Karim was furious at his parents. As soon as Karen told him they had forbidden her from seeing him, he wanted to race through the storm of rage that erupted from his blood, go home and scream in their face. He wanted to break things, and allow the destruction to manifest itself to the outer world, outside his system. He needed release to everything that had been boiling inside of him. He wanted to call his parents on the spot, tell them he was done with their interference with his life, he was done being the good child, and he was done being their son. But Karen stopped him. She told him they both had known this day would come. They both had known their relationship was doomed from the day they had first met.
It was a cold October night. It was one of his friend’s birthday, who had decided to celebrate it in his house in the mountains. He’d invited a group of friends for a barbeque and a sleepover. Karen was among the guests, and so was Karim, and when they were first introduced he could not help but stop looking at her brown eyes.
While dinner was being prepared, Karim was outside barbequing, but his eyes kept darting inside at Karen who was preparing the Tabboule. He observed as she silently laughed, as she tied her hair, and as she hunched over preparing the salad. He wished he’d been given some task inside to be able to hear her, see her up close and be able to talk to her.
When dinner was being served, Karim waited until Karen sat down so that he would be able to take a seat somewhere near her. But when she did, her friends sat next to her, and he ended up sitting somewhere he could not even see her properly.
As the night dragged on, candles were blown, and the cake was eaten, the guests sat together cuddled inside, having drinks as the rain started pouring outside. Jokes were made between the guests, laughter resonated through the downpour and warmth spread through the room. They played group games, including Truth or Dare, and as much as Karim knew about Karen he felt he wanted more. He wanted to break through the surface she maintained. And as one by one, the friends went to sleep, Karim and Karen remained the last two standing, eying each other, smiling and blushing at each other’s’ glances. When the dawn came nearer, they had started endless talks about everything that came up their minds. And as the sun stretched its rays across the mountain, a fire was kindled in both their hearts; a fire that had become love over the last year and a half.
Karim woke from his remembrance of the night they had met as he stormed through the front door of his house, his mother was watching TV, and his father sleeping.
He stood in front of his mother, blocking her TV as he tried to phrase his words. His anger had subsided but not enough for him to be able to control his temper.
“What the hell did you tell Karen?”
“Oh Karim—“ His mother shook her head and looked down for a few seconds, then she raised her head back. “It’s not that simple, my love. I know you two are in love. But this has to stop.”
“Mom, I have cancer, I might die. Who cares about—“
“You are NOT going to die.” His mother’s eyes suddenly widened and swelled with tears. “And this thing has to have an end.”
“It’s not up to you to decide that.” He suddenly screamed at his mother. “It’s not up to anyone to decide that. This is my business. Karen’s and mine .”
“Don’t be a fool Karim, this thing between you can’t work. How are you going to get married? Under what law? And even if you do, I will not have my grandchildren raised to be Christian Karim.”
“But I am not a muslim mom. I know you are, and dad is, but I’m not. It’s on my bloody ID card, but it’s all a load of shit to me.”
His father suddenly appeared through the door, having been woken by Karim’s shouting.
“You lower your voice when you’re talking to your mother. I will not allow you this kind of disrespect.” His father’s finger was pointing towards Karim threateningly.
“Right, and so much that I could leave it all to you.” Karim’s sarcastic tone erupted his father’s anger, he immediately raised his hand, as though about to hit him when Karim’s mother stood up.
“Rachid! Don’t you lay a finger on him.”
“Who do you think you are? Questioning religion and the word of God? You’re a Muslim, and I’m fed up with your blasphemy. You will not be seeing Karen anymore, she’s a Christian and that’s how it will always be.”
“You have no business in this. And don’t you mention her name ever again.” Karim wanted to throw something at his father, he detested the way his father pronounced his girlfriend’s name, it was too sacred to come from this monster’s mouth.
“Karim, he’s your father.” His mother’s temper was rising. She seemed to want to control herself, but Karim was not helping.
“My father, right. You’re talking about the man who never misses a chance to insult me? To make me feel less about myself? Or the man who abuses you and finds no other release of whatever anger he has but in your face. Why are you still with him if—“
“Karim, that’s enough. Your father loves you, and he loves me.”
“I don’t want his love, let him—“ While the words burst from his mouth, Karim felt the blow on his face. His father hit him so hard, his eyes filled with tears. His mother’s instant reaction was to rush over and push the father out of the way, and stand between the two men who had locked their eyes, anger and hate erupting in flames.
“Ya 7ayawen. You beast! How dare you lay your hand on him?” Karim’s mother’s voice was cracking as she screamed in his father’s face. She started pushing him and screaming and shouting, then turned to her son, asking him if he was okay. All the while insulting her husband, telling him what an animal he was.
“Cuddle him Jihane. Cuddle him.” His father’s eyes were full of anger, hate and Karim felt he was on the verge of killing both of them. His fists were clenched and ready to take a second beating at Karim. But slowly he closed his eyes, the tension from his fist was released, then he opened his eyes, looked at Karim, then to his mother, then back to Karim.
“Let your mother cuddle you, Karim. Let your cheating mother cuddle the shit out of you.”
[…to be continued]