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ment, as though my body and Youssef had united inside me. On the other hand, it wasn’t an abandonment. It was something I didn’t know how to name or describe. I’d have to figure it out on my own.

“My body doesn’t allow me even a moment of quiet.When I was little, I struggled to overcome my terror and hatred of it. It was like an enemy that taunted me. I worked hard to be reconciled with it. I wanted us to live together in peace. So I taught it, and it taught me how we could be one. As I learned to listen better to my body, I began to understand what was happening to it. I would stay away from anyone it didn’t like, and we stopped heaping abuse on each other, my body and I. I pampered it, showered it with love and affection, especially after dancing, when I’d be flying with elation. When I took a shower, I would scrub it with soap and a loofah. I would pass them over its every part, taking delight in each one. As the shower head sprayed down on me, rinsing off the soap, I’d feel as though God had opened the gates of Heaven’s blessings. After bathing, I would massage it with sweet-smelling lotions and feel its intimate companionship and its gratitude toward my hands.As I gave it the freedom to laugh, it opened up to me. Its potentials were released, expressing themselves even in my tones of voice.They gave me my identity. Then love helped me get to know it even better, discover its true nature, as we exchanged gifts of tenderness and abandon.

“In dance, my body was liberated from the inhibitions that had kept it imprisoned, enabling it its full range of expression.When I danced, I would feel myself soaring above the realms of war and destruction. But now, my body seems caught in the thickets of its pain, or bound by a rope of iron. Its roots go so deep that I can’t break loose. It holds the reins now, and lords it over me, preying on me like a wild beast. It’s as though it’s blind, and blinding me, trembling, and causing my nerves to tremble along with it.The muscles in my body and my face go spastic, and all I can feel anymore is my body’s cracks and fault lines.

“What terrifies me is the way it’s turned against me, as though it doesn’t want me to live inside it anymore. I escape into sleep, and put it to sleep by force. It occurs to me that the painkillers and the sleeping pills might prevent it from escaping, or postpone its flight at least. Even so, it eludes me and disregards my authority, even while I’m living inside of it.

BANIPAL 70 – SPRING 2021 87

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