The Path

This is part three of the series ‘District of the Heart’ by Myrna Abbas. To read part two, click here.

Sprawled out on the bathroom floor, I felt the cold tiles against my cheek. My breathing was erratic, and I could feel my heart slamming against my chest. What just happened? I thought to myself. I could have sworn I was drowning.

There was a knock at the door. 

“Is everything alright in there, my dear?” It was Fatima. 

“Y-yes,” I croaked. “I’ll be right out.” 

I took a deep breath as I pushed my palms against the tiled floor and rose to my feet. For a moment, I stood still, waiting for another torturous experience to overtake my body. I let out a sigh of relief when nothing happened. I’m okay. 

From the corner of my eye, I noticed a small stack of clothes. I unfolded the spinach-green Jellabiya Fatima had laid out for me and extended my arms, holding it out in front of my face. A few black beads were embroidered along the neckline, black thread poked out where previous beads had been. Though it was unmistakably old, the dress oozed a certain allure. My lips parted slightly, as I stared in awe at the beautiful garment. Stunning, I thought. 

“Nadia?” A deep voice came from behind the wooden bathroom door. “Amma is concerned, saying she thought she heard you fall.”  

“I’m fine!” I called out, attempting a chirpy tone. “Just getting dressed.” Though he did not reply, I could feel Abdul Rahman’s concern from behind the door. 

As quickly as I could manage, I removed my tattered clothes and tossed them aside. A few grains of sand sprinkled out of them as the crusty material cracked against the floor. I slipped into the Jellabiya. The cotton felt cool as it slid down my hips, instantly making me feel better. Picking up the veil that had been piled on top of the Jellabiya, I bolted out the door. 

Abdul Rahman stood a few feet away. His left arm was folded across his chest while his right elbow was propped on top of it; his chin rested on his fist. He looked pensive, his eyes were but mere slits as he squinted at the ground.

I cleared my throat.

Abdul Rahman’s eyes darted in my direction as he dropped his arms to his sides. 

“Mash’Allah!” Fatima exclaimed, her arms extending outward as she walked toward me, her bracelets releasing that familiar jingle. “A true Egyptian angel.” 

“We should get going,” Abdul Rahman interjected. “We only have a few more hours before dusk.” 

“Where are we going?” I asked. 

Abdul Rahman gestured toward me. “You said you lived in Cairo, which is not too far from here. If we leave now, we will arrive before dark.” I watched his face as he spoke. His skin was tight, emotionless, but his eyes overflowed with an air I couldn’t quite figure out. “We can find your family,” he said.   

“That’s awfully kind of you,” I began, “but I am sure you have things to do here. You must stay with Fatima, I will figure things out on my own.” 

I didn’t give him a chance to respond, as I walked toward Fatima and took her in an embrace. “I can’t begin to express how much your kindness means to me.” My words were muffled as I buried my face into her shoulder, stifling unexpected tears. I felt her hand gently patting my back. 

“Oh, my dear Nadia,” she pulled away and took my face into her soft hands. “You are here for a reason, and I believe you shall find your way back home in due time.” I watched as the corners of her luminous green eyes crinkled with a smile. 

“Thank you,” I whispered. 

I turned to face Abdul Rahman, but found myself staring at an empty room. I looked back at Fatima, “He’s not much of a goodbye person, is he?” 

A smile plastered across her face as she nodded in agreement. 

I reached my hand out to lightly touch hers and whispered, “Goodbye.”


My sneakers crunched against the rubble, as I made my way down the path that lead away from Fatima and Abdul Rahman’s home. I remembered the soft veil I had been clutching in my hand, and instinctually wrapped it around my hair. I noticed a road ahead, as a pick-up truck carrying vegetables and a few villagers zoomed past. Turning onto the dark pavement, I began walking at a steady pace. Damn, it’s hot. I was only about five minutes into it when I felt a sudden rush of fear, stopping me in my tracks. I can’t do this. 

“I figured you’d get a bit farther before giving up.” 

I twisted back in shock. Abdul Rahman stood in the middle of the road. In place of the Jellabiya he wore earlier were a pair of old blue jeans and and half tucked-in, faded yellow dress shirt. His eyes were bright in amusement, a smirk pulling at the corners of his mouth. 

“I thought you left,” I said softly. 

I watched as Abdul Rahman’s shoulders lowered in a sigh, his eyes uttering something unspoken. His right arm lifted as he ran his hand through his dark, wavy hair. 

“I wouldn’t just leave you,” he breathed, shaking his head in disbelief. 

I stared at my shoes, my eyes burning. Abdul Rahman’s footsteps tapped along the pavement, the noise becoming louder as he neared. I didn’t lift my gaze as his shoes entered my frame of vision. 

“Nadia,” he began. 

I jerked my head up, inevitable tears streaming down my face. Wrapping my arms around myself, I began to tremble. 

“It hadn’t actually hit me yet!” I screamed. “What am I doing here?”

Abdul Rahman stepped toward me. “Don’t wo-”

Why am I here, Abdul Rahman?” 

There was a beat of silence, nothing but the sound of my heavy breathing resonated between us. My chest heaved as I stared at Abdul Rahman, waiting for a reply. 

“I don’t know,” he said. “But if you would just let me, I’ll help you find your way back.”


This is part three of the series ‘District of the Heart’ by Myrna Abbas. To read part two, click here.


1 Comment on The Path

  1. I am eager to know what happens next! 🙂


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