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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September 26, 2005

48. And the Horrendous Monster, All of a Sudden, Stirred / Part Two

Sabbah Elkhair, good morning’, he saluted us as he stepped sprightly towards the desk. ‘Is it?’ I wondered, thinking, ‘then it’s most definitely the last’. His wishes were, nevertheless, reciprocated with quivering murmurs.

Schlonil-haal, how’re you doing?’ He asked as he stood behind his desk, taking stock of the faces, his eyes bouncing from one girl to another.

Thickly moustached, as was common among the regime’s angels of punishments, he was somewhere in his thirties, tall, slim and good-looking with a fair complexion. He was dressed in what seemed to be a fashionably big-ticket suit that matched nicely his shirt and his tie. His accent instantaneously betrayed his Tikriti origin, and marked him as of the same hometown as the dictator and the majority of his retinue. He took off his jacket in a well-designed stagy move, which mirrored his ostentatious savouring of authority and power, and hung it up behind the door. He returned to his previous position behind the desk, hands in pockets, and fixing his scalpel-like gaze upon the timorous faces before him. I found his gaze so intimidating that I sensed the blood freezing in my veins. With both her hands folded against her chest, her left hand clutching a few sheets of paper, Sandy was the nearest to his desk, and only a short distance away from the couch occupied by Fury, Mai and myself. The other two female ‘agents’ sat next to each other, facing us.

The ‘show’ embarked with some insipid and vapid manifestations of overweening authority. Like a peacock, he would either prance before us as he talked, canvassing the petrified young faces, or he would return to his desk and stand showily behind it. He would, at other times, sit in his swivel chair assuming a bigger mantel of superiority. Naturally, the show would have been all too sketchy had it not been couched with some not unexpected patterns of windy prolixity

For the certainly semi-literate peasant that he must have been, since the majority of the regime’s security personnel did not have anything beyond primary or intermediate education, power and authority were his only means of compensating for what could have been a predominant sense of inferiority; the desire to compensate himself for his disadvantage was all the more likely to make itself felt in the presence of nine female graduates, the majority of whom were young women of striking beauty, from comfortable social backgrounds, who were rendered atrociously subordinate and powerless only on account of the boundless authority that the dictatorial regime had delegated to its disciples.

Familiar as I was, like any Iraqi, with the superficial and everlasting hunger of this slice of people for whatever fell under the label of feminine, I expected that the meeting would be protracted, extending to double, if not triple, the time that had been scheduled for it.

His pompous oratory commenced with what Iraqis already knew by-heart through years of state media drumbeats. He, predictably, preached patriotism and love of ‘God’, my apologies, slip of the tongue; I meant love of the leader.
‘For the sake of our great leader’, he proclaimed, ‘may God protect him and lengthen his life; and for the sake of our dear country, ‘vigilance’ and ‘caution’ must always be maintained to our level best. We must all turn into wide-awake eyes and ears particularly when it relates to the foreigners working in Iraq; necessity, and necessity alone, was behind bringing them in. Most of these bastards are spies and CIA agents, disguised under different positions and posts’.

On hearing him utter the words ‘vigilance and caution’, an enormous spasm of fear struck through me. And I wondered if he was somehow reading my mind or was it mere telepathy. In my state of dismay, the first possibility by far outweighed the second. ‘He’s one of them’, I thought, hardly capable of marshalling my thoughts. ‘They are the invincible and the unbeatable. There is no limit to the stretch of their power. Nothing could ever be hidden from them’.

As he continued talking, I strayed far-off, chewing over this theme of vigilance and caution. A sudden thought struck terror in my mind: ‘Perhaps the office is bugged with eavesdropping devices. Dear Lord, how come this never occurred to me before? How stupid I’m not to have searched the office. I’ve seen it quite often in movies. I should have groped underneath the tables and chairs, inside the filing cabinets and in the heart of the phone mouthpiece. That’s it, Liana. You’re done. By now they should have heaps of recorded conversations to send you flying to the other world. Uh, I would be most fortunate if it’d be a quick flight. They’ll make me beg for it; yes, beg for a quick transfer and wish for it like no other thing. Daring to love an American and side with the enemies? He just said it: “They are all bastard spies and CIA agents”
However, amidst all that panic and consternation, a weird urge towards laughter swept me over on thinking of Martin as a CIA agent. ‘I guess the CIA must have fired him a month or two, at the very latest, following my arrival, for being busy loving instead of being busy working. Three assignments, Martin? CIA, your job and Liana on top? Three apples in one hand?’

At any event, the show went forward cumbersomely. The guy plugged away at filling the air with his vacuously monotonous patriotism: ‘Iraqis and “decent” Arabs should be the proudest for having such a phenomenal leadership. We should always be the proudest of nations’, he continued in hyperbolic terms, ‘for having “the leader the necessity”, who never lacked the courage or bravery to stand against the face of evil and the forces of darkness! Our patriotism dictates exerting the utmost level of vigilance and caution at all times and under all circumstances’.
My body shuddered upon hearing him reiterate those words. ‘Again? Please don’t, not again,’ I pleaded, thinking, ‘stop using these words for the sake of your “great leader”’. Upon closing, he pointed his index finger at three ladies, Sandy being one of them, who were enjoined to contact him should they come across any ‘unusual’ stuff.

‘May the great God protect our wise leadership’, he concluded, ‘and may the great Iraq remain an inaccessible fortress and a thorn in the side of the enemies. Thank you all for your attendance; you may all leave, except for…’. Having said that, he abruptly ceased talking. With his left hand akimbo, and his right index finger placed on his upper lip, he stood looking hard at the faces in front of him with an appearance of making a considered decision. ‘You… and you… um, and… you’. he pointed to Lubna first, then to Mai. His third choice fell upon me. He gestured to the three of us to move closer to his desk. He stood silent for a few moments, seemingly waiting for the rest of the girls to leave the room. Then he approached Lubna. He asked her first her name. ‘Have you noticed or come across any fishy stuff?’ She replied negatively. ‘The safety and security of your country is entrusted to you. Make sure you keep it sacredly before your eyes. Thank you, you may leave now’. Mai was handled not dissimilarly. She, too, left as I waited apprehensively for my turn. Then he stood, eyes focused on me, singularly silent for a few moments. I sensed his eyes penetrating deep beneath my skin, and I almost passed out. His approach to me was dissimilar to that taken to the two girls, and was the result of ominous premeditation as it soon turned out. He directed his eyes towards the door, ascertaining that Mai had exited. My heart sank to my feet, and fear lumped in my throat, ‘Jesus Christ, this is it, the moment of truth, the moment of the inevitable finale’. Sandy was the only one remaining in the room now, besides him and me. Panic-stricken, my whole body trembling and on the brink of collapsing, I turned to her with a fleeting meaning glance. Her eyes were fixed in a glassy stare upon him as her hands abstractedly monkeyed around with her papers.

With a lost voice, I replied ‘Liana’ to his question about my name. ‘Beautiful name’, he said in what seemed to be the beginning of an alarming conviviality. His smile further broadened, as he maintained the heavy silence that accompanied his scrutiny of my face. Suddenly and without preamble, he asked in an undertone, ‘Are you married or engaged?’ His eyes moved down to my clasped hands, apparently searching for a confirmation of either status among the four rings that I was wearing on both my hands. I, impulsively, turned my eyes back to Sandy, imploring her help. Her eyes were still settled on him. This time, however, I glimpsed an enraged look in them.

From genuine and loyal patriotism aimed at the ferocious combating of the power of evil and of the CIA to an unabashed attempt at matchmaking, this one hundred and eighty degrees shift of tactics was truly out of the blue. Despite the question being entirely irrelevant and intrusively personal, I found it to be somewhat of a relief. ‘This proves he’s oblivious to the thingy’, I thought. I suppose such an awkward move was demonstrable testimony of his inherent boorishness and uncouthness. The only thing civilization had bestowed upon him was a tie and a fashionable suit.

He was still smiling when I shifted my eyes from Sandy back to him. He had these dark eyes that were encircled by a reddish, bloodshot discolouration that had the most abhorrent, vile and filthy expression. However, I replied with a silent, yet most petrified, shake of the head.

At that moment, I sensed Sandy moving. And in an instant she was bravely wedging between us. She wound her left arm behind my back, and pushed me gently towards the door.
‘No… not this one Mohammed’, she addressed him firmly with a blatant tone of contempt as she walked me towards the door. ‘Triple them with someone else, but definitely not this one’. She carried on in what it seemed to be an allusion to his two wives. Having reached the doorway, her hand still embracing my back in a protective manner, she whispered urging me to leave. ‘Roohi, roohi, go, go’.

I was only a few steps away from the door, when I heard her addressing him again. ‘You caught the wrong ‘fish’, Mohammed. For your bad luck, she’s a Christian’.

I was out, but utterly dizzy and nauseous. My pulse rate had gone way past the red zone, and I was breathless and trembling all over. My sense of direction had left me. I turned to my left and saw that the long hallway was deserted. Upon turning to the right, I saw Fury at the end of the corridor, standing by the elevator, seemingly waiting for me. She looked worried sick. I leaned against the wall for support, and dragged my legs as I walked towards her with extreme difficulty. She rushed towards me. She had been filled with anxiety, as she recounted later on, by the thought of the possibility that my relationship with Martin had been chanced upon. She hugged me, comforting and stroking my hair and my shoulders. I murmured feebly, asking her to take me to the toilets. My stomach was turning. I always loathed vomiting like hell, but once inside, I moved to the nearest toilet and threw up like I had never done before. It was first time in my whole life I found vomiting such a great blessing and enormous relief. My tears joined with my stomach in ridding me of all those repugnant and filthy looks, which were so appalling and repulsive that the more I vomited the more I felt them adhering to my eyes and my skin and my stomach. I vomited until I sensed my stomach coming out of my mouth and my tears poured incessantly. They were not merely tears of disgust and contempt, as well as of dismay and trepidation; they were also tears of love, extreme and overwhelming love, for the most beautiful hazel eyes.
To Be Continued.......


Anonymous said...

You have a true gift for story telling. Better than any work of fiction. A first-hand account of living under such a regime is more powerful than the often-cited statistics on crimes of the regime. I hope the trial provides a platform for getting other such stories out to more people.

Glitch said...

Thanks... disgusting topic - but unfortunately WAY TOO MANY people out there are pretending things like you describe (and much worse) never happened

jamar - USA said...

You are destined to write a book! Your writing shows an outstanding talent and I WILL be back. You must continue to bring these stories to us as much as they are painful to read. Our hearts are with you and I look forward to the day you will know absolute and true freedom.

colagirl said...

Wow. A frightening experience and you do a good job showing just *how* frightening it must have been. I can't wait to read the next installment.

Solomon2 said...

You MUST write a book, not just a blog. You NEED to get it published, and many people need to read it. You have sufferred, but you are talented and inspired. Please.

Apex said...

That was beautiful and terrifying at once. I nearly fell ill myself while reading but then I thought about Uday taking that rocket to the chest... and I felt much better again.

Osama - Iraqi said...

Exceptional talent!

Anonymous said...