I am a tormented man.
This has been going on for a while but it took me time to realize the extent of the torment I undergo daily, torment that is making me feel rather unwell and making me lose my confidence, too.
To explain, I make more than enough money and also make plenty to lose. Just the other day I lost a lawsuit completely framed against my business, with help of my own workers, and it was enough money to build some two hundred schools this country very much needs. But this is not the reason.
You can guess the reason is not that I am expanding the business in so many areas away from the core business; with plenty to worry about where everything can go wrong. And you are right, the reason for my torment is a woman, moreover a woman that is not even my own wife but someone elses at that.
I first saw her at a dinner not so long ago. I knew of her but I never paid attention. Why would I? My wife is drop-dead beautiful and we have a lovely two children, a boy and a girl, my angel who resembles my wife so much already, I fear for the lives of her suitors in not so far a future.
She is someone elses wife. I don’t quite understand why. I mean, I was looking for a woman that is embodiment of all perfection and I married her. I was happily married all this time, until I met this other one. When I felt that she is the exact woman that was made from my rib, if ever there was that possibility in creation, that she is all I ever wanted and that she puts a shadow over my past life, my past wife and my family, a shadow that claims her territory unconditionally and puts everyone dear to me in the far second plan, in their static and quiet place while she assumes the rule over my life.
It is bizarre that I even dare to think this way as I never exchanged more than a few words with her, even that only due to us being at a social function together where she did not say much.
But here I am, quiet and scared of my emotions and much more afraid of what she may feel as I know there is something on her mind and whatever it is, it is not silent.
She speaks to me in many different ways. There are the obvious ones; everyone is on social media today and so am I. Not because I am particularly social media savvy or excited by living my life on Twitter but because in the work I do, I cannot be seen as someone left behind by the same technology I try to sell to people.
Anyway, she is active on the social pages and perhaps I am reading into it what I want to read but it seems whatever she says is in some way directed at me.
She is subtle and clever. Not many can read into what she really says. But she is weaving a dangerous web around me. That I know, because the words she puts together are meaningless when put outside this context that is so clear to me.
She also speaks in sudden gushes of unexplained wind that comes literally out of nowhere. I could be sitting in my office with all the windows closed, in fact sealed, and airconditioning just barely working on low when she comes in and shuffles the few papers on my desk as I’m watching the absence of her and wondering how she does it.
And the thoughts she throws at me. They hit me like rocks and I wish she would be a bit gentler with these sudden thoughts that arrive into my mind and my body. She seems unable to choose the right moment for the right thought as I find myself suddenly smiling when I’m in the middle of a serious meeting, or going to the opposite extreme of being completely sad and silent in the middle of a sitcom comedy on TV.
She is also capable of being present within my space. I feel she is watching me or watching over me, I don’t quite understand how she does that but I see her eyes in front of me all the time. Almost like they are embedded on my own eyes so I’m seeing out while she is seeing in. If at all this makes any sense.
She is building this space coloured in the shades of fire and I am getting lost in its corners that reach far beyond what I ever thought my feelings could look like in their extreme limits.
I am lost in this space she creates for me. Each time she says something, and she makes sure she does nearly every day, I lose my edge, my concentration, and find myself daydreaming about this creature so strangely distant and aloof, so beautifully crafted and in my mind, so close to me.
I now know that she deliberately wakes me up at night. In that, she is powerful and yet very reserved. I don’t quite know what to read into it but I know she wakes me up.
It started without any awareness that she does it. I thought it’s the pressures of my job. The struggles I go through on a daily basis. So I would jump in bed at night, my wife stirring next to me. I would look around in the darkness slightly concerned that there is no reason to wake up because I can not remember any bad dream or a nightmare and, by the way, I had them in plenty but they have completely stopped.
I started going to bed with the awareness that I will wake up in the middle of the night and that I need to find the reason for it, now that my nightmares were completely absent. So I would try to concentrate on falling asleep while still keeping awake, if this makes any sense. I would close my eyes and stay in that space between just being quiet and being blessedly asleep, and this is exactly where the whirlwind would appear sometimes, shuffling the curtains on the windows or the net hanging off the four-poster.
This is how I knew it was her.
But what I did not know at the time is how she does it. So I learnt the painful way.
I got into the comfort of knowing that this other woman has a habit of coming to me to put me to sleep. I let go of my guard and let myself be handled by her tenderness and love, or so I imagined it to be. So I started closing my eyes thinking about her, hoping for getting to see her in my dreams and hoping to touch her, feel her, kiss her.
I did not realize she has the power of understanding my thoughts. I was just a man thinking very ordinary thoughts of any ordinary man. If there is a woman intriguing enough, she will fuel any man’s fantasy all the way. I took it lightly when I opened my semi-conscious dreamy mind to her. And she had stepped in as if she owns the place.
This is how she started hitting me with her thoughts. I would be cozying myself to sleep, thinking of how I’m holding her in my arms and whispering sweet nothings into her ear and boom! She would make me jump, hitting me in my ribs with her thought so clear: “How can you desire to hold me in the same bed where your wife sleeps?”
On other occasion, I was very conscious not to invite her into my arms but left her seated at the foot of the bed, her arms hugging her knees as she looked at me with a vague expression of interest in her eyes. I fell asleep but she hurled a thought onto my chest with all her might that made me jump: “Get up and see the moon right above your window, shining light on you, pay attention to irrelevant things!” So I did get up, look out and saw this magnificent view of rooftops covered in silver, shiny glitter and shadows that she used to escape me once again.
This is how she would hurt me, punish me for being insolent, selfish, careless, self-absorbed, assuming, but most of all, she would hurt me the most when I thought of her in a sexual way, when I let my fantasy inflame my body and when I called her to put out the fire. The thoughts she would hurl at me were the avalanche of accusations and hate, and I could see her infuriated face each time I woke up with my burning desire to make love to her and instead of her, start kissing my wife in the tormenting darkness of the night.
My wife was sporting a scarf this morning. She gets up early to take kids to school as I read the e-mails and watch the news. It looked to be a warm day already and I haven’t seen her with a scarf around her neck since the time we both studied in England. She looked so different, so glamorous and diva-like, she was glowing with all the fires and colours of that bright, flowery silk scarf I bought for her on one of my trips abroad.
“What’s with the scarf?”
She gave me her sweet, humble, almost child-like innocent look and she pulled it off her neck, to reveal a pale purple mark as she softly said: “Last night, you were possessed…”
But for many nights now, I have no memory of making love to my wife, or making love at all. That part of me does not exist in my mind. She takes everything, every single recollection away. I’m afraid I will go insane.
It was a chance encounter. I saw her.
Whether it was a chance encounter I actually don’t know. I suspect it was because she did not seem to be prepared to see me. She was surprised. Much more than me. For some reason she had let her guard down and I am sorry that she did, because now I want to be near her even more than before.
She was in a short dress, flat shoes, very unlike her. No makeup, just her red lipstick that actually turns her face into everything I ever want to be looking at.
In fact she tweeted she was heading for the bookshop. I knew she was going to be there, I had no doubt. I took long to leave the office and maybe that’s why she was upset. Maybe she stopped expecting me and went about her business collecting her new books, without any longer expecting to see me.
I walked in on her holding a heap of books in her arms. She looked small and plump, slightly overweight. Her arms were big and fat, holding the weight of the books. Her eyes were fierce and inflamed with anger. I could see it. It was tangible. She forced a smile of sorts. Not a word. It hurt.
I looked down on the phone in my hand, pretending I’m busy with some matter of consequence. But I felt stupid to miss the chance she had generously created for me: to meet her in a neutral place and have a go at a conversation, away from prying eyes (who hangs out at the bookshops nowadays?) and safe from any possibility of physical contact.
She wisely created the possibility and I stupidly blew it. I knew this was the cause of anger that was flaming in her eyes.
I learned to respect her wisdom. I pray for another chance.
I am a man with immense power. On paper. I make big decisions. I move big money. My decisions influence lives of millions of people. But she turned me into a powerless, weak, hopeless man. She destroyed me without ever even speaking to me.
This woman is everywhere I go. I look around and see her in everything. Not in faces of other women, no. In things. She lurks behind windows and walls, springs out of drawers, runs through the doors I open. I control myself most the time as I’m tempted to try and grab her by the arm and ask her why she is putting me through this terrible torment.
I look at my hands. On an ordinary day they used to hold so much power but right now they have nothing. My hands have nothing to offer, they are powerless. They flap hopelessly through the air, trying still to catch her, separated from my mind and working independently of the rest of my body, out of control.
I am only lucky that most of the time there is no one to see or understand this circus. But my driver certainly thinks I’m mad, trying hopelessly to catch the wind with my hands.
“Boss, you realize this is too much for you?”
“What?” I was shocked to hear this sentence come out of my driver’s mouth and my response certainly drew all the air out of my lungs. I gasped for it. Several times.
“Boss, what I mean is that you look unwell. You have gone quiet. You look sad. I am worried about you. This business will kill you if you continue like this.”
How I wished to hug him for caring about me. But hey, this is just not what the men do. I was also breathing some relief because he thinks it’s business that’s pressing me. But I decided to probe.
“How do you know it’s business that’s pressing me?”
“Boss, it can only be business or a woman. But your wife seems very happy so I’m sure it’s business. With all that money and responsibility, boss, your life is not easy. You need to find a way to relax.”
“Yes, Sam, I sure need to.” How far away from truth he was. Because the only way to release me from this spell I’m under is to get into the spell way deeper than this. Where everyone risk losing everything and we are not certain whether we’ll find what we were looking for.
The elevator door opens and she is inside. I step in. She smiles as I try to control my hands, not knowing whether I want to extend my hand in a handshake or grab hold of her, never to let her leave my arms again.
I smile awkwardly and stand across from her, saying nothing and doing nothing, and the silence is deafening.
“Do you believe in friendship at first sight?” She asks as she reaches for my hand and holds it, piercing my brain with the sharpness of her eyes.
“I submit to your will” is all I’m able to awkwardly say as the elevator reaches our destination, ground floor. She lets my hand go before the door opens.
“Then you must come home for lunch, I love cooking for my friends on Saturdays.”
All of a sudden I was hungry.