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Empty Highway
Huda Abubaker

I come home from the office. That "ripple" is gaining momentum. I lie down for a while and try to think of something pleasant. My mind drifts away. The surge of restlessness has encapsulated my sense of direction. On impulse I grab my phone and call a friend. We talk about everything except what I actually need to talk about...no, she doesn't sense my need for a human touch. What's the point in asking?

I feel like screaming, but I know I would barely manage a sigh. I look at the papers lying before me. There's a lot to do if only I could get myself to do it! Reports that need editing, some science news to translate: something to do with the newly discovered human genome (as if that's all our Arab country men need to know!) drills to work on, prep work ....oh to hell with it all!!

I feel like I'm on a vast highway and no one's actually stopping to give me a lift. I just want somewhere to call "home," emotionally cushioned, spiritually upholstered. The signpost says: "ahead". I'm already exhausted. I guess I'll have to do this on my own, not that I mind, but one tends to wish for support in such demanding conditions.

I'm wrestling with time. I can almost see the dying embers. I guess I've used it all up. Well, I walk in and out of places. I shake hands, exchange platitudes, make the occasional joke. I'm getting so good at this, comes from years of replays. Like the re-runs on those satellite channels! I know just what to do, just what to say; the outcome is almost always inevitable. I'm awarded a beaming smile, an exceptional nod : in short I'm granted" Persona Grata" status .I should be impressed. I'm not.. let's turn the page. Maybe the next chapter has something more exciting to offer.. oh yes, I love the thrillers, but, I usually read the great romances. I could be Catherine in "Wuthering Heights", though Heathcliff is much more intriguing with all his frail human tendencies. I understand Anna Karenina. She can be anyone, even me.....

I believe a good romance goes beyond the "glory" of achievement, it presents a good insight into the ability and willingness to understand, and cherish another's vulnerability, to satisfy and nourish another's fragile needs.... oh don't get me wrong.. of course the candle lit dinners, and the romantic settings appeal to my femininity!! Oh and yes amorous gazes do excite my senses.

But I dare to go beyond: reaching for each other openly, fearlessly in poignant moments, experiencing the sheer instinctive touch and gentleness of the stroke of his hand in a moment of silent understanding, the ability to disagree without bitterness.. it's all so simple actually.. it's just the phraseology that gives it such subtlety.

I wonder. Could man have stolen the spirit of thoughts and feelings when he invented language? You know South American Indians believe that when you take a photograph of somebody you are actually capturing the very soul of that person!! How bizarre! We go to so much trouble to express ourselves. Maybe we don't really need to! True, language has offered us a lot, but it is also fair to say that it has deprived us of so much more.. We create verbal illusions, mystic lingual codes that either take us to unparalleled heights of bliss.. or fill us with paralysing poignancy. Ironically, we sometimes tend to deceive ourselves with the very tool that we initially created to make ourselves understood!! And yet...words remain the dress of our thoughts.

Voila!! The verbal fashion scene depicts how greatly humans differ in their "tastes". We need not go very far for some very interesting examples: take political dialogue- manipulative style- and the bombastic orators of our glorious nation- when they talk it's circus time and you find that by listening you're only asserting that you are one of the clowns.

I must say I sometimes prefer that colourful image of primitive man beating away at the bushes. Life must've been so straightforward back then, don't you think?