Fury sat facing me, begging and importuning and pressing me to call him. But sunk in a deep valley, I was oblivious to her urging, her bidding me to piece my shattered world together, and restore the felled clarity of my mind. Not sure how long she went on with her adamant pleading, but the humming of my ears all of a sudden grew louder as I sensed an abrupt silence prevailing. Don’t know if it were that Fury finally gave up trying, or that it were merely a tactical retreat that usually ensues an attack? All I could remember when I raised my heavy-laden head was her statue-like posture. She smiled when my disoriented and wet eyes met hers, the smile of a true and genuine friend, hurriedly reassuring me. But a mute unresponsiveness was all I could offer.
The sympathetic moment when our glances held was disrupted by my reaching out to the tissue box that was sitting on my desk, and feebly pulling out a few sheets to wipe my tear-stained face. I was helpless and rudderless as a small boat mercilessly hurled about in a boundless, tempestuous ocean. The burning pain of despair and helplessness was way beyond what my twenty-one naïve and inexperienced years could carry. Wave upon wave of fear and consternation swept over me unrelentingly, calling forth fresh tears and drowning me in an inundating sweat, as well as paralyzing any remaining physical or mental strength.
And I just didn’t know what to do. Call him? But to say what? To ask him what instigated such precipitate action? Well my perception was that any such query would result in his wiping the floor with the feminine ego that he himself had nurtured with his boundless love. He had eventually slashed it savagely the moment he excluded me in the making of such a crucial decision. The deliberateness of the act was all the more insulting, since it dawned on me that the decision wasn’t one that had been taken on the spur of the moment. True his eventual leaving wasn’t in any way unforeseen or far-fetched—he was, after all, an American, and sooner or later there was going to be a time when he would pack up and leave, returning to his homeland. But it had to be owned that, at least at this point, the decision seemed uncalled for. For not only was I quite certain that he was happy in Iraq, but our love had just started exploring its final frontier. And above this and that, I discerned that we were both in love, so madly in love as to expect to share any and every decision, small or big, vital or trivial. And this decision in particular wasn’t like any other. Or had it been a one-sided love, after all? And was he all this time toying with the virgin feelings of the shy, naïve and green girl that I was? Was he play-acting all the way? O God, he must be then the best actor this earth had ever begotten. All these months, he’d never spared one single opportunity for reiterating how much he loved me, how much he adored me, and how vital and indispensable a part of his life I had become. “Could love then be that phony and superficial and trifling?” I wondered incredulously. “Could love be that worthless as to be easily and carelessly shed like some unwanted clothing? Could emotions be so falsely shoehorned and tailored?”
Although tormented by this torrent of devastating emotions, I could still discern that grief and self-pity weren’t going to be the right dress for my wounds. And in spite of all the knifelike pains of abandonment, desertion and chagrin that pierced my femininity, rage was only a crest beneath which love bubbled over as powerful as ever. Life without him wasn’t going to be in any way easier, but rather a nightmare too dreadful to contemplate: impossible, inconceivable and unimaginable. No matter how angry and hurt I was, deep down I was certain it was only a matter of time, minutes, perhaps moments before I grabbed the receiver and dialed his number. Beyond question, calling him was becoming inevitable. Besides, this wasn’t going to be like any other disagreement or dispute that we have had, where I could wait in the certainty that he would soon rush to me, attempting to make up and pour forth his affection upon the girl whom his indulgent love had awfully spoiled. Time was fatally running out, and it surely wasn’t working on my behalf. The agonizing anticipation of the waiting game was increasingly outweighing the humiliation of the act. I was desperately racing against time, it having turned into a sharp sword that was going to chop me off if I didn’t chop it off first. My sense of foreboding was crazily escalating. Calling him, nonetheless, was still not so prudent as long as I was boiling with rage. And here I was now bargaining with time and wishfully thinking, “He’ll be back to work tomorrow. He must. He won’t leave just like that”. But how could the impatient and so restless and crazily- in-love girl have waited until tomorrow? That tomorrow seemed so remote, agonizingly remote, like a thousand years.
All of a sudden, I sensed a convulsive shudder rocking my whole body, and a flare of enormous rage engulfing me like a crazy volcano. On looking back, I know it was precisely this rage, mostly engendered by my consternation at losing him, that brought down my floating head and served like a buttressing pillar to sustain my heavy-laden body. Without it, I would have crumbled, shattering into a million pieces. Rage ironically overpowered all my other inflamed emotions and pushed me towards making the right decision: calling him.
When the dust of events settled down one month later, Fury, having turned the event into a fecund track for her comical gifts, would mimic what she saw me do then—standing up suddenly and going round the office in a series of mechanical, strained movements. She recounted of me staring absently around, as I sobbed and charged up on Martin in a bout of crazy rage: “From where does he come with all this cruelty? How could he decide on leaving without even letting me know? The last to know? The last, Fury? And you’re asking me yet to call him and talk to him and ask him to grace me with his whys and hows? I hate him Fury; I just hate him and I don’t give a damn if he leaves, or even goes to hell”.
But God, was it truly hatred? Having never been introduced to or ever known what hatred was, how could I have ever hated, or even envisioned the merest thought of hating him, him, of all people? I returned to my seat and sat like a mortified big cat, licking her wounds and cleansing them with her tears. Having vented my feelings, I was gripped by a powerful and irresistible urge to call him, and speak with him. I grabbed the receiver, and tried to dial the extension number of his office twice, but my shivery fingers made such effort undoable. Fury freed the receiver from my hand, and did the dialing. He wasn’t in his office. The second man in charge replied, “He’d left an hour ago”. My heart felt a twinge of pain, sinking further down, “Oh my God, leaving work at such an early hour? He’d never done it before, even when sick”.
Without asking for my permission, or even deliberating the risks of such an imprudent act in the state of fear and dictatorship, Fury ran her fingers down a long list of the advisors’ phone numbers, dialing his home number. The moment I heard her helloing him, my heart flapped, and the same old shiver that had always invaded my whole body every time I saw him, electrified me. What happened to all those mixed emotions or to all that crazy rage? Sure it had all evaporated. “Liana wants to talk to you,” she said, and passed the receiver on to me.
To Be Continued.......