"Little Pink Box" Part Five Draft
He tried to hide his pain and act cool with his friends. They all gave him tips--although unIslamic as they may be--and he felt that they would be the only way he could protect himself against her. So he held his breath, stroked his hair cool-ly in his ghetto apartment on the opposite side of America, and made the phone call.
"Salaam alaikum," he said formally, with over-confidence after he heard her voice on the other line. She sounded meek. Perfect, he thought.
After they made idle small talk, he decided he would practice some of the tactics he had under his sleeve. He would use every one of them on her, no matter how cruel.
"So," he began, "I was at the hospital the other day, and there was this seventeen year old girl who lifted up her gown and showed me everything. All I wanted to do was take her freaking pulse, you know? But I could see like, everything." He allowed the sexual excitement in his voice to show audibly as he spoke.
Her voice tensed on the other line. "Why are you telling me this?" she asked, and he could sense the jealousy kicking in.
"Well, to help of course," he told her, casually. He put on his most innocent voice. "See, we both know your body isn't what it could be. I mean, think of this beautiful tight-skinned teenager. I was like, wow, you know, I wonder if Jabala could look like this, you know, with the right amount of surgery."
He heard something that sounded like a sniffle on the other line. "I look fine now," she muttered, unconvincingly.
"Well, you are alright I guess," he said, moving in with his savvy manipulation. "I mean, I loved you for everything on the inside, not the outside. But, you know, if you move on and marry some other man--"
"--I won't remarry!"
"--well I'm just saying, you know, that I don't want him to be disappointed."
Her voice grew louder and more annoyed on the other line, and she seemed increasingly less self-confident. She defiantly replied, "Listen, Abdul Lateef, I had hundreds of guys interested in marrying me despite me being all covered up in a hijab, unlike your slutty seventeen year old, so I think I'm fine in the looks department."
"Oh, I know you had tons of guys propose to you before I married you," he said in the most carefree, stabbing voice he could muster, "but that's just because none of them ever saw you with your clothes off." He could hear her audible tears as she cursed at him and hung up the phone.
Score, he thought. He waited fifteen minutes and re-dialed the number again. He needed to calculate his every move in order to make this work. To protect himself against her.
"Salaam alaikum again," he said, ignoring her sniffing and tears on the other line. "Listen, I'm really sorry for saying something that hurt you. I didn't mean to call and offend you," he was sincere. He really didn't like hurting her--he didn't like hurting anyone. Even though he hurt so badly himself. "All I am saying is that since I'm the only one who ever saw you, and therefore I have the most accurate opinion of what you look like and what your potential to look like is, I want to help. Man, you could be gorgeous. You could be drop-dead beautiful. It's the sh*t you've been through in your life that makes you look the way you do now."
He felt better and his voice poured out soothingly. Her tears quieted on the other line, and she didn't protest the assumption he continued to perpetrate with these words that she was not, in her current state, beautiful. She was truly beginning to accept the impression he was giving her. "I have an idea," he continued. "Now, I wouldn't do this for free, but I'm going to give you free medical advice because of how much you mean to me. I want you to email me topless photographs of yourself, and I will give you honest advice on what types of surgeries can be done for you to increase your breast size and make it look natural. And trust me, I've seen a lot of breasts that look perfect after surgery."
"Why wouldn't I just go to a specialist to do that?" she asked, skeptically.
"Well, first, because you'd obviously be more comfortable with me, and secondly, you know I won't bullsh*t you. I'll tell it to you like it is because I love you so much and I want you to reach your full potential."
He could hear her giving in on the other line.
"…And I promise, wallahi, of course, that I won't tell anyone about this. It's a husband-wife secret--strictly confidential."
"And you won't make fun of me when you see my photos?" she asked, quietly.
"Of course not! I only want to help." He put on his best physician-caring voice possible. "And I swear to be very professional about it. I am so sorry for making you feel badly about yourself before."
"But," she protested, meekly, "My iddah is almost over. And I was told I had to wear a hijab in front of you during this period. I don't think it's halal for me to send these photographs. And if this month ends and we don't reconcile, then what will you do with the pictures? You can't keep them."
"Don't you trust me?" he asked, sweetly. He felt, in those moments, so earnest and sincere. "I only want to help. I wouldn't do anything to make you uncomfortable, but I know how bad you feel about your body, and I want to try to undo all the damage I caused you emotionally about your body image by helping you improve it. I'm doing it as a way to amend my deeds. I need various angles and shots, and I can give you all these details in an email and you can email me back with the appropriate positions."
He knew he had won her over. Within one hour, he had his photographs. He called her and matter-of-factly explained how many cc's of silicon, he thought, she could tolerate, and whether or not he recommended she opt for belly-button incisions or full areola incisions. "There is this great technique," he said, "for girls with tiny frames like yours, where they insert the implants underneath the muscle, so it looks more natural."
He could hear her scratching notes on one of her colorful notepads as he spoke. She sounded grateful, and vulnerable. She thanked him and hung up.
Suddenly, he felt tears swell up in his eyes and he called her again. This time, he was crying like a baby.
"I love you, Jabala." He couldn't control the gasping and the crying. "I lied when I told you, you weren't gorgeous. At worst, your breasts are average, and at best, they are above average and you don't need to cut yourself to be beautiful. I am so sorry, but I feel so much pain inside, I have to hurt you in order to let you know how terrible I feel. Please don't believe that you have to have surgery in order to attract a man."
She cried audibly on the other line. "Why do you always do this?" she begged for answers that he couldn't give. She was as emotionally unstable as he was.
Abruptly, she asked, "If you love me, why don't you just take me back? Why don't you promise to control your temper from now on? Why don't you make things better?"
"You never support me with your father. I can't trust you. I want to take you back, but I am afraid to. What if I lose my temper again? Then what will you do?"
They both cried, and talked, and cried. He asked for more pictures, as a husband this time, and they came, and kept coming. When all his tears were dry, he had spent well over five hours on the phone with her. They were speaking seriously about the details of their reconciliation when he heard the apartment doorknob turning. His friend walked in and plopped down on the couch.
"I love you," she muttered, caressing him with her voice on the other line.
"Yeah sure," he responded, coolly, winking at his friend to let him know that it was his future ex-wife on the other line. He couldn't appear desperate in front of his friends. He wouldn't be a man if he took her back. "Anyways, listen," he said, curtly, "I'll give you more details and feedback about that surgery we talked about and I appreciate you sending those pictures. But please don't throw yourself at me again--it's not becoming of you and it doesn't make me want you any more."
"What?" she began to ask on the other line, in an incredulous voice, but he quickly hung up as his friend gave him a thumbs up and high-five.
"You got the pictures?" his friend asked him, picking up a marijuana blunt from the dusty coffee table and lighting it up. "Can I see?"
"Yeah," Abdul Lateef said, with a casual grin on his face, as he reached for the blunt from his friend. "B*tch asks me for a penny during the divorce, and I'mma put this sh*t online."