There was something about Madeeha.
She seemed interested in what he had to say about traveling and how it had opened his view of the world. She seemed amused about his ‘Passport is my Favorite Book.’ And did he see her eyes tinkle when he said he preferred to live in the moment and ‘want what you have?’
Zehen remembered one conversation. They were sitting close to the fireplace in the coffee shop one evening. She said, “You know, Zehen, what I like about you?”
Zehen smiled, waiting.
She continued: “I like that you don’t judge me for traveling to Pakistan or countries in Middle East. That you don’t say: Oh, you must be very ‘brave’ to travel to these countries. Or wow, was it difficult to stay there? How did you deal with all those restrictions and blah blah.”
He smiled because she liked him. He smiled because he was aching to love her.
She was still speaking: “Don’t people live in Jordan? In Iran? Don’t people live in Pakistan? Do they live their every day in sadness and shadow of fear? No, they don’t. They don’t. They have their fun moments. They love. They nurture. They live.”
Her voice had become sharp, body straight, her passion brimming forth.
He ached for her ever more.
He spoke. He didn’t know why he did. Probably to distract himself. He should have allowed her to continue. She obviously needed to speak aloud.
But he spoke. Perhaps to show they had shared experiences.
“I understand what you mean. As a political consultant, I had a client who was lampooned as a ‘bad guy,’ although he was popular in his constituency. I was criticized for taking up work with him.”
She silently waited for him to complete. She was listening. Eagerly?
“But the guy is real. There are real ground issues that unless you work with the person you can’t understand. But the whole thing put me in an uncomfortable position. I had to defend myself.”
She spoke up.
“Exactly. That is how I feel. Having to defend myself daily.”
He was relieved at her affirmation. Somehow that mattered.
Traveling liberates. Especially when you also travel in your mind.
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