Nadia was not certain what exactly she was feeling, but she was certain it has force. Dramatic circumstances, such as those in which thye and other new lovers in the city now found themselves, have a habit of creating dramatic emotions, and furthermore the curfew served to conjure up an effect similar to that of a long-distance relationship, and long-distantce relationships are well known fro their potential to heighten passion, at least for a while, just as fasting is well known to heighten one's appreciation for food.
.... and so she had told him not to be idiot, said it harshly, to protect him rather than to harm him, but he had been shocked by her tone, and while he acquiesced, he wondered if this new way of speaking to one another, this unkindness that was now creeping into their words from time to time, was a sign of where they were headed.
Nadia too noticed a friction between them. She was uncertain what to do to disarm the cycles of annoyance they seemed to be entering int with one another, since once begun such cycles are difficult to break, in fact the opposite, as if each makes the threshold for irritation next time a bit lower, as is the case with certain allergies.
... but that is the way of things, for when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.
Saeed and Nadia knew what the buildup to conflict felt like, and so the feeling that hung over London in those days was not new to them, and they faced it not with bravery, exactly, and not with panic either, not mostly, but instead with a resignation shot through with moments of tension, with tension ebbing and flowing, and when the tension receded there was calm, the calm that is called the calm before the storm, but is in reality the foundation of a human life, waiting there for us between the steps of our march to our mortality, when we are compelled to pause and not act but be.
One's relationship to window now changed in the city. A window was the border through which death was possibly most likely to come. Windows could not stop even the most flagging round of ammunition: any spot indoors with a view of the outside was a spot potentially in the crossfile. Moreover the pane of a window could itself becoe shrapnel so easily, shattered by a nearby blast, and everyone had heard of someone or other who had bled out after being lacerated by shards of flying glass.
Many windows were broken already, and the prudent thing would have been to remove those that remained, but it was winter and the nights were cold, and without gas and electricity, both of which were in increasingly short supply, windows served to take some of the edge off the chill, and so people left them in place.
But in the nearby house of his fellow countryfolk the man with the white-marked beard spoke of martyrdom, not as the most desirable outcome but as one possible end of a path the right-minded had no other hoice but to follow, and advocated a banding together of migrants along religious principles, cutting across dividisons of race or language or nation, for what did those dividions matter now in a world full of doors, the only divisions that mattered now were between those who sought the right of passage and those who would deny them pessage, and in such a world the religion of the righteous must defend those who sought passage. Saeed was torn because he was moved by these words, strengthened by them, and they were not the barbarous words of the militants back home, the militants because of whom his mother was dead, and possibly by now his father as well, but at the same time the gathering of men drawn to the words of the militants back home, the militants because of whom his mother was dead, and possibly by now his father as well, but at the same time the gathering of men drawn to the words of the man with the white-marked beard sporadically did remind him of the militants, and whn he thought this he felt something rancid in himself, like he was rotting from within.
Reading the news at that time one was tempted to conclude that the nation was like a person with multiple personalities, some insisting on union and some on disintegration, and that this person with multiple personalities was furthermore a person whose skin appeared to be dissolving as they swam in a soup full of other people whose skins were likewise dissolving. Even Britain was not inmmune from this phenomenon, in fact some said Britain had already split, like a man whose head had been chopped off and yet still stood, and others said Britain was an island, and islands endure, even if the people who come to them change, and so it had been for millenia, and so it would be for millennia more.
... and when they did speak at length, they, a pair once not used to arguing, tended to argue, as though their nerves were so raw that extended encounters evoked a sensation of pain.
Every time a couple moves they begin, if their attention is still drawn to one another, to see each other differently, for personalities are not a single immutable color, like white or blue, but rather illuminated screens, and the shades we reflect depend much on what is around us. So it was Saeed and Nadia, who found themselves changed in each other's eyes in this new place.
... the farther they moved from the city of their birth, through space and through time, the more he sought to strengthen his connection to it, tying ropes to the air of an era that for her was unambiguously gone.
Saeed wanted to feel for Nadia what he had always felt for Naddia, and the potential loss of this feeling left him unmoored, adrift in a world where one could go anywehre but still find nothing. He was certain that he cared for her and wished good for her and wanted to protect her. She was teh entirety of his close family now, and he valued family above all, and when the warmth between seemed lacking his sorrow was immense, so immense that he was uncertain whether all his losses had not combined into a core of loss, and in this core, this center, the death of his mother and the death of his father and the possible death of his ideal self who had loved his woman so well were like a single death that only hard work and prayer might allow him to withstand.
they would be able to rekindle their relationship, to reconnect with their relationship, as it had been not long ago, and to elude, through a distance spanning a third of the globe, what it seemed in danger of becoming.
... and he prayed fundamentally as a gesture of love for what had gone and would go and could be loved in no other way. When he prayed he touched his parents, who could not otherwise be touched, and he touched a feeling that we are all children who lose our parents, all of us, every man and woman and boy and girl, and we too will all be lost by those who come after us and love us, and this loss unties humantiy, unites every human being, the temporary nature of our being-ness, and our shared sorrow, the heartache we each carry and yet too often refuse to acknowledge in one another, and out of this Saeed felt it might be possible, in the face of death, to believe in humanity's potential for building a better world, and so he prayed as a lament, as a consolation, and as a hope, but he felt that he could not express this to Nadia, and he did not know how to express this to Nadia, this mystery that prayer linked him to, and it was so important to express it, and somehow he was able to express it to the preacher's daughter, the first time they had a proper conversation, at a small ceremony he happened upon after work, which turned out to be a remembrance for her mother, who had been from Saeed's country, and was prayed for communally on each anniversary of her death, and her daughter, who was also the preacher's daughter, said to Saeed, who was standing near her, so tell me about my mother's country, and when Saeed spoke he did not mean to but he spoke of his own mother, and he spoke for a long time, and the preaher's daughter spoke for a long time, and when they finished speaking it was already late at night.
....not wanting to inflict a fear of abandonment, while also themselves quietly feeling that fear, the fear of the severing of their tie, the end of the world they had built together, a world of shared experiences in which no one else would share, and a shared intimate language that was unique to them, and a sense that what they might break was special and likely irreplaceable. But while fear was part of what kept them together for those first few months in Marin, more powerful than fear was the desire that each see the other find firmer footing before they let go, and thus in the end their relationship did in some senses come to resemble that of siblings, in that friendship was its strongest element, and unlike many passion, theirs managed to cool slowly, without curdling into its reverse, anger, except intermittently.
Jealousy did rear itself in their shanty from time to time, and the couple that was uncoupling did argue, but mostly they granted each other more space, a process that had been ongoing for quite a while, and if there was sorrow and alarm in this, there was relief too, and the relief was stronger.
There was also closeness, for the end of a couple is like a death, and the notion of death, of temporariness, can remind us of the value of things, whch it did for Saeed and Nadia, and so even thought they spoke less and did less together, they saw each other more, although not more often.
It has been said that depression is a failure to imagine a plausible desirable future for oneself, and, not just in Marin, but in the whole region, in teh Bay Area, and in many other places too, places both near and far, the apocalypse appeared to have arrived and yet it was not apocalyptic, which is to say that while the changes were jarring they were not the end, and life went on, and people found things to do and ways to be and people to be with, and plausible desirable futures began to emerge, unimaginable previously, but not unimaginable now, and the result was something not unlike relief.
The ritual of their weekly walk was interrupted, as such connections are, by the strengthening of other pulls on their time, the pull of the cook on Nadia, of the preacher's daughter on Saeed, and of new acquaintances. While the first shared weekend walk that they skipped was noticed sharply by them both, the second was not so much, and the third almost not at all, and soon they were meeting only once a month or so, and several days would pass in between a message or a call.
They lingered in this state of tangential connection as witner gave way to spring - though seasons in Marin seemed sometimes to last only for a small portion of a day, to change in the time that one took off one's jacket or put on one's sweater - and they lingered still in this state as a warm spring gave way to a cool summer. Neither much enjoyed catching unexpected glimpses of their former lover's new existence online and so they distanced themselves from each other on social networks, and while they wished to look out for each other, and to keep tabs on each other, staying in touch took a toll on them, serving as an unsettling reminder of a life not lived, and also they grew less worried each for the other, less worried that the other would need them to be happy, and eventually a month went by without any contact, and then a year, and then a lifetime.
Their conversation navigated two lives, with vital details highlighted and excluded, and it was also a dance, afor they were former lovers, and they had not wounded each other so deeply as to have lost thtier ability to find a rhythm together, and they grew younger and more playful as the coffee in their cups diminished...