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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October 19, 2011

76. "Say it for God's Sake, Say it" XXI

His hair looked shorter than usual when he first appeared in the doorway of my office, so much shorter that I found myself muttering softly, “What made you cut your hair so short? I loved it much more before.” Once more he seemed pretty darn resourceful in picking out the most perfect time for seeing me. I was standing behind my desk when he first arrived. The offices were deserted by everyone save for the advisor with impaired hearing whose condition might have encouraged my atypical temerity. My wit, though, wasn’t wholly present to help me quickly grasp the momentary stillness that accompanied his astonished gaze that my remarks seemed to have invoked, and which made me realize, though late, the foolishness of my “audacity”. The man’s powerful and mesmerizing manhood appeared all too defenseless in the face of such practically unexpected “dewy-eyed flirtation”. And the gratified smile that he shot me was so pregnant that I instantaneously sensed the girlish shyness swashing its reddish victory all over my face.

Our gathering this time, however, was not like any other. The sweet sense of belonging that went both ways seemed to have imbued the place with a heavenly aura of overweening romance that was too hard to curb, much less, conceal, and which the climactic event of his meeting my parents the day before had conspicuously deepened. Besides, there was the welcome relief that ensued from the vanishing of the ubiquitous sense of guilt that had weighed heavily upon my nerves for having hidden the romance away from my parents. He, too, appeared liberally on the upbeat, and, in a way, proud and gallant, most likely for having met and fulfilled the demands of my culture in “entering the house through the door, rather than the window,” as the cultural saying goes, now that he asked officially for my hand in marriage, a thing that gave a further charge to our romance, and enhanced the sense of bonding that permeated us euphorically. My heart pumped at maximum capacity the moment I glimpsed him entering the office. He looked, as ever, relaxed and collected, though with a tinge of impatient uneasiness shading off his eyes, decidedly on account of my parents’ final consent that he was eagerly waiting for.

In a moment of pleasurable insanity, I sensed an overpowering urge sweeping over me to run to him, and throw myself into his arms, the arms of the man I craved with every fiber of my body. The love of the man who had penetrated the soul of my soul was now in full reign. And the patience, which the burning of months had fully depleted, had all gone mad, awfully mad. For the first time in my whole life of twenty one years, I felt so unrestrainedly driven by my passion. My thirsty emotions had overridden whatever remnants of reason I might have still had. But such momentary flight of fancy was soon stifled by my inherent shyness, which was all too quick to call such crackpot venture on the carpet, not to speak of the caution arising from my perpetual dread of the tyrannical regime and its surrounding minefield, manned by censorious eyes.

He then stepped into my office. The look of his eyes alarmed me somewhat, for it had changed now to something all too reckless that appeared to be brewing fast, so fast that a “disaster” seemed only too imminent now. Heart thumping, I sat rapidly, all too geared up, having fortified myself behind my desk, banking solely on the nimbleness and resilience of my body, praying that they wouldn’t let me down in helping me stay as out of reach as possible.

The defensive structure of my stronghold must have looked amusing, for he cracked up laughing. He, however, was half way through to my desk, when “back up” suddenly arrived through some voices in the vicinity - a thing that alerted him. A few seconds later, the shadows of three advisors appeared at the frosted window glass of the main entrance, thus saving me, by thwarting whatever foolhardiness he may have been deliberating upon. I emitted a serious sigh of relief, which again, elicited from him another amused laugh. He swerved now changing course, heading towards the desk of the guy with impaired hearing, who seemed all too absorbed with the fixing of some sort of an electronic device. Martin stood there, on the face of it, talking to him, but it was apparent that the whole attention of his heart and soul was with me. His eyes were his fervid envoy, communicating his elegant and fashionable love, not only gratifying his hunger for affection, but mine, too.

On looking back, I should have known better then than to mistakenly think that our paths were converging when they were actually diverging. It wasn’t coincidence alone that made of that day the stingiest ever in denying us the togetherness of even seconds, but our begrudging destiny, having concluded its sinister contriving to give our path the ax, was also fully engaged now in proclaiming its wicked power. The offices were all the time teeming with people, depriving us of the least chance for propinquity to fete the fruit of our forbearance of months with at least a few passing words. Until I finished for the day, the offices were swarming with more people. While he wrestled with his obvious helplessness, I left in tears, harboring a mystic intuition that I couldn’t fathom back then. But this was seemingly a forthright indication from our refractory destiny, foreshadowing the infelicitous ending of this romance, and pronouncing perhaps that we were never meant for each other. The agony of dashed hopes that took over, conquering the euphoria and elation with which that day had started, was all too excruciating. For even the shortest romantic moments that we used to steal here and there before that day were, by far, much more fortunate in duration.

The following day, I arrived at the offices with the great news. The family had finally granted its blessings to the marriage, even though begrudgingly. My parents had finally acceded to my unfaltering determination to marry the man with whom I had chosen to spend the rest of my life. I affected my unawareness of the lengthy and heated debates that were taking place around the clock among the family members, and which Dina conveyed to me in their most elaborate detail.

The mere thought of my parents entrusting their only daughter to a man who himself was the only source of the very little they knew of him sufficed in itself to smother the project of marriage in its cradle. The dragons of their worries reared in terror every time they thought about the vast geographical distance that would separate their daughter from their love and protection. His being a divorced man, besides the religious resentment they strictly held for the mere thought of it, made them fume with rage for such a choice from their beautiful daughter, who was already sufficiently popular in the marriage market as to merit a much better man by far. The inconceivability of a future loomed, in which they would not be able to extend a hand of help to her in times of need because of the hostile stance between the two countries. In addition, I was to be taken into a world which seemed so foreign to everything they were accustomed to, and which aggravated their negative feelings towards the mere thought of this marriage. “What if he mistreats her; what if even the little things that we know about him turn out to be all untrue; what if he has children; what if he decides to divorce her in a culture that seemed typically rife with whimsical divorce; what if he falls in love with another woman?” There were too many “what ifs”, which left them in a daze, repeatedly striking their hands in shock and choler, and shaking their heads in disbelief.

Besides Martin’s impending departure that had forced my parents into granting their consent to the marriage too soon in a tradition that resented doing so for fear of appearing too keen, the biddings of safety also dictated the absolute dismissal of the pomp and elaborate rituals that accompany weddings. This was yet another turn away from what my parents had envisioned for their only daughter, a thing that they could neither live with nor digest.

However, what mattered in the end was that my parents hoisted the white flag in the face of my self-will, having become fully certain of the futility of pursuing a course that they knew would avail them nothing other than breaking the heart of their much loved daughter. “Always remember that this is your choice.” Dad said solemnly. “If it were up to us, we would rather you stayed here, in your homeland, among your own people. You’re our only daughter and you know how precious you are to us, and Iraq after all hasn’t run out of good men, men of caliber, who could easily outstrip this American, but if your choice is to marry him, so be it. It’s your happiness and your happiness only that matters most in the end.”

These were Dad’s last words before he gave his blessings in front of the rest of the family. He hugged me, kissed my forehead, and so did everyone else.

My tears overflowed on listening to Dad’s poignant words. That he was wrestling with enormous pain was apparent. Parents generally love their children equally and evenly, but Dad had little more in the scale of his love reserved only for his daughter. Being forced against the desires and wishes of his paternal love, this most altruistic Dad chose the shattering of his world over the shattering of mine. It was obvious that though he was striving to assume gaiety and cheerfulness, he couldn’t fully eclipse the sorrowful and mysterious look that I saw clearly in his eyes and which I couldn’t help but dread. Dad was a man gifted, or should I say plagued, with this transparency of heart and soul which would shoot family members with shivers every time one of his intuitions of something going wrong reared its head. We all took such hunches very seriously, and treated them as facts that couldn’t or wouldn’t be questioned or ignored.

But I was so jubilantly floating on cloud nine to have me worry about anything, least of all my parents’ list of “what ifs”, which was at the bottom of my list particularly now that I had gotten their priceless consent. For I knew my man, trusted him, and above all, I had no doubt about the enormity of the love he held for me, which had me crowned on the throne of his heart since the very first moment he laid eyes on me. But there was this morbid restlessness that persisted on pecking at and spoiling my felicity. At one time I would ascribe it to the strict nature of my catholic faith that cautioned against the breaking of God’s laws in marrying a divorced man; on others, I would attribute it to the scorching pain of having to leave a whole world behind, which was to me as water is to fish.

To Be Continued...................................