Tag Archive | life

Lovebirds gone stray

I waited a whole hour outside Dima’s office before finally catching up with him on his way out.

“Darling, what brings you by?” he breezed like a soothing autumn day and the gazillion things that interposed our latest meeting that morning, flooded my mind, electrocuting every attempt to speak to him in an orderly fashion.

I spent a minute, silently gazing over his tired but familiar face. I noticed that the lines framing his magnificent, imposing eyes were deeper than ever before. He looked older.

“I’m sorry for barging in to your office…”

“What are you talking about, Bella, didn’t barge in at all…” He pulled me closer and used our proximity as an opportunity to lean his head against my shoulders, momentarily.

“You know how I hate coming here, Dima,” I whispered, only to be met by his welcoming lips.

I continued to babble through our joint mouths, “I mean, sorry for even coming up to the Tower. Fuck… this is…” Dima pulling away only when I bit his lower lip.

“What’s the matter? You’re shaking, Bella.”

I tried to compose myself. To keep a strong face.

“Something, happen?” He was alarmed. Gone was the retiring evening.

God knows I didn’t mean to scare Dima. But I couldn’t. I felt as though my self-protecting cloak had been invaded. I was exposed. Even more so,  when Dima insisted that I revealed the cause of my evident panic.

“Here, let’s go back inside,” he murmoured. “Let me call Joe to let him know that I’ll drive us back home, later.”

“No! Joe should stay with  us.”

Dima’s stare was a mixture of shock and bewilderment. This time round, I was too scared to ease his concerns. Terrified to think about anyone but myself in this situation.

“Bella, it’s ten o’clock in the evening. Joe’s probably tired.”

“Have a look at this.”

I slipped into his hands the creased blue piece of paper that had me shaken to the core. Then, for the first time in my life I actively fought back hyperventilation.

“What is this?”

He peeled the note open and read it, in silence.He ran his fingers through his feshly trimmed hair-he’d been to the barber’s only the day before-then turned up to see me with a stormy look on his face. Similar to the type of anger and fear that had been brewing inside me ever since I laid eyes on that note.

“How do they know such intimate details about you, Bella?”

“Is that the issue here? How the hell should I know?”

“Where did you get this?”

“Oh but that is exactly what’s made me scared beyond belief, Dima. Get this, I walk to my car after Russian class at the University and the note is neatly folded in between my car glass cleaners.”

“This happened today?”

“Five hours ago to be precise. I thought it was a commercial at first, some sort of leaflet or something. I was about to throw it away but then the paper seemed quite thick and shiny so I opened it up. And I read this nonsense…”

“Five hours ago? You waited five hours to tell me that there’s a pervert out there who wants you like this?”

“Like I would’ve interrupted your meeting with the head of state for this, Dima. Come on…”

“I don’t care who the fuck I’ve got a meeting with. This is serious stuff, Bella. This is…unbelievable… No more driving alone, Bella. You’ve done it, you know you can do it, from tomorrow Joe will be driving you everywhere.”

No matter how hard I tried, there wasn’t going to be an end to Dima’s over-protectiveness. I was frightened by the prospect of someone following me and waiting for the right time to bring his vile thoughts into reality. But I wasn’t willing to give up my freedom in exchange for a life lived in fear. Not just yet.

“Let’s talk about this, Dima. Let’s go home first, and then we can decide what to do, what course to take next.”

“There’s nothing to talk about, Bella. You’ll steer clear of public places for a while until we manage to catch this fucker who thinks he can threaten us like this and then you’ll continue to move around with Joe. End of story.”

Only it wasn’t the end. It was the beginning of a different story. That of lovebirds, gone stray.


Our version of events

There’s always two sides to a story. A universal truth alright, but it still bugs me when I hear it. And I’ve felt this way for as long as I can remember. Not because I doubted its verity but mostly because it annoys me when it’s used by people who want to give reason to unreasonable situations. And isn’t it obvious? Everyone has a reason for doing something. What upsets me, is the expectation that hearing the other side could somehow alter one’s take on things. I don’t know if the fact that I listen to both sides by profession has made me fed up with the scope of abuse which this simple sentence, this truth, carries. I find that this universal truth, this expectation to hear both sides before you can condemn an action or an event, isn’t universally applicable.

What prompted this thought was my recent conversation with a friend over the insensitive behaviour of an ex-colleague. Luckily, I wasn’t the recipient of this less-than-kind treatment, but I sure had my take on how malevolent this ex-colleague behaved. My older and arguably wiser friend Amy, rushed in to explain that there may be reasons for this ex-colleague’s behaviour that explained why she acted the way she acted. A trigger that would, potentially, justify her malicious act towards Joni, a person Amy and I care deeply about.I wanted to hear none of it.

My friend Amy, a forty-year-old banker, had her fair share of mishaps and back-stabbings in life. She survived it all -possibly not so intact- but definitely wiser. I criticised her forgiving nature, telling her that there are certain things that cannot be forgiven no matter how many sides there may be to a story. Not even by the bearers of the biggest hearts. Stealing one’s husband, which is what my ex-colleague Cassandra had committed, was certainly top of my list. No matter how rationally I tried to test Amy’s suggestion, that we knew only one part of the story, I couldn’t see myself forgiving or justifying the callous way in which Cassandra had treated Joni. Not even if Cassandra had acted in the name of love.

I remember the office parties, the social gatherings where Joni would attend to with her husband and Cassanddra would be there as well. My mind brings back memories of happier times when all of us, the three of them included, would cheer, clink glasses and share wishes for love, health and prosperity- a bunch of blissful idiots. What a joke that was. Then little details pop to my head, that I hadn’t given much thought to at the time. For example, the Christmas office party of 2010 which Cassandra didn’t attend to because she was supposedly sick -she was alive and kicking just hours before the event, I bumped into her at Selfridges shopping. Well, Joni’s husband missed it as well, apparently there was an urgent conference call he couldn’t miss or reschedule. And then there was the spring team-building trip to Courchevel which again by coincidence both Cassandra and Joni’s husband missed in lieu of other engagements. I think of Joni’s snowboarding accident at the time, and how lonely she felt travelling without her husband, her long-term partner and companion. I remember her talking about her husband in the sweetest way, telling me that had she known he wouldn’t make it, she wouldn’t have travelled either. Her mellow tone as she told him she missed him over the phone, revealed even discreetly, how much she longed to be with him. And to think that he was probably playing tootsie with Nasty-Cassy back home. Just thinking about it makes my skin shrink and crawl.

Getting caught up in a matrimonial division is a risky business. First and foremost for the couple involved but also for the friends and family who find themselves having to choose sides and make up their minds over which version of events to believe. Amy, who happens to be Joni’s friend since they were kiddies, and who happens to love her beyond doubt, rushes to point out to me that noone on the outside knows what goes on in the marital home. But in the end, who cares? Cheating is cheating and stealing one’s husband is condemnable no matter how many sides there are to a story. In the end of the day, there is only our version of events. We can’t expect anyone else to believe it but that alone doesn’t mean we have to water down what we believe has happened.

At the end of my conversation with Amy, a thought sprang to mind about my dear banker friend. Rushing to explain the mischievous acts of an infidel husband is fishy by itself. I am not one for prudence -no matter how desirable that may be to leading a by-the-book life. But at the same time, why would anyone try to justify Nasty-Cassy’s claws into another woman’s husband? I don’t care how important maintaining a healthy sex life is for a relationship or how essential mental stimulation is to a couple. The facts were there: Nasty-Cassy pretended to be just a colleague to Joni’s husband for years in front of everyone. And Joni’s husband broke his vows in the meanest, dirtiest possible way. Not to mention that he did that for the meanest, dirtiest person I have ever met. And that is simply my version of events. Does anyone need to hear another version before casting an opinion in a situation like this?