Walking down the street, you watch the stereotypical Muslim Arab couple as they pass by you.
The husband, in the crisp white dishdasha that marks him as a traditional Arab male, coupled with the starched patterned white shemagh that is crowned by a stiff black egal.
The wife, covered in black from head to toe, ebony chiffon swirling around her as her feet move, invisible.
His skin is the dusky brown of a Khaleeji Arab; his beard dark, wiry, and clearly trying to grow longer. The hem of his dishdasha rises above his ankles, signifying that he is of those troublesome religious types. What are they called? Oh yes, Salafis.
Who knows what color the wife’s skin is? Poor woman, she probably can’t breathe behind that layered veil.
His eyes do not smile, his lips are pursed. Horrible man, he must be angry at his wife for how the sleeve of her cloak pulled below her wrists! Poor woman is probably going to get beaten tonight. If only you could save her, liberate her from this oppressive society.
These poor, pathetic, backward Arab savages!
Except, they’re not.
Oh, he is Arab, but she loves to describe herself as a Canadian of washed-out desi descent, except she’s not really desi because her parents and grandparents were born and raised in South Africa. She was raised in Canada her whole life and refuses to be anything but Canadian.
He is awkward about his Arab heritage, half-Egyptian and half-Kuwaiti, raised partly in Canada but never feeling at home there or anywhere else. She rolls her eyes and tells him that he is exotic, fawns over his copper skin and high cheekbones, saying that he is her Orientalist fantasy sheik. And at least the Egyptian genes ensure that their daughter will be a great dancer, since she can’t dance to save her life.
He thinks that his beard is too long already, that it must be scary to others. She forbids him to cut it, or even trim it, because she loves threading her fingers through his beard and tugging on the wiry curls.
His lips are pursed because she has just made a snarky, suggestive comment, giggling behind her niqab, while he tries to stop himself from laughing out loud and attracting attention.
Never able to resist the temptation to unnerve him, she breathily whispers something that makes him blush furiously and duck his head in embarrassment.
The only one to get hit when they get home is him, when she punches him in the arm teasingly and cracks a joke about her wearing the pants in the house.
His dark, serious eyes sparkle when he sees her, even if he’s not too impressed with the shock of blue streaks in her hair.
When she fidgets in front of the mirror, comparing herself to the voluptuous Arab women of his family, he tells her to stop being silly and that he thinks she is the sexiest woman in the world. He waggles his eyebrows at her, ridiculously although he’s actually aiming for suggestive, until she starts laughing and kisses him to make him stop.
Of course, you can’t see all that.
They are just another Muslim couple, walking down the street.
It is only after they walk by you that you see their hands join together, fingers entwined.
AnonyMouse blogs erratically at Musings of a Muslim Mouse , and is always grateful to Allah for her maddening, adorable, amusing, and irritating true love of a husband.