Now, looking back on our affair, I can see how it happened. How, we were drawn together by the Gods, by our own passions, by his wife, by the roll of the dice on that ordinary day.
It was a usual work day, and I was filing some papers when I heard a woman shouting at the cash counter. She sounded familiar so I looked over and recognized her as my old colleague and friend, Samena. I was a bit disconcerted as she had changed over the years, but the essential Samena was still there. She still had that sophisticated beauty that was always hers. I got up and walked over to her.
“Hi, Samena, is something wrong?” I asked.
As soon as she looked at me her anger faded and she smiled. “Lubna? Fancy seeing you here,” she said.
“Yes, it’s me,” I said, wanting to diffuse the situation. “Samena, will you come over here and talk with me?”
Samena looked at me and then back at the man behind the counter. She frowned at him. “I will, but this gentleman needs to learn some manners. He does not know the proper way to talk to a woman.”
“Its fine, Samena,” I said. “I’ll talk to him later. Please, come talk with me”.
Samena hesitated and then turned to walk with me to my desk. I got us both a cup of hot tea and Samena calmed down. We shared a few stories about what had happened since we’d last seen each other. When Samena told me that she’d gotten married, I was surprised.
“Samena, you didn’t invite me,” I said. This made me sad as we had once been close.
“I apologize, Lubna,” she said. “It all happened in such a rush.” Samena’s hand flew back demonstratively.
“Really,” I said. I was curious. “Was there a problem?”
“There was,” she said a bit more quietly, “but I will have to tell you about it another time, Lubna”.
“Alright,” I said. “Will you at least tell me who you married?”
“I will,” Samena said. “You may know him. His name is Tahir and he owns the Verity Department Store”.
I don’t know if it was his name, or the way she said it, but when I heard “Tahir”, something within me reached out to it. I played his name over and over in my mind. Silly, I know.
“I know that store,” I said, “and I believe I’ve heard of him, Samena, but I don’t think I’ve met him. If I’ve heard right, he is a wealthy man.”
“Yes. He is,” Samena replied. “And you know how money makes the world go ’round.”
“I do know that,” I said. I didn’t understand my unusual reaction and tried to brush it off.
“You will have to come by our place,” Samena offered, “that way you can meet Tahir and we can catch up more.”
I didn’t understand why I was all of a sudden feeling jealous of Samena and possessive of this Tahir; it wasn’t reasonable. And I knew wouldn’t be able to meet Tahir with Samena. I felt drawn to him in a completely unreasonable way, this wealthy man, this husband to my friend. I felt drawn to him and it felt dangerous. I didn’t even know him.
I pass by Verity’s on my way home every day. I was thinking about going into the store to see if I could find Tahir. It was a whim. When I turned the corner and saw the front doors, I walked in. Verity’s is an expensive store, one I couldn’t generally afford to shop at. There was a guard at the door who bowed to me. Suddenly, I felt like one of those wealthy ladies you see on ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’. I entered the store as if I owned it. I looked around at the lavish interior and a twinge of envy shot through me. “Lucky Samena,” I thought. I looked around a bit and selected a few purchases that I’d been wanting and putting off buying until I had a more savings. I walked over to the counter with my things. A very nice, handsome, smart-looking young man looked up at me. I felt a flush on my cheeks. “How silly of me,” I thought, “He must be one of Tahir’s employee’s”. I paid for my items. The young man gave me my receipt while I continued to look around the store, hoping to see this ‘Tahir’.
I was disappointed that I hadn’t seen Samena’s husband, and the money I’d just spent seemed frivolous to me now. Then the phone rang. The young man picked up the phone, saying, “Tahir speaking”. I looked back at him. This was Tahir! This handsome young man with the voice like honey and impeccable manners! My heart started to sing. “Oh, my, Samena,” I thought, “You are one lucky woman!” He was looking at me curiously. I’m sure the smile on my face must have looked odd. My legs felt like jelly. I wanted to introduce myself, but then I felt like it might not be proper. I didn’t want anything ruining my introduction to Tahir. I knew that I would make a visit to Samena’s place, soon.
Now, something about me: I’m 35 and married with 2 sons and one daughter. My husband runs a small business. We lived a simple life in our small house, a motorcycle for my husband and other such comforts. For the past 3 years I’d been working at the bank to help meet our day-to-day expenses. My husband and I rarely have sex and when we do, it is in missionary position and with the lights out. My husband is an alcoholic and usually only approaches me for sex when he is drunk. During the day, I know that he seeks sexual release elsewhere. I love my children dearly, but my husband and I are distant; he has slept in our extra bedroom for as long as I can remember. Thus, we are more like roommates than husband and wife. I do not count our late night sex as anything remotely pleasurable. He is only concerned with his own gratification; I am merely his tool.
I am a voluptuous woman with perfect 36C breasts, firm and inviting, a round bottom that is smooth and silky. I wear the traditional costume shilwar (a trousers like baggy garment that is extremely loose at the top but narrows at the bottom with a string at the waistband to fasten it), a qameez knee-long shirt worn both by men and women along with the shilwar or shalwar, bangles and anklets.
The next day, I couldn’t resist the temptation and went again to Tahir’s store. I spent a lot of time just looking around, but really I was looking at Tahir. I was drawn to him. My eyes could hardly look away. It was as if I was under some sort of spell. I finally bought something just so I could go to the counter and hear his voice. He smiled attractively and thanked me graciously; chills ran up and down my spine. How I had missed that kind of feeling. I had never felt it in my marriage, only before that with some boys I’d met casually with friends. It had never gone anywhere, and I’d forgotten that rush of pleasure, that feeling of warmth from a handsome man’s smile, the tension in my body upon hearing his voice, and the desire for more.
I left the store feeling sad and lost. I wondered about this as I walked down the street. How could this small contact with this man bring me such joy and such sadness? I was elated in one way because these feelings of passion had been vacant in my life for so long, and yet I was confused because both of us were in marriages and there was no way I could see that we could be together.
I had learned to shut off that part of myself. I was not that passionate woman; there was no place for her in my life- until now. Tahir made me feel that desire again and despite being the husband of my friend, the attraction was so strong that I had no power to ignore it. It was an attraction of passion, but even more it was an attraction of intimacy as if he and I were bound by some cosmic force. I didn’t have a need to sleep with him; it was more than that. I needed to be with him, near him, close enough to smell him, to listen to him speak, to look at the way he moved his hands and the way his eyes wrinkled up when he smiled. It was as if my soul wanted to drink him in. As soon as I thought, “I don’t want sex,” my body told me it wasn’t true. The thought of sex with Tahir made me feel a little crazy and drunk. “I did want him that way,” I thought.
It took me a few weeks before I was able to visit Samena’s place. I went on a bank holiday in hopes that Tahir would be there. Samena was surprised to see me but she gave me a warm welcome. Tahir soon joined us.
“Do I know you?” Tahir asked.
“I shop at Verity’s,” I said.
“Maybe, but I feel like I’ve seen you somewhere else,” he responded.
“The bank,” I suggested, “I work there.”
“That wouldn’t be it,” he said. “I have employees who do my banking for me.”
Then Samena burst in, “What are you talking about, Tahir, this is my friend, Lubna, and she came to visit me, not to talk about work. We have much to catch up on, don’t we?”
“Yes,” I said.
“I was just flirting with your friend,” Tahir replied jokingly.
“I’m not banning you from talking to her,” Samena replied. “But it hardly matters where you’ve seen her.” Samena seemed quite pleased with herself for redirecting the conversation.
Tahir smiled. He was placating Samena. “Alright, Lubna, tell me what you like to do?” he asked.
“Talk with department store owners,” I said before realizing that this could be taken as very forward and inappropriate, but Samena laughed aloud and then Tahir and I joined in. I was relieved that my statement was received lightly. I thought to myself that I needed to be more careful.
Samena and I caught up on our years apart and Tahir added his own comments every now and then. He was interesting and delightful and I had trouble concentrating on Samena with Tahir so close to me.
I stayed as long as I could without appearing rude. When I had to leave, Samena and Tahir walked me to the door.
“We will have to meet again soon,” she said.
“We will have to meet again soon,” Tahir said, repeating Samena’s words, but somehow his words held more meaning. His eyes locked with mine. I felt powerless under his gaze.
“Of course,” I said. I was thinking, “Call me Tahir. Do you feel this thing between us, or is it only me? I must be near you or I think my life will feel as if it is over just now when I feel like it has just begun.
Samena stepped back into the foyer and I could only see Tahir. He smiled knowingly. It gave me chills. I had an image of us lying in bed together, my skin against his, embracing, afternoon sunshine lighting the windows, finding solace in each other. “Could I live another day feeling this impossible desire,” I wondered. I told myself that until I saw Tahir again, I would not think of him. I knew I was lying to myself.
On my way home from Samena’s, I tried to convince myself that my feelings for Tahir were unreasonable and unethical. I had no desire to hurt my old friend, Samena. Yet, no matter how hard I tried to tell myself that my feelings for Tahir were wrong, something within my heart whispered, “No, they are right”. I vowed to ignore my heart and follow my head. I would not visit Samena’s home again, or, if it were unavoidable, I would only go when I knew Tahir would not be there. Deep within me, I knew that I was in love with him. I even thought of him as ‘my young dashing businessman’. I was enraptured by his intelligence, his beauty, his dedication to his work, and the easy companionship I felt when I was with him.
It had been months since I’d last seen Samena or Tahir. I felt that my distancing myself from them would lessen my feelings of love for Tahir. Alas, that was not true; instead, my love for him grew to mythic proportions in my mind. I would imagine him whisking me away to some far off palace, or meeting me at some tropical island where we would consummate our love for each other and live happily ever after. Yes, I know this was a child’s dream, but it was also the picture that my heart painted of Tahir. So, when Tahir came to my bank that day, I felt as if I’d just seen him.
When he approached me, I told him, “Tahir, you know that I should not talk with you without Samena”.
Tahir smiled at me. “It is lunchtime, Lubna; won’t you ask me to lunch? I am your guest”.
“True,” I said, “I will ask someone to bring us our lunch here.” I was relieved that Tahir ignored my small protest. He was like a blessing to my eyes.
“No, not here,” Tahir said. “Let us eat somewhere else more comfortable.”
I accepted and quickly got my work space in order. Tahir led me out to his luxury car. I had never ridden in a car as fine as his. I was feeling that pang of envy again for Samena. She was a lucky woman to have so much. Soon we arrived at a posh restaurant that I’d only heard of. The staff recognized Tahir and led us to a small dark corner in the back of the restaurant.
“Do you do this often?” I asked Tahir. “They seem to know exactly where to place us.”
“No, I do not do this often,” Tahir said, “I called ahead and asked for this special table. They know me and were obliging. But, Lubna, I will tell you that I do hope to do this more often. I have had a great desire to be with you and it pleases me that you came with me today.”
I was pleased too. The restaurant was in excellent taste with embroidered linens adorning the tables and fine portraits on the walls. I felt as if I were in one of my fantasies with Tahir.
“Is this real?” I said aloud. I hadn’t meant to say it; it just came out. I was a little embarrassed.
Tahir laughed. “Of course it is,” he said. “You are delightful, Lubna, and so different than Samena.”
“Well, it would be quite boring if everyone were the same,” I said.
“True,” Tahir said with a beautiful smile. “Yet, what I mean is that you, Lubna, are more to my taste than Samena. I think you know that already. And of Samena, she does not care to know me.”
“But she seems like such a joyful, caring, sensitive woman,” I said.
“She is for others,” Tahir said. “She is not for me. She treats me as if I mean nothing to her.”
“Are you certain of that, Tahir?” I said. “You have given her a life that many women dream of; how can she act as if you are nothing to her?”
“Fate does as it will,” Tahir said. “I loved Samena at one time. I gave her everything I had. But she is cold to me and her lack of warmth has driven away any love that I ever felt for her. That said, I want you to think about me. I want you to consider seen me again. I will not force your hand because I already have feelings for you, Lubna. I want you to choose freely what it is that you want.”
Our lunch ended too quickly for me. Our ride back to the bank was a blink of an eye. I had never considered having an affair. Never. Our time together was over, but now I was faced with a decision as to whether or not I would meet with him again. I did not care to do something that would hurt my friend even if she had no feelings for her husband. Nothing had really happened today at the restaurant. We could have been merely friends having lunch together. Then I imagined what it would be like if Tahir and I were only ‘friends’ and I was struck by my immediate response to that thought. It was rejection. I could not be only ‘friends’ with Tahir. I felt too much for him already. Even at my work station, I could not concentrate. I kept thinking about Tahir, about the muscular body that lie beneath his clothes, about the handsome symmetry of his face, about the light in his eyes. I soon realized that I was very wet down there between my legs. I hadn’t felt that way in a long time, but just thinking of Tahir had made my body come alive again.
Tahir did not come to see me during my lunch the following day, so I went to Verity’s after work. Tahir and I talked for some time when he wasn’t busy with customers or business.
“Samena loves my money,” he said, “not me.”
“My husband loves his liquor,” I said, “not me.”
“One needs love in his life to be truly alive,” Tahir said, “don’t you agree, Lubna?”
It was a few weeks later when Tahir called on me again. I had been anticipating this moment since the last time we’d been together. Tahir asked me to meet him for lunch at a particular hotel. I agreed. When I arrived, he was waiting for me. He took me to a lovely room with a fabulous view where a splendid luncheon had been laid out for us. Tahir and I just sat there staring at each other. I could tell he was pleased to see me too. While we ate, I felt Tahir’s foot rub against mine. It sent shivers through my body. Today was different, I realized. Something about Tahir had changed. There was a new mischievous look in his eyes. Then he winked at me.
“You make me think of forbidden things,” he said. “Samena and I do not share a bed. I am a man with desires and thoughts of you have been filling my dreams, Lubna.”
I was flattered and excited. I had been thinking of him in much the same way. There was a line that hadn’t been crossed until now. “I miss that closeness too,” I said. “And I am certain that my husband is seeing another woman. It does not hurt me that he is with her when he should be with me. I know he has no love for me nor do I love him.”
“Oh, your husband is a fool,” Tahir said. “There could not be another woman as beautiful as you, Lubna. I would ask that I could fill that emptiness in your life.”
There is no woman on earth who in my place could have said ‘no’ to this man at that moment.
“Your eyes are like the stars to me, Lubna,” he said. “The bring light to my shadowed life. Your cheerfulness makes me smile on the inside. You cannot know the depth of my feelings for you, but I hope that you will know soon.”
He said this and then came to me and took my head in his hands and kissed the tears that had been running down my face. He kissed my cheeks and then my lips. This was the first time Tahir had touched me. My heart was beating faster. I couldn’t catch my breath. I felt my hands move and catch Tahir’s. I held onto him as if he were my steadfast pillar; I would have fallen had he not held me up. He kissed me again. It was a slow, gentle kiss that reached into all the emptiness and hurt I’ve ever felt and filled those places with tenderness and love. He pulled back to look at me. I smiled back at him. Then I let him undress me until I was only in my bra and panties before him.
“Lubna, I know that I can’t live without you in my life. I’ve fallen terribly for you,” Tahir said.
I felt the same, but I hadn’t expected to hear those words from him. His blunt honesty took my breath away. I just stared at him. Then I asked, “Are you sure you love me?”
“Yes. I’m sure,” Tahir said.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Ever since the day you visited our house, I’ve been feeling such a rush of emotion for you. I cannot explain it. It has never happened to me before. I thought I loved Samena, but now I know it wasn’t love. What I feel for you is love, Lubna,” Tahir said.
“Are you sure it isn’t just lust?” I said. “That you want to be with me physically.”
“No. It is more than that. Of course, being with you makes me feel alive, but even when I’m not with you, I am thinking of you and wishing I was with you,” Tahir answered. “It is love.”
“And what of our ages? Our children? Our status? And most of all, what of Samena? She is my friend,” I said.
“I have thought of all of these things. To be honest, they mean little to me compared with my love for you. Samena does not love me. Your husband does not love you. We should share our love for each other. It is a gift to us. If we do not accept it, we will regret it,” Tahir said.
I stood looking out the window at the large elms swaying in the breeze. I was trying to absorb what Tahir had said. I was more than nervous. It felt awkward to privately meet your best friend’s husband with the intention of go to bed with him. I didn’t think I was ready. I reached for my clothes, but Tahir stopped me. He embraced me and kissed me. Then he kissed me harder. I shivered. I hadn’t expected him to stop me. I’d hoped he would. I was responding to him. Our hearts were beating as one.
He was so close to me as close as I’d dreamed we’d be. My heart was racing. My mind was protesting, asking me to stop now before things went too far. I tried to pull away, but Tahir pulled me closer to him. He was more confident and that made me want him more.