A silent conversation
Story \ Mryam yamak
Translation \ Mona Helal
I glance at you again; I know she is on the line… I wonder if she realizes that I am close by, listening to what you’re saying…you are talking to her in codes, the same codes that filled your conversation with me when you called me, and your mother happened to be standing near the telephone. We weren’t married then; you used to repeat these codes so many times, I became a skilled interpreter of their meanings. We had such a passionate love affair, when our hearts pledged their devotion. In spite of all the hurdles that littered our way, we became man and wife. We were happy for a while. I loved you with every atom of my being and you reciprocated. In the green tranquillity of your eyes I saw my hopes and aspirations blossom. The love that we shared flourished and adorned our lives together. Oh, how rich and delicious that time was, when our cosy little house embraced us between its walls. Soon it was filled with the pitter-patter of tiny feet. How beautiful our little children were with their eyes of green, brown, black and hazel. Raising them was hard, but it was a labor of love. The word ‘mum’ on their lips filled my heart with warmth and happiness, and sent me soaring to heights known only to infatuated hearts that beat with gentle tenderness and mercy.
You put the receiver down, a smile on your lips, the very same that used to dwarf me with its charm in a time gone by.
Why do you swallow your smile when your eyes meet mine? Are you worried I might think it was for me? No, I won’t think that; its time has already passed for me.
Instead, I see a crease between your eyes. Oh, how I hate that crease. It doesn’t seem to leave your face whenever you’re at home.
I remember when our first son was born, he was beautiful, but he had that same crease between his eyes. I remember how I ironed it out with my trembling fingers until it disappeared. I remember how you and your mother used to laugh at me when I did that.
As you get ready to leave the house, you apply perfume carefully to your neck and chin. I look at you coldly, while images of the past flood my memory; I won’t let you see them; they will remain trapped in the confines of my head which aches when I think about you.
Go wherever you want … to whomever you want. As for me, I will remain here with my children … I will protect them from all outside elements.
I hear the door slam behind you; I smile and get up to prepare dinner for them.
Your sleepy eyes say nothing about you, except that you are a fool… they were beautiful once, or maybe I thought they were, when I was drowning in a delusion I thought was your love. It was a wonderful delusion but the reality now is sobering.
The truth, you stupid creature, is that you have turned your back on the blessings that were handed down to you… your bad deeds have come to haunt you now. I have deprived you of my emotions; now I hope you will long for the days that have gone by…
I know what your eyes are telling me, but they are lying to you; I know them better than you do. I will continue to look at you without a care. I will deprive you of the smile that you used to adore, the one you still do despite your sickening pretence… you are stupid and you will always be stupid… you think that I am talking to a lover… I know that’s what you are thinking… this is the despicable habit that spoilt our lives; the one that made suspicion come between us. If I loved another, what would stop me from marrying her? You can’t stop me. You can’t do anything. The best you can do is stare with those lifeless eyes into the empty space between us… look at yourself in the mirror, do you like the woman that sits inside it?
If you ask me, I don’t like her … she is neglectful and suspicious; she doesn’t know what is good for her. How foolish your glances are! I wish you would leave the room… I know you are tortured by the conversation I have with one of my lady clients in the office … I am not going to tell you who she is …interpret my conversation any way you like… since our first days of marriage, you have always been suspicious; what a repulsive habit; you prefer to be on the side of suspicion rather than reason…
Why do you glare at me with those eyes when I am about to finish my conversation … your jealousy will finish you when I wear my favourite fragrance and slam the door behind me…
Phew, thank God I am out.
Stay behind and wrestle with your demons and your delusions alone; they will eventually ruin your life, and end ours together, even if we have a hundred children.
I know you don’t mean to hurt me by your dreaded silence … I wish I could penetrate your hard heads … I wish I could read the silent conversation churning inside there… or rather, I wish you could, for once, penetrate my head and read the shameful accounts of memories trapped in it. Don’t be surprised when I tell you that you are the reason for my mental confusion and emotional starvation … I have learned to live without a heart since you burned my feelings in the constant slanging matches between you which ignite over the most trivial of reasons. Do you really think a family life means food and clothing alone? Thank you sir for working day and night to provide a life of luxury many others envy us for. Thank you dear lady for preparing all those delectable delights which add nothing but inches to expanding waistlines, and work wonders for laziness. You made a point of choosing nothing but the finest of the latest fashions, just to keep him financially overburdened, to keep him running breathlessly to finance this lifestyle, too tired and too busy to think of another woman to make him happy. Life is not just food, clothes, an oversized car or a grand house. I wish you had learned how to build a happy family before you entered into marriage. I wish you had learned how to raise virtuous stable children capable of entering society. Instead, out of your emotionally vacant house emotionally vacant children graduated into the world adding only corruption to it.
I will never forgive you for the pain you have dumped into my heart. Because of you I’ve become too attached to my professor, and here I am reaping the fruits of my deeds in anguish and heartache. Which one of you can I tell that he will not marry me? … As he says, I am thirty years his junior. What a liar and a cheat he turned out to be!! What am I to do with this heart that is wailing inside of me? There is no companion to turn to. You keep telling my suitors that I am too young!! Am I really too young? Look at me I am twenty years old!! Haven’t you looked at me lately? Haven’t you noticed my youth and my beauty? … Samih, my friend at university did, when he confessed his love for me. I dismissed his advances; the magnet in my ageing professor was too strong… his full manhood and maturity entrapped me; I needed a substitute for the love I lacked in both of you…but the scoundrel in him refused to marry me…two years after the spark that flared between us, I can’t let go. Enough, for God’s sake; stop this charade that is tearing me apart… I can see in you only two clever actors who mastered their roles, the same way I mastered mine. There is a volcano simmering under your feet, but you don’t feel it… wake up before it is too late .