“I wanted to intimate something and not to be intimate,” I explained with a bitter grin.
He always boasted about his excellent command of English but that sex-charged adjective that resembled a verb he had never used before began to shatter his self-confidence. He looked like a captain who had lost his ship to the winds.
“Please forgive me, Celena,” he stuttered with an accent that he managed to conceal when he was not upset.
“I thought we were friends,” I said with apparent disappointment.
The crumbled letter in his hand was bearing the grunt of his reddening embarrassment.
“There was no verb to be and you encouraged me to use formal English in our epistolary correspondence,” I added, giving a grammatical twist to a very awkward situation.
He reopened the letter to doublecheck the absence of the infamous be and vent his spleen on his stupidity. I could not understand how a misinterpretation of one word would unleash that passion which must have been for months smoldering. I was taken aback by the kiss that tried to prowl upon my lips with absolute vehemence. I was deeply offended. I knew he was ransacking his memory for a single word or deed that could have misled him and thus implicate me in the derailing of a flowering friendship. I had learnt from previous experiences that some men could get the wrong impression, so I had made it clear from the very beginning that my affection for him was sisterly in order to avoid any future mishaps and misunderstandings. I was tired of losing potential friends because each relationship that was immune to sexual dalliance floundered in the end.
“Always ends the same,” my mind kept on repeating a refrain from George Michael’s “Cowboys and Angels”, my favorite hit. Only Haseem was not a cowboy, and I was not the indulging victim. “It’s the ones who persist that we most want to kiss”, how true it is. Throughout my life, I had tried to salvage one single friendship but I could not.
“What is it you wanted to intimate to me,” he finally said with effort, as if his tongue had been chemically transformed into a piece of lead.
I hesitated for a while then decided to tell the truth regardless of consequences.
“I wanted to tell you that I could move into your apartment and give my house to the female immigrants who fled from arranged marriages. My house is spacious enough to accommodate the ten of them. You had told me that you could not receive them at your place because you observe cultural etiquette, and I could not dwell with such a crowd because I crave for silence needed to conduct my research. But I can see now that this plan can longer work, so let us forget the incident,” I said with an affirmative voice to put the matter to an everlasting end.
He wanted to say something but opted to keep his lips locked for fear of aggravating the situation.
“When do we meet in the library tomorrow?” I asked, trying to inject some cheerfulness to a voice that had started faltering. Deep down, I was extremely mortified at that turn of events.
“At ten,” he said, without looking into my eyes because his orbs were growing tearfully iridescent.
“We could have lunch in the nearby café because we have loads of work and no time to waste,” I added with emphasis.
“Indeed, my friend,” he said with a bent head.