I have a short moment of elation followed by sheer terror. I feel the blood rush to my face. I am numb and can barely hear my father's voice. He explains that Ali had been curious when he saw the book in the Frankfurt airport and had gone to a great deal of trouble and expense to have the book translated because he saw that our family name was written on the cover.
At the time, Ali had an irritating thought that some obscure, disgruntled princess within the Al Sa'ud family had divulged the gossipy secrets of her life. Once Ali had read the book and clearly recognized himself from our childhood dramas, the truth was revealed. He canceled the remainder of his holiday and hastily returned to Riyadh in a fury.
Father has had copies of the translated version made for the meeting.
He nods at Ali, giving a small signal with his hand. My brother grapples with a bulky pile of paper at his side and proceeds to hand each person a bundle secured with a large rubber band.
Confused, Kareem nudges me, raising his eyebrows and rolling his eyes.
Until the last possible second, I express my denial, returning an expression of bewilderment. Shrugging my shoulders, I stare, unblinking and unseeing, at the papers in my hand.
In a soaring voice Father shouts out my name, "Sultana!"
I feel my body jump into the air.
Father begins to speak rapidly, spitting out words as I imagine a machine gun expels bullets. "Sultana, do you recall the marriage and divorce of your sister Sara? The wickedness of your childhood friends? The death of your mother? Your trip to Egypt? Your marriage to Kareem? The birth of your son? Sultana?"
I have stopped breathing.
Relentless, my father continues to accuse. "Sultana, if you have difficulty in recalling these momentous events, then I suggest that you read this book!"
Father throws the book at my feet.
Unable to move, I stare, mute, at the book on the floor.