what’s missing, my body responds first and foremost to my fears.’
“She and Musa would often get together in a coffee shop on Hamra Street that was a hot spot for intellectuals, journalists and writers. Other rendezvous points included the cinema, the theatre, a deserted sandy beach, or under a tree they happened to pass on a mountain road. After parking the car on the roadside, they’d sit under a tree for hours, engrossed in conversation. Their mutual exchange never stopped, even when they were pondering each other in silence. Musa loved her children and, knowing how attached she was to them, he would ask about them one by one.They knew everything about each other’s lives and would phone each other several times a day, so there was a sense in which they were never apart. She didn’t feel the sun had risen until she had heard his ‘good morning’.‘And to you, sweetheart, the best of mornings’, would come her reply. Then, before getting up to begin her day, she would pass the telephone across her face as though his morning greeting were his fingertips’ gentle caress. As for their good night greeting, it began with his: ‘Sleep peacefully, my gazelle’. Feeling herself a true gazelle resting in his arms, she wouldn’t notice her husband’s snoring.
“Both of them were cinema buffs and huge fans of Ingrid Bergman flicks. Later on, they also fell in love with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.They watched nearly everything these actors had starred in, and they would get into long discussions of what they’d seen. Sometimes when they disagreed, one or the other of them would stick doggedly to this opinion or that, but no matter how vehemently they differed, it never ruined the mood between them.They were especially fond of the movie in which Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro meet on a train while De Niro is having problems with his wife, and The Bridges of Madison County starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. Anisa said to me: ‘We identified completely with the two main characters. I’d imagine I was Meryl Streep, and Musa would imagine he was De Niro or Eastwood.’
“One day, Riyadh’s younger sister, who was married to a rich Emirati, invited the family to spend the Eid holiday with them in Turkey. She sent them the tickets and made them reservations in a fancy hotel in Istanbul.Well, Riyadh was over the moon, dreaming about the cash she was going to shower him with and all the free food at posh restaurants. But life has a way of crossing us. Anisa called me from Turkey and said: ‘I can’t believe it, Basma. Musa’s died of a
98 BANIPAL 70 – SPRING 2021
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