Liana telling the story in a nutshell

Love is the twin of a beautiful dream that survives birth to reality; but my love was a reality that survived arduous parturition only to remain a beautiful dream

Blog Archive

March 20, 2005

24. And, We Met...

Three weeks of smooth sailing had elapsed since I had first started work, during which my awareness of names, positions and sequence of tasks was rapidly heightening. So were my efficiency and my independent execution of responsibilities such as to win more of Jack’s confidence and reliance. Our friendship, his and mine, had developed to the point where we exchanged information of a more personal nature. I came to know that he was married, with two daughters. His wife had accompanied him to Iraq, but at the time she was back home on a visit. Despite proclaiming a liking for Baghdad having already lived a year there, he was clearly pining for his life in the States and for his little ones.

Jack was becoming my trusted advisor on the protocols involved in liaising with the multinational community that I was ringed by, especially with my growing number of admirers. As far as he was concerned, it was my artlessness that he mainly held dear, sparing no advice or guidance whatsoever. And I sensed that I was becoming like a third daughter to him. With him on my side, my self-confidence was bolstered, despite the fact that I was still prone to blushing frequently. My English language, too, was not starved of his considerate attention; it perceptibly improved and acquired a colloquial character under his tutelage. ‘You’re one hell of a smart student Liana; you never repeat the same mistake twice’, he would compliment encouragingly. I even started developing an American accent; Jack and the guys seemed rather fond of my exotic pronunciation.

I was floating on cloud nine. Neither work nor the friendly interchanges with the advisors, or even with Iraqis, induced in me the least tinge of boredom; I grew to love the people, the ambience, and apart from the knowledge of the sickening presence of spying eyes and ears, everything else consummately surpassed anything I’d have hoped or wished for.

Things went swimmingly, and it was the beginning of the fourth week. Early one morning, Jack, Fury and I were engaged in discussing a problem that we’d left unresolved from Thursday afternoon, having postponed it till after the weekend. The offices were like an apiary, noisy and pullulating with people: some were busy working behind desks, while others were occupied in small group conferences, which included Iraqis and foreigners. This wasn't the least bit abnormal for Saturday, the busiest day of the week. I sat with charts, rosters and papers spread all over my desk. Fury was seated on my right, and Jack was behind his desk, with his swivel chair turned facing us. Fury always mixed work with pleasure. So now she remarked mirthfully on the happenings around, extending an amicable atmosphere, which sufficed to force smiles on the lips of whoever happened to be there, regardless of how tense, or angry, or weary they were.

I was wholly engrossed studying the rosters and charts while listening to Jack’s instructions regarding the problem, when I sensed her drawing closer, and whispering in my ear one of her audacious jokes. I couldn’t help laughing under my breath. Jack, saw what she did, and he asked smiling, ‘What’s this naughty girl up to?’ I looked at him, laughed, and shook my head, and wouldn’t translate, or I couldn’t, which was truer. ‘Let her tell you’, I said, head down, struggling with my suppressed laughter, and sensing heat unbridling its rein instantly, and parading in red all over my face. Fury’s joke was too explicit and far too daring for me to translate, but it was entirely consistent with her mischievous disposition. Jack looked at her, eyes squinting; he smiled and waited. ‘No Jack, NO WAY I translate’, she said, talking fast and assuming a serious demeanour. ‘Don’t even think of it’, she proceeded. I glanced at Jack first, and then turned to her, and collapsed into a fit of giggles, with them both now joining in. In the middle of this entirely agreeable incident, I inadvertently, looked towards the door. My gaze settled upon a tall, handsome guy standing there, staring at me in such an intriguing manner as to appeal to my feminine instinct; it was a face that I hadn’t seen in the past three weeks. The moment he realized I had noticed him he averted his eyes, and turned towards the left and strolled to the coffee-maker. Before long, I saw him holding a cup in hand and shaking hands with Tom. Jack, too, got up the moment he saw him and walked towards him saluting and shaking hands.

‘Welcome back Martin, how was the vacation?’ I overheard Jack asking him.
‘Short’, he replied, ‘a thousand and one things to do in eighteen days’.

While the three were absorbed in chatting, I carried on working out with Fury, in a continuing mood of gaiety, the problem that had been occupying us. The office jam-packed a short while later. Fury’s suggestion that we’d be better off in her less noisy office met with my assent. I looked in Jack’s direction, but he was too busy talking to notice me. However, I caught the eyes of the newcomer fastened on me once more. Ill at ease, I averted mine this time, while gathering my papers. Fury strode towards the doorway where the three men were standing, unwittingly blocking the way. I tailed her, and leaned slightly towards Jack, and spoke softly, telling him of my intent of working in Fury’s office. I sensed those eyes riveted on me. The three men gave way to us; Fury passed first, and I followed. I was within the shortest distance possible when my eyes met a pair of hazel eyes that were still poring over my face; this time I picked up a hint of a curve at the corner of the mouth too. I lowered my eyes, and followed Fury. We both strolled down the aisle to her neighbouring office. Her perceptively hawkish eyes didn’t miss my flushed face. She whispered, plying me with questions, ‘What’s up kiddo? Why did you blush? Who is he? Do you know him?’
I looked askance at her, surprised, and enquired with sheer innocence, ‘Who blushed and know who?’
She tilted slightly her head, and shot me one of those meaningful looks that I was well acquainted with, ‘You angel’, she replied calmly, ‘YOU, blushed, that is for the first question, and HIM, the hot guy talking to Jack, that’s for the second one’.
‘I didn’t’, I replied, mimicking her calmness, ‘and I think you need a pair of glasses to see colours clearly, perhaps you’ve got colour blindness’.

By this time we had reached her office. She sat behind her desk and I grabbed a chair and sat to her left, with the three guys now only visible from my left. I spread the charts on the desk and resumed work silently.
‘Hey, kiddo, those eyes are hiding something’. ‘Hiding’ somehow nettled me. I stopped working, put the pen down, and leaned back in my chair. ‘Hiding what, idiot?’ I asked, staring at her, and assaying to contain my anger. She replied with a sly smile.

Fury, in her doggedness, could challenge the most inexorable resistance and come up triumphant. Her irritating interrogation, nonetheless, persevered, overstepping now the boundaries of patience, ‘Why did you go red then?’
I exhaled, signalling a taxed patience, but I sustained my silence. Sensing my crazy temper on the verge of flaring up, she hushed up for a few moments and recommenced work, but without dismissing from her attention the gathering of three, and softly reporting the tinniest of happenings on the other side.

She described him turning, and repositioning himself where he could get a clearer view of me. ‘I see you’ve added one more admirer to the list kiddo’, she said, whispering. ‘But you know what? He tops’ em all! Older than you are, but ya Allah, God, how attractive and classy he is. I would die to marry someone like that’. She wrapped up her wish with a passionate sigh.

I continued to ignore her, patently engaged with my work, but for some reason I wasn’t. There was no concentration for me. She had me, oddly, absorbed in her reporting, and I seemed totally hooked by her delirious inquisitiveness about the happenings on the other side. It was the sort of absorption that I had never known or experienced before.
‘Fury’, I looked at her, assuming the role of a negotiator, ‘I’m here to work, in case you’ve forgotten; Jack is waiting for these papers. Please, let’s get started, otherwise, I’ll get back to my office, and work it out on my own’.
I managed, somehow, to bring her under control. She reluctantly resumed work, but still keeping the three men’s assemblage under her tight surveillance, and continuing to describe those eyes and how busy they were dogging me.
To Be Continued.......