Friday, November 9, 2012

Bermuda Love Triangle Revisted

Asalamu Alaykom,

Yesterday, I took a walk to the other side of the tracks.  There was an apartment that I needed to reach.  It was a place in my head for ten years and the only way to get it out of my head was to see it in reality.

It was the place

where my true love of January, 2002 had a wife and twins

where his mother-in-law called from and pleaded that he end his relationship with me

where I didn't go when I came to Egypt in 2002 to marry him

where he went to say goodbye to the family he broke apart

where his sister's husband would bring money to support those children

where I would send toys and clothes

where she would call from and yell at the man who betrayed her

where a little boy grew up without a father

where a desperate woman lived without a future, in country that devalues the divorcee

where an old computer sat and connected to the webcam in our home

where she learned I was pregnant

where she began to tease my husband

where she wrote that she would return to him if he would divorce me

where she began to send titilating text messages

where she used that computer to send pictures of herself

where I called her and told her to stop

where he went to her in November, 2006

where he played with the children in the salon

where he stayed late into the night and called me in the U.S. from her phone

where he called me a donkey for the first time ever and it was in front of her family

where he lost his mind somehow

where I told him from our broken home in the U.S. that we were done

where he fled to after our legal divorce was decreed in May, 2007

where he learned in June that his father had died on the coast and he hadn't seen him beforehand

where he visited until the courts in Egypt decreed they could remarry after three divorces

where she left in August, 2009 to come to the U.S. at the same time as I was coming to Egypt

where she visited in May, 2011 and stayed without ever connecting with us

Subhanallah, I went to that place yesterday.  I won't lie and say that I handled it well.  I was scared and out of sorts.  My husband felt the difficulties and saw how twisted up it made me.  I had to go there to collect money sent and it hurt me as much as to walk over hot coals.  However, I knew that I could and that in a way I had to.  I waited until I could pray again.  I waited until I was strong enough.

So, it seemed strange to me to climb those dark stairs and find a little old woman waiting for me at the end of the hall.  The mother of the "other woman" wasn't a threat, was she?  She was just as much a victim in this triangulated drama as I was.  Her daughter and I fought over a man and no one really won.  Both of us were incredibly hurt over the years.  Maybe the lines on this woman's face were a testimony to the amount of days she spent watching the babies or the nights she spent caring for a family without a father.

She invited us in.  I had agreed with my husband not to enter but in Egypt it's very hard to say, "no."  I took off my shoes and in I went.  The apartment was small; smaller than ours.  I couldn't help comparisons.  As I sat, I spied and hated myself a bit for putting myself back in that role.  Why had I thought I could go and yet stay detatched?

She offered us juice.  I declined.  She insisted.  She opened the fridge next to the couch.  When I think about  it now I'm struck by the strangeness.  A fridge next to the couch?  Small apartments are like that.  Lives are like that when you have to make do with what you have.  She pulled out a juice box.  Thank God it was a juice box.  I could not have allowed my son to take something prepared by her hand.  May Allah forgive me but I know that family has wished that I had never happened; have wished that my mashahallah beautiful boy had never happened.  I can't ever trust them.  It's sad but I know they have wished us dead.

Yes, we sat sipping our juice.  Like a hidden camera, my roving eye would pick out a detail in the room and "click" it into my head.

There's the buffet the little girl stood in front of in that photo.

There's Batman stickers stuck to the wall from the boy.

I saw some framed photos in a china cabinet---and I looked away.  I didn't want to see my ex acting as if the 'happily ever after' was between his arms.

I looked away and saw a bedroom door open and beyond three beds crammed inside.  This was where a mother slept with her children until they were eight years old.  There was a posh apartment he had bought on the other side of town but she couldn't stay there; it was no longer hers.  She stayed in a place without personal space.  She was jailed in a way for hating a man who wanted to take another wife.

I can't blame her for changing her mind.  I can't blame her for wanting to get out of that small room.  She got out the only way she could.  She gave up her independence and her dignity.  She fought tooth and nail to get her man back.  She got out.  She got remarried to the man who once said he could never live without me.  I'm sure he told that to her too.  However, only one of us believed him.

"Do you know who I am?"  The woman asked my son in Arabic.

He looked at me and tried to remember how I had coached him.  Yes, I knew she would ask.

She didn't wait for him to answer.  She answered it for him.  Yes, she was the grandmother of his brother and sister.  This would be the same brother and sister he has met twice in his life.  Meeting her once would be half as much as he knows them.

"Does he look a little like his brother?" I ask her, trying to get a response.  I didn't want to speak the name of the man who connected us all.

She didn't really see it.  She didn't really warm.  She wasn't rude.  She was guarded.  She was perhaps clicking away her own observations about us in her head.

She asked me if Egypt was beautiful.

"The most beautiful thing in Egypt is the azan, " I answered and watched as her eyebrows raised.  "If the whole counry was garbage but it had the azan then it would still be beautiful."

I tried to make small talk but it all fell flat.  Really, neither one of us knew what to say so we asked many questions with only one answer every time, "inshahallah."  Maybe that's OK.  It's OK for two women, who have nothing in common except for past pain, to simply remember Allah.

She got out the money and I made Mr. Boo reach out and take it.  I wasn't going to have her pay me.  That money; that 500 LE was AbuBoo's Eid money for his son.  It's not even $100.  That's what we were supposed to get.  It wasn't supposed to be a peace treaty.  It was supposed to be a hand-off.  My husband  called after that and it was the perfect time to leave.

We said our goodbyes and away we went.

After hardship there is ease.


Anonymous said...

I read this over and over. There are no comments I can reasonably make, except to tell you that I can empathise with how hard it must have been for every single person involved, both during your visit and earlier in the thick of the complicated and hurtful happenings.

There is no room for me as a reader to be judgemental about things that are done with. The things you write about are written in the dark ink of hurt, on dogearred, tear stained pages. The pages belong to a book called "LIfe and wisdom that comes from life experience". However, the pages that have already flipped over to new chapters. The only thing for all to do is move forward to try and heal in all ways. Keep the book for reference in the library of the mind, but move forward. I know more easily said than done, but I hope everyone involved makes the best effort.

On a more practical level, is there no way, the money can be sent through other means? It is unreasonable to expect this kind of contact without hurt for all, just for convenience's sake.

Deanna Troi

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Deanna,

Nice to see you again. Ya, this post is certainly one I've read over and over. Some of that re-reading was for typos or clarity but other times were just to realize what I've gone through. It's been a real test.

I appreciate you not feeling judgemental on it. None of this makes anyone look good. It's not my hope to make anyone look bad but somehow we all ended up looking very human.

I like your imagery. Yes, to flipping over pages and closing chapters. I feel like I'm in a new life but often the book falls off the shelf---to stay metaphorical. It's at those times I feel at such loss. Like: what in the world happened and why can't I fully escape that past?!

Practically speaking, I am not sure how else to get the money. I don't trust any of the players. If I have the dad open a bank acct. for his son then he has access and in a hard time might use it. If I have someone drop it off then they are at our house and knowing a LOT of our life---same as I learned a lot about theirs. If I wait until we get to America, then it's years before my son sees any money.

If someone has a good alternative, let me know :)

Thanks for being a part of what's going on here on the blog. You're a welcome addition.

Love and Light!

Anonymous said...

Here are some ways to get the money from the USA to Egypt. I do not know if any of these work for you but I thought it might be useful information.

Deanna Troi

UmmTimo said...

Salam Yosra,

Reading this post made my heart break for all involved.I especially feel sorry for the children, yours and hers. No child deserves to be left behind and forgotten like he seems to have done to his other two children. Alhamdolillah Mr. Boo has you and Ahmed.

What if you opened a bank account that Abu Boo could deposit funds in and then as soon as they are deposited you could withdraw the money, that way even if tries to take money out there is none.

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Umm Timo,

Agreed. "When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled."

I won't say that he ever forgot those children or that he forgets his son by me. I'm sure he remembers all his kids but remembering in your head and doing with your hand is different. No, there are many times on both sides when he lived his life and left the very hard work of raising his children to the women. On Judgement Day, he'll have to answer for why he acted this way.

Yes, alhumdulillah that Mr. Boo has a new life. I believe it would have been a very sad existence in the U.S. city with his father.

I LOVE your idea about the bank account. So, I create an accont, he makes the transfer and then I take the money. It must sound strange to fear he'd take it back but I know him---if AbuBoo perceived an "emergency" in Egypt then he'd use it without hesitation. Thanks for thinking for me. I'm a few brain cells short these days trying to figure out our future.

Love and Light!

Asalamu Alaykom Deanna,

Thanks for that money transfer info. Somehow, the next time has got to go differently. This was a "one off". I needed to go through it but once is enough :)

Love and Light to You Too!

Marie said...

I can imagine how tough such a situation was for you. I read it again and again, as I find you strong and yet so kind.
I hope in the future you could find a better way to get this money. There is no more difficult path to take again as the one of hard memories.

I understand your worries for the future but I also know you will manage well, with the help of God and the love you have around you.


Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Marie,

It was tough and thanks for understanding this. It's interesting how many readers are saying they re-read it over and again. It's a bit like poetry in a way. I realize that. Each line is rich with a sad depth of experience and emotion. My goal is to be kind at this point. What's done is done. My life is no longer intertwined with those two. They have each other and I have my new life. Alhumdulillah.

The money issue needs to get resolved. I knew I wanted this interaction ONCE but not twice.

Alhumdulillah the future is already known. It's written. I need only fulfill my duties as a Muslim to see it come into action.

Wishing you the best for the New Year :)

Love and Light!

Anonymous said...

assalam alaikum, I suggest you let him send you the money by western union.

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Anon,

Agreed :) This week, I actually found a Western Union nearby which I can use so I will do that if and when AbuBoo ever decides to send money again.

Light and Love!