Shamim Sarif

I Can't Think Straight

Spirited Christian Tala and shy Muslim Leyla could not be more different from each other, but the attraction is immediate and goes deeper than friendship. Moving between Middle Eastern high society and London’s West End, this story explores the clashes between East and West, love and marriage, and convention and individuality creating a humorous and tender tale of unexpected love.
210 printed pages
Original publication
Bywater Books


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    Paycohas quoted2 months ago
    had shared with her confidentially. As a sister.

    “Lamia?” coaxed Reema, at the other end of the phone. “You know sometimes Tala needs help to see what’s best for her.” Lamia could hear an extended exhalation of breath, pictured her mother in her dressing room in Amman, smoking, waiting. Waiting.

    Lamia sat down on her bed. “She said she wants to stay in London a while longer.”

    Lamia could feel her mother’s eyes narrow. “She did that during her second engagement—or was it the first? And she never came back for the wedding!”

    “I’m sure it’s not exactly like that, Mama.”

    But there was no reply. “Mama?” Lamia tried again, a little panicked now, but nothing

    avait partagé avec elle de manière confidentielle. En tant que soeur.

    "Lamia ?" a cajolé Reema, à l'autre bout du fil. "Tu sais que parfois Tala a besoin d'aide pour voir ce qui est le mieux pour elle." Lamia a entendu une longue expiration, elle a imaginé sa mère dans sa loge à Amman, fumant et attendant. Attendant.

    Lamia s'est assise sur son lit. "Elle a dit qu'elle voulait rester à Londres un peu plus longtemps."

    Lamia pouvait sentir les yeux de sa mère se rétrécir. "Elle a fait ça lors de son deuxième engagement - ou était-ce le premier ? Et elle n'est jamais revenue pour le mariage !"

    "Je suis sûre que ce n'est pas exactement comme ça, maman."

    Mais il n'y a pas eu de réponse. "Maman ?" Lamia a essayé à nouveau, un peu paniquée, mais rien.

    Paycohas quoted2 months ago
    ensured that he could fit a maximum number of garments (plus one hardback book, business-related, and a washbag) into his suitcase, without causing anything to crease unnecessarily. This aspect of his personality had been one of his attractions for Lamia during the brief period when they had been dating. Within Lamia burned a hollow of insecurity, which Tala and Zina had together traced back to her unfulfilled need for their mother’s attention (as the middle child she had been even more overlooked than the other two), compounded by the lack of a strong character of her own. Lamia herself was not convinced by such Americanised psycho-babble. All she knew was that Kareem’s carefully arranged routines, his meticulous
    Paycohas quoted2 months ago
    small silver cup. She placed these on the table behind Reema, poured out a cupful of the steaming dark liquid and, with a sidelong glance at Reema’s unsuspecting back, silently spat into it.

    “Your coffee, madam.” Rani crossed the room and politely offered the cup to Reema. She watched eagerly as Reema lifted the coffee to her lips, but only to blow a cooling breath onto it.

    “Where’s my husband?”

    “In the garden, madam.”

    “Did the dress fit Tala?” Reema asked. “She didn’t stop eating at lunch.”

    “Like a glove, madam.” Rani watched the coffee cup’s movement up and down, the gentle cooling of the liquid. Let her drink it, she prayed. Let her drink it.

    une petite tasse en argent. Elle les posa sur la table derrière Reema, versa une tasse pleine du liquide sombre et fumant et, avec un regard en coin vers le dos de Reema qui ne se doutait de rien, cracha silencieusement dedans.

    "Votre café, madame." Rani a traversé la pièce et a poliment offert la tasse à Reema. Elle regarda avec impatience Reema porter le café à ses lèvres, mais seulement pour y souffler un souffle rafraîchissant.

    "Où est mon mari ?"

    "Dans le jardin, madame."

    "La robe convient-elle à Tala ?" Reema a demandé. "Elle n'a pas arrêté de manger au déjeuner."

    "Comme un gant, madame." Rani regardait le mouvement de la tasse de café de haut en bas, le doux refroidissement du liquide. Qu'elle le boive, a-t-elle prié. Qu'elle le boive.

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