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(With input by ‘Irish Lass’ and edited by “LarryInSeattle”)
My dad always referred to himself as an entrepreneur. He was constantly moving from one place to another, one job to another, and one ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme to another. So in other words, my dad was a crook, a con artist to be more precise. That’s why my mom divorced him when I was six years old.
For the next eight years my mom and I lived alone. She worked at a local healthcare center and I did odd jobs in the neighborhood. On occasion, we’d get a card or letter from my dad from some exotic place telling us that ‘this was the one’ and either asking my mom to join him or, more often, asking her for money.
And that’s how it was until just after my 14th birthday. Then one night my mom came home from work complaining of a severe headache. By the next morning she was gone. The doctors refused to tell me anything because I was a minor so it wasn’t until years later that I realized she’d had a stroke and, hopefully, passed in her sleep.
The confusion that followed did little to help me get over the loss of my mom. According to her, she’d made arrangements with my uncle to take care of me if anything ever happened to her. Unfortunately, she’d never put anything in writing so I became a ward of the state and for almost a year I lived in a foster home while the government searched for my father.
When they finally found him he was in Chile and while he said he’d come back to the US right away. Yeah, fat chance, he didn’t show up for almost six weeks. When he did show up he was pretty much as my mom had described him. His hair was black with just the slightest hint of gray around the temples. It was trimmed with every hair in place and his nails were manicured to a glossy finish. His eyes were a gray-green and his smile was perfectly white, with every tooth in place. He was dressed in a gray, tailor-fit, suit and wore a pair of black shoes that gleamed from being so highly polished. He wore a gold ring on his left ring finger that had an emerald in it that was bigger than his fingernail and an expensive watch on his right wrist. His voice was soothing and refined so you could understand every word and you instantly felt you could trust him; yet this was exactly what my mother had warned me about.
The rest of the week was spent jumping through legal hoops, as the saying goes, until the judge approved all the paperwork and then, just like that, … BAM … I was now my father’s son.
For the next four years, we bounced from place to place across the globe: Singapore, Tokyo, Baghdad, Cairo, Mexico City, anywhere but the United States. Dad said he didn’t want to ‘muddy the water’ if he ever needed a place to call home which was a good idea since many times we left the town we’d been staying in with either the police or others chasing us.
During those years my dad tried more than once to teach me his ‘trade’ but I wasn’t interested so it wasn’t surprising that when I turned 18 and had a chance to go to college, I left. With all the moving around the world I’d already done I decided to major in Anthropology. And so, for the next 6 years, I barely saw my dad though we talked several times a week, either on the phone or with video conferencing.
When I graduated, I decided to surprise him with a visit. Dad was living in Istanbul at the time. The city had once been known as Constantinople and had been the melting pot and merging place of two continents and multiple vastly different cultures over the ages. Little did I know how much that visit would change my life.
‘She’ answered the door when I knocked. I towered over her yet there was something about her that made me feel small as I stood there. She was dressed in a simple niqab and abaya which revealed only her eyes. They were a brilliant blue that sparkled in the late-afternoon light. They were also encircled by delicate lines of jet-black eye liner which added to the sense of mystery and hidden sensuality at the same time.
“May I help you, sir?” she asked in a soft tone that seemed to float on the winds.
“Ummmm … yes. I’m Kevin. I was looking for my father. I understand he lives here.”
“Oh, yes, sir. Please come in.”
“Tha … tha … thank you,” I stuttered as I entered.
The woman moved with the grace of a dancer as she headed towards the back of the house while I was left standing in the foyer. I could hear her calling my father’s name as she looked for him. Then things went silent. A few moments later my father appeared, his arms outstretched.
“Kevin. Come in, come in,” he said as he led me to the living room. “Please sit down. I wasn’t expecting you. Is something wrong? I thought you had classes.”
“I graduated, dad,” I replied realizing just how little he’d listened to anything I’d said during our talks.
“Ahhhhh, yes. Now I remember,” he said over his shoulder as he headed for the bar. “Would you like something to drink?”
“No thanks. canlı bahis I don’t drink.”
“Ahhhh … well, to each his own,” he said as he poured an amber liquid into a large tumble. “Now, where were we. Ahhh, yes … school. Now, I recall you saying something about almost being done. But why didn’t you let me know when you graduated? I could have been there or at least sent a gift. And why in the world are you here?”
Hurt and upset, I replied, “I DID tell you!! I even sent you an invitation to the ceremony!! As for being here, I could lie and say I came to see you but the honest truth is I’ve been hired by a research group to do a study on the various cultural groups here in Istanbul.”
He froze in place, staring at me as his face reddened whether in embarrassment or anger I didn’t know nor care. “So, you came to study the local’s is that it?”
I was about to reply when ‘she’ walked into the room and said softly, “Dinner is ready.” Her comment was like a bucket of cold water being dumped on my head causing my anger and frustration to melt away.
“Yes, … thank you, Sarah.”
“Sarah … so that’s her name,” I thought to myself as I stared at her.
During the time that my father and I had been talking she’d changed from her niqab and abaya into a dupatta scarf that covered her head, a long olive-colored robe, with a cream-colored blouse underneath, a pair of jeans, and a pair of sandals that were held in place by straps that appeared to be covered in pearls.
For the first time I got to see her face. I couldn’t help but stare and wonder how my father had been lucky enough to get such a beauty. Her face was oval with tawny skin that was flawless. Her blue eyes were even more beautiful, if that was possible. Her eyebrows were full and jet black leading me to believe that her hair was probably the same color. Her nose was narrow and sloped down her face to flare just the slightest at her nostrils and her lips were full and pink. I realized she must have been wearing some kind of lip gloss because they looked wet and inviting.
“This way,” she giggled, as she gently took my arm and led me into a large open-air courtyard.
A fountain bubbled on the far end of the courtyard while a low table with various meats, vegetables, fruits, and breads sat under a canopy on the opposite end. Cushions to sit on were thrown casually around the table to give it a more relaxed appearance.
“Please sit,” she indicated with a flourish of her hand.
“Even her hands look fantastic,” I thought to myself, almost tripping over a cushion because I was paying more attention to her than to what I was doing.
My father began to eat as he talked about whatever was on his mind, though I didn’t hear half of it since I was still stealing glances at Sarah as she moved about.
“Have you heard a word I’ve said?” my father asked, bringing me back to the present.
“Yeah, every word.”
“Bullshit,” he said, light-heartedly. “Sarah, please stop whatever it is you’re doing and join us?”
“Of course,” she said meekly as she took a seat at the opposite end of the table from my father.
If it hadn’t been for my education I wouldn’t have thought a thing about it but I knew that this small gesture indicated that Sarah was a woman of importance both in this house and outside. For the next 30 minutes, my father and I talked until the conversation slowly turned to him and ultimately to Sarah.
“So Sarah is your assistant?” I asked nonchalantly as I looked at her out of the corner of my eye. I saw her stiffen as she stared at my father and waited for his answer.
“Well, I guess that would depend on who you talk to. If you ask my associates they’d say she’s my translator and assistant but if you ask the padre at the church he’d say she’s my wife. And if, on the other hand, you’d ask her father he’d say she’s my …”
“Whore. My father says I’m a whore,” she interrupted, her voice filled with pain.
“I don’t understand,” I blurted out as I looked back and forth between the two of them.
“It is quite simple,” she continued. “Your dad told me he had met with my father and that he had agreed to the marriage … but that wasn’t true. He never met with my father and never got his blessing for the marriage. Unfortunately, I didn’t find that out until after the wedding. Now …,” she faltered, looking down at her lap, “I’ve been disowned by my family and have nowhere to go but here,” she finished suddenly looking up, the anger in her tone and eyes evident.
“I, ahhhhhhh,” my father stammered. “I … oh fuck it!!” he finished as he rose and stormed from the courtyard.
“I’m very sorry you had to hear that,” Sarah said softly as I watched my father leave.
My head snapped back to look at her so hard I later joked that if the scene had been in one of the old-time comedy movies my head would have continued to spin around and around. “It’s not your fault, it’s …,” I stopped as I glanced bahis siteleri at where my father had left the courtyard, “it’s nobody’s fault.”
“Yeah, nobody,” she sneered as she followed the direction of my gaze.
For the next hour, Sarah and I sat and talked. We talked about my life; with my mom, with my father, at school, and what I hoped to do in the future. But it wasn’t all about me.
Sarah had her own story to tell. “My father is from Jordan while my mother is from India. Their parents had been business associates and arranged the marriage,” she said, as she looked down at her lap as if embarrassed. “They’re very happy together so I guess they were in love before they married or fell in love over time. It is a private matter so they don’t talk about it much. I was born right here, in Istanbul, but traveled a great deal after attending the university where I majored in art history. In fact, that’s how I met your father. I was attending a conference where we were introduced. I have to admit, I wasn’t really attracted to him at first but he can be rather persistent. In the end, we … ummmmmm … spent the night together,” she said almost in a whisper. “After the conference, I returned home and didn’t hear from him for months. Then he suddenly showed up at the office where I work. We began to see more and more of each other, not that my father really approved. He kept insisting that he’d find a good Arab man for me.
In the mean time, your father and I would slip away and …” again she hesitated before continuing. “We spent almost as much time in bed together as anything else. It wasn’t until I started to mention the idea of getting married that he seemed to pull away. I told him he needed to talk to my father about it and get his consent. Of course, your father always put it off until suddenly, one day, he said it had all been arranged. Since I had my own apartment by then, I didn’t realize something was wrong until the day of the wedding when he took me to a church in the west side of the city instead of the Mosque. I wasn’t surprised that my family wasn’t there since my father is very devout in his beliefs and my mother does what he says, most of the time. The surprise came several days later when one of my sister’s came to the house,” her voice faltered and a tear ran down her cheek. “She told me that the family had disowned me. Your dad never got my father’s blessing so in their eyes your father either kidnapped me, which under Turkish law means he could be sent to prison, or worse, or I married him by my own choice and am a whore,” she finished, the tears now streaming down her cheeks.
Instinctively, I slipped an arm around her and drew her close until her head has on my shoulder. I had no idea how long we sat like that but slowly the crying stopped and I felt her pull away.
“I’m sorry. I have no idea why I just did that. I’ve … I’ve never told anybody about what happened.”
“I understand,” I replied, soothingly. “My father has a tendency to do things the way HE thinks they should be done and to hell with anybody else.” I could tell, instantly, that my own pain and anger was slipping out through the emotional walls I’d built up, and I turned away.
“Thank you,” she said, softly, as she put a finger under my chin, gently pulling my face back towards hers, “for understanding.”
The look on her face, the tone of her voice, and my own emotional baggage instantly lit the desire within me to be her ‘knight in shining armor’, but at the same time I knew that it couldn’t happen. For better … or worse, she was my father’s wife … my step-mother so I reluctantly pulled away and stood.
“I better get going. I still need to get a ride back to my hotel and get some sleep. After all, I do start my new job tomorrow,” I said as a way to escape what I was feeling.
We were both surprised to find that my father had left at some point without saying a word … but that was typical of him. Sarah led me to the door and then, before opening it, surprised both of us when she gave me a hug and a tender kiss on the cheek.
“Thank you, again,” she murmured in my ear before stepping away, “And don’t be a stranger. Come by whenever you feel like it. I’m almost always here,” she said stressing the word ‘always’.
The ride to my hotel was a blur of honking traffic and the overwhelming scent of spices which were only overshadowed by the variety and color of the flowers that seemed to be everywhere. Once in my hotel room, I took a shower and stretched out on the bed in hopes of getting some sleep. Unfortunately, every time I closed my eyes, I saw Sarah’s eyes staring back at me while the delicate aroma of her perfume seemed to fill the room around me. At some point, between midnight and the time the morning drivers began honking their horns, I fell asleep.
The rest of the week seemed to fly by as I went through orientation for my new job, being introduced to the other members of the staff, and trying to find a place bahis şirketleri to live. I soon found that one of my major problems was the language or rather languages. Because of Istanbul’s history, there were dozens of different languages and dialects spoken, most of them leaving me wondering if I was being thanked, told to get lost, or in more than one case to go fuck myself. It wasn’t until Friday night, as I sat in the hotel dining room, that I got an idea that I thought would help take care of everything. I quickly grabbed my phone and dialed a phone number from the index before I lost my nerve.
“Hello, Sarah? It’s me, Kevin. I was wondering if I could stop by tomorrow to talk to you and my dad about a problem I’m having?”
“I think that should be fine. Your father is usually home any time after 3.”
“Thanks,” I said as I hung up.
When I arrived the following day, Sarah answered the door again. This time she was dressed in a flowing gown with a black lace niqab on her head. The intriguing thing was that while it covered her head and still left her eyes uncovered it had a thick band of black lace that ran across her face covering her nose while still leaving her mouth exposed.
“Wow,” I sighed before thinking about what I was saying and to whom.
She laughed, lightly. “I guess that means you like it.”
“I’ll say. It’s gorgeous or maybe it’s the woman who’s wearing it that makes it look so beautiful.”
An uncomfortable silence fell over us as we stood there until she slowly stepped aside. “Please, come in. Your father isn’t home yet. Would you like something to drink? Coffee, tea, something stronger?”
Since she hadn’t been there earlier she didn’t know that I didn’t drink. “I’ll take some tea if it’s not a problem.”
“Of course,” she replied as she headed off to the kitchen area. A few moments later, she returned with a pot of tea and small cups on a tray. We talked for about 15 minutes before my father arrived and I outlined my idea.
“So you want Sarah to come and work for you?” my father inquired.
“Not for me, with me. She’d be hired by the research company as my translator and assistant which means she’d be getting paid for her time.”
“Ahhhhh,” my father said as he nodded his head. “And what about you? What do you think?” he asked Sarah as he turned to look at her.
“Well, you haven’t needed my help in a long time and I’m bored sitting around here all day,” she replied as she waved her hand around the house.
“Okay, then. I guess it’s settled.”
From that point on, Sarah and I were inseparable. Everywhere I went, she went, which was lucky for me since on more than one occasion one of the local merchants would try and get a little extra cash from ‘the foreigner’ for whatever I was buying.
It was also lucky for me because I got to have lunch and frequently dinner with the most beautiful woman I’d ever met. The unfortunate part was that I also felt my attraction for this wonderful woman growing day by day.
Christmas came and went, and then New Year, and then in mid-March, I received an invitation to come to my dad’s house to celebrate Holi, also known as the festival of spring, the festival of color, or the festival of love, depending on who you ask. Sarah answered that door as always but it was obvious from the way she was dressed that she was celebrating the Hindu side of her family.
Instead of a niqab or hijab, today she was wearing a matha patti headdress that left the front of her head uncovered and a sheer sapphire-blue scarf across the back of the head. My suspicions about the color of her hair was confirmed when I saw that her hair was a deep, deep black but not a dull black, instead it seemed to shimmer and have a touch of blue in it, like certain birds.
Her hair was parted down the center and a strand of fine gold chain ran from her forehead back and under the scarf. In the front, the chain was connected to a 2-inch band of finely interwoven gold and colored chains that stretched from the top of her forehead back to above her ears where I lost sight of it in her hair. At the crown of her forehead, a large clear gem was mounted to the chain. Four medium sized gems surrounded the larger one and then dozens of smaller gems surrounded those. A fifth gem hung below all of this so it sat on the bridge of her nose. Two golden chains were connected to this gem and swept downwards, leaving her eyes and cheeks uncovered, before reversing and connecting to the headdress at her ears. The final touch was over two dozen finely woven golden chains that hung from these two and crisscrossed in front of her chin and lips almost like a spider web to give the illusion of a veil.
Unlike other times, today she was dressed in a ruby-red choli blouse with a deep scoop neckline revealing the upper portion of her breasts and a sapphire-blue saree, which is a long wrap-around skirt that leaves the stomach exposed and ends with the last part thrown over the shoulder. In addition, she wore a long multi-stranded golden necklace that hung between the globes of her breasts and a set of bangles around her ankles that jingled with every movement.
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