Skip to main content
Read page text


core, casting her into a state of paralysis. But by the power of her will she managed to heal, and she learned to love her body again after having developed an aversion to it with her husband. She was so in love, I started calling her ‘Musa’s mad woman.’ She would have given that man her very soul, yet she refrained from giving him her body: throughout the years of their love affair, Anisa refused to sleep with Musa. Even so, she went on loving him despite her realization that the sensual prolongs love’s lifespan. She told me she trembled at the thought that if she broke God’s command by committing adultery, she might pay a price for her sin by one of her children falling ill, for example, or even dying. At the same time, she refused to call her feelings for Musa platonic. On the contrary, it was a love so passionate that it was neither dulled nor diminished by their abstention from physical pleasure. In fact, Musa grew more attached to her with every passing day.And for her part, their love was an earthquake that had turned her life upside down. Her ardour for him gave her the sense of being riddled with beautiful wounds of body and soul alike, wounds she referred to in her novel as ‘love pangs.’

“Once, I asked her how all this love had gone on living in her heart for so many years without a physical relationship. And her reply was:‘Love is one thing, and sex is another. Love is there all the time, whereas physical intimacy takes up only moments of that time. I don’t deny, of course, that those few moments are when love is ignited and intensified. But believe me, my relationship with Musa fills my heart with love’s intensity. Love is the pulse of life. It’s expansive enough to accommodate sex and lots of other wonderful things along with it. But for lots of people, sex may not be expansive enough to accommodate anything but itself. It’s quite narrow, actually, and only appears otherwise to people who are obsessed with it alone to the exclusion of love.’

“Shooting me a reproachful smile, Anisa raised her finger in my face and added: ‘Besides, its real name isn’t sex, but lovemaking!’

“‘In that case,’ I objected, ‘why won’t you do it with Musa?’ “Her face tightened and she looked away before replying:‘Adultery is sinful, Basma. But you can train your body to obey you. My body has absorbed my fear of harm coming to my children were I to give in to its desires. In this sense, the body can be tamed and domesticated. But at the same time, it’s transcendent and beautiful. So, in spite of my physical urges toward Musa and my desire to complete

BANIPAL 70 – SPRING 2021 97

My Bookmarks

    Skip to main content