His ferocious war wasn’t waged against my shyness, since he found my bashfulness quite enthralling; nor was it waged against my artlessness, which he adored. Rather, it was against the reserve that tradition and culture had deeply embedded in my innermost being through years of social and religious acculturation. He assumed the role of a mentor, guiding me tenderly and with incredible patience and respect, teaching me not to loathe or be disdainful of my emotions and feelings, but to esteem and admire them. His copious wisdom was the medium that bridged the cultural chasm that often reared between us. Given the limited time he had, since his assignment in Iraq was temporary, he used it intelligently so that it worked to his advantage.
His love galloped along, taking magnificent strides by the day, by the hour, and by the minute. It must have been for him a different type of love, a peculiar love that he had perhaps never lived or experienced before—a chaste, pure and flawless love, but also one that was fiery and passionate; a patient, uncomplaining love, replete with pain and pleasure; a stormy and magnificently overwhelming love, but also one that shielded, concealed and guarded itself from every one, even while declaring itself to me loudly and freely and without fail, and through every possible means. It was a defiant and irrepressible love that would glow wildly and unrestrainedly through a pair of radiant eyes that beamed with elegant passion and ethereal joy. It was a daring love that would gush out with the most audacious compliments, which he’d purposely launch upon just to be rewarded with the rosy colour that he adored. And most of all, it was a tender, protective and splendidly caring love, which demonstrated itself through its utmost concern for my safety in the republic of fear and horror. A mere meaning gentle look would have sufficed to rein him in whenever his impetuous nature and fiery emotions were in command.
But then, my love, while no less intense, was always strictly held in check. It was a timid, prudent, disciplined type of love that I always tried to keep within my innermost self, shielded not only from the stifling surroundings, but also from him. Yet, notwithstanding all the incredible exertion I would fruitlessly be employing to hide it, my love would reveal itself, bare, naked and exposed before him, divulging to him how precious and invaluable he was becoming with every passing day, and how torturous and jejune and vapid and pointless life would become without him. The rigorous beleaguering environment and my reserved nature colluded together, nevertheless, to crush the wings of the fledgling lovebird that had kicked off flying and savouring excitedly the sense of freedom and the sensational uprush of emotions. Those insubordinate virgin emotions never wavered in their attachment to him. He had no doubt my love existed, and he engaged fervently and indefatigably to uncover my emotions, always enjoying his victory when it occurred with a loving, meaning smile.
On certain days I remember seeing him coming to work thrilled and excited, skating on an emotional high, which I’d ascribe to the inner workings of his mounting passion. Days later, however, Jack or Al or one of the other guys would spill the beans as they related snippets from their domestic gatherings, to which he was a party, in which they would pass complimentary remarks about me and wonder about the reasons behind my rejection of numerous marriage proposals. He would later recount about him listening, his heart bouncing with his big secret, and being unutterably happy for winning my heart where others had failed. On such days he would be hard to control, as he would break the two-meter rule by obstinately halving the distance.
Tomorrow? Never mattered; always a deferred issue that we seldom touched upon. With his overwhelming love on my side, tomorrow never concerned or disquieted me. Certain in the conviction that I would occupy not only his present but also unquestionably his future, I amply and unreservedly trusted him with mine. Our tomorrow was the day that we’d share, living happily together. It was our survival in the harsh land that counted most now, and which I was handling diligently. I left tomorrow for him to attend to. Tomorrow for him was our marriage, but he had to proceed cautiously towards taking such a step, forestalling the possibility of setbacks or unpleasant shocks. He was quite ready for that step; it was my readiness that he wanted to secure. As it turned out, he was willingly patient for as long as it took, so long as it eventually happened at the right time, not too late, but not too soon either. He would make explicit his intentions of marriage, saying ‘I’ll keep up on you’, or ‘You’ll definitely carry my name’. Sometimes he would become bolder, announcing, ‘You’re a gorgeous flower, and it’ll be I who will cut you’, or ‘You’re mine’. These were the means by which he would express excitedly his desires for tomorrow, and vent his passion carefully, cautiously and cheerfully.
There were no questions between us, or more accurately, time was preciously limited to allow for it to be wasted on questions. We loved and accepted each other for who we were. I didn’t have much to answer for anyway. I was like an open book for him and for others. Marriage suitors and admirers left no stone unturned, poking through my details, which would go circulating around and eventually fall into his lap. What mattered most he already knew: twenty-one years of age, single, never been married before, living with my small family. He was already quite familiar with the basic details of my culture and the conservative dimension of my society; he was growing increasingly in the conviction that my love for him existed and that it was thriving. Impatiently he waited for that moment when I would admit to it. Although, at times, my nose would be itching, I refrained from asking him questions. I left it entirely up to him to tell me what needed to be told when he deemed it appropriate. All that I knew of his marital status was that he was divorced with two adopted children of his ex-wife. I just had the feeling that he could have been married more than once. And only two days prior to his final departure, the officially proclaimed fiancée that I had become asked him what number I was in his life. ‘You’re number one’. I reiterated the question, but I had to throw in the towel in the face of such unwavering insistence, ‘I told you, you are, and you always will be number one’.
A month before he proposed to me, it scared me to death to learn that he had been offered an excellent job in a neighbouring country, with higher executive responsibilities, and a better pay package. Although I knew that he had already turned down the offer, for the first time I broke the ‘no questions’ barrier, and inquired about it. A meaning smile confirmed the reported news; he uttered nothing, however. I reiterated my question. Sensing how adamant I was, he stepped backwards, and pointing a finger to the location of Iraq on the world map that was stuck to the wall, he countered my question with another one, his eyes all the while glowing with tender love, ‘What’s a better job offer when compared to my love for the gorgeous people of Iraq?’ Often I had wondered, how on earth I managed to beat off the irresistible urge that swept over me at that moment to hug and kiss him?
He wasn’t given to excessive jealousy. He was a genuinely chivalrous knight who was armed with all the requisite self-assurance to help him do better than that. Nevertheless the male in him, from time to time, did fall prey to some crazy fits of possessiveness, particularly when witnessing all the attention I was increasingly raising. But then, I presume he had lived in Iraq long enough to acquire some of the Iraqi men’s hot-bloodedness and jealousy, and he grew similarly possessive. One day he was standing with a group of four, two of whom were Iraqis, engaged in informal chat while I sat busily working behind my desk. When I got up, sometime later, I saw him moving his eyes downward, to my chest. To my surprise, he began acting in a weird manner, talking loudly, and launching upon some funny jokes, as if he were trying to divert the attention of the group onto him. His look alerted me. When I glanced down, I realized that the third button of my shirt had slid open, right in the middle of my chest, exposing my bra and a hint of my breast. Instantaneously, I turned to the other side and re-buttoned. Engulfed by flames of embarrassment, I turned again and sat hiding my eyes from him for a while. When I mustered enough courage to look at him, I met a pair of eyes signalling a reprimand.
It was considered outrageous in my culture for men to marry women who were younger than them by more than a decade. Old? NO, definitely he wasn’t. He was at the most wonderful age, seeping youthfulness, irresistible manhood and enormous vigour. But perhaps it was I who was very young. He had everything to satisfy the female in me, outstripping by far much younger men. He understood me perfectly, adored me and valued my innocence, while skilfully arousing my shy, hidden emotions. I was a kid until I met him. YES, nothing but a mere pampered kid, with the mind of a kid and the heart of a kid and the demeanour of a kid. He brought to life the woman in me.
He was never threatened by my relative youth or by my beauty; he praised them at all times. He made me further realize my beauty, so as to bring out the best of it for him. Given that women age quicker than men, I thought we’d make a perfect match. I reckon, as I look back, that those extra few years would have been my immunity, my first protection line, which would have given the female in me the necessary peace of mind, on being married to such an outstandingly charismatic and gorgeous husband.
To Be Continued.......