew it, Richard was alone in the café with the scent of her perfume haunting his senses and her scarf in his hands.

She was gone; and he knew she’d never see her again.

Akira pulled another scarf – the same colour – from her bag and wrapped it around her head on the way home. Her sister was nagging at her, “How could you let him near you like that? He is disgusting, horrible… covered in tattoos…he is a monster of a man.”

She groaned, “Melia, he is nice. Your husband is the one who is horrible. He is forever touching me, wanting me and groping me when you are not looking and he treats you terribly; and me too… so who is the monster?”

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