Tales of the Phoenix City, Chapter 5

Nina stood frozen, looking at the bride heaving and crying, her body slumped amidst the acres of fabric, looking like a broken puppet. 

What should I do now? Having a bride cry from happiness and emotion was one thing; consoling tears of sorrow was quite another. 

She decided to keep quiet and let Yasmin compose herself. 

         Mnjdj end luf him came a muffled sound from below the veil.

Please God, let her not put any make up on the pristine dress. Like, please. Thinking of the cleanliness of the dress might have been Nina’s defense mechanism to avoid dealing with Yasmin’s evident pain, but somehow she doubted it. It’s just that the dress had taken so much time and effort and passion, and to see it already creased and soon to be smeared with mascara and khôl broke a tiny part of Nina’s heart.

– Sorry habibte i didnt quite get that. Come again please?

And get your weeping face out of the dress I beg of you.

Sometimes, Nina wondered if that job was not going to make a schizophrenic out of her.

         I don’t love him!!! cried Yasmin, tears and snot running down her face. 

Nina went to fetch a glass of water and a box of tissues and sat herself beside her. 

Somehow, the fairy tale was slowly turning into some kind of ridicule nightmare, and Nina asked herself why designers, hairdressers and bartenders were the Chosen recipients of Drama, Neurosis and Problems. Surely they should charge more for that added service? That’d help me with the workshop, thought Nina half-smiling, then promptly returning her focus to the weeping figure she had next to her.

Yasmin gulped the glass of water. She looked like a deflated doll, too thin, grey faced, and looking considerably older than she really was.

         Well, if you don’t, then why are you marrying him? 

Yasmin looked like all the fight had gone from her usual defensive aggressive face. 

         Because it’s what everybody’s is doing. Because I’m 25 and that’s what I’m expected to do. Because we’re a good match on paper. Because he has the means to keep me to the manner I’m accustomed to. Because our families know each other. Because I’m suffocating at home and want to flee, and marriage is my get out of jail card. 

Nina had the image of two pillar-parents flanking their daughter, not the kind that supports, but rather, the kind that oppresses.

– Well, if you’re that unhappy, I don’t think any amount of diamonds and appropriateness is ever going to change the fact that you’re marrying someone you don’t love. Looks to me like you re exchanging a servitude for another. 

Yasmin had a bitter laugh. So young and already so bitter. This wasn’t right. 

         What do you know about all this? You’re not married are you? Why didn’t you ever get married? Don’t you fear of ending up alone?

         But I like alone, Nina blurted out, almost without paying attention. I’m happy alone.

         They all say that.

         Who they?

         All the ones who couldn’t get someone to marry them.

         What kind of utter crap have people been feeding you, I ask you? “Couldn’t get someone to marry me”! Little lady, I never got married because I never found the real thing and simply couldn’t and wouldn’t settle for less. And trust me, in Lebanon, with my family putting pressure on me, I would have given in perhaps just like you, except that I have found reward and happiness in my job. I have made it happen for myself, I’m glad to live alone, get together with friends, enjoy my life the way it is.

Nina then spotted the dress Yasmin was still wearing.

         Look at that dress. Look at the fabric, the work, the preciousness of it. I work with high quality garment, do you think I would settle for a cheap life and a third rate love? Why on earth would someone wake up every single day next to someone they hate just so that they can wear a dress and pretend to be happy in front of their family?

Yasmin was having none of it and was far from being impressed.

         If I’m too choosy, I’ll wind up alone .

         Then maybe you’re gonna need to start liking alone, and start liking yourself a little more.  

         How so? I’m getting married

         There is no solitude more bitter than the one that is shared, said Nina getting up. If you marry him, you’re setting yourself up for utter failure in your life, failure no Hummer, no gifts and no material possession will ever make up for. You’re not marrying this guy and that’s the end of it, not in my dress anyway. Take it off, you’re not worth it. My brides know what they want and go for it, if you’re not capable of that, you’re not worth the labour of my petite mains. Now take it off.

Yasmin couldn’t move, and stood frozen, unable to utter a word, when the door burst open to let a young women holding a camera on her shoulder enter, soaking wet.

– Jesus Fucking Christ, what’s this fucking weather?

Nina took the woman by the shoulders and pushed her in front of Yasmin:

         Lesson number 1 to change your screwed up value system: Marriage is not the only long term partnership one can think of, it’s only one among many. Yasmin, meet Gabrielle, long time friend, great curser of all times, and photographer extraordinaire. Gabrielle, meet Yasmin, and would you tell her how you’ve been living with Grace, the love of your life, for the past 5 years?

– Yes habibi, Nina told a flabbergasted Yasmin, those two are one of the most equal and loving relation I have ever seen. Think about it as the first earthquake your mind desperately needs: there is a whole world of options out there, and you’re not stuck anywhere, or with anyone. Now take off that dress!

 

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