Thin-skinned: Chapter 2


drinking coffee observing

Its 5: 10 p.m. and I am driving my way back home but I decided to stop at any coffee shop for a cup of java! As soon as I opened the door and stepped in to grab a seat, the smell of the coffee beans mesmerized my exhausted sentience.

“Can I have a Grande Americano please?” I ask the cashier

“Sure!! That would be 2.79 dollars, mam.” He said

I open my wallet to take out the dollar bills and I could see the cashier’s eyes falling into my bag. I lift my head up and look him in the eye as I give him the cash and he grabs them like he is hungry for money.

Money is ideally, an accepted medium of financial exchange but technically, the only source of life. People kill for money; one kills his own blood to seize the largest amount of wealth he can put his hands on. Oh…please don’t tell me money doesn’t buy wealth or happiness…it does. Look at a sick poor person and a wealthy sick person….one lives and dies on a filthy floor while the other lives in a villa, rides a Porche and dies in a casket. However, its true they both get buried underground but at least the rich lives and dies with his dignity, without having to beg.

As I sit to drink my hot American coffee, I witness an interaction that has got me thinking intensely about many of our (lost) values.

“Mommy, please, I want the same smoothie that you got me last week” said a little girl who looks seven years old to me.

“Mommy, why are you ignoring me?” she pleads

“Mom, mom, answer me!!” she nags while holding her mother’s chin (so that her mother’s eyes meet hers)

“What the hell do you want? Can’t you stop whining already?! Your father is out there doing another woman and I’m stuck here fulfilling your needs. What smoothie do you want? Don’t you feel for your mother? I am not buying you anything until you stop misbehaving.” said the mother violently, grabbing her daughter by the arm.

Sadly, the girl backs down. Her eyes meet mine, she gives me a sad smile (her smile said I’m sorry I did not mean to make mommy angry) and then looks to the ground.

A few minutes later I get alerted to the girl’s voice shouting to her mother.

“You never do anything I ask for, your always in your own world” she screamed and walked away from her mom.

Her mother follows her foot steps and they both leave. They left…..but my mind is still with them.

In a typical scenario, one would say that this 7-year-old girl is ill mannered and needs to learn how to be polite. But no, I don’t think so! Her mother is the one who needs to learn how to behave in front of the public and how to treat her daughter. In fact, the daughter was speaking to the mother in the same way her mother talks to her. And then the mother punishes her daughter for misbehaving and being impatient!

Parenting is a very valuable concept that many parents misuse and abuse. We are born like a white sheet of paper and our parents draw out our personality on that paper. I don’t understand why many, if not all, parents do not understand that they will be treated the exact same way they treat their kids. I mean, don’t expect to receive respect and trust from your child when all you teach them is insult and abuse. And by the way modelling is the best way to teach a child. You are a figure to your kid and you get what you give!! So don’t preach what you don’t practice…ohh..and you have to earn their love, respect and trust, not receive it!

After my intruding observation of the customers in the coffee shop, I decided to enjoy my Americano. I relish the warmth of the coffee drizzling down my throat and taking away all the stress of the day. I settle my head on the table and think. I think of not wanting to go back home. I think of the loneliness that has eaten a large part of my soul….but at the same time I like living alone. I just hate the fact that I am obligated to live alone and that I don’t really have a choice. At the end of the night, the silence suffocates my existence. It is true that silence can be so deafening. My parents and younger brother died in a car accident. We were happy, driving back from a party. We all got somewhat drunk but my father wellied and yet he insisted to drive us back home. I remember, I was a typical backseat driver, telling dad to slow down his wheel and suddenly the car flips. I don’t really reckon anything from that point except the sound of the ambulance siren. I woke up in the hospital in extreme pain. I wasn’t sure where the pain came from; my heart or my broken rib, for all I heard at that point is the doctor and nurses discussing how will they inform me about the death of my family members. Till this day, I don’t comprehend why was I the only one who survived. A part of me blames me every day for not fighting with my dad into letting me or mom drive….but it’s all said and done. Anyway, that’s why I adopted a cat, wishing he would actually make some noise. I help myself hang in there by convincing myself that at least cats are better than humans. They are innocent, pure and I don’t think they know what having bad intentions mean.


I am finally in bed, cuddling with my cat. I switch on the TV and start finding some peace until my phone started ringing. Its Adam Caleb, my ex-boyfriend. My anxiety spikes and my thoughts rush into validating all the reasons why I should or shouldn’t answer this phone call. Isn’t it all over? Why is he calling me after one whole month? I answer the phone pretending not to know who’s on the line….

“Hello!” I said suspiciously

“Hey, I’ve missed you!” he said

“I’m sorry, who is this?” I said, faking unenlightenment

“Did you really forget my voice?” he asked sadly “I am Adam.”

“Oh…., what’s up why are you calling me?” I asked bluntly

“I told you I miss you. I want to see you. Can’t I come over to your place?” he requests in a low tone.

“No. And don’t call me again.” I said and then hung up on him.

I miss him. I won’t deny how much I long for his presence. We have been together for 2 years and then poof!! Suddenly it’s all over. I don’t even know why we broke up. It was more like a clean break…I hate clean breaks…. we never got to have a closure. When we both graduated university, we started getting busy with our lives and he was never available. His job has taken all his time, leaving no room for my presence in his life. He traveled to another country and left me here all alone. The physical distance that existed between us grew unnecessary psychological distance. There was no longer respect, understanding or longing. I was pushed to the limit of emotional trauma in longing for his presence. The sound of Katy Perry’s voice cuts my thoughts with the right words that describe my feelings- “Comparisons are easily done…once you’ve had a taste of perfection”


Mai Elsayed

A Mass Communication alumna from the American University of Sharjah. Loves writing about human related stories and factors that affect our psychological well being such as relationships, love and family.

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