Daddy's Little Girl

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A newly Arab father celebrates his daughters birth at work with his colleagues and friends. They discuss their treatment of women and their upcoming travels to Thailand.

The office is cold despite of the summer sun warming up the windows. The air conditioning hums in the calm, empty offices of the building. There are stacks of untouched papers and files on the four desks facing each other in the small square office of the Ministry of interior. Faisal is sitting by his desk, the second desk on the left. He looks down at a stack of papers but can’t seem to do any work. Thoughts of his baby that was born the night before are occupying his mind. 

He waits for his co-workers to show up, the office is too quiet without them. It is Thursday, the last day of the week. Hardly any workers ever show up on Thursday. He thinks about the call he had made to Ismael last night to announce his baby’s birth. He smiles at the thought. 

‘Al Salamu Alaikum and blessings to Faisal and his new born baby girl.’ Tarek and Ismael shout as they enter the office, carrying a big golden tray full of little cakes and a big pot of Arabic coffee with tiny cups, which they place on Faisal’s desk. Faisal stands up to greet them. Ismael was a short round man with a thick curly beard. They shake hands and plant kisses on each cheek. Tarek was a well build and tall man with a thick mustache. They shake hands and kiss each cheek. 

 ‘May she grow up under your care. We will be waiting for an invite to the wedding.’ Ismael grins, grabbing his desk chair and rolling it closer to Faisal’s desk. Tarek does the same. Faisal shifts slightly on his chair as he starts pouring Arabic coffee in three small cups. 

‘My daughter will only have the best of the best! She will get a PhD before she gets involved in any marriage, I assure you. I am planning for her to go to the finest English school in Kuwait.’ 

‘God willing, but be careful that she doesn’t learn the habits of a foreigner in those schools.’ Ismael rubs his temple as he shakes his head, ‘My brother in law sent his daughters to an English school, they all grew up knowing boys and refusing to wear the Islamic headscarf. God have mercy on him and my sister.’ He took a bite of a chocolate cake and a sip of coffee.

 ‘The other day I almost killed my own daughter.’ Tarek says slamming his fist on the desk. ‘You won’t believe what I found on her phone. Boy’s phone numbers saved under girl names. I broke her phone into pieces and from then on she is not allowed to leave the house.’

‘But how did you know they were really boys?’ Faisal asked. 

‘I heard her whispering and giggling in her room. Her doors were closed. As soon as I entered she ended her call and hid her phone under her pillow, thinking I didn’t see. I demanded she give me her phone and I redialed her last call, which was saved as “Fatema”, and a boy picked up. I almost smashed the phone on her face.’

‘Unbelievable. You did the right thing, Tarek, keep a closer eye on her. May God have mercy on you, my friend.’ Replies Ismael. Faisal nods and sips his coffee.

‘I am sure I won’t have any trouble with my daughter.’ Faisal says, ‘I’ll have her wear the Hijab as soon as she turns seven. It’s a Persian obligation, you know, and my mother will make sure it gets followed. I had already disappointed her for not taking a Muslim wife, I can’t disappoint her again.’

Tarek and Ismael think about Faisal’s Dutch Christian wife and Tarek almost asks about her wellbeing after the birth, but stops himself just in time. It isn’t appropriate to talk about another man’s wife. He takes a bite of a vanilla cake instead. 

Ismael breaks the silence, ‘May you be gifted with the heavens, Faisal, but isn’t seven a little too young?’
Ismael is originally from Iraq, a Sunni while Faisal is  Shi’i. Their customs are different. Faisal knew better than to discuss their differences. He stayed silent and sipped on his coffee.

Ismael pours more coffee in his cup, fearful that he may have crossed the line, he says, ‘A seven-year-old girl covered with a hijab doesn’t really fit in an English school, Faisal. That’s all I meant.’

Tarek speaks up then, ‘Yes, maybe you should just stick to an Arabic school for girls, It’s the best option.’
Faisal think about that for a while, drinking coffee and eating a cake. ‘Aren’t there English or American schools for girls only in Kuwait?’ He asks.

‘All the foreign schools are mixed.’ Ismael says.

Tarek adds, ‘Yes, and all the classes are for boys and girls together. And they make dance parties and carnivals and all that non-sense. I don’t know why they are allowing such indecency in this country. It is immoral, for Gods sake.’

Faisal, stunned by what he heard, felt his fingers freeze despite the hot coffee cup in his hands. ‘In that case she will be better off in an Arabic girl’s school, I think.’ he decides.

‘It’s the best option, my friend. In Gods will she will get the best education in the safest environment and away from boys.’ Ismael points out. 

Tarek suddenly puts his coffee cup down on the desk, remembering something. ‘By the way, we are still going to Thailand next month, right? I already booked my ticket. In God’s will, we will have the best time away from the nagging wives. I can’t wait.’

‘I still didn’t tell my wife. Do you think she will believe me when I say it’s a business trip?’ Laughs Ismael. ‘I can’t wait to get a massage from a Thai lady.’ He winks.

‘Even if she won’t believe you, you are the man of the house. My two wives can’t say anything to me, all praise to God.’ Tarek says lighting a cigarette.

 Faisal responds as he also lights a cigarette, ‘May you be gifted with the heavens, my good man.’
Smoke fills up the office as Tarek takes a deep puff of his cig and continues, ‘A year ago I went to Turkey with my friend Jassim, and one night at a club, I met the most beautiful Turkish girl around. I wanted her for a third wife, but she said no.’ Our laughs echo through the empty offices of the building.

The afternoon prayer bellows like sirens through the loud speakers of the mosque across the street. It’s already after twelve. In a span of a few seconds, all other mosques follow. The country deafened by the uproar of what seems like a choir in chaos. The men push their cigarettes into an ash tray, and Tarek and Ismael start heading towards the prayer room, but Faisal doesn’t join them.

The prayers wailed louder into Faisal’s ear as he exits the building heading towards his car, under the scorching heat of the desert sun. It feels as though he is entering an over-heated oven. He blasts the air conditioning as soon as the engine comes to life and the cool air hits his sweaty face. Faisal slams the car door shut. 


Submitted: February 07, 2018

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