The wedding dress was almost done, flat rented and wedding date set. It had been decided that we should go to Alexandria on our honeymoon. My parents had been there and the city still hanged on to it’s international atmosphere even though the borders of the Caliphate had been closed for over a decade.

My sister was pushing me to get used to the idea of getting married so I tried to keep out of her sight. My brother withdrew from me more and more as he no longer saw it fit for me to continue with the programming. I became more and more convinced I could not go along with it. Killing myself was not an option but backing out would make me as good as dead in the eyes of my family and relatives.

A plan was forming in my head but I needed information.

As usual I helped my mother with the laundry. I wanted to get her talking. “Ya Yummah! You went to Alexandria on your honeymoon, didn’t you?” “Yes…but those were different times.” She paused and smiled dreamingly. “Borders were open towards Europe. Alexandria was the capital of the Mediterranean Union. Tourist from all corners of the world would do the ‘grand tour’ as it was called; from Alexandria to the Levant, Bosporus, southern Europe and then cross the Gibraltar Bridge to Morocco and lastely drive through north Africa back to Alexandria. “ Why can’t people go now?” I had no knowledge of the world outside my home. “ It’s politics dear. It’s not for us to talk about and the bridge is blown up they say” “Why would people want to go to Europe if it is so decadent?” I had heard that Europe was a bad place where people where living a bad life and still I could sense something contradictory when they spoke aboute it. Jealousy? Longing? “It was the thing to do in that time..no other reason.. Because it was possible.” I wanted to hear more about Europe but we were soon running out of laundry. “Did you ever want to go on the grand tour?” My Mother smiled sadly “Well…Once.” She stopped. “Oh Alexandria was fun, Meenah! You will enjoy it there. It is still a beautiful city. Take these to Nasiim’s room, will you?”

She loaded my arms full with Nasiim’s clothes. I walked down the corridor where our bedrooms were but I passed his room and quickly went into my own. I picked out a pair of loose fitting trousers and sweater, a robe and a shirt and hid it under my bed.

“Meenah! What took you so long?” “Nothing Yumma.” “Aunt Rubah wants me to help her tomorrow. Do you want to come with me? You haven’t visited her in a while. “No I can’t,  Hassan’s sister is going to show me some new hairstyles. I promised her.” “That’s good Meenah that you finally try socializing a bit. I ‘ll leave you the car then. Aunt Rubah can send hers to pick me up. Tusbeh ala kheir habibti!” “W inti min ahlo, Yumma!”

W inti min ahlo, Yumma! it still echoes in my head. The last thing I said to her.