By Dana Husam Abdullah
September 24, 2015
When his wife did not finish the fillet mignon, Ahmed Mahmoud knew he can no longer avoid asking. “Keep the change,” he told the waiter when handing him the bill. He then turned to Nadia, who made no sign of wanting to move, “what’s wrong?”
“The children” she simply said, her eyes on the tablecloth.
His tone became urgent. “Is something wrong with them?”
“No, don’t worry,” she said. “But something a stranger on the plane ride said to me resonates and I can’t stop thinking about it. Ahmed, I don’t think the money is worth it. I’m missing months of their childhood that I can’t retrieve. And they have problems that I’m not there to fix.”
“Problems? What problems?”
“Didn’t you notice? My mother told me over the phone. Younis is stuttering, I think it’s because he is being bullied. And his eyesight is so weak because he’s always on the Play Station. He may need glasses. Adham barely says a word yet. His speech development is slow.”
Ahmed shook his head. Where is all this coming from?
“What are you saying? You love your job, baby,” he said, reaching for her hand, but she pulled it away.
“I guess I love my kids more. I need to find a job that will allow me to spend more time with them. Or freelance. Anything else that’s more flexible.”
“But baby,” he said, almost pleading, “what about all our investment plans? And can you really live without designer brands? Let’s face it, we can’t afford half the lifestyle we’re living on my income alone. The rent alone costs a fortune.”
She stared at him determinedly. “Then I think we need to move. How superficial do you think I am? Can’t live without designer brands? Seriously?”
His cellphone vibrated.
“Odd,” he said, checking it. “Someone called Oleeza is calling. Her name is familiar, who is she?”
“It’s the nanny, Ahmed,” Nadia replied, checking her own phone. “My phone has been on silent since the meeting, so she’s calling you. I wonder what she wants. Answer it already.”