[Novel] The Road to Shamawes ⑧

When Khodeir’s phone call ended, Dr Karim felt deeply worried. His uneasy calm abroad disappeared the moment he set foot at Cairo International Airport after many years of living abroad. He thought he had accomplished the most important mission in his life: that Donia be brought up well, distinguish between right and wrong, to be highly educated and to continue his march in art.

His problems began when he started furnishing the villa. Viola approached him about buying the villa, but he refused politely. True, Viola offered two million pounds in cash, but he didn’t accept. One decent flat in down town Cairo costs more than that amount. Houses have become similar to bonds and shares on the stock exchange, as Egyptian expatriates abroad and money launderers are involved in real estate speculation.

The villa was a good buy when he bought it for E£ 65,000 eleven years ago. He was even able to buy two kirats of land in front of the villa. A green space which he didn’t surround with a fence to allow donkeys to run in. He later turned that area into an open workshop for his colours.

He didn’t know that the villa was such a lucrative business until his neighbour one morning offered a million pounds to buy it. The General, as he told Dr Karim, wanted to give the villa to his son to live in:
“True, I have a villa already where he can live with me, you know, but I have a marriage plan. People in my age prefer to live in more freedom. You, like me, bought your villa for less than E£ 200,000, and I offer you five times that price. I know some senior officials who can issue a permit to you easily and find you an alternative villa.”

Gen. Essam’s hidden threat frightened Dr Karim, but he said:
“This is a country where the rule of law prevails, and all my documents are complete, but it seems the poor should always remain deprived!”

Dr Karim breathed a deep sigh again:
“What does the General’s son want from my daughter? Is it a coincidence? Is it a threat? Is it bullying?

He heard a screech of brakes. He went to the balcony and saw Hisham’s car run along the dusty track to the villa.

Should be confront him or wait until Donia tells him the story? Where does the dividing line between cowardice and reason lie? He heard Hisham’s dogs welcome him, then his loud laughs like a crow.

Dr Karim descended to the villa yard, went through the gate and looked at the villa which looked like a nut in a nutcracker: Viola on the right and the General and his son on the left. The only place they wanted to the one left to him after years of living abroad. He didn’t want to turn the dream of settlement into a nightmare. He may consider selling the villa, but will he be safe among his new neighbours?

Khodeir’s car lights appeared in the distance. He slowed down in order not to raise dust. He got off the car, opened the door for Donia as her father received her with open arms:
“You’re late, Donia, You made me worried about you.”

He looked at Khodeir, as though he knew nothing:
“What’s the matter, Uncle Khodeir. You were supposed to be back half an hour ago!”

Khodeir took Donia’s things out of the car, closed the door and followed Dr Karim:
“Unfortunately, a car stood in our way. We stopped for minutes, then moved slowly.”

Donia looked at the car parked in front of the General’s villa, then turned towards Khodier:
“Uncle Khodeir, you didn’t see the driver’s face, but you definitely recognized the car.”

Karim patted Donia on shoulders and took her inside the villa, while Khodeir stood on the doorstep looking at the car which narrowly made his car hit the pavement. He murmured as he stood still:
“Yes, exactly the same car!”

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