My Kind of Town
Don Chapman

The really big question

» UH-Windward

The moment of ultimate truth would come during their post-Journalism 101 coffee and chat. It was a sunny, breezy day, so Fatima bin Laden and Lt. Basel Zakly Faris, USMC, sat outside the cafeteria on the lanai. They were discussing their assignment to go to some public area and report everything they saw, smelled and heard, wondering where might be the best location -- Fatima opined mall, Baz said beach -- when a gust of wind picked up a loose piece of paper from her notebook. Instinctively, cat-quick, Baz reached up and snagged it -- along with a piece of Fatima's upper arm.

Shocked -- he'd never touched her before, it was not allowed for a woman to be touched by any man not of her family! -- they both stared for a moment, brown hand on pale blue linen sleeve. Baz felt the warmth of her skin through the fabric and jerked his hand away.

"Forgive me, please," he said with head bowed, as much to Fatima as to Allah the Most Merciful, "forgive me."

She reached out, took the paper from his hand, their fingers brushing, nerve ends tingling.

"You're forgiven," she said in a breathy whisper.

He looked up, saw a small smile parting her lips, eyes bright and inviting, the pale blue fabric quivering with the pounding of her heart.

"We shall both be forgiven," she added, "but only if you become my husband."

In that moment of closeness, in that gaze from the heart, they both knew -- it was qadar, destiny.

"You know," he said, "if we were Westerners ... "

"Like Jenn and Joe ... "

Her friend Jennifer Hira, the Manoa girl, and his friend Lt. Joe Matsuo, the Pearl City boy, were already having sex after barely two weeks of dating!

"Or if we were bad Muslims," Baz added.

"But we're not," she said. "We know what's possible."


If they were Westerners, she would have reached out as she spoke, taken his hands in hers, or maybe gripped a muscular forearm.

"Do you, Baz? Do you really know what's possible? For us? For our faith? Our ultimate qadar?"

Baz continued to gaze deeply into her eyes, but now he was looking with curiosity. He'd never heard his love speak so forcefully. Or on this topic.

"Our ultimate destiny? I think I'd like to hear more."

Fatima looked up, past Baz, the way people do, gathering thoughts. At a table where a couple sat, each with ear phones listening to her bugged conversation coming through their iPods, Saleem nodded. The couple, members of the Khomeini Sharia Unification Movement for Preaching and Combat, agreed that it was time to pop the really big question.

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Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at dchapman@midweek.com

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