Mohamed moved his pool stick in line with the cue ball as he calculated the angle to hit the ball and put his friend Salim out of his misery. Executing his shot perfectly he turned to his friend with a grin plastered on his face. “Man, I told you ……….you can't beat this,” He said as he presented himself with flourish. “Bugger off mate!” snarled Salim. Mohamed and Salim have been friends since standard two and they were forever trying to best each other. Come to think of it, Mohamed recalled those were the very circumstances under which they forged their friendship. Salim and he were the only two contestants from their school left in the state swimming championship. Mohamed had won the race by a stroke and Salim had thrown a tantrum till Mohamed had gone over and handed his trophy to him saying he had being a good competitor. The rest shall we say was history. Looking quickly at his watch, Salim turned to Mohamed to take his leave.
“What you up to after this?” asked Salim.
“Nothing man, just gonna go kick back in the crib and work on my coursework. Why you asking?” came the reply.
“You want to help me out. I got to go over to Ealing and deal with this thing,”said Salim whilst cocking his head. This usually meant one thing to Mohamed. It meant there was more to the story than Salim was willing to let on.
“Sure man,” agreed Mohamed.
As they drove towards their destination, Mohamed mused as to what was Salim up to. He normally would badger him till he got the information but this time he sensed there was something else. They talked about school and women, their two favorite topics. Salim as usual was the more level headed one. He had being married now for 6 months and he believed he was an expert in the field. Mohamed didn’t think he would ever be able to take that step. He liked the way his life was. He had choices and there is nothing more a black person likes than a buffet. Salim parked the car next to a beautiful house with an even more beautiful garden. It looked like Mother Nature was in full swing in this part of the world. Following Salim to the door, Mohamed wondered who lived in the house and what they were doing there. “Salaam Aleykum Fartun,” greeted Salim as he was beckoned into the house. Mohamed looked up to greet their host but his words got lodged in his throat.
She stood tall for a woman. Her eyes were set apart with a short cute button nose in between it. Her lips were the color of tarty pink grapefruit. She was wearing a turquoise colored dirac and her figure was admirable. She stared at Mohamed as she moved to close the door. She recognized him……….darn it, thought Mohamed. Salim who hadn’t noticed the interchange of looks between them, walked on into the living room. The house suddenly erupted in screams and giggles as two girls ran to hug Salim’s legs. Mohamed kept his distance from the scene completely unsure of what was happening. Who was this woman to Salim for that matter who were these kids to Salim? Fartun walked past him to usher the kids into the living room all the while apologizing for the mess the house was in. Salim sat back in one of the ottoman chairs as the kids swarmed around him, asking him question after question. Mohamed sat across from his friend aghast at what he was seeing and trepidation set in. Would she tell Salim they had met before? Was this Salim’s other woman? Sensing his friend’s gaze on him Salim looked up, “I guess I owe you an explaination.”
Fartun was his sister in law. He came over to check up on her once a week and more recently every couple days. She was a mother to the two girls and a wife to a man who didn’t deserve her. Her husband practically lived next door at his mother’s house and never came to see her or the kids. He didn’t provide for her except paying for the bills. Her fridge was constantly empty and she had resorted to selling her gold to feed her kids. Her sister (Salim’s wife) has asked Salim to look into her sister every week and help out. They were in the process of getting Fartun freed from her marriage. It was a sad case and Mohamed had a new found respect for this tall woman. Fartun played the gracious host keeping up the small talk and fixing them tea and biscuits. Her children, Kamar and Kay, were excited at the prospect of having two men to play with. They seemed to lack male presence in their life and Mohamed could empathize. After half an hour or so Salim asked Fartun for her grocery list and told her that Mohamed and him will follow her list to the letter and even arrange it in her cupboards. Fartun smiled and told him that she likes to touch and pick her own vegetables; she couldn’t trust a man to do that for her. They reached a consensus. Mohamed would take her to the grocery store while Salim babysat the girls. This proved to be agreeable to all parties except Mohamed but he didn’t voice his opposition due to curiosity taking priority.
As Mohamed got out of the parking spot with Fartun as a passenger, he noticed she was wringing her fingers on her lap. Her fingers were long and delicate with barely any jewelry to accentuate her beauty. Mohamed remembered the first time he saw her. He thought she was an apparition from his dreams. She was walking away from the goldsmith and seemed to be preoccupied with her own thoughts. Mohamed being the masterful charmer sidled close to her. He introduced himself exclaiming that he couldn’t help but to notice that she was sent to earth to torment his very soul. He put on his best show and all she did was blink fixatedly at him. “I’m sorry you must have me confused with someone else. I am a single mother with mouths of children to feed and no time to waste on a romp in the sac plus I have a feeling you wouldn’t know what to do with a real woman if she fell on your lap,” said she stiffly as she turned on her heel and left him with his mouth agape. Mohamed had never being turned down by a woman yet and this left him bare. He had consoled himself saying that she was a single mother anyway what good was she. Another man had her and deemed her unworthy. Women these days!
Thinking back to that day Mohamed felt awful for thinking all those thoughts about her. The silence in the car spoke volumes and pretty soon Mohamed was sure it would rise to a crescendo. Turning on the CD he selected track number three on the mix CD. Craig David’s sultry voice filled the car as he talked of not missing your water till the well runs dry. Almost inaudible she started humming to the tune and Mohamed joined in with lyrics. After a couple minutes Fartun jumped in too and they sang the song till the end. When the track ended they laughed and the ice was broken. Fartun apologized for being rude to him in the streets and Mohamed apologized for hitting on her but that he meant the compliments wholeheartedly. The conversation flowed like a spring bubbling over rocks that pretty soon Fartun confided her life story to Mohamed. How she had married her husband because her mother had asked it of her. How he was an inconsiderate oaf that lets his mother control his finances and when she questioned this he had called her uneducated and a burden. That was the beginning of the split and it practically went downhill after that. Mohamed kept silent through her tale and didn’t say anything in response for he didn’t feel it was his place to say anything. They did the shopping and got done within half an hour. Within that time frame Fartun got to know Mohamed and vice versa. It felt so natural to talk to her and no topic seemed off limits for them. Mohamed was almost sad when he turned into her driveway. Mohamed grabbed the heavy bags and set out for the kitchen. Salim helped Mohamed as Fartun got the girls ready for bed.
Mohamed commended his friend for his kindness and told him that he would like to help. Salim looked at him in surprise and smiled. He knew his friend a little too well. He knew Mohamed was taken by Fartun and he couldn’t blame him. She was a smart, funny, kind and had a heart of gold. Any man would be lucky to have her. Fartun walked in before he could ask Mohamed what he thought of Fartun’s situation. She thanked them both and invited them to stay over for dinner. They both declined the invitation and begged off to go attend to their own lives. Mohamed walked out with Salim and as he walked by Fartun he handed her a slip of paper with his number. Salim saw the exchange in the corner of his eyes and pretended to busy himself with turning the car on. During the drive back to the pool hall to pick up Mohamed’s car Salim talked about everything but Fartun. Mohamed on the other hand thought about nothing but Fartun. He was perplexed as to why he gave her his number. He usually made it a rule not to deal with women who had children. But Fartun was a different sort of woman with her there were no boundaries, he could envision things he could do for her and to her………………………………