I recognized back then that women bear a resemblance to shadows; they beetle off when being chased after, but they earnestly follow when being cold-shouldered. It would bring upon a woman a shattering sense of inadequacy and unimportance to discover that the intense and evident admiration she had excited had simply passed for no ostensible reason into neglect and disregard. It lacerates the pride and devastates the ego. Yet it can also stimulate, paradoxically, the flames of love, which would flare up obdurately instead of being extinguished. On reflecting back, I realize it was this back-turning demeanour that contributed in particular towards minimizing the sweat and the time that needed to be employed towards appropriating the young heart and the innocent mind. In the absence of diversity, such adroit unapproachability appeared to have attained perfectly its covert objective, without inciting the peril that may ensue from transgressing the heavy-handed regulations of this land of prohibition.
Just when the fantasy of the romantic girl had started coming into enough awareness to crave for more of those dramatic encounters, the course of events took a drastic turn. He abruptly shifted gears on me: that entire crazy obsession, for no ‘obvious’ reason, was bartered for incredible nonchalance and painful disregard. He just seemed like an entirely different person, who had never known or ever spoken to me before. Nevertheless, his visits to my office were regularized to once or twice a day, but for the most part, they took the form of organized meetings with other advisors, in which he would sit, patently and calculatedly, giving his back to me. Or he would face up at times but utterly discount me from attention, not even bothering to divert a mere glance to my side. It was as if I did not exist for him. The worst part of it all came from some well-devised visits, in which he would obtrude upon my solitude just when the offices would be deserted by all but me. He would simply saunter nonchalantly out to the coffee maker, fix himself a cup of coffee, stand there slowly relishing it for a few moments, completely avoiding me, and eventually leaving silently, stubbornly determined not to show himself as a citizen of the world. This nerve-racking behaviour persisted for about two weeks, and it just drove me nuts; it was so abrupt and unanticipated, not to say humiliating. Puzzling this conundrum out further drained the amateur in me, and I continued to remain at sea. Strangely enough, the romantically prone female in me was with every passing day being encroached upon by more of those defiantly surreal emotions. There were times when I could no longer stomach the turn of events, and I would erupt for the silliest reasons, and who would I vent my rage upon, but poor Fury? And when my helplessness stretched out to its ultimate boundaries, I would just button up, and sit engulfed with chagrin, powerlessly fighting back hot defeated tears. My appetite further waned. I skipped numerous lunches and dinners, and was consumed by fidgety tossing and turning through the seemingly never-ending nights. You could say that I was being truly tamed!
Fury, though, maintained that it was all premeditated. ‘He seems to be reading you like an open book, and he is slipping through your weakest point. This guy is ingenious, Lu. Somehow he figured out how much you hate being ignored, and he is playing expertly on this string’. That was how she summed up the quandary I was in.
The most foul part of it all, though, sprang from the stinging jealousy that was eating my heart and burning my sanity to ashes. All that overarching self-assurance that I sensed over the so-called rival seemed to be dissolving, and I finally began preparing myself for some unpleasant scenarios, countenancing the fact that she was winning. There were some transient moments of overwhelming feebleness when I couldn’t help but hate him most vehemently for such gratuitous torture. Or was it hatred at all, I wonder? All told, love was slipping in surreptitiously through the crack, and traitorous feelings were rebelliously colluding with him against me.
Matters then took even more of an intricate turn. He just vanished for four days, wiping out the last of any remaining hope. In each and every one of those days, I would go to work with my desperate romanticism, wishfully thinking that he’d somehow turn up and end up such mean treatment, but hope would diminish like smoke in an autumn wind. I would return home in exquisite pain, enveloped in a fog of worries and sadness, increasingly, convinced I’d lost him to Fattin, and for ever. Having endured such excruciation, I would have relinquished my arms, in good spirit, to be saved decisively from the miasma of worries that hung over me.
However, on the fifth day he suddenly emerged with resourceful timing, ‘as usual’, just when the offices were deserted but from me. It was Jack’s first day of a one-week trip to Jordan. Larry, who took over him, was in a meeting with the big boss; Tom, too, was visiting the headquarters; and early that morning, Gerhard had called in sick. Could one ever have hoped for a more secluded stage for what would be played? It was past midday. I was on the phone, standing next to the filing cabinets when I saw him walking through the main entrance. Believing it to be one of those hateful and humiliating trips to the coffee maker, and led by my sense of bruised pride, I turned away to the right, giving my back to the door. However, I flinched gasping, when I hung up and turned to see him just a few feet away, leaning against Larry’s desk, smiling, arms crossed, as were his legs, which were spread in front of him.
‘Hi gorgeous, how’re you?’
‘Good, thanks’, I replied in an uninviting manner. Nevertheless, I could sense my disloyal heart flapping wings of excitement upon hearing those words. But I stood there not reluctant to retaliate with the same weapon, ignoring him, too, paying him thus for the humiliation of those excruciating two weeks, and for the ‘bonus’ of four days. I engaged myself with tidying my desk, assuming an air of normality, and trying with great effort to control the visible trembling of my hands, which blended in with the rhythmic chiming of the exuberant heart, intoxicated with the thrill of seeing him. Little would I have cared had I known of the sharp twist my whole life was going to undergo in just a few moments, when destiny would start laughing behind its hand, while weaving the first skeins of what would be the passion of a whole life.
To Be Continued.......