Taghreeb [Arabic, noun: West/Strange/Foreign]
The opening pages of a feature film
EXT. EUSTON RAILWAY STATION – DAY
We follow the back of NADINE (27) through a busy summer day as she walks from the railway station to the underground station. Her phone rings and we now see her front, exhausted and desperate to look good. Covered in makeup, hair’s blow-dried and dressed in a light summer dress. She answers her phone as she walks.
Hi honey…yeah, I just got to
London…I miss you too.
Please, Hani… I need to figure
things out and I can’t do it while
seeing you every day. Plus, you’re
getting to spend more time with the
kids while I’m gone. I’ll talk to
you soon… I love you, bye.
Nadine hangs up, then takes off her wedding ring, drops it in her handbag and continues to walk.
INT. LONDON PADDINGTON STATION – DAY
NOUR (27), smiley, familiar, friendly and skinny as opposed to SULI, (18) athletic body, dressed in long sleeves and looking distracted as the two walk down to Heathrow express along with two suitcases.
Are you scared?
No, I’m just worried.
Weren’t you the one who decided it
was time to go back.
It’s time Nour, we need to go back
and face Dad and school and the whole
I still mean it. I’m just worried
it’s normal. Drop it, Nour.
We’ll be fine kiddo, worst comes to
worst we’ll just come back to
Liverpool. That’s what flexible plane
tickets are for. Corrupted fathers.
You’ll come back, I’ll have to stay.
You won’t. Just trust me for once.
Suli’s not convinced, he looks away.
INT. ST PANCRAS INTERNATIONAL – DAY
Nadine waits at the station, RAMI (36) arrives. His figure combines a father’s loving expressions and a businessman’s hastiness. Nadine waves at him, Rami hurries towards her, pulls her off the floor as they hug.
My baby, my baby, my baby. I
Rami puts her down, kisses her forehead and stares at her face.
Look at you all grown up!
I’m still your baby though aren’t I?
Even when we grow old and weak and
you have babies yourself.
From the looks of it, you’re not
aging too well yourself. Look at
those wrinkles, what a shame!
Coming on strong I see. Well, you
have all day to tease me. But first,
They walk out together while catching up.
Why didn’t you eat on the train?
I had loads of work to finish, so
I just got a coffee.
How has the conference been?
INT. PLANE – DAY
Nour and Suli are seated in the business class seats. Nour wears his flight socks as Suli stares out the window anxiously.
I gave you the window seat kiddo, it
doesn’t mean you completely ignore me.
What if people figure out what really
happened before I left last year?
A female flight attendant exchanges smiles with Nour as she offers him a wet towel. Nour passes one to Suli then takes one for himself.
(to the flight attendant)
Nour smiles back at the flight attendant as she walks away.
Knowing Dad, I’m sure he made up
some believable lies and covered for
you, just like he did for me. Trust
me he’ll go all the way making sure
his image is not tarnished.
Nour sets his headphones and arranges his neck pillow.
Sometimes I wish I could just hate
him like you do.
I don’t hate him, I just wish he was a
better person. I hate his actions
and his mentality.
His actions and his mentality.
Isn’t that what makes him?
Hey, we’ve been through this before.
Your relationship with dad is very
different from mine. Just because I
had to leave Cairo for good doesn’t
mean you will have to as well.
Have you spoken to Mum?
She sounded happy for a change.
The same flight attendant walks back with a juice tray. Nour takes a glass, Suli shakes his head no. The flight attendant walks away, Nour follows her with his eyes.
She does her best you know.
Who? I know. Her best is not enough.
(of the plane)
Her solutions are not always effective.
EXT. LEICESTER SQUARE – RESTAURANT – DAY
Nadine and Rami are being seated at a table. A waiter hands them the menus.
I never thought I’d be visiting you
here. You really are a grown-up now.
You’re only saying this because I got
you from the station to the
restaurant without getting either
one of us kidnapped.
Since when do you hate being called
an adult? I recall a time when you
bought extra large clothes because
you thought the larger the size, the
older you’d look.
Hey, I was confused between age and
size. But, as it turned out, being
an adult takes a hell of a lot of effort.
You were looking forward to it
when you first got here though.
Nadine distracts herself by reading the menu.
That was five years ago, Rami. I’d
just gotten here, I was excited about
London and the new job and all.
Speaking of the job, do you
think you’ll be able to come
back this Christmas?
Yeah, probably. Why?
We picked a date.
Deema is picking out the wedding
dress as we speak right now.
Why didn’t you tell me earlier?
And miss the look on your face? No way!
How did Mum and Dad react to this?
Well, Mum stopped complaining of
how she’ll die before seeing any
grandchildren. So, I’d say they’re
quite happy. Also, they like Deema –
maybe more than they like me sometimes.
She is too good for you.
You haven’t even met her yet and
you’re ganging up on me already!
Nadine gets up, hugs Rami childishly.
You’re finally getting married!
Rami and Nadine giggle together as other customers look over at them.
INT. OXFORD STREET SHOP – DUSK
Rami and Nadine are shopping, Nadine is picking out clothes for Rami. She holds a few items that she has already picked.
Those would look great on you.
Go try them on.
Nadine hands Rami the items, Rami goes into the fitting room. Nadine’s phone rings, she answers walking further away from the fitting room.
Please don’t call me when you’re
around the kids. It’s not good
and not fair for all of us.
Rami comes out trying on one of the shirts. He looks for Nadine, she’s deep into a phone call and can’t see him. He stares at her arguing on the phone. She finishes the call and Rami distracts himself as if he didn’t see her. She approaches him.
I told you this shirt would look
good on you.
Where’d you go? I was looking for you.
I got a call from work.
Nothing your baby sister can’t handle.
Nadine smiles avoiding eye contact, Rami stares at her for a beat. He knows she’s hiding something.
I’ll go try the other shirts.
Rami walks away as Nadine sighs then wretchedly tucks her phone away in her bag.
INT. CAIRO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ARRIVALS HALL – NIGHT
Nour and Suli exit to the arrivals hall. The airport’s crowded, drivers hurry to offer their services at every passenger existing. Nour notices SHERIF (30s), waving a sign written on it “NOUR FAROUQ”. Nour and Suli approach him.
Welcome home Mr Nour.
Welcome home Mr Suliman.
Sherif takes the luggage off Nour and Suli. The three make their way to the exist.
And you are?
Sherif, Sir. The new driver.
The new bodyguard?
Nour rolls his eyes.
It’s Nour. I’m Nour and he’s Suli.
Don’t ever address us by Sir.
Yes Si.. Yes, Nour. Madam Hind
is waiting for you at the house.
(under his breath)
Why would she bother coming all
the way to the filthy airport?
Nour, you promised.
INT. ST PANCRAS INTERNATIONAL – NIGHT
Rami’s wrapped his arms around Nadine as they say goodbye.
I wish you could stay longer!
You’re not a good liar.
I’m not lying, I really wish you
could stay longer.
That’s not the lie I’m talking about.
I know something is wrong. And if it
was something you could talk about
then you would have told me already.
When we were kids and you thought you
were in trouble, you always came to
me and I told you that you weren’t.
Because you could always tell the
difference between right and wrong.
Whatever it is that you’re going
through, you can handle it. The
strength in you, Nadine, can knock
Nadine hugs Rami as she tears up.
INT. NOUR’S FAMILY HOUSE CAIRO – BEDROOM – NIGHT
Nour enters his bedroom, switches the lights on. The room is spacious, clean and empty. A maid follows him in with his suitcase.
Nour shuts the door after the maid leaves, takes out his phone and calls Nadine.
INT. BUS LONDON – NIGHT
Nadine gets on a bus, she swipes her oyster card and finds a seat. Her phone rings, she picks it up.
INT. NOUR’S FAMILY HOUSE CAIRO – BEDROOM – INTERCUT
Are you still with Rami?
No, I just saw him off at the station.
Are you in Cairo?
Yeah, I’m home I guess. Have you
managed to tell him?
No. Have you seen your father?
Nour walks to the window. It overlooks a spacious garden.
He knows I’m hiding something.
He could see right through me. I never
thought I’d be able to lie to his
face but I did.
Did he say anything?
Sort of. It didn’t help that Hani
kept calling and messaging me.
A knock on Nour’s door.
Dinner is ready, Sir.
I’ll be down in a second.
You should go, Nour. You have
enough on your plate as it is.
Nour opens his closet, almost empty except for a few shirts.
Not before I make sure you’re alright.
You’re just putting off seeing your
father for as long as you can.
Nour opens his nightstand, shuffles through some papers then drops them back carelessly.
You know me too well. What are
you going to do now?
I’m going back to the flat.
Nadine takes her wedding ring out of her bag and wears it.
Nour, do you know what’s it like
to feel unsafe in your own home?
Yes, Nad. I can relate to that.
End of Extract.