Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Tale of Two Women - A Mini Series, Part XVI

After Aly and Deanna returned all their friends to their respective homes they went to the hotel that had been reserved for her. Aly made sure everything went effortlessly and smoothly while checking in and getting to the room. Once in the room Aly said to Deanna the words she had longed to hear her entire adult life, “would you like to pray together?” Deanna could not believe her ears. She had longed to hear these words, and when she did she thought her ears were playing tricks on her. She questioned him again as she had done nearly their entire relationship because she trusted no one these days. Aly again repeated in a soft gentle voice looking right into her eyes, “would you like to pray together?” She thought to herself, how did this man know exactly what I wanted to hear? How did he know this meant so much to me? For she knew she’d never revealed this part of herself as she had so many times previously to others because she didn’t want to give away all her desires for yet another to falsely take use of them for their needs only. The only conclusion Deanna could come up with was that God knew her heart and knew exactly what she desired even if she had never uttered the words to Aly. They prayed together and to Deanna it felt like the very first time she ever prayed. That same sweetness, that same hunger to be closer to God, that same wave of emotions that washes over you when you are truly connected to God.

The next day, Aly took Deanna to a little Lebanese café where they dined on hummus, chicken shwarma sandwiches, drank tea and smoked shesha for hours. They just talked and laughed like teen-agers, and could not believe this was really happening to them. Aly shared that Allah had showed him this exact scenario previously in a dream, but that he never knew when the day was actually going to come, and now it was here. They decided to go across the street to the beach walkway and stroll down the sea shoreline, feel the breeze of the ocean and continue their great conversation. They stopped occasionally to have others take pictures of them because they didn’t want to miss capturing these moments. Deanna and Aly confirmed that after meeting face-to-face and with all the other knowledge they felt they knew about each other and their respective backgrounds that they wanted to get married. They would need to go the next day to have a medical exam and blood drawn in order to prepare for the wedding ceremony. Later in the evening they went to explore the outdoor market areas and then dined at an Arabic restaurant/night club. Deanna had hoped Aly wouldn’t mind dining on Arabic food as she claimed there weren’t many good Arabic restaurants around her and wanted to make sure she got her fill of delicious food before returning to the states. Aly was not particularly interested in going to the Arabic restaurant/night club, but knew Deanna would enjoy it, which she did. They had the most delicious meal and enjoyed the live entertainment of dancers and singers. Deanna noted to Aly that the dancers where terrible, that they just pretty much stood there swaying there hips, not really dancing at all. Aly smiled to her, leaned in and whispered in her ear, “this is not like the dancing you see back home. More than likely these girls are hookers.” Deanna gasped. Aly said, “I know. Disgusting, huh? Watch what happens.” Not surprising to Deanna to know that people would give money to the dancers, however, she was not expecting to see these men literally spray these girls like a shower with LOTS of money. In fact, the restaurant attendants where standing by with fists full of money to convert the patrons larger bills to these wads of money. Then there seemed to become a “marking” of the territory over the girls. One man would take a wad of money and stand over a particular girl and pour the money all over her. Then another man would see this, get an even bigger wad of money, go over to that same girl and pour the money all over her. All the while the dancer just stood there, swaying her hips back and forth and smiled. Deanna could not believe what she was witnessing. Aly leaned over to her and said, “I wonder. I just wonder how many of these men throwing all this money around would give even $5.00 to a poor person on the street to which he concluded probably not.” In spite of the money showering show over the girls they had a great evening enjoying the food, tea, shesha, music and most of all each other’s company.

Monday came and Deanna and Aly were off to the medical clinic where they needed to have blood drawn, a medical exam, which basically consisted of an x-ray, and two photos taken for the necessary paperwork to be processed. Deanna found the clinic waiting area extremely crowded and seemed to lack organization. She noticed everyone just crammed to the front of the line, what little attempt at a line that there was, and started telling the poor clerk behind the counter what they wanted. The most fascinating thing seemed that everyone knew this was the way things operated and no one seemed to get upset or anything. Of course, to Deanna this drove her crazy because it seemed to confusing and cluttered with no structuring. She did like the fact though that the men’s area and women’s area of the medical examination facility were separated. You could just feel a difference in the areas, and of course she felt more comfortable in the softened feel of the women’s area. Everyone was very nice and of course inquisitive of Deanna, which she found interesting because she never thought of herself as someone that people would be inquisitive about, but rather just the opposite. She was the one that was always curious about everyone else, but now it would seem the shoe was on the foot so to speak.

After having their examinations completed, they went back to the Lebanese café to have lunch, drink tea and smoke shesha. Deanna confessed she could really get use to this leisurely life style. It felt so good to be relaxed and not going a million miles and an hour and feeling the pressures of everyday life. Later that evening they went back to the market place to do some shopping. In the meandering around of the market place they found a shop that sold wedding dresses, so they decided to venture over to the store. They were greeted by a wonderfully warm South African woman who had been living in the Gulf for five years now, and loved every minute of her life there. Deanna and Aly shared they were planning on marrying soon and were in need of a dress. The shop woman told them she was closing, but for them to come the following morning and she would have the perfect dress selected for Deanna to try on. They left the shop and went to a little Arabic restaurant called Nefertiti’s which was owned and operated by Russians, which Deanna thought was really funny. There they again sat for hours talking, and on this particular evening they spoke a lot of Aly’s childhood and his love for his mother. What warmed Deanna’s heart most was the emotion and love he held so near and dear to his family, for one could not fake what she was seeing in his eyes, his face, his body language, or his entire being.

The next day Deanna and Aly set out to the clinic to get their results, but were told the women’s section was closed and to come back the next day before noon. So Deanna and Aly returned to the wedding dress boutique where the South African woman was waiting for them, and as promised she had an absolutely stunning gown waiting for Deanna to try on. She did, and the dress fit nearly perfect. The woman told Deanna it would only require moderate alterations and that she could get the dress later in the afternoon of that same day if she wanted. Deanna could not believe her ears because this type of customer service would never be found in the states, at least as far as Deanna knew. After purchasing the dress they were back out to the market place and now went to the Gold Souk, which Deanna thought she had died and gone to heaven. She could not believe the amount of gold she was finding so available at your fingertips. After hours of absorbing all the luxurious gold jewels, they returned to the wedding shop and picked up Deanna’s wedding dress. They returned it to the hotel for safe keeping and continued their browsing of the city. Around 3:00 a.m. they made there way to an internet café so Deanna could send an email home letting everyone know of her safe arrival.

The next day came quickly and they rushed to the medical clinic to get their test results. The y then gathered two of Aly’s friends to go to the courthouse to get married. They were so excited at this thought because it was Valentine’s Day and what greater day to celebrate one’s nuptials then on the Hallmark holiday of Valentine’s Day. Upon arriving at the courthouse the clerk inquired as to whether Deanna had been previously married, which she indicated she had and produced a certified copy of her divorce decree. The clerk told her that it was insufficient and that they needed to get the document translated into English. This seemed so absurd since everything in this country was in English, but they rushed to an authorized translator’s office for said translation. They began the translation immediately, but told Aly he needed some number from the Foreign Ministries Office, which by time they got to their office was closed. They were tired and hungry because they had maybe had 4 hours sleep the entire four days that Deanna had been there. They returned one of Aly’s friends to his work and his other friend, Mohamed, remained with them. Mohamed reassured Aly and Deanna not to worry over this setback because Allah was in charge of all things, and for the two of them not to take their eyes of Allah. After having lunch they returned Mohamed to his work and then spent the rest of the day trying to get everything they could done so they could marry the next day. Aly received a call from his friend Sergio inviting them to join him and his fiancée for dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Prior to meeting Sergio and Christina, Aly and Deanna exchanged wedding rings that each had selected for the other and pledged their vows to one another, and agreed to keep their eyes focused on Allah, seeking His guidance and direction on their wedding. They dined with Sergio and Christine and finished the night off feeling relieved to have survived the busy day as well as hopeful for the next day to marry.

Deanna and Aly started their day earlier than all the other days by running to the Foreign Ministry Office. Deanna had to wait in line to meet with the Foreign Ministry Clerk who was busy having a young man bring him tea. He asked what Deanna wanted and she stated that she was told she had to come to his office to obtain a number for her and her fiancée to get married, and showed the clerk her divorce papers. He told her he could do nothing for her because she was an American that she needed to go to the U.S. Consulate Office for them to give her something.

Deanna and Aly rushed to the U.S. Consulate Office to where Deanna had to go alone through security to get to the consulate’s staff office. She was greeted by another set of guards, and she informed them she needed to see the consulate. They said it would be no problem, but she needed to come back at 12:30 p.m. as they were closed. Deanna stood there and cried because she was running out of time. It was now Thursday, the court closed at 2:00 p.m. and Friday they would be closed as well as Saturday. Deanna recalled the poor security guard looking so helpless at the crying woman in front of him. He immediately got on the phone to have someone talk to her. He handed her the phone and she explained to the person on the phone that she needed help. That she had been trying to get married and was getting the run around. She was running out of time and was told to come here to get some form of documentation in order to present to the court. The person on the other end of the phone felt bad for listening to her cry, so he turned the phone over to a woman. The woman on the phone heard Deanna’s story all over again and told her to just wait and she’d see what they could do for her. She reminded Deanna they didn’t open until 12:30 p.m. and it was now 10:15 a.m., so for Deanna to please be patient, sit next to the guard and wait for her to call, to which she did. She saw the clock ticking so slowly, it was now 12:10 p.m. and there was still no call and poor Aly was waiting somewhere outside the first secured area not knowing what was happening with Deanna. Deanna just sat anxiously waiting, praying, watching people and wondering when the damn phone would ring.

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