February 15, 2016
This blog is the second of a series dedicated to The Siddiqui Brothers in Cairo. Learn how Omar met Amiran.
One riotous evening in the tavern, Omar Siddiqui encountered someone unexpected. On the surface, it was a typical night of drinking. He and his brothers had the whole place teeming with laughter. All three of them were drunk and slurring. Still more competent than some sober, but drunk nonetheless.
In the middle of his libationary stupor, Omar found himself distracted. An unusual beauty casually made her way to the bar and exchanged pleasantries with the tavern keeper. An imposing log-like specimen followed behind her. Omar’s gaze immediately absorbed her sable skin, chestnut eyes, and dark locks that reminded one of gossamer. He had to share his discovery with Jafar.
“Jafar, look at that angel over there!” He said.
“She’d be more interesting if she was no angel!” Jafar answered.
They laughed and continued to drink. The Siddiquis always noticed a beautiful woman, but the physical beauty didn’t always stop them in their tracks. Something intangible had to draw them further or it wasn’t worth their time.
In Amiran’s case, the allure was tangible. Her quick wit and self-possession seized his attention again. An obnoxious clod couldn’t accept her rebuffing of his witless charms, so he attempted to shame and chide her.
“A courtesan’s usefulness is short-lived You should take your opportunities while you can. Men will only accept used goods when they’re new and fresh. Old and worn goods are easily discarded.”
Omar paused and readied himself to come to her aid, as her bodyguard, Kamran- as he learned from the tavern keeper- walked away for a moment. The tavern keeper started making his way to her. She glanced in his direction and slightly raised her hand. He stopped.
“I’m sure your usefulness as a man is both short and short-lived,” she replied as her gaze went downwards. I can and do take my opportunities from men who have real charms. Men who generate excitement just by being in the room. You, from the time you opened your mouth to your last vulgar comment have bored me infinitely. Now, walk away before I allow my man to thrash you infinitely.”
At that moment, Kamran made his way back to her and planted himself in front of her, arms folded. His gaze was so unnerving the hapless would-be suitor stammered his apologies and stumbled his way out the door.
Omar couldn’t help but admire Amiran’s forthrightness and implacability. Her tone remained the same throughout her rebuttal. When the man apologized, she nodded her head wordlessly and took a slow and deliberate sip of wine. Omar had to speak with her. Jafar and Nasir were ready if Omar needed assistance. Yet, they saw no reason to interrupt their carousing for Omar’s flirtation. They continued to gulp their wine.
Omar sat next to Amiran and smiled. Amiran nodded and smiled back. Omar’s smile could melt a rabid dog. People were always helpless when faced with it.
Kamran started to rise and said, “My lady?”
“It’s alright,” she told him.
“I hope you find my charms real because I find yours fascinating,” Omar said.
“That has yet to reveal itself,” she said.
“Judging by your smile, I think it already has,” he said.
The next evening, Omar was headed to Amiran’s villa. He was arriving as a paying customer. Amiran was not as susceptible to Omar’s charms as most women, but he was grateful to be granted an audience.
The tavern keeper was a treasure trove of information, and from him Omar learned that Amiran was the finest and most sought after courtesan in Cairo. She was in a position where she could see whomever she chose and turn away whomever she chose. She was independent and beholden to no one. This unusual woman intrigued Omar even more.
That first night he stayed sober and clothed. He wanted nothing to distract him from this woman who bedazzled him. This restraint astonished Amiran, but captivated her. When he asked to see her again, she agreed, reservedly of course. Even Omar had to earn his place. For his part, Omar didn’t mind the process of attaining Amiran’s favor because he was unabashedly smitten.
So it began. They had no idea how deeply they would ensconce themselves in each other’s orbit.
Until next time…look behind and beyond the veil…
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer