Written by Alaa  A. Rahman

Previously on “Decisions in a Halo”: Episode I – Homecoming


“Mom, I’m home!” I announce as I throw my keys on the counter next to the door. No one answers back…

which is pretty usual during that time of day. Mom is probably at the gallery with my aunt and grandma. I know we’re having this big show next week; I would help out but despite it being a very short day, a lot has happened and a lot is on my mind. Today was my first day in Archeology School at Cairo University; and I really don’t want to talk about it.

Casper leaps from the couch in the salon as soon as I come in, and greets me with purrs and circles around my legs. I pick him up and caress his ears gently as I make my way to my room, my one true sanctuary in this world. Casper jumps on the bed as I throw my bag aside and stare at the tall mirror reposed against the wall…

I pick him up and caress his ears gently as I make my way to my room…
I pick him up and caress his ears gently as I make my way to my room…

…which is something I usually don’t do. I don’t mean to sound condescending but I don’t do what other regular girls do in front of mirrors… Nope, not my style! I find that girls nowadays are driven by all the wrong reasons, although my mom MAY have a point: I need to wear less black… something I never thought I would say. I love the color black. I love its density, its richness, its depth… I love how it’s both elegant and sad, how it captures the light… because it’s beautiful and dangerous.

The reason for my love of black is that I identify as a goth” in terms of fashion. When I used to attend Thanaweya Amma private lessons because everybody should, if they want to pass National High School Examinations I’d wear black shirts, pants, jackets and boots. My hair is black as well as my eyes so my pale face would seem floating out of a dark mass. I listen to dark and heavy music like Metallica, Dark Jazz and underground metal Egyptian bands. I never wore their make-up though.

Because I’m still sane, maybe?

“So, Casper, do you think I need to lighten up the mood a bit? Use more color and such?” I ask, as I turn around and talk to my cat. Casper looks back, slowly blinking his eyes, with a soft purr. He stretches his paws, pulls his legs under his belly and closes his eyes. He now looks like a big black fur-ball.

“Then it’s a definite no-no on this one, huh?” I reply as I throw myself on the bed next to him.

I love the color black… because it’s beautiful and dangerous.

I’ve been struggling with the decision of turning my “goth” look (as if I was a true one from the start!) into a regular, self-inspired look, one that suits me and my personality… for like the past hour or so.  I mean it’s about time, right? There comes a time and place for everything: a start and an end. And I think it’s time I start something new, right? I’m done with black! Yes… definitely done… maybe partially done… oh f%$# it!

I pound my fists on the bed (causing Casper to wake up startlingly, glare at me then go back to his nap), exasperated by how hard it is to take the step toward change.

What change? You’ve only been at it for like an hour!

I’ve always wanted to change! I have an-independent-emotionally-stable-not-strong-woman attitude which does not match with being a Goth… like at all!

Says who?

Says logic…and me!

Screw you!

Not before you do!

And that ladies and gentlemen is what I go through every day in my head ever since high school.

But who doesn’t have amazing, colorful (or in this case, dark) conversations with oneself, huh?

I stand up deciding that it’s best to stuff my face with ice cream (maybe help drown out this little cat fight between me and me?) then wallow in my own inability to change my style at will. However, ice cream quickly takes a back seat in my line of process when I notice a piece of paper hanging out from the front pocket of my bag.

This application…

I grab it and stare at it for a few minutes…

… this could be the change I NEED.

…and immediately, the part of the day where I met these students who were advertising a student activity came rushing back. They were genuine, at least that’s what they showed, and they were actually keen on having the freshmen on campus feel welcomed, even if they didn’t end up joining them.

I remember that one guy… I think he said his name was Adam or something… he was funny, energetic and just out there! I mean he had this aura about him…even if he talked little. He is a bit of a goof ball though, and tries so hard… I saw that. Nevertheless, he was very friendly… and that other guy, Samir I guess? He was nice too. They all were, to be honest.

I pace around the room while reading the questions and details on the paper but the question remains…

Is it the right thing to do? I mean, yes, I already booked an interview two days from now but what is “that” anyway? I mean am I going about this change I want for all the right reasons?

No! You’re doing it because you want to be a girl… and that guy Adam is clearly hogging your thoughts right now!

Says who?

Says me!

Screw you!

Not before you do!

And again, the cat fight resumes…

I throw the application on the ground and decide to bring ice cream back into the front line of my thought process.

“Salma, sweetie…” I find mom standing at the door, with a couple of paintings in her hands, “I didn’t know you were back. Why didn’t you call me? I would have come back sooner.” She says warmly.

“Hi, Mom! You’re home early…” I reply as I help her out with the paintings and give her a kiss on the cheeks.

“We finished early thank God. Tell me how was your first day at university?” Mom asks eagerly as she closes the door behind her.

“Well… it was interesting…”

“You didn’t like it? Oh honey, you just need a little adapting to, that’s all. I remember when I first went to university…”

Here we go again! Mom reminiscing about her times as a young, hot babe who made guys’ heads turn in campus – in the most respectful way a mother can narrate to her daughter!

My mom is a pretty woman, mind you, inside and out. I owe her who I am today. But that’s not our topic of discussion. What should I do? I mean it’s bad enough that… no, like I said, I am not going to talk about it! …Wait a minute, am I truly like this because of that guy Adam, like myself just told me? Why does his face keep popping in my head even when I am not thinking about him or about university or about changing my style? Why are his words, the ones I clearly remember out of everybody else’s, out of today’s line of events even? Wait…Oh no! … I can’t be … NO! …I HOPE I’M WRONG!

Told ya!



Screw you!

Not before you do!

I sigh.

That’s when I realize what I should do, just sigh and listen to my mother’s conquests at university… except I realize it’s time to paint my own conquests…