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

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April 18, 2005

31. And The Love Bird Fluttered High In The Sky/Part Two

Early in the morning, Sandy turned up for a brief courtesy visit and also to ensure that things were all sailing swimmingly. Al, too, popped in at the busiest hour, launching on , as was habitual for him, one of his daring jokes, but he apologized when Jack reproved him.

I seemed to revert to my former mirthful mood and liveliness. ‘Time has zoomed by’, I thought, when I peered at my watch and realized that midday was already one hour behind. Things around the offices seemed to have pretty much eased up; Jack and Larry had already hit the road for a lengthy meeting downtown that was anticipated to outlast the normal working hours. Tom, likewise, was in another meeting with Riyadh, and Gerhard had been away for two days on a trip to Basra. Sensing a hint of fatigue, I got up from my chair, and stood to the side stretching my back and arms with left and right twists and turns, and then took a trip to the water-cooler to stretch my legs. When I returned with a ‘ration’ of a cup of cold water, I noticed Fury was nowhere around. I stepped into her office inquiring about her whereabouts; I understood from Jimmy that she was delivering some charts to site three. I returned to my office, tidied up my desk and my drawers and reprioritised my work. On realizing that there was not much left to do, I leaned back in my chair for a few moments; the solitude and the serenity around seemed to trigger some unseemly yawns. And so I shut my eyes seeking some momentary relaxation. Sleeplessness during the previous night, on account of having spent it blabbering with Fury, took its toll of me, and that short repose promoted a strong urge to sleep. I almost dozed off. Was it for five minutes or less? But when I opened my eyes and simultaneously squinted towards the door, my heart leapt and my adrenaline pumped. He was standing there, leaning against the door in silence, hands in the pockets, staring agreeably at me,
‘Tired?’ he asked smiling.
I didn’t reply; my yawns and drowsiness evaporated instantaneously, and I sat straight in my chair.
He walked in, grabbed a chair and sat, legs crossed nearly two meters away. It was our first meeting, his and mine, alone in the offices. Even Fury wasn’t around, and strangely enough, her absence didn’t seem to bother me much. He sat close enough for me to see clearly how stunning he looked. His dark green shirt was unbuttoned half-way down revealing his broad elevated chest. His neck chain was subtly twined in the fair hairs of his manly chest, while his tanned skin stood in striking contrast to the green colour, which matched his eyes and intensified their colour. I was suddenly flooded with relief when I glimpsed an emerald golden ring in his wedding-ring finger.
‘Still mad at me?’ he asked, so tenderly, that I felt the small bird inside my chest fluttering with delight, but I remained silent, struggling for a steady front, and staring at my desk, both my hands topping each other and resting on my crossed legs, close to my knee. I looked up at him. His eyes were roaming thirstily around my face, and his cheerful broad smile was anxious for a reply. But his audacious looks were slowly stripping off me all that feigned mask of stubbornness and firmness that I was striving hard to assume. It was precisely at that moment that I became undoubtedly convinced that the story of my life would be entwined with this peculiar person sitting in front of me.
‘I’m surrounded with watchful eyes all around’, I said, starting to explain calmly. ‘I don’t know how long you’ve been in Iraq, but I assume long enough to realize the conservative nature of our society, and the high stakes any Iraqi endures when working with foreigners, particularly Americans. A disaster is at all times around the corner, waiting on just a small tip-off from someone misreading an incident like this. Don’t forget that you, too, are surrounded by other colleagues who might intentionally or not pass things on to your wife. So, as you see, the situation for both of us does not tolerate any irresponsible acts’.

I was talking, but avoiding any sort of eye contact. Instead, my bashful eyes were roaming around his shirt, his hair and my desk. He listened attentively, until I reached the last part, which my overcurious feminine instinct impulsively spatchcocked. ‘I’m divorced, if that’s what you wanna know’, he smiled, cunningly meeting me head-on.
‘And why would I wanna know that?’ I asked, objecting. A meaning, smile that was associated with more of that annoying air of self-assurance was the reply. I felt my heart galloping with excitement the moment I recognized he was divorced. I lowered my head, and maintained my silence for a few instances. When I raised my eyes again I saw him moving his eyes downward towards my crossed leg, flirting openly, ‘You’ve got good looking knees’. It was then when I became aware of my exposed knees. I was always praised for having legs like mum’s and Dina’s, beautifully shaped ones. More than once I caught Jack and the guys stealing looks, but ‘dirty Al’ was the only one to ‘wow’ over them openly

Drowned in bashfulness and excited with flattery, I sensed blood surging over my face and ears in an unprecedented parade of blushes, visible even to the most near-sighted. Feeling enormous heat engulfing my head, I knew I was glowing red. My immediate impulse, which he found quite diverting, was to uncross my legs and hide them beneath the desk.
‘You blushed again’, he said softly, patently observing with enormous pleasure such an unfashionable example of embarrassing naiveté. I remained silent, nevertheless, my eyes fixed still upon my desk. After a pregnant pause, I heard him talking again.
‘You’re avoiding my eyes’.
Well, with that undisguised red colour spread all over my face, I suppose, he became well aware that the playground was exclusively his. And so, he began openly and mercilessly cornering my greenness. It didn’t require much effort for him to realize the fact that he was fronting a beginner, a definite loser, and an utterly naive and helpless kid who’d drown in a cup of water.
‘What makes you think so?’ I asked, struggling hard to camouflage my evident discomfiture by grabbing some of the papers from my desk and leafing nervously through in a desperate attempt to shun his daring eyes. My face was burning hot, and my heart was striving to jailbreak my chest.
After some more moments of silence, which seemed everlasting, he assumed a gentle, commanding tone, ‘Look at me, Liana’.
I froze; I just froze; my whole body shuddered, my eyes remained fixed on my papers and my hands paralysed.
‘Liana… look at me’, he reiterated, voicing power and authority.
I persevered in shocked silence for a few moments, contemplating the compelled mission that seemed all but undoable. It wasn’t only my bashfulness, or my apprehension at looking into his eyes that had me paralysed, but I quailed at the thought of what my indiscreet eyes would betray. Eventually, I submissively obeyed and raised my eyes. It was a swift sail that couldn’t survive beyond two or three seconds, but long enough, metaphorically speaking, to deracinate me vehemently off my ground and jostle me into a fathomless world of insane eyes that were burning with passion, and which left me dazed, and wrestling, like a wounded bird, for the last sparks of life. The crazy sail rendered me a gushy volcano, boiling over with wild disobedient emotions, struggling heedlessly and crazily for freedom, following years of suppression and internment. My whole body quivered the moment our looks touched, and I sensed my young chest palpitating, racing ecstatically out of its cage into an exotic world that it had never set foot upon before. However, notwithstanding all those crazy novel sensations that were roaring inside, a block of icy exterior, exuding incredible calmness and immense impassivity enveloped me on the outside. I lowered my eyes, overpowered and humiliated with defeat, but still enwrapped in enormous stillness. The kid who had lived within me for twenty-one years was shocked and petrified, quivering and struggling hard to retain its innocence, as she fought the thought of reciprocating those feelings or looks. Twenty-one years of comprehensive parental guidance and rigorous social and religious rules that had incessantly trained and cautioned me about the dishonour and the evil of love, let alone the cultural preaching that always deemed Satan to be the third member of any unaccompanied gathering between a male and a female, were all rearing up and powerfully overriding those fledgling emotions, which were way too precarious to endure any confrontation with that unwaveringly established Puritanism.
On the other hand, he seemed to enjoy tremendously his pre-eminence in the face of my evident diffidence. All of a sudden, I saw him getting up, seemingly with the design of getting closer. With the agility of a frightened cat I instinctively sallied out to the opposite end, and stood on the alert, nearly three meters away. His response, however, was no more than a smile, as he totally overlooked the move. He reached out for my cup of water and stood examining the lipstick marks on the white edges. With his eyes fixed on me, he pressed his lips on those marks and sipped more than half. He turned, holding the cup, and walked slowly and confidently towards the door. But before disappearing, he swung round and stood for a short while giving me a warm affectionate look, saying, as he took leave, ‘You’re the last I would hurt in this world’.

Stiff, like a statue, I stood watching him vanishing, ‘Mercy please, mercy’, I murmured softly, ‘ don’t mistake me for an equal; you’re years on the other side of me, and there are heaps for me to learn to catch up with you, if I were ever to catch up’.

I dragged myself back to my desk, huffing and puffing, and on the brink of collapsing, so drained and depleted I was, emotionally and physically. Tremendous heat was seeping out of every single pore of my body. I was no less frightened, baffled, mystified and overwhelmed by a cascading shower of virgin emotions that were striking me so ruthlessly. It was my first emotional encounter in an entire lifetime, in which I allowed an alien male to overstep the line, and talk and flirt with me openly, let alone look into his eyes in such a submissive manner, and experience such alarming passion and luscious desire.

I sat barely piecing together those emotions strewn everywhere. I felt so lost, and inexperienced and ignorant and naïve and helpless that I pitied myself, and tears streamed down my cheeks. As my tears were running loose, I had a sweeping urge to laugh and scream too. I wanted to run my fastest, hug the whole world, and kiss all my friends. I was extremely happy. The innocent timid girl within was pushed strongly aside by a grown women, rich and brimful with wonderful feelings, crazy for liberation and for cutting loose all those chains and fetters that had her pinned down by years of cultural and traditional precepts, which commence as early as first menstruation. This is the thin line dividing girlhood and womanhood, when the list of prohibitions starts magnifying, when we get berated against any and every thing that pertains to the world of masculinity, when we’re no longer allowed to mingle or play with boys, and tend to hide strictly most of our bodies, particularly all that is marked or labelled feminine.

Our honour-based culture obsessively views females as mothers of the future, symbols of chastity and wise child-bearers. They must, therefore, remain uncorrupted, flawless, without any shortcomings, an everlasting spring of virtue, which they would pass on to their daughters. Our females grow up drilled in taboos, and ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’, and are perpetually obligated, socially, religiously and traditionally, to safeguard their bodies and their minds, unblemished and unsullied, preserving thus not only the refined honour and the noble reputation of their families but theirs as well. Women’s moral excellence is a preponderant value, and society is most merciless and unforgiving towards any heedlessness or recklessness, not even stopping short of the ignominious rejection of betrotheds found to be unworthy. This is the worst form of social stigmatisation. In the stern eyes of our society, she is not worthy of the least respect who does not guard her temple flawlessly for the husband-to-be. Depravity and degeneracy, nevertheless, could be as ‘small’ as a hand touch, yet held as an unpardonable sin. The invaluable honour of the males of any family weighs heavily upon the fragile, delicate shoulders of its females. And love is ominous, and a moral crime and forbidden at all times and under all and any circumstances.

A pat on the shoulder drew me back from my excruciating seventh heaven to sense Fury’s presence that I had been oblivious to, to the extent of not hearing her calling my name twice. ‘Are you crying?’ she asked, worried. I didn’t reply, not much of a task for one of Fury’s perception to figure out what had happened.
‘Was he here?’ she asked straight.
To Be Continued.......

9 comments:

Brian H said...

Whew!
First, a couple of words:
"riposte" is a retort or reply in an argument, derived from fencing terminology.
"deracinate" is used correctly, but is extremely formal and specialized terminology; "displace" or "uproot" is more direct and much clearer here.

Secondly, the Arab/Sharia attitude to women seems grotesque and outrageous here in the West. It is entirely oriented, I think, to keeping control over harems. It is one of the effects of harem-collecting that there is produced an artificial shortage of women, leaving many, or even most, men without mates and matches, intensifying their frustrations and increasing the need to "guard" the property rights of the upper-status males. This same behaviour is seen in chimpanzees and horses.

From a moral point of view, Arab males seem deeply depraved and hypocritical to us. I understand there is a short "saying" common amongst them that explains why:
"For children, women.
For pleasure, boys.
For ecstasy, goats."

It's pretty hard not to look down on such a culture as being a millennium or two retarded behind the "Anglosphere". One of the worst aspects, of course, is the heavy emotional and intellectual conditioning of women such that they begin to collaborate in their own subordination, and enforce the same on others. How many millions of lives have been blasted and shrivelled by all this? It doesn't bear thinking about.

Liana said...

Specifically at this point, I don’t want to be dragged into any sort of otiose wrangle or fringy altercations that could eventually lead to devouring more of the precious time that I intend to dedicate towards recounting my autobiography. I would be more than glad, however, to swing the shutters wide open so as to reply to any queries that visitors to this site may have, or to shed further light on my narrative, as soon as I am done with recounting it.

The only thing that I want to say here is that one of the invaluable lessons that life has taught me is that nothing is perfect. No matter how good you deem yourself, there will be others who would surpass you, one way or another. Comparison remains a relative matter; as much as it is equitable at times, it could be darn inequitable at others.

Unconstructive criticism that is mainly designed to ventilate some personal despites or to express contempt of or condescension to others is totally unacceptable, and would never be tolerated on this site.

Each culture has its own pros and cons. The nobility of any culture ought only to be measured through the virtue of its people, their meekness and humility, and not the opposite. It’s not just how we view ourselves that matters, but also how others view us. Extinct civilizations, such as the one from which yours truly has descended, should remind us that the wheel of fortune will never stop; amidst all the ecstasy and rapture that victory and triumph can produce, we should never bury ourselves to the possibility that what ascends would eventually descend. Thus, differences among cultures should only serve as a stimulating spring for the enrichment of one another, not the opposite.

I am still in the early stages of my autobiography. Apart from the changes dictated by the necessity of maintaining the anonymity of some of my key characters, everything I have said or will be saying, is a testimony to the actuality that I have lived, in its pain, in its pleasure, unchanged and unornamented. This phase of my life, however, and despite all its negativity, will be amply treasured in my innermost being.

As I said nothing is perfect; notwithstanding all the pain that I have endured on account of culture and tradition, I have realized, following my few years of the living in the western world, that my cultural background is not the worst, and definitely not as bad as you have mentioned in your comment. Finally, I suggest that before you harshly criticise others, you give yourself a few moments to look a bit deeper than the bare surface. All that glitters is not always gold.

With all the respect,
Liana

emigre said...

"nothing is perfect"

Too true, too true ~ in real life anyway. Virtually speaking we can always re-write the imperfections, but then would our writing have any grit left in it? And what is a love story without grit, without salt and dust and ashes.

Where would a love story be without riposte and deracineration, we might ask ~ and then we might answer, where-ever that love story is, it would certainly be vapid.

emigre

Liana said...

émigré:

"And while, absorbed were the worshippers in the altar reverently praying, a perforating dissonance suddenly invaded, permeating the spirit of the place; serenity was muddied, prayers were disrupted and worshippers were bewildered. The man of the cloth burst in on the action, and the holiness of the temple, with his few susurrant words, was promptly reinstated".

Liana...

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