Struggle. Love. Cry. Hope.
For Romanian click here.
A novel first published in Romanian (Eikon 2017), available in English (translated by Mihaela Alecu) on Amazon (click on the image).
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Azade was slowly recovering. Saadia as well, but in her case it seemed more difficult. Anyway, the worst had passed. The fact that they could both stand on their own was encouraging. The other women in the prisoners’ group did everything they could to help the two, to guard them. They were clinging to one another, united in their misfortune. They had to satisfy the men’s urges daily, moreover, they were also put to work on different chores, besides cooking and cleaning, they were asked to clean the dust off their tormentors’ shoes and clothes. They were so afraid of them that they didn’t dare to show neither the dimmest sign of protest.
Every time he would ask them for something and they would run to do it, Ahad would grin and say:
“You’ve learned your lesson.”
“You don’t want to end up like that doctor of yours, do you?”
And the men would laugh and caress their beard full of dust. The women would execute, but they were crying stealthily.
When Azade was strong enough, Ahad sent Aiman and another man to bring her to his hut. They brought her mostly dragging her. Ahad signaled them that they could leave. Azade was standing in the lintel and was shivering with all the rags that had once been her clothes.
“So tell me, did you get all that nonsense out of your head?” Ahad asked her tersely.
Azade, shivering even harder, nodded yes.
“Speak!” he ordered her.
“Yes,” whispered Azade teardroping.
“Good,” grinned Ahad.
He caressed his beard while thinking about something else. He stood like that for several seconds, and Azade didn’t know what was following.
“Tell me,” started Ahad, “you’re Muslim, aren’t you?
Azade didn’t expect this question. She didn’t know what the best answer was, she knew he was unpredictable, so she thought that the truth is best.
“I’m not really interested in religion,” she said with a voice strangled by fear.
“Louder!” he ordered.
Azade cleared her throat. Then she continued:
“I’ve dealt more with medicine, science, and less with religion. Anyway, as time passed I’ve come to believe that gods, including Allah, the God of Christians or of any other people, disappear once their people disappear.”
“But this is blasphemy,” said Ahad menacing.
“I think it is history,” said Azade with a shivering, but firm voice. “There were nations, right around here, where we are now, who believed in other gods, like Ashur, the greatest of the Assyrian gods, or Greeks’ gods, whom became cartoon characters. They all disappeared when those who believed in them disappeared. You know, I’ve read a book–”
“Hmm,” grumbled Ahad obviously disturbed by this fact, but he signaled her to continue.
“Is there any God? by F.T. Pitiles, I don’t remember the sub-headings, but anyway, I remember the main idea, because it confirmed my own ideas, it said something like this: a deity only exists for as long as someone believes in it. When no one believes anymore, that deity no longer exists.”
Ahad stopped her with a gesture.
“It’s stupid. Allah is great and he will continue to exist even after we will all disappear. Why wouldn’t he exist anymore, if people wouldn’t be any longer? If he wants, he will make other people praise him.”
“This is what you think. I believe something different.”
Ahad stopped her once again.
“Enough!” he shouted.
Azade didn’t want to annoy him so she shut up, and bowed her head.
Ahad looked at her more carefully.
“You don’t look that bad,” he told her in a more relaxed tone of voice.
He signaled her to spin. Shivering, she slowly turned around and started sighing.
“Drop those rags!” he snapped at her.
Azade looked at him scared. His menacing look terrified her. She knew she couldn’t do anything, that if she wouldn’t have respect the order it would have been worse, but despite all these she couldn’t do it, she couldn’t undress willingly in front of a rapist, as in front of a lover, so she didn’t move one finger, as if she was stunned.
Ahad waited for a few seconds then he burst:
“Are you dumb or deaf? I said take off your clothes!”
Azade threw herself to the ground, roaring, but she still didn’t do it.
Ahad didn’t know what to do. Normally, he would have reacted violently, outside he would have at least shoot a leg in her stomach, but now, when it was only the two of them, he didn’t do it. This surprised him and equally irritated him. He looked at her and didn’t do anything. He had never felt like this before. Azade, facing the floor, she was waiting for a kick too, or the hit of a bat on her back, but neither one, nor the other came. She lifted her head a bit and she looked at Ahad. He sobered as if waking up from a dream, he approached her, he grabbed her by the hair and she lifted her head a bit. He put his knife at her throat and he told her:
“Careful! If you will bite, I will cut your throat!”
From outside, around the area where the prisoners were kept, one could hear the grotesque laughter of his comrades.
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