Our Afro-Arabian RomancebySamuelx©
Toronto Police Service constable Guillaume Renard shook his head as he looked at yet another dead body. Jennifer Stone had been nineteen years old when she died, a second-year student at Seneca College. Three days ago, her parents, William and Maeve Stone reported her missing. The cop they spoke to promised to do the best she could, but she should have told them not to keep their hopes up. In North America, if you went missing and weren't found in the first forty eight hours, you were gone for good. Cops from Los Angeles to Montreal knew this. Just another old adage of law enforcement that proved to be true.
Even after twenty years on the force, Guillaume knew he could still be shocked by the mind-numbing brutality and evil that ordinary human beings displayed toward their fellow man. Last week in Mississauga Anne Clovis-Clayburns, a thirty-year-old lawyer shot her husband Jason Clayburns and then herself. Found at the crime scene were photos given to her by the private detective she hired to follow him around. Photos that showed her husband in the arms of another man. The week before that, in the suburbs of Ajax, sixty-year-old grocery store clerk Mohammed Imran was arrested after killing his wife Aisha in what the authorities were calling an honor killing incident.
Prominent clerics from the Muslim community but by now the Canadian public was used to it. Another Muslim guy killing his wife or daughter because she was not submissive enough or had become too "westernized". Guillaume had never personally investigated a suspected honor killing but fellow officers had, and a lot of these guys, seasoned officers all, spoke of the Muslim man's calm and remorseless manner when arrested and brought up on charges. These guys honestly believed that women were their property, according to their religion, and no amount of "multicultural understanding" would ever change their minds. Guillaume sighed. Oh, well. Maybe all those white female college and university who were converting to Islam should take heed of that.
Somehow, Guillaume sincerely doubted they would. White women were a privileged bunch. The idea that their rights could be taken away, that they could be treated like shit and even killed without consequence never occurred to them. No person of color ever felt that invincible. Guillaume certainly didn't, and he was a sergeant with the largest urban police force in the Confederation of Canada. Born in the island of Haiti, he'd lived in Canada for the past thirty years but still remembered where he came from. He'd always had a different perspective on life in Canada as a Black man from an immigrant background. He gestured for the crime scene technicians to come closer, and the techs basically took over. Once a body was found, the cops job was securing the scene so that crucial evidence wasn't lost. The crime scene guys were the real heroes of the day. Often, what they uncovered right after a body was found could make or break a case. Guillaume tipped his hat to them, always.
Guillaume checked his watch. It was almost time for shift change. Of course, he never went home right away. There were reports to fill out, and other things to take care of. Being a police officer wasn't like other jobs. You couldn't simply clock out and walk away. Quite often, the events of the day haunted you long after you got to your own bed. Guillaume's shift was supposed to end at eleven o'clock that Friday night, but he didn't get home until two in the morning. He pulled up into his driveway, and silently entered the two-story house he'd called home for the past sixteen years. He walked into the house, careful not to make any noise. Imagine his surprise when the kitchen light turned on, bathing the room in eerie yellow light. Sitting at the table was his wife of twenty years, Yolanda Abdul-Warith. The beautiful Syrian-Canadian woman whom he cherished looked at him with a sad expression on her beautiful face. We need to talk, she said gravely. Guillaume sighed, and nodded.
In his mind, Guillaume was already going through the list of things he considered to be Yolanda's hot-button issues. Ever since he met her at Carleton University in the City of Ottawa, Ontario, all those years ago, he'd known she was a force to be reckoned with. It was the early 1990s, and Guillaume had surprised his family by choosing to leave the City of Montreal, in provincial Quebec, where he grew up to study in the capital region of Ontario. Something about Carleton University appealed to the adventurous young Haitian immigrant. On his first day on campus, he'd gone around kind of distracted and literally ran into a tall, gorgeous young Arab woman with fierce green eyes, dark hair and a scowling face.
Yeah, back then Guillaume was a real butterfingers. Him bumping into her caused her coffee to fall on her crisp white shirt. Absentmindedly, Guillaume tried to help her clean herself up. Angrily the young Arab woman batted his hands away, and he apologized. Do that again and it'll be the end of you, she warned through gritted teeth. Guillaume apologized profusely, and Yolanda scoffed before walking away. Guillaume admired her spectacular ass as she walked across the quad. He didn't know her name or where she was from, but he wanted a piece of her. Carleton University was starting to diversity in those days. Quite a few Arabs, Hispanics and Asians were attending the mostly white school, but students of African descent still stood out, like they always did. Guillaume felt quite alone on campus. Most students of African descent pursuing higher education in Ottawa chose the University of Ottawa over Carleton University, since a sizeable number of them were Francophones.
Carleton University was a school in transition, and Guillaume felt out of place there. This was ages before the Black Student Alliance, the Muslim Students Association and other ethnic clubs which would become mainstays at the school. The various minority students kept to themselves and didn't really interact with different minority groups, choosing to restrict themselves to befriending the white students. Indian and Chinese students did this especially. The Arab students made an effort to reach out to other students, as long as they were also Muslim. As one of a few Arab Christian students on campus, Yolanda Abdul-Warith felt a bit lonely on campus. That's why when Guillaume asked her to join the Christian Club ( and subsequently asked to buy her coffee ) she hesitated but acquiesced. Guillaume offered her his brightest smile, and that's how it all began.
A whirlwind romance followed between these two unlikely lovebirds. A young Black man from Haiti and a young Arab woman from Syria. To say they came from different worlds would have been an understatement. In those days, it wasn't unheard of for Arab men to marry Black women, but it was a rare Arab woman who even dated a Black man. The Arab peoples deep-seated disdain for Blacks was well-known, and seldom discussed, since it was so prevalent as to be constituted the norm. African men, both Christian and Muslim, considered Arab women to be an unapproachable lot, even more forbidden to them than white women. Arab men on the other hand availed themselves of women of all races, from blue-eyed and blonde-haired white women to exotic Black women, charming Asian ladies and a myriad others. It was the ultimate double standard.
Well, Guillaume had never been the type to back down from a challenge. He'd fallen in love with Yolanda Abdul-Warith and when he revealed that to her, she threw her arms around him, kissed him deeply and let him know the feeling was decidedly mutual. As they walked through campus together, hand in hand, everyone stared at them, especially the young Arab men. More than one expressed his displeasure at the sight of a Black man with an Arab girlfriend, and Guillaume had to get in their faces, like only a huge angry Black man could, and tell them to back off unless they wanted to meet their seventy virgins early. As a Haitian man, he wasn't raised to back down before any pale bozos who considered themselves superior. His people beat the colonial French, proving once and for all that those with pale skin weren't superior to those with dark skin. All men bleed red at the end of the day.
When Guillaume and Yolanda decided to meet each other's parents, all hell broke loose on both sides. Guillaume's parents didn't think much of his Arab fiancée and felt disappointed he didn't bring home a "nice Haitian lady". As for Yolanda's parents, they were incensed that she wanted to share her life with a Black man. Whether Christian or Muslim, the Arabs held very negative views of folks of African descent. Yolanda and Guillaume decided to leave Ottawa together, and eloped. They moved to Toronto, walking away from both families since neither side could accept their love. That was more than twenty years ago. Two decades later, they had done fairly well for themselves. After obtaining his criminology degree from the University of Toronto, Guillaume joined the Toronto police force. As for Yolanda, she became a lawyer. Along the way they had two lovely daughters, Jasmine and Helen, and two sons, Marcus and William.
All those memories came flooding through Guillaume's mind as Yolanda sat him down and told them the news which shattered his world. On a routine trip to the doctor for her annual physical, it was revealed that she had lung cancer. When she uttered those words, Guillaume felt his world come crashing down. He went to her and pulled his arms around her. It's in the very earliest stages, Yolanda said. Looking at him, she smiled sadly and asked him what he thought she should do. Guillaume kissed her forehead, and told her that come what may, they'd face it as a family, and God willing, they'd prevail. What are we going to tell our brats? Yolanda asked. All in good time, Guillaume said. Without warning he swept her into his arms, picking her six-foot-tall, athletic body off the floor. Yolanda yelped in surprise, then laughed. Even after all those years, Guillaume could still surprise her. He carried her to the master bedroom and there, they made love.