Sara’s mother wants her to be a doctor. Just listen to this: ‘Yes, it is true, I would very much like to see Sara become a doctor.’ As a rule, Sara’s mother is not picky, any sort of doctor will do: internist, optometrist, gynecologist, psychologist, even dentist. What’s important is the Dr. and the white lab coat and of course the money. Sara’s father is not against her being a doctor but before being a doctor he thinks two other things–in no particular order–should happen first: she needs to learn French and she should find a husband–just in case. If all else fails, French-less with no medical certificate hanging on the wall, Sara, at the very least, needs to marry and have two children: one boy, one girl–in no particular order.
Sara attends a university now, and if you look closely you will find her in front of the library where she has just dropped a psychology book, and if you look even closer you’ll see how she is cautiously bending down to pick it up, double checking to make sure her blouse is neatly tucked in, covering that bare skin between blouse and pants. You would think that a potential doctor would not care about things like this—a flash of flesh—but there you have it.
Sara did pick up that psychology book she dropped in front of the library and she continued on to class, scoring 85% on a pop quiz, and from there went on to earn a final grade of B+, and finally, not once dropping another textbook, two years later graduated to a flurry of photos, hugs, and Mabrooks, wearing a new green dress that since has ended up in the corner of her closet floor.
Of course, in the end, except for the doctor part, all will work out and Sara will find a willing husband and have her nails done once every two weeks, her hair trimmed, sometimes colored, once every eight weeks, with the Filipinas at the salon all knowing her by name, calling out, ‘Miss Sara,’ and this will make her feel good and wanted, and, let’s admit it, special. When they finish with Sara, she may even leave them a bigger than usual tip because feeling special is something we don’t get a chance to feel very often, not anymore.
But back to Sara’s marriage: there will be a son, and a daughter. See how easy that was? And of course now they are renting two Indonesian maids who know all there is to know about somebody else’s children, about washing the dishes and emptying ashtrays and picking up soda cans and clothes because no one else can be bothered, but after all, that’s what maids are for, Sah? Not only that, there is the old Indian driver who everybody calls Al, which is not his name, but nobody cares, not even Al, who has been in the husband’s family since the Invasion, who knows all there is to know about Kuwait, and beyond, although nobody has ever bothered to ask him.
Returning to Sara: married, with children, maids, and Al the driver, Thursday evenings she will visit shisha cafes with her friends and in the winter go to London to shop, and maybe in the summer to Barcelona. And oh, by the way, in case you haven’t noticed, the children are getting older and know all about computers and cellphones and music, but in the meantime losing their Arabic while learning the maids’ English; and one Friday afternoon in May, Sara’s mother and father will announce this as terrible, and something must be done to stop this, Nam? And Sara with husband—now that they think about it– will agree, tsking the maids, wagging a finger at them. But then the very next day, out of nowhere, Sara will remember how much she used to like playing the piano, and for three weeks practice every day before losing interest because her fingers ache due to all the knuckle-cracking she did when she was younger, going to school, all of those studies making her so nervous. But never mind, because in three, no four days, she will be flying to Dubai and then on to London, and when the daughter asks, with Indonesian maid leaning in the doorway, “Mama, the school play is next week and I have the best smallest part when I step out from the chorus and say for all to hear, “King Oedipus, my king, do not forsaken us’, and of course you will be there Mommy, right? Be there?” Sara will have no choice but to say, “Lah. Lah, I will be out of town, but have fun,” kissing her on the cheek. The daughter walking away pretend-sad, only to find the maid and taking her by the hand, asking, ‘What’s for lunch?’
Sara’s mother and father, now happy grandparents, will sometimes think back to when they thought Sara, the stuff of medical doctor…but never mind, because now there are grandchildren to consider–who, by the way, are no longer children–and maids who don’t mind doing whatever they’re told, even though their English continues to be a problem. . . and did I tell you about Sara’s shopping trips to London, and, . . . But back to the dream of having doctors in the family, there is still hope because Sara’s younger brother, Waleed, is doing his duty in Ireland, at medical school, dissecting a cancer-riddled cadaver as we speak.