"Little Pink Box" Part Six
Talk about mixed signals. The two of them sat, side by side, waiting to check their luggage in the airport in Germany so that they could board their connecting flight to the States. The chilly winter air squeezed through the automatic doors of the airport and blew the chiffon lining of Jaleesa's hijab. Jaleesa had never felt the calm, silent, overwhelmingly grateful and hopeful feeling inside of her heart. She had remembered to pack everything she needed--this wedding would be a humble and quiet one.
She sighed slightly and asked him if they could pick up something sugary and caffeinated. She had been working nonstop for the past two weeks to prepare for this journey. Sleep deprived and exhausted, she slumped in her chair without the least attempt at a lady-like pose.
During the last week, she put her stylistic talents into overdrive, shopping at high-end Dubai malls for both herself and her fiancé. She purchased white tops and jeans for both of them along with expensive makeup and accessories for herself. She planned each outfit for the two of them during their three-day honeymoon road trip across America.
Despite her fatigue, she still felt excited--it would be the quaintest barefoot Muslim wedding ever. She knew that in their Arab culture, she should not have been buying clothing for her fiancé on their wedding, nor should she have shared in the cost of their flights, but things weren't like that between Jaleesa and Ameen. He was her best friend--the person she felt closest to. He continued to turn his iPhone in her direction and snap photograph after photograph of her and her cute, lemon-colored carry-on bag. When he smiled, his perfectly white teeth showed ever so slightly, but he refused to smile for pictures. She relaxed and grinned at the thought.
"I think," he said, suddenly, pensively flipping his iPhone in his left hand, "that when we return to Dubai we should take a break from each other."
She laughed aloud and looked around to see if she had caused a scene. "What are you talking about, butthead?" she teased him. Since they first began talking, neither Jaleesa nor Ameen made concerted attempts at acting mature. That was one of the bonds that held their relationship together--they were real and raw.
"It's just, you know, my mother is taking this really hard. She is really unhappy." Jaleesa felt a sudden pang when she heard Ameen mention his mother--the one knife in their otherwise perfect relationship. His mother did not approve of their union, simply because she was not the one who found her son's bride. Ameen's mother's friend of twenty years introduced the two of them, and she constantly commented that this was her job, and that her friend overstepped her boundaries. But from the moment Ameen met Jaleesa in her dark jean skirt and ballet flats, he was hooked. He pursued her for months until she agreed to accept his proposal despite his mother's passive-aggressive attitude towards her.
After two years of in-law struggles, Jaleesa and Ameen decided that they would wed without the blessing of his mother. His father hugged him before he left to the airport and told him that Jaleesa was a good catch and he shouldn't lose her just because of his mother's unIslamic and cultural behavior.
"Ameen," she said, furrowing her eyebrows, "Are you seriously suggesting that we 'take a break from each other' instead of going on a honeymoon? We've been waiting two years to get married, and we return to Dubai only days after our wedding! How will we 'take a break' from each other when we will be living together?"
The look in his eyes said it all. She felt her own eyes widening in shock. Her throat constricted, and then she realized it. "Why," she asked, flabbergasted, "Did you wait until we reached Germany to tell me this? Why are you even coming to visit my father if only to break up?" She wondered if she was in a nightmare and could simply wake up to find herself back on the airplane and ready to land. The bustling airport around her began to swirl together and blur in her peripheral vision.
"Honestly?" he said, laughing uncomfortably, "My mom screamed so much last night I figured that, either way, I needed a vacation."
She wanted to cry but she was numb.
That was it.
And that was simply it.
The two of them continued their flight to America and greeted her joyous father at the airport. They went home to her family's house and ate dinner together. Her father chatted happily the entire time--the Shaikh was ready, the photographer was ready, the court papers were ready. Finally, her father asked Jaleesa specifically who she would like to have dinner with after the quiet wedding, and she simply responded, "Talk to Ameen."
That was enough for him to realize that something was wrong. Ameen slept in a hotel that night and she didn't see him again. Her luggage arrived late, with all the supplies she worked so painstakingly to perfect for their honeymoon that never would be.
And she went back to work a week later in Dubai with no ring on her finger.