Lebanese Girl Meets Black StudbySamuelx©
Whenever I tell people that I am married to a beautiful, wonderful man of African descent, they find this strange. Especially once they find out what my background is. My name is Lilah Afzal. I was born in the town of Antoura in a mountainous region of the Republic of Lebanon, but my parents, Joseph and Miriam Afzal moved to the town of Montreal in the Quebec region of Canada shortly after my birth. I grew up in beautiful Montreal, and consider myself a Canadian of Lebanese heritage more than anything else. Canada is a complicated country where racial, religious and nationalistic politics are becoming a source of conflict, even though we're all hiding our heads under the umbrella of multiculturalism.
My parents adjusted to life in Canada nicely enough, for they were in their early twenties when they came here. Dad went back to school and became an accountant, eventually becoming a branch manager with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. As for my mother, she runs a small bookstore in Montreal's north end. There is a sizeable population of Arabs in the City of Montreal, although we kind of stood out since we were Maronite Christians from old Lebanon. My parents are devout Christians who attend church twice a week, but I considered myself a lapsed Christian until I met a man who changed my life. I was in my third year in the Criminology program at McGill University when I met Julian Samson, a newcomer to Montreal from the island of Haiti, somewhere in the Caribbean.
I bumped into Julian Samson while visiting my girlfriend Amelia Muhammad at the University of Montreal. Amelia and I have been best friends for many years, although we couldn't be more different. Amelia and I are the same age, and we're both Lebanese Christians but that's where the similarities end. She's short, barely five-foot-four, slim, with spiky Black hair, light bronze skin and pale green eyes. I'm tall, maybe one inch over six feet while barefoot, and I'm a bit chubby, to put it mildly. I don't know where I get it from since the women in my family are short, slim and pale but my body is curvy, my hips are wide and my ass is big. I tried to get rid of it but it stubbornly hung on. I have long Black hair that stays curly and unruly no matter what I do with it, and my skin is dark bronze. My father told me that his grandfather was of partial Berber heritage, which might explain his dark bronze skin and mine. I don't look a thing like my mother, who often gets mistaken for White because of her reddish brown hair, porcelain skin and emerald eyes. My mother is Lebanese through and true, but with some European and Turkish roots as well. She's small and slender while I'm almost WNBA tall. I am tough, quirky and athletic. At Saint Marguerite Academy in Montreal, I played soccer, rugby and I was also a varsity wrestler. The definition of tomboy in the dictionary should have a picture of me attached to it.
Anyhow, where was I? Sorry, folks, but I get distracted sometimes and my mind tends to wander. I went to the University of Montreal library to meet with Amelia so she could introduce me to her new boyfriend, a handsome Egyptian guy named Jacob Funsani Mokhtar, the guy she wouldn't stop raving about. From all the things she said about him, I felt like I knew him already. Jacob was Coptic, hailing originally from the City of Damietta in the Republic of Egypt. He was taking up civil engineering at the University of Montreal. When Amelia introduced us, I wasn't disappointed. He was tall, easily six-foot-three, bronze-skinned, Black-haired and handsome.
Amelia forgot one tiny detail in her rants about Jacob, if you ask me. The dude was built like a professional wrestler. Amelia wasn't exaggerating when she said he was easy on the eyes. Amelia held his hand the whole time the three of us sat inside a Tim Horton's restaurant near the campus library. I could tell she was smitten with him. What an odd pair they made. Jacob played soccer for the University of Montreal and Amelia abhorred anything related to sports. I pointed that out to her and she shot me an evil look. She flashed Jacob a big smile and told him how much she loved soccer. I chuckled softly. Ah, the things we do for love.
The three of us were bantering inside the library when suddenly we heard shouting. There was a tall White guy having an argument with a short Chinese woman, and he was really letting her have it verbally. She just sat there and took it, trying to placate him by apologizing and trying to get him to lower his voice. The dude clearly wasn't having it. I shook my head, wondering why so many women put up with jerks and overlook so many decent men. If he threatened her physically, I might have to intervene. I'm not a martial artist or anything but I'm quite resilient physically from rugby training. Our friend Jacob sighed, and got up. Amelia grabbed his arm and asked him to stop whatever he intended to do but Jacob clearly wanted to be the knight in shining armor and rescue Miss China Doll from Mister Angry White Guy. Jacob never got the chance to play rescue hero. Someone beat him to the punch.
Out of nowhere, a tall Black guy walked up to the White dude and tapped him on the shoulder. In accented French, he told him that if he didn't back off, he'd kick his ass. The tall White dude and the interloping Black guy seized each other up. I knew the look. There's about to be a fight. The Chinese chick jumped between them, begging them both to stop. Neither her boyfriend nor her would-be rescuer paid her any mind. They lunged at each other. Fists swung, punches were exchanged, and next thing I knew, the Black guy had the White dude up against the wall, and was pounding the living daylights out of him. Which is just about when campus security arrived. Immediately they went after the Black guy. Jacob walked up to them, and told them that the White guy started the fight. He and the Black guy seemed to know each other. I heard Jacob call him Julian.
The campus security officers, who eyed Julian suspiciously, asked him to come with them. Jacob insisted on coming along as a witness, while they carted the White guy away in handcuffs, with his sobbing girlfriend in tow. A female officer took her by the arm and led her away. Amelia and I rose from the table, and followed from a distance. We went to the campus police office, which had been on edge lately because of all the brouhaha around higher education institutions and student protests in downtown Montreal last year. For over an hour, Jacob and Julian spoke to the campus police officers, there were forms to sign, and finally they let them go. The case would go before the Montreal Police Service, of course, since physical violence did occur. Still, when Jacob came out of there with Julian, both were smiling.
Amelia leapt into Jacob's arms, embracing him tightly in a very over-the-top kind of way but who am I to criticize? Jacob hugged Amelia tenderly, and told her everything was going to be alright. I noticed Julian standing quietly next to Jacob, without saying anything, though his eyes were riveted on me. I finally extended my hand toward him, and introduced myself. Julian crushed my hand in his wickedly strong grip, and smiled at me. I asked him how he felt, and he told me he did what any man would do in his situation. Hmmm. Looks like we've got a macho man, I said aloud to no one in particular. Jacob laughed, while Julian fixed me with a frozen smile and unwavering stare. Jacob said Julian was the toughest guy on the University of Montreal men's soccer team. Julian smiled with the false modesty all too common with many athletes, including myself, once upon a time. Birds of a feather after all. When I looked into those dark brown eyes of his, I felt...something. My cheeks flushed, and my pulse quickened. I was quite surprised to discover I was attracted to Julian, the towering Black guy with the mean left hook. How about that?
The four of us left the University of Montreal campus together, escorted by campus police. Quite a way for me to meet the most attractive guy I'd seen in quite some time, eh? Amelia and Jacob left by train, for they lived in Laval. Julian and I ended up riding the bus together, and we learned a bit about each other as the bus sped through the busy metropolis. Julian was new to Montreal. Born in the north side of the island of Haiti, he was the recipient of an international scholarship by an organization called La Francophonie Du Monde. They sought promising students in French-speaking communities all over the world, notably Africa and certain parts of the Middle East but also in Caribbean nations like the Republic of Haiti and the island of Guadeloupe, and placed them at North American and European institutions of higher education. Julian was such a student. He excelled in mathematics at L'Universite Notre Dame in the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince, but the 2010 Haiti Earthquake devastated both his school and his country. He considered himself lucky to be alive, living in Canada, and of course studying for free at the University of Montreal.
Julian seemed really upbeat about life these days, and I found his optimism both infectious and annoying. Immigrants bright-eyed approach to life in Canada often confused me. They acted like brats on Christmas Day upon discovering so many things about Canada and western society that us jaded Canadians took for granted. I wasn't feeling life too much these days. Amazingly, Julian got me talking about why I had the blues. He told me I seemed sad, and wanted to know what was bothering me. I should have told him it wasn't any of his business but Julian seemed sincere in his concern. I ended up telling him about that which plagued me. My last relationship didn't end too well. I was dating this young man named Abdul Hamid, a charmer from Yemen, and things ended on a sour note. I'm a Maronite Christian, and Abdul is a Sunni Muslim. He wanted me to convert to Islam after we'd been dating for eleven months and when I refused, he got MAD. Dude started stalking and threatening me. I had to go to the cops to get him to back off.
When I told my parents, I got a big case of I-told-you-so from my father especially. I really should have known better. A lot of Lebanese Christian women and their families are wary of Arab Muslim men, and with good reason. I hate to say it but a lot of them are control freaks, even when they live in western societies. To them, women are property. I can't explain it any clearer. They appear charming, friendly and generous at first, all the better to put a yoke around your neck. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. Lebanese Christians like myself have been living among the Muslim-dominated Arab cultures for more than a thousand years. They surround us on all sides, after all. After that scary experience with Abdul, I decided to avoid dating Arab guys, except for fellow Christians from Egypt's Coptic community and the Republic of Lebanon.
Julian looked at me pensively as I sighed deeply, finishing my tale. I crossed my arms and stared at him. Well, what did Mister Haitian had to say? Julian smiled gently, and touched my shoulder in that too-familiar way that a lot of Africans and Caribbean people do while talking to you. Growing up among so many of them in Montreal I got used to it, but it still surprises me sometimes. Julian looked me in the eyes and told me that any man who doesn't respect women isn't a man. Religion and race are just excuses that weak men use to defend their behavior. He said this with utmost confidence. I smiled and nodded, and gently squeezed his hand with gratitude. My stop was coming up, and I wished Julian goodnight. He gently touched my shoulder, and told me I'd be in his prayers. I smiled politely, still amazed that I shared so much of, well, me, with this total stranger.
I went home that night, and lay on my bed, unable to sleep. I kept thinking about the events of the day. So I went online. I logged onto my Facebook, and amazingly, there were still a lot of people online. Within my time zone. Oh, yeah. I browsed through Amelia's profile, and saw pictures of Jacob. Listed among my friends suggestion for the day was Julian Samson. Man, I just can't get rid of him. Hesitantly I browsed through his profile. Nothing unusual there. Pictures of him in a cap and gown next to a middle-aged Black couple whom I assumed to be his parents. He looked kind of handsome in his cap and gown.
Man, his whole life was basically online! Pictures of him at what appeared to be a university in Port-Au-Prince. Shots of him among throngs of dark-skinned men pulling people out of the rubble that the Haitian capital became, after the earthquake. Even though it's been a couple of years, these types of images still gripped something deep inside of me. Julian had definitely been through some tough times. I continued browsing through his pictures, and saw more still shots of his life and times. Pictures of him dancing with a pretty Black woman with dreads. Julian at the pool with a curvy Latina. Julian at a fancy-looking restaurant with friends. My favorite was the picture of him holding a German shepherd puppy in his arms...while naked from the waist up. Hot damn, the guy looked hot! I am so adding him!
The next morning, I woke up around eight, feeling refreshed and pumped up. I checked my Facebook and saw that Julian had answered my friendship request. Not only did he add me, he also asked me if I wanted to grab coffee sometimes. I told him that I wasn't a coffee drinker, but ice cream was one of my guilty pleasures. The next time I checked my Facebook on my iPhone, I had a reply from Julian. It was a smiley face, along with his phone number. I don't take guys numbers, I give them mine. So I agreed to meet him on campus, but didn't give him my number. Two hours later, I was sitting inside a café with Julian, eating ice cream, and talking about everything and nothing. Julian looked really good in a bright red silk shirt and blue jeans. He smelled good too, just enough Cologne to be noticeable, not too much. Nice.
Sitting across from this charming guy from the Caribbean, talking about everything from Canadian politics under our friendly tyrant Stephen Harper to the recent Olympics, the changing face of terrorism in the western world as evidenced by cases like the Colorado movie theater killer, I realized then that I had met a kindred spirit. Julian and I had so much in common it was scary. We were both soccer fanatics, hardline Christians and the offspring of people who fled devastated countries for the west in search of better lives. I didn't know it at the time but this was the start of a strange, quirky, at times tumultuous but ultimately wonderful relationship. Julian and I would begin dating exactly seventeen days after we first met, and we'd get married eleven months and seven days after our first meeting inside the university library. The daughter of Lebanese immigrants marrying a proud son of Haiti. Who could have ever seen a union like ours coming? Certainly not our parents, but that's a story for another time.