I'm reminded of the Egyptian puppet show I had attended the previous week at my sister Sara's palace, a hilarious event featuring puppets in full Saudi dress. The closer I look, the more Kareem resembles Goha, a lovable but eccentric imaginary figure in the Arab world. Goha the puppet had been his usual foolish self in the play, prancing across the stage, disentangling himself from complex situations.
My lips quiver with the urge to laugh. At any moment now, I expect my husband to fall to the floor and throw a childish temper tantrum.
"He swore, he blushed with shame; I thought perhaps he was angered by his inability to control his wife."
Kareem glares hatefully at me. "Sultana! Do not dare smile! I am truly angry."
Still battling conflicting emotions, I shrug. "Do you deny that what you are reading is the truth?"
Ignoring my words, Kareem foolishly continues to seek out the most damning passages concerning his character, reminding his wife of the particular traits of her husband's temperament that had led her to leave him years ago.
Actually shrieking, he reads aloud, "How I yearned to be wed to a warrior, a man with the hot flame of righteousness to guide his life."
His rage growing with every word, Kareem holds the book under my nose and points with a finger to the words that he deems most insulting, "Six years ago, Sultana was stricken with a venereal disease; after much distress, Kareem admitted that he participated in a weekly adventure of sex with strangers... After the scare of the disease, Kareem promised he would avoid the weekly tryst, but Sultana says she knows that he is weak in the face of such a feast, and that he continues to indulge himself without shame. Their wonderful love has vanished except in memory; Sultana says she will stand with her husband and continue her struggle for the sake of her daughters."
Kareem is so angry at that particular revelation that I fear he will start weeping. My husband accuses me of "poisoning paradise," claiming that "our lives are perfect."