Honestly, I don’t know why I still haven’t finished writing about Ahmed and Tia. Maybe this is the sign of my sloppiness and lack of structure, I really have to learn to make my story telling more efficient. Anyway, please bear with me, yet another installment…..
“Who would be ringing at the door this early in the morning?” Tia’s mother grumbled as she took huge steps to the door. She arched her brow in surprise when she saw Ahmed at the door, “Good morning, Ahmed. Why are you here?”
“Good morning, Mrs. Chang. I came here to take you and Tia to the airport.” Ahmed greeted.
“You are? Oh…..I wonder why Tia didn’t mention it?” Mrs. Chang furrowed, “Come in and sit down, we’ll be ready in a few minutes.”
She walked to her daughter’s room, “Tia, Ahmed is here, he said that he’s going to drive us to the airport.”
Tia hit her forehead with the palm of her hand, “That’s right, I forgot. Well, actually I thought he wasn’t really serious last night when he told me that he’ll take us to the airport.”
“Tia, you’ve been spending so much time with Ahmed, how serious are you two?” Mrs. Chang asked her daughter.
Tia shook her head, “I don’t dare to hope too much. His mother wants him to marry someone else, plus she hates me.”
“And how do you feel about him?” Mrs. Chang chased.
Tia took a deep breath and hugged her mother tightly, “I’d rather not talk about it.” She whispered.
Mrs. Chang caressed her daughter’s long hair, “Finish getting ready, I’ll go and talk to Ahmed.”
“Okay…” Tia nodded.
Mrs. Chang walked to the kitchen and made some coffee, she walked to the living room carrying a tray in her hand, “Drink some coffee while we wait for Tia.” She continued, “You know you didn’t really have to bother driving us, especially at this hour.”
“No..no…I’m glad to, I want to get to know all of Tia’s family.” Ahmed smiled.
“So tell me, how is the relationship between you and my daughter? How do you feel about her? What are your plans?”
“If I wasn’t sincere about her, I wouldn’t be here right now, I want to become familiar with everybody in her family, because I hope that soon, they’ll be my family too,” Ahmed exclaimed.
Mrs. Chang felt satisfied with his answer. “I’m glad to hear that. Please, drink your coffee….”
“Okay, I’m ready…” Tia walked out of her room.
“Let’s get going….” Ahmed stood up from the chair.
“Ah, you’re car is there!” Tia pointed out.
“Hey, I haven’t told you that you look, beautiful this morning. Beautiful as always.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her near him.
“Ahmed, my mother is right there.” Tia blushed.
Mrs. Chang glanced at them and smiled, she pretended to not see or hear them.
* * *
“Do you see her yet?” Tia asked her mother while standing on her tiptoe. She observed everybody who walked out impatiently.
Ahmed looked over the heads of the people standing in front of him, even if he spotted her aunt he wouldn’t know her, he thought. His brow arched when he saw two very familiar people walking out, “Hafiz? Bunda Nabila?” He gasped.
“There they are!” Tia exclaimed in excitement, “Oh my God, my cousin is here too.”
She ran up to meet them, “Auntie! Hafiz!” She shouted out while waving her hand.
“Tia…..” Hafiz waved at her.
“Ah…Tia….” Raden Nabila put on a wide smile.
Tia opened her arms up wide and hugged her aunt and cousin at the same time. “How are you, I missed you.” She shrieked.
“Are you here alone? Where’s your mother?” Raden Nabila asked.
“Ah, she just behind me, come on, Oh, and I have somebody I’d like to introduce you to…” She pulled them by their hand.
Hafiz looked with surprise at the man standing a few steps behind her, “Hey, man, why are you here?” He walked forward taking Ahmed by the hand and shaking it vigorously
“Ahmed, you look good!” Raden Nabila approached him too.
“Auntie, Hafiz, how do you know Ahmed?” Tia asked.
“Tia, I didn’t know that Bunda Nabila was your aunt!” Ahmed responded, “She’s my brother Ali’s stepmother.”
“Ah…, huh, so you and me, we’re kind of related,” Tia concluded.
“And you two?” Hafiz asked.
“Jiejie…” Mrs. Chang called out as she approached them.
“Meimie…” Raden Nabila walked to her and hugged her tightly.
“Ah Hafiz….” Mrs. Chang hugged her nephew.
“How are you auntie?”
“I’m doing well, and better now that the two of you are visiting.”
“Hey man, you still haven’t told me why you’re here,” Hafiz said to Ahmed as he stepped away from the chatting women.
“Ah? Well, it’s normal that I take my girlfriend and her mother to pick up her aunt and cousin.” Ahmed smirked.
“You and my cousin, huh? Who would have guessed.” Hafiz shook his head.
“So, are you still living like a bum? How could you come traveling here, don’t you have a job? Don’t you work?” Tia came up to them and asked Hafiz.
“Baby, leave the poor bum alone! Don’t disturb him.” Ahmed hugged her shoulder.
“Very funny!” Hafiz sneered.
“Do they know that she came to see you?” Raden Nabila whispered to her cousin.
Mrs. Chang shook her head, “I didn’t tell them.”
“Good!’ Raden Nabila nodded.
“Jiejie, what are you planning to do?”
“I don’t know yet, I’m sure between the day you called me to now, that old shrew had made a move. I need to know what it was, so I can plan a step ahead of her.”
“Hmm…this morning when I talked to my daughter about her relationship with Ahmed, she seemed despondent. I didn’t get a chance to ask why, but I’m sure he has something to do with his mother.” Mrs. Chang whispered.
“But I see that Ahmed is serious with Tia, otherwise why would he be here?”
“My thoughts exactly!” Mrs. Chang nodded.
“Let’s go, I’ll take all of you to the house, Tia and I have to go to work,” Ahmed said.
* * *
“Even after everything your father told you, you’re still hanging around with that girl?” Princess Latifa barged into her son’s office.
“Good morning, Ma.” Ahmed contest, “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t use that attitude with me!” She scold, “I saw it with my own eyes when you dropped her off at the intersection.”
“You must be imagining things.”
“Listen, Ahmed. If anything happens to this company or our family, it would be on your shoulders. I can’t imagine that I raised you to be selfish and self-centered.” She hissed.
“Look, Mama. I’m not thinking about myself. Maybe, there’s a way around it, a different way, without me having to marry Ratna. How much exactly is Ratna’s father share in the company? Or at least give me the percentage. I know Papa has already tried to find the funds, but maybe I’ ll have better luck.”
Princess Latifa looked at him sharply and frowned, “If your father didn’t succeed, how do you imagine that you will? He has more experience that you, better connections. It’s not as easy as you think it is.”
“But I should at least try.”
“That’s enough! Stop this stupidity! You’re going to do what your father and I tell you to do. If you don’t stop seeing that woman, I’m going to make her sorry that she ever dared to involve herself with my son!” She threatened.
“What are you going to do? Fire her?”
“No! Worse! I’m going to make everybody in this company know that because of her, they’re endangered of losing their jobs. Oh yes, I’ll tell everyone about our financial conditions. I’ll make sure that every single employee is aware of that, I want to see how much they’ll hate her, and how’ll they treat her! It won’t be just me who’ll make her life here a living hell.”
“I can’t believe you can even conceive to do something like that. How can you be so cruel?” Ahmed looked at her in disbelief.
“I’m cruel? You’re forcing me to do it! So go ahead! Keep on disobeying me, the person who’ll have to pay is her. After all, she is the one who caused my son to defy me.”
Ahmed sat in silence as his mother stormed out of his office in a fit of rage.
* * *
“You should have kept calm,” Omar Al Rashid said to his wife. “You won’t get anything by threatening our son, you know how stubborn he can be.” Then he whispered, “Just like his mother.”
“I heard that!” She sassed.
“What happens if he challenges you to tell everyone about our financial condition, the financial condition that doesn’t exist, by the way….What are you going to do?”
“You’re right. I won’t get anything by putting the pressure on him.” She frowned.
“Well, maybe not on him, but her, who knows?” He replied without taking his eyes off the computer.
“Hmm…right.” She got up from her chair and began pacing, “I have an idea….”
* * *
“Call Tia Chang to my office!” Princess Latifa yelled into her phone.
“Y….y….ye….yes, ma’am…” Her secretary stuttered. She picked up the phone again to dial Tia’s “Madame Al Rashid wants to see you in her office.”
“I’m coming…” Tia said, her heart beating in anxiety. She slowly walked towards the elevator to go to the next floor.
“Hi!” Tia smiled to the secretary.
“Go ahead! Good luck!” She whispered.
Tia knocked on the door
“Come in!” She heard a voice from the inside.
Tia opened the door, took a deep breath and walked in.
“Sit down Chang!” Princess Latifa said.
“I think you know why I called you here.”
“I can imagine.”
“Good! Then I’ll get straight to the point. Leave my son alone! I think he already told you about our company’s condition and that he is the only one who can help us. ” Princess Latifa stood from her chair, “Follow me!”
“To talk to your companions…”
Tia didn’t understand what she meant, but followed her anyway.
Princess Latifa approached Dodi, “You’re her direct supervisor aren’t you?” She started.
Dodi nodded, surprised that she even talked to him.
“How’s your family?” Princess Latifa continue.
“They’re fine, ma’am.”
“How many children do you have?” She asked again
“Two, they are studying in one of the best schools in the country. They’re my pride and joy.” He smiled with pride.
Princess Latifa nodded, “I’m glad that by working here, you can achieve great things to for your family.” She turned to Tia, “Let’s go.”
Tia followed her all over the building, they talked to several more staff. Princess Latifa asked the same questions, about their family. She even expanded the inquiries to ask how long they’ve worked for the company, how they feel about it, and even promise to look into a scholarship program for the children of the janitorial services.
Tia knew what point Princess Latifa was trying to show her, listening to her colleagues testimonies about how the company was important to their lives, made her feel terrible.
“Do you understand now, why you have to do what I tell you?” Princess Latifa asked.
Tia nodded, her face was stoic and cold. “Yes ma’am.”
“Good. You can go now!”
* * *
“What’s with that face?” Hafiz asked when she arrived home.
“Nothing, I’m just tired,” Tia replied.
“Ahmed is here, he wants to take you and our guests out to dinner.” Mrs. Chang popped up from the inside.
Tia sighed, “I’m tired, I think, I’m going to bed early, you guys go with him. Have fun…”
She walked to her room and closed the door, throwing herself on the bed.
“But why?” Her mother asked not understanding her daughter’s behavior.
“That’s okay, let her be,” Raden Nabila said coming up behind them, “Anyway, this is a good chance to talk to Ahmed alone.”
* * *
“She’s not coming?” Ahmed’s face looked disappointed.
“Chear up! It’s just one night….” Hafiz teased.
“Do you know what happened to Tia?” Raden Nabila asked from the back seat.
Ahmed shook his head, “This morning she was so happy, I don’t know why she suddenly has the change in attitude.”
“Ahmed, how is your relationship with Tia, how long have you been together?” She asked again.
“We’ve been together for three months.” He answered.
“And how does your mother feel about it?”
“She…, let’s just say she’s not too happy.”
“Why is that?”
“I never really understand how she thinks. She has been trying to fix me up with this girl, Ratna for some time now, when she found out that I was seeing Tia, she even arranged to make Tia think that I was alone in my apartment with this girl.”
“Hmm….And then what happened?”
“Tia found out somehow that it was my mother’s doing, and she came back and played a trick of her own.”
“Who exactly is this Ratna girl?” Raden Nabila wanted the complete information.
“She’s the daughter of one of our investors.”
“Ah….A girl with family money…” Hafiz butted in.
“Well…Tia isn’t exactly a pauper either, Tia and her sister don’t know this, but her grandfather is one of the owners of Holy Mountain Conglomerate, if her mother weren’t married to that chauvinist of a husband who is their father, they would have lived a luxurious life.” Raden Nabila added. “Sadly, even if your mother knew she came from a well-off family, she still wouldn’t approve.”
“Oh, and why is that?” Ahmed asked.
“Because she’s related to me. And your mother hates me.”
“What should I do?” Ahmed asked almost to himself, “My parents are very important to me, but I can’t let Tia go either.”
“We’ll think of something….” Raden Nabila said, “We’ll think of something….”