Written by Alaa A. Rahman

Previously on “Decisions in a Halo”: Episode IV – Whiskey, Dry

Photo by Nourhan Hamdi
Photo by Nourhan Hamdi

You’re brought into this world without any say in who gets to be your family. You’re stuck with whoever it is happens to be your mother, father and sibling(s). If you’re lucky, you’ll have the best family one could ever wish for. If not, well, there’s a particularly brilliant fail-safe called a “best friend”. A best friend is one’s own chosen family; they’re one’s closest person and image, in addition to being a voice of reason/madness, confidant, partner and more often than not, the perfect “sibling”.

At this point in my life, I’m struggling with that notion because I’m having trouble assessing who’s real and who’s not. I mean when I look at my Facebook posts, I find that almost everyone I know has become a best friend. How is that even possible!? How is it that a guy I barely know now goes by “bro” in almost all of my communications with him!? How is it that a girl whose name I hardly remember goes under the category of “best. sister. eva!”!? Can everyone I know turn out to be my best friend!? I mean that dude and dudette probably know that I hate olives and yet they manage to order pizza WITH OLIVES on top EVERY.SINGLE.TIME! I hate olives! I really, really do! And a bro or best sister eva should know that about me, right!?

Given what I wrote above, one person I’m having trouble re-categorizing is Mourad Al-Sharek aka Mo Shark. Don’t ask me how he got that nickname but I believe “Shark” is the best way to describe him.

“Where are you, dumbass!? I’ve been waiting for ages!”

This is the second time in the span of two minutes that Mo calls me asking where I was.

“Well, I’m at the same spot I was 39 seconds ago, asshole! And you haven’t been waiting for ages; you’ve been waiting for exactly 5 minutes since you first called me! Don’t. Rush. Me!” I hang up and walk a little faster so as to avoid a third call in the now expanding span of three minutes…

…Which is unavoidable, seeing how Mourad is an annoying DICKHEAD! God in the Heavens above, please give me strength to bear the next few hours with him!

I finally arrive at my building (with Mo having called for the fifth time in the span of only four minutes, breaking some sort of new record!) which is located at the corner of Damascus Street and Street No. 10.

To all you people with an extra “funny bone” in their bodies: yes, I’m that close to Street 9 and no, I’m not one street away from Street No. 11!

Like most buildings in Maadi, mine is a pretty standard, dull four storey-apartment complex, with a large enough garage to hold all the residents’ cars. The dulled out paint is reminiscent of a time where color used to rule the street, and a time where the owners actually cared about maintenance. Dusty and rusty air conditioning engine cases adorn the front and side of the building, adding the only contrast and color to the dulled out paint job. Lines of laundry dance against the smooth evening wind, at the back of the building, overlooking a wide space where in opposite another old, four storey-building stands.

A two-level white villa holds an authentic, royal aura in the shadow of the building, taking up the whole corner of Street 10 and Damascus. A large tree hogs most of the garage area but manages to throw a nice, cool shade during the summer for the cars to park under, something the residents are grateful for.

I cross the street and enter the garage space where I find Mo parked at the entrance, blasting his deep house music and banging his head along with the rhythm.

Mo is O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D with house music and all of its friends! He never listens to anything else and God forbid you tell him to change the music. You’ll never hear the end of how bad your taste in music is, how stupid you are to even suggest that and f%$k you very much!

“Can you at least lower down the volume!? There are people living here you know!” I shout over the music once I settle down in the passenger seat. Mo pretends not to hear me and keeps banging his stupid, ugly head to the music.

I know he heard me! I know he did but he intentionally does that — get under my skin and make me want to throw him out of the car and run him over several times!

We stand there for about a minute or so; I, a fuming rhino, and Mo, a music addict who doesn’t even have a wide range of music to listen to and that is worthy to deem him an addict.

“What’s up dumbass!?” he asks, after his favorite track ends. He looks at me with a smirk plastered across his face and a twinkle in his hazel-colored eyes that somehow give him the look of a docile, amicable person.

But see, this is how he reels you in! He flashes that smile, flashes you the wink and bam! You’re caught in the net, which you discover later on that it was all just a ruse to get you to know him.

“Quit it, will you!? What’s up with the name calling, Mo!?” I answer stiffly, throwing him some shade. He responds by laughing, which creates a ripple across his round belly.

“I’m just messing with you, man! I haven’t seen or talked to you in ages since that one time we hung out in August! And you don’t even bother making the effort to call” he says as he sets his car to gear and flies away at the speed of a gazillion kilometer per hour, in a suburban area where 30km per hour is considered lethally fast.

“Well, there are other ways to actually show that like “Good to see you dude! How was your day?”” I blurt out, all the while ignoring that last bit he mentioned. I cross my arms across my chest, with my face turned away from my friend’s.

Mourad Al Sharek disturbed my life in the 8th grade and “hate” was such an understatement to how I felt about him back then. We were rubber and glue (still are by the way!), oil and water, fire and sand; any kinds of opposites, we covered them. Our first encounter together was on the school bus, where he made fun of my squeaky voice. All I remember is us rolling on the bus floor, landing punches and kicks to each other. I remember going home that day with my shirt all black and torn, and my face red and bruised. My mother nearly had a heart attack.

Anyway, Mo ended up switching schools later that summer and to my surprise, we became “best friends” shortly after. For one, he lives in Maadi, one bridge away from where I live. This explains how we remained to be in contact after he switched schools. We started hanging out together, talking more and having common best friends helped in establishing a stronger bond. But lately, things haven’t been okay between us. I don’t know why but he’s been very distant, always angry and pessimistic and above all, insulting everything became his favorite pass time and I, his favorite target.

“Where are we going anyway?” I break the silence as we fly (like literally, fly!) across the roads. By now, I got used to Mo’s reckless and death-inviting driving to even hold on to anything in the car.

“Well, Dana’s birthday is soon and I want you to help me pick something for her” Mo answers casually as his round, chubby face shines under a street lamp.

Ah, Dana! His older girlfriend with whom he fell in love just after two dates; the girl who keeps on reminding him that nothing can happen between them because he’s too young for her and that he’s not as academically successful as she is…and yet, we’re getting her a birthday present.

“Sounds like fun” I answer back dully, still looking away from him.

“Wow, talk about excitement!” he says.

“What do you want me to say!? I do not want to spend my evening shopping for a girl who will hardly love you as much as you do!” I answer back, looking at him with glaring eyes.

“Cut her some slack, will you? She needs her time! There’s nothing wrong with that! Not everyone’s as “emotionally smart” as you are! Also, remind me again how may relationships you’ve been in Mr. Lonely Dumbass!?” Mo speeds up, now fuming. I scoff, and face away from him; the annoying music the only breaker of the silence building between us.

Aren’t we the best of friends or what?