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 28, 2005

34. "It's You... You Only... Not Her... Not Any Other Woman"/Part Two

I sat behind my desk, ignoring him with head down, feigning business with my papers. After a few tense moments, I sensed him moving closer. He stood facing me, about two feet away from my desk. Suddenly, I heard him whispering, ‘I missed you’.

After brushing me off for over two weeks, it was a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree turnaround, and I just couldn’t believe my ears. I raised my head to him, unable to hide an astonished face. He was smiling; his eyes were imparting what his mouth said, and they were blazing with passion that could be hidden no longer. The hard-to-get play had seemingly rebounded on him.

It didn’t seem to matter much to me at that moment how I responded to this audaciously open remark. I averted my eyes silently, however, maintaining an icy front, but progressively losing my battle as sweet and bitter emotions crushed and shattered me, obliterating what remained of my durability and resistance. I couldn’t help but dissolve into an ocean of tears, which I could no longer hold back.
He stood in shocked silence, nonplussed, stupefied, watching me with a fading smile, apparently not having taken into account the possibility of such an ostensibly dramatic turn.
‘Jesus, are you crying?’ he murmured, disbelieving the unexpected scene his eyes were watching. I was notorious among my family members for having handy tears, in both times of happiness as well as of sadness. During those two weeks, however, I had kept my tears strictly under check, and so his words encouraged the free spurt, which seemed to flow unabatedly, discharging thus all the agony that had consumed me. My tears were springing up unrestrainedly, tears of neglect, tears of humiliation and tears of sadness, but also tears of joy and tears of love, enormous love that roared and gushed forth from every particle of my body, craving him and divulging all that had been hidden hitherto. I looked up at him again. My tears were my complaints to him for his behaviour. I broke down, softly pleading with lowered head:
‘What is it that you want of me? Why don’t you stay away from me, pleeease?’

Through my tears, I saw him turning his back on me. Head down, he leaned with both hands against Gerhard’s desk, and I heard him utter a faint ‘damn’. I remained soundless, busy administering to the unstoppable cascade. He turned facing me again and stood still. A fraught silence was interrupted when I sensed him drawing closer; he stopped a meter away.
‘Liana’, softly he uttered my name. I looked up; he smiled, a warm passionate, soothing smile. His eyes were sad and contrite for the ‘triumphant’ cruelty he had inflicted. I averted my eyes.
It was first time he had endowed me with such tender, amorous treatment. I looked up at him again. ‘God, how I wish I could kiss those eyes and those tears’, he uttered those words so gently, further agitating the downpour coursing down my cheeks. I wiped the spouting tears with the back of my hands. He moved a few steps to the side, drew a couple of tissues from a nearby box and handed them to me, with that loving, reassuring smile. He stood still watching me. His eyes and his smile were his only means of soothing the pain he’d caused, and the desolation that he’d put me through. I sensed him weakening and his pain exacerbating. All that dominant manhood seemed incapacitated. Those tears seemed to be turning into an incredibly powerful weapon. He looked mystified and stunned, yet his eyes revealed enormous affection for the trembling creature that I was, sitting helplessly in front of him. His eyes were fixed on me, and he was shaking his head in astonishment. It was obvious that he was overcome with passion. And it wasn’t hard for my feminine instinct to detect how irresistibly appealing and overpowering my helplessness was to him. Well, I reckon, that must have been his first endurance with the pain and pleasure of a pure chaste love—unprocurable love, hard-to-touch love, hard-to-take-from love and hard-to-give-to love, and it just seemed to devastate the male in him. He must have realized, nonetheless, how hard he’d pushed, harder and faster and harsher than he should have, for it was evident how helpless and powerless and devastated I was in the face of such excruciating pain. He was the first man ever to knock on the doors of my heart. I was at a loss, bewildered, scared and in acute pain and above all, I was in love, strongly in love. Yes, Love that I could no longer deny, love that I could no longer hide; love that we both could no longer hide, or deny.

He grabbed a chair and sat about a meter away; the smile melted and a serious face stepped in place. ‘Is that what you truly want Liana?’ he asked calmly but with an obviously firm tone. ‘Just say it one more time, one more time, and you would never see me here again; it’s only for you that I come over here, just to see you’. He continued, pointing with his index finger to the offices around, ‘Eighty percent of the staff you see around here, or in the neighbouring offices, report to me, and I can arrange for the rest to meet me in my office, and stay away from you for as long as you wish’.

I remained soundless, busy suppressing my stubborn tears, but attentive to every word. It was the moment of truth, the moment that I had quailed from yet no less impatiently yearned for. His difficult share of the task was done. He had engaged in waging a programmed war, since the very first moment he laid eyes on me, digging out, skilfully, calmly and patiently, my emotions, baring them, striving to liberate them from the cocoon of reserve that society, tradition, religion and culture had surrounded me with so tenaciously. He was teaching me what it meant to be in love, how it felt to be in love, putting me face to face with the naked truth, coercing me into a decision, pushing me into a choice, pulling me out of that painful whirl of fear, perplexity and indecisiveness, and helping me to acknowledge my bashful feelings, and it was about time he gathered some harvest. His words said it all, and it was my turn now. I remained silent, staring at my skirt, sniffing and wiping still my tears.

I glanced towards Fury, who, from her office on the other side of the glass panel, had been a witness to this encounter. She looked enraged; her eyes were worried, trying to warn me of the possibility of a real disaster if someone entered the offices and saw me crying whilst he and I were on our own. But sensing his doting love, following days of neglect and abandonment, my safety, and even my invaluable reputation, went unheeded. I turned to him. He was calm; his beautiful hazel eyes were still waiting for my reply, apparently confident of a positive response, yet touched by a hint of anxiety and sadness too. I contemplated momentarily what to say and how to say it. A negative reply would have meant losing him forever; he seemed serious about what he said, and those few excruciating days taught me a memorable lesson, and made me well aware of the fact that I could not afford such loss. But then, a positive reply would have given assent to a stormy romance with unknown dangers in this land of prohibition. My mouth was asking him to stay away, but my tears were proclaiming sheer surrender, telling him how gruelling those days were on me, and how desperate I was becoming for him and for his love, the love that was becoming my only strength. He knew I loved him, but he wanted me to say it. He pushed me to admit it and to confess it, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t say or confess or admit it. My bashful reserved nature, and the thoughts of ‘aeb’ and ‘harram’, sin and disgrace, were overpowering me, harshly disciplining and tying my tongue, butchering brutally my feelings and emotions. Then again, it wasn’t only that, but his crazy impetuous nature too. Once I had said it, and once he had heard it, he could have become hard to control. His passionate emotions would have invited disastrous recklessness. All it took was one mistake, one tenuous mistake, for the entire world to crumble on top of our heads, his and mine, here in this republic of fear. We both knew, beyond any doubt that we were in love, madly in love and from first sight. And I knew he was the man of my life, the man of my dreams, the man my destiny brought from a different world, from thousands of miles away, to meet me, to love me and to fight for me; ‘Now that I found him, I wouldn’t lose him, not for the whole world, and I would be most careful for his and for my own sake. I would be the one walking him safely, by the hand, through this minefield that I am most familiar with. Some disciplining, however, wouldn’t harm him and may be essential, also it is about time I probed forthrightly the extent of his relationship with her’. Besides, I thought, some necessary lessons of orientation were urgent.

Despite the tears, I could manage a confident tone, ‘If you’re looking for entertainment, I’m afraid you won’t find it here. Go to Fattin, she’ll be the one to give it to you’. I dropped the ‘bombshell’ in a straightforward manner, and watched for the tremors.

His response was a resonant laugh that was patently edged with unambiguous delight. The decisive negative reply, which he dreaded, didn’t come, but a compromise rather, prompted by veiled, yet definite, jealousy. Fattin, after all, seemed to pave the road for him to my heart.

He didn’t deny, or fight the accusation, or even justify himself; he simply ignored it, not deigning to consider a refutation. I suppose it must have been that I mattered the most, and she was too insignificant for him to waste any time on, or even to make mention of.
‘It’s you Liana, not her… not any other woman’, he said joyfully, with sincere warmth and love in his voice. ‘It’s you only …. Your beauty and your innocence turned my world upside down the very first moment I saw you…’.
‘She’s beautiful too’, I interrupted, with such impatient naivety as to further induce the mirthful mood.
‘But loose; you’re my type’, he said pointing his index finger at me. ‘It’s you I run after, and it’s you that I’ve been looking for. Now that I have found you, I would fight the world for you’.

Who said men are different? Those words from a descendant of one of the most liberal cultures cut through my acculturation. I felt that, despite the differences in culture and lifestyle, the slow-paced women on my side of the world could live up to an ideal of femininity, notwithstanding all their unfashionable naivety. I smiled. It was my first smile to him, the smile, enwrapped in a rosy colour, which my innocence rewarded him with. Gone was my anger, gone was my apprehension and my humiliation, and gone too was my bewilderment and my frustration. Yes, all were replaced by a tremendous affection for him. Typical Iraqi, we love strongly, grieve strongly and forget and forgive our grudges most easily.
He remained calm, staring at me, and smiling—a warm, caring, loving, tender smile played on his lips, while his eyes seemed reluctant even to blink, for fear of taking his eyes off my smile.

‘Do you know how beautiful your smile is?’
To Be Continued.......