A fan of Shahd Thani ‘s Just Another Emirati Kinda Love Story? Have you ever wondered what happened to Buthaina? Well we have a special piece written for our Travels theme that answers that question. We hope you enjoy it ^^
Dublin Grafton Street
5 years later
Buthaina thought she would find peace when she moved to Ireland and chose to study in a remote college. She had refused to go back to Dubai even to visit her family, so Dublin was where she met them in the summer. It had been just another rainy blustery day in Dublin where she had been rushing to meet her twin sisters for a quick respite and catching up before having lunch with their parents. It was a ritual they had every time they visited.
Buthaina hurriedly walked through the rain. Her rain boots clicked softly as she hurried towards Grafton Street. The rain poured like pellets. It was so cold, it stung…like Sultan’s words so long ago. The wind threatened to snatch the umbrella out of her hands and she held on to it with both hands.
“Damn you” She whispered as furious tears filled her eyes. She wrestled with the umbrella. She didn’t know who she was talking to if it was Sultan or the dratted umbrella or the wind that wanted to carry her away.
When she got to Grafton Street, people were hurrying in umbrellas. Her heart soared as she spotted two very familiar faces waving at her from the glass. They were standing in line at Butler’s.
Buthaina shook out her umbrella and closed it when she walked into the tiny space. Alya threw herself into her older sister’s arms. Elyazia stood in line and simply nodded.
“Do you want a drink?” Alya asked
“Dark Hot chocolate please” Buthaina said smiling at Elyazia.
“I thought I was supposed to meet you guys at lunch” Buthaina said again.
“We are” Alya admitted “but we wanted to see you first”
Elyazia was aloof as she wordlessly handed the hot chocolate to her sister.
“This is from Hana” She took out a notebook from her bag.
Buthaina felt it like a stab in the gut. Buthaina held the notebook in her hands. It seared her with memories as she turned it over. The erratic cursive handwriting of the best friend she once knew broke her heart. Each page started with Dearest B and dates to span the years where she was not in Hana’s life. The sweetness and familiarity of the younger girl’s gesture threatened to unravel her so she slipped it quickly into her bag.
“You met Hana?”Buthaina stammered
“She wrote you letters. A hundred letters” said Alya
“Why don’t you ever answer her?” asked Elyazia “You deactivated your email”
Her twin sisters were fifteen years old. They were still as young as she remembered but they were also so mature. Buthaina saw in them the years that she missed and the question that she had never answered.
Buthaina had turned thirty early in the year and the milestone had brought her countless reflection. She had continued her studies in Ireland, her Masters, and even interned in a few places. She was running out of reasons to stay. Her time was running out and she was dreading the move back to Dubai where all her memories were hung upon the streets and people that she had known.
The name was an ache that she could never heal.
Sultan was the boy she knew in the 4th grade, her childhood sweetheart, and the man who grew up to ask her hand in marriage. Her family had refused his suit and Sultan never forgave her for not fighting to keep him. The choice to respect her family’s wishes had devastated her, but she did not have the words.
Buthaina had already lost Sultan once long ago in Paris. Losing him the second time after their brief happiness had brought her to her knees.
She had crossed an ocean to escape all of this. She had packed up and moved to Killarney to continue her studies and to heal. She desperately wanted to heal. Every time she thought that she had put her heart back together, this flimsy house of cards, the winds of her past came gusting hard enough to blow it away.
It was not Hana that Buthaina was running away from, but the fact that her eyes were so like her elder brother’s. The younger girl had been Buthaina’s solace, her best friend, determined to bring Buthaina and her elder brother a happy ending.
If Buthaina had learned anything during the past five years, it was that as much as one wore out their own heart and soul with wishes and dreams, fate decided and it was not always kind.
Buthaina walked out of Butler’s with her sisters in tow. The wind blew making them all glad of the warm drinks they held. The rain had stopped and the sun shone bright. There were children making huge bubbles that floated high bringing looks of amazement. There was joy and mad capering in Grafton’s street. It had always managed to make her smile but today she could not shake the melancholy. She could feel the notebook in her bag taunting her with tidbits of news. .
People walking through Grafton’s Street meandered like they had all the time in the world. They stopped at stalls that sold Celtic Jewelry and stopped to listen to street performers.
She could always tell the tourists because they were the one stopping to take it all in. Every time one of the twin’s eyes caught hers, she could feel them brim with questions.
There was a band starting to play and the crowd gathered to listen.
“Keywest” Shrieked Alya “I love this band”
“Electric heart is my favorite” Elyazia added enthusiastically “Listen! They’re playing it”
Loving you is like barbed wire
It’s just like I’m burning in a white hot fire
Like running in a nightmare or standing in a lightning storm
I can’t describe it. It’s like electric love.
The audience clapped along to the song and she could hear a few singing along. Elyazia and Alya mouthed the lyrics. Each taking out their phones to take videos because these Dublin rituals they had never got old.
They eventually went on their way to catch up with their parents at a steak restaurant. They sat at a round table and her parents flooded her with news of home. Buthaina thought that maybe home was where her parents and sisters were, and not necessarily a place.
“I have sent your CV’s out in Dubai” her father told her after they finished the meal.
Buthaina’s fork slipped out her hand.
“And?” She asked. Her throat felt dry.
“You have interviews lined up in two weeks” Her father had a warm smile on his face.
“Two weeks is so soon” Buthaina felt like bricks had fallen on top of her. This day just had way too many surprises, the kind that left her with bruises.
“My girl, you knew you could not stay here forever” her father said sympathetically “I can’t live my life without you in the house”
Her mother had a gleam in her eyes that Buthaina had learned to associate with prospective suitors and marriage discussions, but she simply smiled.
“Now you can just surprise Hana and go see her” Elyazia said with a triumphant smile.
“You get to come home” Alya breathed “I missed you”
That night, Buthaina sat in bed with the notebook in her hands and thought of their expectant faces. Had she really thought that she would never go home? It had been too easy to run away and start over in a new country far away. .She could not even bring herself to turn the pages of the notebook.
Dear God, would she ever be strong enough to face her past?
Author: Shahd Thani