Assaying to ease up the aggravating tension, my splendidly thoughtful friend Fury instantaneously assumed the role of Sherlock Holmes and plunged fervidly into the action of verifying the identity of the ‘alien’ voice. Fifteen minutes of artful chitchat with Martin’s assistant and she was back holding the banner of triumphal success. If she had persisted with her ‘research’ a bit longer, she would have, I reckon, traced the woman’s roots several antecedents back. She joyfully gave me the facts in a nutshell: ‘She’s the housemaid. Her name is Jocelyn. She’s Assyrian and goes there twice a week’.
Well, the name and ethnicity of the alleged housemaid seemed to make a perfectly logical match. Apart from Christian names shared by both denominations, Iraqi Assyrians tended to favour Western names, unlike their fellow Chaldeans who were inclined towards Arabic names. I had, yet, one more reason for accepting Fury’s anecdote. The majority of Iraqi Assyrians spoke English adequately enough to grant them precedence in jobs that demanded such adroitness. It was a well-known fact that such gain was the outcome of their various large-scale recruitment by the Britons, particularly at Al-Habbania airbase camp, during the days of British colonization.
As time dragged on at snail’s pace, so did my worries press heavily upon me. Until I left for the day, that fretfully longed-for phone call never came.
And I couldn’t sleep a wink that night. I was out of bed at the crack of dawn, still weighed down by anxiety. I camouflaged with skilful make-up the marks that sleeplessness had left on my face. It was undoubtedly true that I was restless and sad. And this wasn’t owing to any lack of feminine assurance, for I was in ample possession of whatever sustained and enhanced such assurance. I was overcome by an unprecedentedly rampant sense of feminine possessiveness, which had only been stimulated by the shockingly unexpected alien presence in a territory that I was most certain was devoted solely to me and not to anyone else.
And despite Fury’s reassurances and my still solid faith in Martin, my feminine misgivings, however slender, were quite exasperating. Well, this was the first love experience of the dewy-eyed female that I was, whose captivating prince charming had popped up spectacularly from her fantasy world into the actuality of her simple, artless and most innocent existence. How on earth would one expect or even imagine her to cope with such a thrilling event that was now yielding unexpected complexities? Massive waves of agonizingly conflicting emotions stormed through me. It was at once love, rage, misgivings, perplexity and enigmatic apprehension, all crushing excruciatingly the excessively romantic girl who was madly in love only because she was madly loved; the question that befuddled my inherently sacrosanct sense of fidelity was ‘Could such a thing possibly happen? And ‘why?’
In spite of everything else, Fattin was still the glaringly cogent proof that my trust in Martin wasn’t the least bit misplaced or abused. But wasn’t there the probability of a slender margin of error in every calculation? It was this slim likelihood that nagged at me, weighing me down, and depriving me of my peace of mind.
Notwithstanding, jealousy failed to provide the inducement that love had already done. For holding the rein firmly, now more than ever, was my ineffable love for the man who had worthily and competently captured my heart and my mind, and captivated my emotions. Having been inundated with his unwavering love and attention, I had become like a fish relishing the wonderfully sweet and crystalline water of melted snow. Martin had become my nirvana, and I had become addicted to the heavenly ambrosia of love that he was feeding me. And because I loved him, yes, because I loved Martin more than life, because he had become so much a part of me, life without him would have no meaning. Even the slightest hint or thought of losing him would rock my world devastatingly, and turn it into nothing short of a torturous hell. How little I had known then what torturous hell would truly mean!
Martin’s day away from work and its dire consequences gripped me in such a crazy fever of passion for him that the few hours at home had become a harrowing drag.
Next morning, around eight, the establishment bus pulled up in its usual parking lot. As I headed with Fury and two other female workers towards our building, I glimpsed Martin coming out with two other advisors, seemingly making for the headquarters for their usual weekly meeting. I was walking on the far left side of the three girls, the side closest to Martin as he and his companions came towards us. I could see that he had noticed me, and it must have been clear to him that I had seen him too, although I had deliberately cast my eyes downwards, pretending otherwise. In spite of my overwhelming rapture at seeing him, I sensed a perplexing wave of rage storming through me so violently as to render him unworthy of the morning’s good wishes. But was it truly rage? On thinking back I know it wasn’t. Rage was a mere driving force that I had, myself, unconsciously engendered only to give me a boost over the fence of my bashfulness and push me towards a deliberate confrontation with Martin. It wasn’t related to having found corroborating evidence against him or to wanting to express my disapproval of the disagreeable feminine presence at his place. Rage was the vehicle through which my feminine instinct could communicate to Martin my feelings, without letting down my guard; the jealousy, which fuelled it, was really my messenger of love. The alarming sense of danger that Jocelyn had triggered off was so paramount as to bring out forcefully the full female in me; my resolution was to come to grips with my impeding bashfulness. The fact that I was madly in love could no longer be hidden under any guise. Forthrightly or else, it was high time I unveiled my emotions. Jocelyn had instinctively stimulated my jealousy, which, after having engulfed me in such alarming dismay, had subsequently channelled itself into rage as its most effective form of expression.
Inspired by my feminine instinct, my only trusted guide in the absence of experience, I slowed down as Martin and his companions closed upon us, falling slightly behind the girls. Head still down, I shifted sides by moving slowly to the right. On reaching the far right side, I half raised my head and glanced at him; he was a few meters away, staring at me. When our eyes met, he shot me a meaning glance that was coupled with the hint of a perplexed shake of the head.
To Be Continued.......