Chapter Forty Six
“I don’t know what to do!” Aabirah sighed fretfully. “I just don’t know what to do with all of this.” She looked at Iman pleadingly. “What would you do? If you were in my situation?”
“I was in a situation very similar to yours. And I chose to let it go. I forgave Adam for everything he’d done and let him make it all up to me. But that’s irrelevant here.”
Aabirah frowned, confused. “Why would you say that?” she asked, puzzled.
“Because there’s no one right answer to this kind of situation. I forgave Adam but that doesn’t mean that you should forgive Daaem. It doesn’t mean that you should not forgive him either,” Iman hastened to add. “But you need to decide for yourself whether or not you can forgive him.”
“I thought forgiveness was a good thing.”
Iman nodded earnestly. “It is, it’s a wonderful thing. But only if it’s willing and genuine. Forcing yourself to forgive someone does you no good and in the end, you’re left with unhealed wounds and even more resentment than you had in the first place.”
“That’s really not what I was hoping you’d say,” Aabirah said regretfully.
“There’s no one size fits all solution, Aabirah. And I don’t know your heart. You’re the only one who can decide what’s right for you. It would be wrong of me to tell you what to do when I don’t know what’s best for you.” Iman smiled at the frustrated look on Aabirah’s face. “I know it’s annoying. But I’d prefer that you were annoyed and came to your own conclusions – your own right conclusions – than that you were happy with me and following the wrong advice.”
“I don’t know what to do,” Aabirah repeated, frustrated. “I’m confused.”
“Then wait and see,” Iman suggested, amused. “You don’t have to make a decision right now, you know.”
“But… I feel bad being rude to Daaem.”
“Then don’t be rude,” Iman said simply.
“But he deserves it!” Aabirah burst out.
Iman nodded. “Do you?” she asked quietly.
Aabirah faltered. “What?”
“Do you deserve it? Being rude to him isn’t doing you any favours, is it? It’s making you grumpy and confused. Do you deserve to deal with that?”
“No,” Aabirah admitted eventually. “I don’t.”
“Well, you know what to do then, don’t you?” Iman patted her shoulder.
“Yeah,” Aabirah agreed softly. “I guess I do. It’s still scary though.”
Iman considered this for a moment. “Lots of things are scary. But being anxious or scared doesn’t necessarily mean that what you’re doing is wrong. And it’s not set in stone – you can change your mind if you’re not happy.”
Aabirah blinked, turning this new idea over in her head. “I never thought of that,” she admitted. “It felt like I had to make a decision for good immediately.”
“That would be pretty terrible,” Iman agreed. “I can see why you felt so pressured.”
Aabirah looked at the other woman warmly. “Thank you,” she said sincerely.
Iman laughed. “My pleasure. Do you think you’ll be alright now?”
“I guess,” Aabirah said slowly, tilting her head in confusion.
“I don’t mean to be abrupt,” Iman said apologetically. “But if I’m going to get back tonight, I’ll need to make a few calls and let people know.”
“You’re leaving already?” Aabirah asked, feeling oddly bereft.
“I’ll be back when you need me again,” Iman assured her, squeezing her hand gently. “I’m not abandoning you, I promise.”
“I thought you were staying,” Aabirah admitted, forlorn.
Iman looked at her seriously. “Do you need me to stay?” she asked gently. “If you do, I will.”
Aabirah shook her head. “No, but it would be nice to have you here.”
“Nice to have a buffer between you and Daaem, you mean?” Iman said knowingly.
Aabirah blushed at being caught out. “Sorry,” she said sheepishly. “It’s pretty rude to use you like that.”
“It’s understandable,” Iman assured her. “But if you get in the habit of using other people to help you deal with Daaem, you’ll never be able to deal with him by yourself – it’ll get even harder than it is now and you’ll be even more scared.”
Aabirah blanched at the mere thought of things getting worse.
“Tell me quickly, can I go?”
“Yeah, yeah go,” Aabirah said immediately, nodding.
“You’re sure?” Iman looked at her carefully.
“I’m sure,” Aabirah smiled. “And Iman?”
“Yes,” the pretty woman stopped in the middle of re-donning her abaya.
“Thank you for coming to help.”
Iman’s mouth curved into a gentle smile. “It’s my pleasure.”
Aabirah waved off the other woman a few minutes later, still feeling slightly off-balance by her abrupt departure. She couldn’t bring herself to feel bad about it, however. The way Iman had disengaged herself had been too sweet and careful for Aabirah to take any offence.
And Iman had had a point, Aabirah allowed ruefully. She would have liked to use the other woman as a shield to keep between herself and Daaem, especially since their encounters had been so awkward.
She had resorted to pretending ignorance of what had happened in the library, acting as though she’d never hugged Daaem and had him cry on her shoulder for several long, heart-breaking minutes.
He’d followed her lead, not bringing it up again and not trying to invade her personal space when they passed one another and avoiding the library entirely.
Aabirah sighed guiltily, knowing that that was unfair. She couldn’t keep him from a place that had been so special to his mother. But she didn’t want to give up the library either!
They would have to share it but how was she supposed to suggest that to Daaem?
‘You could just talk to him,’ her mind whispered. But that was hard, she thought petulantly.
Was it really worth all the hassle?
“Being rude to him isn’t doing you any favours, is it?” Iman’s voice whispered in Aabirah’s mind. She groaned miserably and threw a pillow at the wall. No, it wasn’t.