I was only seventeen when I had met Dalia for the first time. It seems like a long time ago but still I remember the finest details of that week in Dubai. We were both vacationing there during Al-Hajj holiday of our 2nd year in high school with our families. Fate had arranged for us to stay in the same hotel, Le Meridian Mina Seyahi. Her family and mine were, in addition to a Kuwaiti family, the only Arabs in the hotel that was filled with European tourists.
Situated in the middle of the lobby was a grand piano on which a British pianist, George, used to play each night at 11. He was very talented and I liked to sit and listen to him whenever I had a chance. On our third night in the hotel, Dalia came, took a seat not too far away from me, and appeared to enjoy the music. I did not know her name then and only recognized her as the pretty girl from the Saudi family who checked in the previous day.
I do not know what it is about being abroad that makes you do things out of character. I was a shy boy by nature and I had never approached a girl before in my life but a couple of minutes after George had finished, I found myself standing and heading towards where Dalia was sitting.
“Hi,” I said and she lifted her head to lay her beautiful eyes on me. I felt my knees go weak but somehow I managed to hold myself together. She was looking at me curiously. “Excuse my nervousness and excessive sweating but this is the first time I ever said Hi to a girl. Not to mention the fact that I could get slapped on the face any minute now but I figured if I’m to get slapped by someone, it might as well be you!” She had a funny look in her eyes now and I knew that what I just said was not what you would call smooth by any standard. I wished the earth would open up and swallow me. To my surprise, however, she let out a little giggle and I felt myself relax a little bit. “Good. That’s good. I heard that when you make a girl laugh it’s a good thing. Unless that’s a stupid rumor! Please don’t tell me it’s a stupid rumor,” I joked. She laughed and said, “It’s not a rumor. Making a girl laugh is a good thing.” “Thank you! You made me doubt myself there for a minute! Anyhow, my name is Khalid.” She smiled and told me her name was Dalia. I bowed my head and said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” She exclaimed, “A gentleman!” “Well, no. I just watched too many movies.” She laughed again.
We sat there and talked for about an hour before she told me she had to go upstairs to her room before her parents send the search patrol to find her. I stayed there for half an hour after she left replaying the conversation we just had in my head. I had learned that she was ten months older than I was but we were both in the same grade. She told me about her family and herself though she was careful not to tell me too many things contrary to me because I told her everything she asked about and more. We had agreed to meet at the same time and same place next evening if we could.
A week later, we were both checking out of the hotel. My family and I were going back to Jeddah while she and her family were switching hotels. We had a few conversations during that week whenever we had a chance but not many though because we were trying not to alert our parents’ attention to us. We had exchanged emails the night before my departure and promised to keep in touch when we go back to Jeddah. Needless to say, she was the only thing that I thought about on our flight back and the weeks to follow.
Now you can say the rest is history. I added her to my messenger contact list and we got used to hours and hours of online conversation when she got back. There was nothing we did not talk about or could not share with one another. One day a couple of days before our 11th grade finals we exchanged numbers because the internet had been forbidden on both us by our parents during the exams period. We did not talk for hours though on the mobile phone because we did not want to raise suspicion if the bills came higher than normal. I met Dalia for the first time after Dubai when she got back from her summer vacation in Paris a week before the 3rd year of high school started. She had gotten me a Winnie the Pooh holding a small Eiffel Tower and wanted to give it to me in person. We met in Starbucks and stayed there for three hours that constituted our actual first date.
The following year witnessed the first time we held hands. During the 2nd term, I told her I loved her. She did not say anything. Two nights later, she called me and told me she loved me but that she panicked and did not know what to do when I told her how I felt. Exactly one month later, we kissed for the very first time.
After we graduated form high school, I applied for medical school while she applied for dentistry. We both were accepted and were very happy. We drew plans for our lives in college. It was getting easier for us to go out together ever since my parents got me my first car right after I received my high school certificate. Dalia was the first one to take a ride in my car, even before my parents or anyone from my family or friends.
College started and it brought us yet another facilitator to our relationship; Almokafa’at, Rewards. Each month we received a check with the value of 990SR from college for us to spend in whatever we wanted. Of course, both of our monthly rewards were spent on our dates or presents to each other but mainly they were spent on phone bills now each of us carried an extra mobile phone so we do not use our original ones paid for by our parents. Our parents did occasionally wonder where we were wasting our money but they never thought much of it.
During the first year of college, our feelings intensified and we started talking about marriage or at least an engagement even though we were still very young. We were in love or so I thought. She was everything to me and never did she make me feel I was anything less than that to her. Then summer came and she was leaving to Paris. On the night of her flight, she called me at 4 a.m. and woke me up. We had only hung up from each other a couple of hours ago after we said our goodnights. I smiled nonetheless and said, “good morning.” “Hey,” she said. “Why are you still awake?” I asked. “I couldn’t sleep.” She remained silent for a couple of minutes then said, “We need to talk.”