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dress for fifty years! What’s wrong with your dress? It’s pretty enough. It’ll do just fine!”’

“Shaking her head with a sigh, she said: ‘No miser will ever know what love is, Basma.’

“When I told her about the love and affection Youssef showered on me, she looked away dejectedly and said: ‘Imagine. I take a bath and spray myself with perfume before getting in bed with my husband, but he couldn’t care less. Believe it or not, I often catch him sniffing dollar bills, especially new ones. He’ll take a big whiff and say: “The scent of a freshly minted dollar is sweeter than all the women and flowers in the world! After all, what good can they do me?”’ He would say things like: ‘If you got used to sniffing money, you’d fall in love with it too. Isn’t there a perfume made from dollar bills? If you put some of that on, I’d love the way you smell! I swear to God, if there were a cologne out of greenbacks, it would take over all the markets. People would kill to get their hands on the stuff. They might end up having to close down all the perfume factories. After all, the perfumes they make now are just a waste of time.’

“Riyadh’s emotional and physical stinginess tormented Anisa, turning her body cold and callous. His hands never caressed her. She never knew the feel of a loving kiss. His lips never once approached hers, or if it happened once by chance, they barely grazed them.Then in a flash, he’d take her from below. Never once had she felt herself transported by his glances the way a woman is by the gaze of her beloved. Never once had he kissed any part of her body. Instead, he would bite her all over with the appetite of a ravenous man, as if her body were some meaty delicacy. When she chided him once for his emotional and physical coldness, he cried: ‘Aren’t my sperm enough for you!? They’d fetch quite a price on the market these days!’ Little did he know that as far as she was concerned, his precious sperm were little more than filth with which he polluted her on a regular basis.

“Before she fell in love with Musa, a well-known film critic, the light had gone out of Anisa’s eyes. Even their whites looked jaundiced. But then she started to come back to life. Love awakened laughter she’d forgotten she was capable of. Musa was her window onto life, especially after the loss of her eldest son due to a medical error at the hospital. The pain of the shock had shaken her to the

96 BANIPAL 70 – SPRING 2021

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