Love is hard: epilogue and new beginning
I think you've all been patient enough so let's get on with this story (for newcomers you have to read part I first) .
They met online in the 90s and for years kept in touch on a daily basis by all the modern means available. They loved each other without saying it, they laughed together and maintained a beautiful relationship across the seas, the miles and the time zones. There was some kind of unwritten agreement that they won't ask for each others personal information including photos until they met in real life. It was mostly from her side she wanted to see whether he would like her for her personality or other attributes. She wanted to know whether love is for the soul or for more worldly matters. She thought he was very mature for his age.They invested in their love until they met physically. They supported each other, he was a Libyan guy fil ghurba and she was a Libyan girl feeling a kind of ghurba in her own country.
She would think every night before going to sleep. "Thank you God for showing me this wonderful human specimen!". It felt great to talk to him in Arabic, in our Libyan patois and at the same time switch to English and know he will understand. It felt good knowing he shared her interests and they got along so well as friends because it did start as a friendship. She loved his accent and even more when he would lapse into the thicker one.
Then he came back home for a visit and the phone was practically glued to their ears. "The phone company should give us a discount they would joke." Whatever information they had kept from each other was revealed and among that her age. – She felt or maybe imagined that love was consolidated even more, but was it really? Little did she know that dark forces were at play here. His love like his frankness were clear and an integral part of their relationship.
So after her 'revelation' he admitted that he had had his doubts about her age when they used to talk but was hoping the gap won't be that much. Then he said "I love you habibti- you are the first love- maybe even the last one but I won't marry you". Though an eternity ago those words resonate in her head and she cannot delete them.
That night he explained his point while she listened till dawn break. "I have other plans and these plans as much as this may hurt me and you now do not include someone your age. If you were two or even five years older than me I would have risked it and faced the situation but I cannot go through this. The tribe, the society, the family and the neighbours will put my family in an awkward and embarrassing position. Look at Karim they would say he could not get a girl his age so he married one 10 years his senior …. Why did he need to do this?'
With every sentence her heart kept sinking, but she clung to the hope that since he still had not seen her he may change his mind. Then he continued "there are other things to take into consideration, I want children, and at 44 you may not be able to provide them. Women age faster than men and you are closer in age to my aunts and mother than to my sisters, it will be hell for you. It crossed my mind once or twice to live with you outside Libya. But I decided no I want to live in my city and I want an ordinary life with a simple woman. Why should I go through with life and make things unnecessarily complicated? It is compatibility I seek not love. I have to be wise; I can't afford to follow my heart, or cripple myself in life" .
"So you do love me she asked? " - "Yes I do habibti, which is why I'll promise you this: I promise to delay my marriage until I know you are settled, happy and married off to a good man." She agreed because she loved him, by then they were so smitten and she so love struck that it felt they were man and woman. It was heavenly this attraction which she felt transcended the physical because they never had seen each other physically. She did not know the colour, texture or scent of his skin, he did not know the taste of her lips but he knew that like the orchid she would open up to his touch. She went to her job during the day with a mysterious smile permanently there on her face. She was secure that he was hers for now, nothing else mattered. They had a covenant.
It was amazing to witness how in love he was. She was happy too, he was healing her past trauma and she became open to finding a comfortable happiness with another man. She was no longer shutting doors in the face of Libyan men . There were two of them she thought would make good husband material. She wanted to ask him how to encourage them to seek her out 3ala sunnat allah wa rasuluh, especially that she was actively seeking to do some matchmaking for him. Their relationship was really comfortable that way.
She was settled and relaxed, a woman in love and loved, a woman fulfilled. She had her criteria about men but with him she really did not care if he turned out to be not one bit like the physical man of her dreams. Why ? not because she was not going to marry him anyway but because love is not just chemistry and sex. You love the person who gives you all the confidence and strength in this world. The man gives that to the woman and the woman to the man. That's how you face life even when you are not actually physically together, that's why you feel comfortable together and that's how you know everything will be all right because you have each other.
Though she did not think that age is an obstacle, she accepted his choice more so because of the covenant and this giving to each other. They enjoyed each other's presence too much. She also loved him very much and seeing him so fulfilled was a joy and as much as she knew that it won't last forever with her and that he would be spending real physical nights and days with another woman one day she was content that he was more than her best friend. He is someone she could denude her soul to and know he would understand. She never stopped to think that another woman would not have accepted this sacrifice; another woman would have thought she was being used. She knew she was not though. She was counting the hours up to their face to face meeting.Then they met ………and the abstraction became reality!
She thought he was not classically handsome, but he was so virile with a cute smile and tender eyes. Though he was shorter than her, his personality made him seem so tall. It was so hard for her to keep away from touching him yet shyness was killing her. Despite her age she felt sixteen and was giggling like an idiot while simultaneously trembling in his presence. She almost fainted when the auras of their twin souls touched each other.
Their love-story developed and when he went away again she spent every hour that was not related to work or some chore with him online or over the phone. She bloomed and even if she was not pretty, her cheeks became rosy, her eyes bright, skin and hair glowing, her lips red.. He showed such care and devotion, international phone calls, advice, trying to smooth any problem she may face and this worked because it was exactly what he promised to do, i.e love and cherish and take care and he was doing it more beautifully every day. She would entertain a glimmer of hope sometimes that things may evolve but she never allowed it to take root because they had a covenant and she had accepted his decision and his point of view.
Then one day a family issue prevented her from being as available as before to him. When things quieted down he confessed that he had met another girl and was in contact with her. She felt hurt and betrayed regardless of the fact that she always knew they would not marry. She thought it would not hurt, but it did. It was shockingly a deja vu situation, reminiscent of the past when every time she would be 'away' the man who had promised' eternal' love would go with another woman.
Karim had been hurt by the other woman which is why he had turned to her, they were first and foremost best friends. Through her daze she never flinched in her support that night. It was only the next day that the shock nested in. She simply was not expecting it to come so soon. She would not lay blame and then negate his good deeds for another man's fault that had left her so hypersensitive. She was hurt because she wanted to be his accomplice of sort when he met a woman. That's how she dreamt it would be. She planned to tzagheret on his wedding; God knows how much her heart would burst from happiness. But she was now so hurt at being taken by surprise as he brought out that old accumulated pain and fear of betrayal the fear that she could never turn her back without the object of love doing something that would hurt her. Part of it was largely unfair to him but the pain was compounded by the fact that she was older and he had made her aware of that very much in his attempt to drill into her head why they were not suited for each other. For the first time in her life she felt old, ugly and undesirable. She felt very much aware of the years that have flown past. She was alone, with no companion and no child. Most of her peers were married and busy with their lives, and the hope for her was fading day by day unless she wanted to settle for a jerk or be someone's third wife. She felt pity for the first time for herself.He almost shattered her self confidence, yet she was lucid enough to know it was not intentional. He has always been honest and logical but online, we give the other all sorts of attributes regardless of how much we think we know them, they are still idealized and romanticized and in a way misunderstandings can happen and secret wishes can be harboured. After all you don't know a person until you've lived or travelled with them and this applies for friends and relationships.
Life goes on and they were both wise not to destroy a perfectly ideal friendship. Because time is a great healer she was able to put the experience behind her and move on just like he had done. As much as he loved her, the ten year age gap was obviously too much to be bridged which meant he did not love her enough! Instead of being hurt she should be grateful as this was not the man she was looking for – she wanted an unconditional timeless love.
When they met again, this new meeting lasted longer allowing her to digest things slower. He was great fun to be with and they laughed so much. So she ended up having her closure when she discovered it was just a heavy infatuation from her side compounded by the web. It could have gone either way love or friendship. They were pilgrim souls who met and recognized each other and were there for each other in time of need. They will still help each other as siblings but he was NOT her man. Her man was out there just within reach and she better keep her heart, mind and soul open not to miss him again and waste precious time.
In conclusion, was it betrayal ? you bet … did it hurt ? sure …any regrets? None!
It is a necessary experience in the general scheme of things and you learn more about yourself and the fact is that you need not only to love the other person selflessly but also to love yourself even more. Libyan blogger Litazia has made a complete blog about love and ' How to have a healthy relationship and maintain it'; a lot of wise words in there garnered from experience !
The main point that struck me in this story is does age really matter? Does being over 30 erase the chance of the woman with an Arab guy in general and a Libyan one in particular?When do you seize to be considered as a complete woman. Is fertility confined to age only? is fertility really that specific and only the domain of women? Aren't children gifts from God which he partakes to whom he wishes? So many questions.