Danya is content with the way her life is going. She has a beautiful house and a promising career, and she's engaged to be married to Fadi, a man she met in college. In the beginning, their love blossomed, but in the last few years, instead of growing closer they were growing farther and farther apart. While walking down the aisle and looking into Fadi's eyes, she saw neither love nor compassion-and she ran.
Happy for a respite, she travels to India for her friend Zaara's wedding. It's a country she's longed to visit, and Zaara's wedding gives her the perfect escape. Here, Danya, receives the opportunity to put her life in perspective, and it leads her to something that has eluded her until now-true love.
A story about the simplicity of love, My Devdas shows how love can be born out of the most unusual circumstances and is still the most treasured gift in the world.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.36(d)|
Read an Excerpt
a love story
By R. K. Shadid
iUniverse LLCCopyright © 2013 R. K. Shadid
All rights reserved.
Not my life
California, July 2001
It was no use, no matter how long she stared at the blank screen, nothing seemed to happen! She realized it was not the computer's fault that she was getting nowhere, her mind was wandering all over the place, and she could not concentrate. Maybe if she had a cup of tea, it would help. Danya looked across the hallway with dismay as she heard the loud banging that came from the room Fadi had assigned as his own personal office. Does he really have to wrestle with his things to organize that room? She thought to herself. Since they had decided on the wedding date, and that they would live in her house afterwards, Fadi had been bringing more and more of his things over, and moving out more of hers! Who but mama's precious boy would think of paying so much money to buy that strange gold frame for his diploma, and then to try and hang it up in the family room next to our hideous engagement picture? She'd had to insist that he move it into his office. Danya turned in the black leather chair to look at what had become of her house. They had been engaged for six months when Fadi and his parents had decided they were ready for them to get married, and to start a family. She had tried to reason with Fadi: "How exactly could anybody prepare for, and organize, a big wedding in only a month? You know I have a deadline to meet by the end of the month. I thought this would be a decision we make together, not you and your mother ... who is getting married here, really?"
Fadi had come and put his arm around her shoulders, steering her towards his office. Once inside, he seated her in a chair, and then he sat behind his desk. True, he was an accomplished architect, but he made her feel like she was visiting a shrink when he sat like that, he even used that too-calm tone that people usually use when talking to a disturbed person. "I have no doubt you will be able to pull it off Danya, you always do". And that had been the end of that conversation.
On another occasion, Danya and Fadi were sitting with his parents around the dining table at Fadi's house, and Danya made the 'unforgivable' suggestion that they could have a smaller, more intimate wedding. Rose, Fadi's mother, was beside herself.
"If you're not having a big wedding, why don't you just go to city hall and get it over with? Unless the wedding is grand, I will not show up, and neither will my husband." She then turned to glare at Issa, her husband of thirty years, and the poor man just nodded along. He had learned a long time ago not to bother and argue with Rose. Fadi, of course, agreed to what his mother wanted—it had been hard afterwards for Danya not to resent Fadi and his parents and not to absolutely hate everything about her wedding—well, except maybe the cake! Chocolate cake has to be one of the secret ingredients in sanity pills! Danya surmised as she turned her attention to the state of her house. She looked around again, and again it seemed like there was no safe and quiet place in her house anymore, a move to the roof did not sound too bad, except that the sun outside would be a bit too much for her already fried brain.
Fadi's voice cut into her trip down memory lane with persistence. "Danya, are you okay?"
"Hah?" She winced as she came out of her shell to look up into the worried face that towered over her. "I have been talking to you and asking you if you're okay, and you just have this blank look on your face, like you did not really see me."
Danya figured that what actually bothered him was not that she did not respond, but that she did not see 'him'.
"I'm fine, thank you, just thinking about this book."
"Are you sure? You look a bit tired, and out of it."
"Really, I'm fine." She tried to turn around in her seat and get back to work, and away from him, but Fadi persisted. "Come on Danya, out with it. What's going on?"
"I told you, I'm absolutely fine. Please do not worry yourself about me." And she managed to turn her chair away, mumbling: "So you could go back to whatever it is you are doing in that room." Fadi was a very handsome man. He had beautiful wide hazel eyes, perfectly lined lips, proud tilted nose and a wide forehead crowned with curly golden brown hair that complimented his tanned features. He chose his clothes carefully to show off his wide shoulders and slender hips that fit perfectly with his long and muscular body. Danya always used the word 'perfect' around Fadi and when describing his looks, although of late it came out of habit rather than out of affection. She was brought back to reality when he pushed some of her note papers aside and sat on the edge of the desk to face her.
"Okay Danya, tell me what this really is about."
"Nothing Fadi, really, I'm absolutely fine." She was trying to save some papers from falling into the waste basket, and managed a nice leave-me-alone smile before saying through gritted teeth. "It's nothing, I'm just not getting anywhere with my work today, and I can't concentrate. Other than that, I'm fine." And she turned to face the blank screen, hoping against hope that, for once, Fadi would not push her into the corner. Lately she had been feeling like she was living in a trap, so having him nag her into appreciating his presence was not exactly what she would call smart at this point.
"You know it's hard for me, too, to get all of this together on such short notice, but blaming me, and pushing me away is not the answer to your frustrations or mine!" He said with his 'I'm too charming for you to be too mad at me' smile on his face.
"Well Fadi, this was not exactly my idea. If my memory is not playing games with me, you are the one who admired your parents' idea so much, and yet......" She let the words fade. She had to stop herself before she snapped, which was something that she was dreading would happen any day now. It was no use trying to explain to Fadi or convince him for that matter, that he and his mother could not possibly be right all the time. Not even half the time!
His finger under her chin turned her eyes to face his and she was breathless for a moment by the beauty of the golden brown glow in his eyes, sometimes it could almost make her forget everything else she knew about their relationship. She was always wary of Fadi lately when he was being too nice to her out of the blue. He had a nasty habit of being real nice to her for a while, only to turn mean and judgmental all of a sudden.
He stroked her chin with his thumb and said gently, "I know we have been working very hard lately, and spending less time together, but I do miss you a lot."
That hit the spot. Leaning into the safety of his arms, resting her head on his chest, breathing in his cologne and feeling his warmth, Danya let out a deep sigh. She could not but admit that this was her life-long dream, to find the love and safety with somebody of her own. Having been an orphan for so long, with no relatives to speak of, she craved the feeling of belonging. She was feeling very content for a moment—and then Fadi spoke.
"You know I wanted to get married soon, so we could start our life together, move in together and actually be able to go on a real trip together, which we could not do before, and can't even do now even though we're engaged. My parents had nothing to do with this decision. I'm sorry you are getting so stressed over the wedding and the book." He stroked her hair back from her forehead and planted a kiss there. "Maybe you should just hire somebody to help you out a bit, a wedding planner or even a secretary."
"I'll be fine—I'll manage." Danya tried to close her eyes and relax, just to enjoy that moment, but amazingly her Mr. gorgeous had to keep on talking to make his point. One more thing she did not admire much about Fadi is he either would ignore her completely and say nothing for hours and even days, or he never knows when to just stop and back off.
"I see you're not getting on well with your book either. If that's bothering you then I think you should just try your hand in pottery."
She backed out of her shelter to look at him, hoping that she misheard him, or at least just misunderstood ... "pottery!" She wondered calmly.
"Well, yeah, you know ..."
"No actually I don't know." She said stiffly.
The air between them getting colder by the second as Danya sat back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest, hoping to get some warmth, but it felt as if the cold was from within.
"Well, what I'm trying to say is, since you love art so much, and your book is not going well, maybe you should try something else, like pottery for a change. You used to paint before you started writing, so ... I don't know!"
Fadi was mumbling now, and she was getting hotter in the face. Breathe ... breathe ... and do not snap! She kept telling herself. True, Fadi never read any of her four already published books and never seemed to appreciate the fact that she had a really good deal in the works, but still! She had a bit of hope that maybe; just maybe, her utterly confused mind was playing games with her at that moment.
"What exactly are you getting at here Fadi?"
He squared his shoulders defensively, bringing to mind the image of a six year old who knows he's wrong but will not back down ... except that a six year old might have been kind of cute instead of infuriating.
"All I'm saying is that you need a more relaxing hobby."
"Hobby", she muttered in disbelief ... and then, "HOBBY???" She yelled as she jumped out of her chair, and stormed out of the house in less than one minute. "I could live with the non-appreciation, but this!!" She was talking loudly to herself as she walked, more like stomped. She was seeing black bubbles floating in front of her face as she walked down the street and shoved her way inside the nice and quiet coffee house around the corner from her house.
It had been an Italian restaurant once, but was sold about five months ago to a new owner who obviously spared no expense in remodeling the place. It was beautiful and elegant, and the aroma of fresh coffee and herbal tea gave her a happy jolt.
Danya looked around and saw that it was already getting busy for lunch, so she made her way to the smallest table in the corner and sat with her back to the huge mirror mounted on the wall.
What irony, here I was thinking Fadi was the one trying to corner me, so what do I do? I come here and put myself in the corner! Very smart. Danya smiled, shaking her head, and looked at the menu, the name in gold letters on the top informed her that the new name was "Mike's Mochaccino". She looked up at the young woman who came up to her table, whose black and white uniform was definitely nicer than the faded blue jeans and wrinkled white blouse she was herself wearing. But then again, everything about Zaara was stunning: glowing black hair, sparkling dark brown eyes, beautiful features, and tall slim body.
"Hello Danya. How are you?"
Danya smiled into Zaara's face. Who could resist kindness? "Pretty good Zaara. How are you feeling now?" She asked her friend. "I'm sorry I did not get a chance to call and check on you today."
"Don't worry about it. I know how your days are. I'm good, thank you, much better than yesterday. I finally got over my cold and happy to be back at work. Do you want me to get you something to drink? Laura will be here in a minute to take your order, she's getting another table's food out right now."
"No problem, can I have my usual, please?"
As Zaara went to get Danya's order of Earl Gray tea, Danya thought of the first time she met Zaara. Since she had an obsession with India and anything and anyone Indian since childhood she was beyond overjoyed to meet Zaara, to the point that Fadi kept telling her to calm down before she scared the new manager into kicking them out of the restaurant. That was the last time Fadi had accompanied her there. Fadi had zero tolerance for any of Danya's interests that did not concern him personally.
Laura came and after they exchanged the normal pleasantries, Danya ordered the Greek salad, and then Zaara came back with the tea, set it down, and leaned against the chair facing Danya. She was holding a folder in her hand, and she set it on the edge of the table as she asked Danya, "How is your latest book coming along? When did Blake say it was going into print? I just finished 'Not my life' last night, beautiful work."
"Thank you. I have been trying to work on part two, and get the last details for my lovely wedding put together, but I have a feeling everything is just not fitting into place right now. My life seems to be moving too fast for me to catch up, you know what I mean?"
"Oh trust me, lately that is all I've been feeling. Listen, I'm going to let you eat in peace, and I will get back to work, but you have to promise to have a cup of coffee with me before you leave."
"You know I would love to."
Zaara grabbed her folder and turned, passing Laura who had just come with Danya's salad. As Zaara went back to the front desk to attend to her manager duties, Danya noticed a small leather picture holder on the floor—she picked it up, and was about to call Zaara when she saw the face that peeked at her through the clear cover of the wallet-size holder. Handsome and perfect were the words she always used to describe Fadi's perfection, but this face. My God ... he is gorgeous! It was the face of an exceptionally good looking man, in his thirties, with shiny straight black hair that shone even in the photograph, surrounding a long face with high cheekbones, beautiful almond shaped brown eyes that gleamed with the smile that parted his stunningly sensual full lips to show his nicely shaped white teeth. And even though his nose was larger than average, and a bit crooked, it only served to give his face some interesting wild character. Okay, there's nothing wrong with noticing details ... I am a writer! She told herself as she put the picture aside before Zaara came back her way and saw her already strange friend acting even weirder than usual.
As Danya worked on her salad and stole glances at the photo, she realized that even though she'd known Zaara for almost four months, and they went out for coffee two to three times a week, she really knew nothing personal about her except that she was from India, and that she came to California to study. Danya was mostly interested in knowing all about Delhi, where Zaara was from, since it was one of the many places she dreamt about seeing in India one day. Fadi was not as interested in going to India as going to France or some other European country that Danya had no interest in visiting, but then again, their list of differences was growing by the second nothing was surprising her anymore. If she was to be honest with herself, it was partially her fault, too. She expected too much, and yet at the same time she figured since she had known Fadi for almost six years he should by now have understood her more, or at least tried to since he asked her to marry him seven months ago.
When the place quieted down, Zaara came back, and sat in the chair facing Danya, placing two cups of coffee on the table. "I'm always happy when we have busy lunches, and happier when it's over and things have gone smoothly. This morning the coffee machine and the grill were not working, so it was a bit straining. How did your morning go?"
"As usual, I tried to put some words into sentences, but let's just say that talking to Fadi and having him around me too much do not encourage any bright ideas in my head at all, aside from imagining ways to block his voice and face out of my head long enough to focus—or even better, coming up with ways to cause him some serious physical pain. Scary, I'm telling you!"
Chuckling, Zaara commented: "Maybe you should write about all the political and religious points of view you're always telling me about, you know, change your path from romance for a while. That might make you happier, or at least it might make it easier for you than making a whole story up right now, until you are more settled in your personal life. I mean, these are your personal thoughts so it's something that you don't have to try and come up with, it's already there. Maybe that's what you need, a little bit of a change, to try your hand in something different."
Excerpted from My Devdas by R. K. Shadid. Copyright © 2013 R. K. Shadid. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
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