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 didn’t think at all at the consequences, but she knew that she could do it, if she wished to, only with someone she loved, so she would rather die. Therefore she bit. As strong as she could. Unfortunately, her lacking her front teeth only caused Ahad a minor scratch, however enough for him to understand that this woman would rather die than obey him. He pushed her as strong as he could; she fell on the floor, with her head back. Ahad didn’t know what to do. It was the first time in a long time when he hesitated to kill someone. He was thinking that maybe it was better to have a doctor close-by? Unlikely, he never needed one before, but then again he never received help from a doctor, despite the wounds he had. He simply lacked that cold and uncalculated instinct that would make him push the trigger, “But I have to teach her a lesson!” he said to himself.
He lifted her by one arm, then he took her outside and he grounded her in the dust. He shouted to his men to bring the prisoners and then to choose one.
“The one which is best on her feet,” he said.
The men chose Saadiya. After Azade, she was the most beautiful woman, but Saadiya was the most robust of them all. The men brought the prisoners, they forced them to lie on the ground, and they brought Saadiya, looking penitently and frightened at the same time, in front of Ahad.
He was sitting with one foot propped against Azade, whom was crying smouldering, like the hunter against his prey. Saadiya, ever since she saw the scene, from far away, was terrified. It could only be bad that Ahad sent after them and that he chose her. She did not dare to look straight at him, so she stood with her head bowed, shivering and waiting for his commands. At his sign, one of his men forced her to kneel.
“Your doctor,” shouted Ahad, pushing his leg, “despised again one of my orders. I am going to teach her a lesson that she is never going to forget! And I am sure that she will think twice next time, and she won’t do something so stupid again.”
He whispered something to the man in front of him. He left and returned after a few moments, which seemed infernally long to the women. Ahad then signaled his men to hold Saadiya and to open her mouth. They did as they were told, fastening a piece of wood in the corner of her mouth, forcing it to stay as opened as it could get.
“This is what will happen to all of you, one by one, until this woman will do as I say.”
Ahad with pliers in his hand extorted a tooth from the upper part of the woman’s mouth. Saadiya howled with pain. Ahad threw the tooth in the dust which immediately turned red. When the second tooth was extracted, Saadiya lost consciousness. Ahad threw this one next to the other. The sand became even redder.
All women bewailed and were asking for forgiveness.
“Silence! Or you will be next,” ordered Ahad.
The women stopped, swallowing their cries. Only Azade couldn’t stop her tears, silently begging him to stop.
Ahad, immovable, slapped Saadiya’s face a few times, to bring her to her sense again. Then he extracted the third tooth, which came out easier from the weakened gum. Saadiya was instantaneously tearing, and her howls had transformed into a sort of formless grunt. But Ahad did not stop. He continued with the fourth tooth, which was now laying in the colored sand, next to the other three.
“Take me,” shouted Azade. “Please, it is not her fault.”
Ahad stopped, he headed towards here and fixed her with a look that could froze even fire.
“Don’t punish her for my mistake,” whispered Azade. “Please,” she lamented.
Ahad grinned. Azade was happy to see his grin, although she knew what torture awaited for her. She thought she had convinced him.
“What did I tell you?” asked Ahad.
Azade looked at him baffled.
“You don’t tell me what to do!” he shouted while his foot hit the woman’s stomach. She doubled up with pain, groaning.
Ahad turned back to Saadiya again. She, with her eyes popping out, was trying to node “no”, but Ahad didn’t mind her. He grabbed again her jaw with his left hand, while with the right one he inserted the pliers, this time in the lower part of her mouth, tormenting her even more, because, due to the abundant blood, the pliers where slipping on the teeth. However, Ahad didn’t stop until he succeeded to grab them. Being smaller he extracted two at once. Saadiya fainted again. Ahad tore a piece of what were once the women’s clothes, and clog up her mouth with it.
He then headed towards the other women, with the pliers in his hand, walking and showing it to each one of them, like a swordsman with the tip of his sword. The women stood motionless, frozen with fear. Only tears ran heedlessly down their cheeks, and sobs were coming out uncontrollably.
After a few minutes he turned back to Saadiya, she was groaning unconscious and drowning on the blood that was no longer flowing out, but got stuck in the rag. It was only dripping slowly next to the piece of wood forcing her mouth to stay opened. Ahad took out the rag, then he looked at the bleeding, to see if it had stopped. The blood burst forth towards the sand in front of the woman, enhancing the red spot, already quite extended. Ahad woke her up again, then he tried to catch another tooth from her cheek bone, but the pliers were slipping even more it seemed.
Ahad wasn’t one to give up. He turned to Azade and tore a piece of her shirt and shove it in Saadiya’s mouth, taking out the piece of wood.
“Bite,” he commanded. “Bite to stop the bleeding; otherwise I won’t be able to finish until nightfall.”
Saadiya was clenching because the grip was taming the pain. Her entire mouth hurt, from the gums to the cheek bone that had been forced as well, her mouth was nothing but pain. When the men released her arms, Saadiya collapsed in the mix of sand and blood.
She laid there for almost half an hour, while Ahad returned to his hut. He took a woman with him, whom he chose randomly. He felt his nerves were going to explode, so he wanted to give vent to his anger. He penetrated her so hard that the woman was groaning with pain. She would have shouted, but she was scared that that would annoy him even more and that he will become even more violent and that he will torment her more, maybe even kill her.
Those outside, driven mad as well, had their way with the other women just as savage. They spared only Saadiya, leaving her to lie in her pool of blood.
The only thing Ana couldn’t get used to was the cold of the night. Even during summer, although during sunny days it was warm and well, at night the temperature dropped significantly, usually around 5 degrees, but sometimes up to 0 degree Celsius. Therefore central heating was on all the time, which was no longer news to her, but it was a surprise for her family, when her parents came to visit her two years ago.
“It is cold in Brașov too, however, we’ve turned off central heating since April,” her mother told her, while sipping her coffee in the morning.
She would have liked to drink it on the balcony, but realizing how cold it was, she gave up.
“Can you handle the expenses?” her father asked her.
Then he quickly added:
“Of course you do, you are in Switzerland!”
Ana laughed, and tapped him friendly on the shoulder.
“That is right, I’m in Switzerland.”
Ever since her residency started in Zürich, but especially since she had started specialization in St. Moritz, Ana was exempt from financial worries. Although St. Moritz is one of the most expensive places in Switzerland, which is already expensive in general, or so it seems for those who visit, for Ana all went swimmingly.
Now, her parents came to visit her for a second time. And not long afterwards, one of the questions was:
“Did you find a boyfriend?” her mother asked her.
“Oh, mum, not this subject again. Every time we talk, you bring it up. What do you think happened since last week, when you asked me the same thing on the phone?”
“Yes, dear,” Dan jumped in to help her daughter, give her a break. “When time will come, she will find someone, a nice good boy, like herself!”
“And I will tell you first,” added Ana towards her mother, to calm her down.
“Ok, darling,” Elena tried to appease her. “I just want to reassure you that we want grandchildren so much, we can’t wait for them to come visit us. You know, our house is so empty without you–”
“I know, mum, I know, but I don’t really have a choice.”
“Yes,” her mother sighed.
“Come on, don’t be upset. I have a surprise for you. Come on.”
Ana lead them to the car, and then she started. She exited Samedan and she headed towards St. Moritz.
Her parents expected her to stop in St. Moritz. Although they had seen the city before, they wanted to see it again, because they enjoyed it so much.
“You have your own tilted tower;” Elena had told her then, “not just Pisa”.
But Ana went beyond. She continued on 27th Road, she left behind the lake with the same name, which gleamed so green in the sun as if it were a very ripe grape. The landscape was breathtaking, it was so beautiful. Mountains on one side and the other, and then a new lake, just as exquisite as St. Moritz.
“How is this lake called?” asked Dan.
“This is Silvaplanersee,” answered Ana.
At the roundabout, while giving priority to another car, Ana pointed to the right.
“When we come back, if we have time, we will go through here, on Silvaplana, It is an observation point, a gorgeous Bellevue! You will see the valley from above, as much as your eyes can grasp.”
“Alright, alright, and where are you taking us now?”
“I told you it is a surprise,” said Ana smiling, while continuing her way.
Not long afterwards, at another roundabout, Ana took Via da Marias. Shortly afterwards she stopped in front of a white house, with wooden window shutters, painted in greenish-gray. On the board it said: “Nietzsche–Haus”.
“Nietzsche’s house in Sils, shouted Dan.
“Yes! What do you think?” asked Ana happily.
“A real surprise! I didn’t even know it was so close to you!” said Dan.
“Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous!” cried the mother as well, while hugging her daughter.
“Come on, let’s visit it. I’ve already booked the tickets.”
“So, you secretly complotted,” joked her father, delighted.
The three entered the first room, where from a pedestal the philosopher’s marble bust was frowning. Several documents, including some handwritten by him could be seen here. Another room was a reproduction of Nietzsche’s office in Basel.
“This is really Nietzsche’s original furniture,” mentioned Ana. “It was purchased by the museum and brought here in 1991.”
“Wow,” cried Elena. “It is wonderful furniture. I didn’t know Nietzsche had such furniture, I could even say, luxurious.”
“Yes, he only had it then when, you know, he was a professor at Basel University.”
“I see you’ve done your homework,” said Dan, with a tone of voice that simultaneously displayed admiration and affection.
“Well, yes, but you might remember that Nietzsche was my favorite philosopher in high school.”
“I thought it was Hegel…”
“No, that was the subject I got at the national Olympics contest. I would have preferred Nietzsche, but Hegel was all right too.”
“Obviously, since you got the first prize!”
“It helped that I’ve read Hegel in German, it wasn’t something that many could do.”
“That is right,” Dan laughed. “I don’t know how and why, but many don’t like German.”
“It is, nevertheless, a difficult language,” said Elena. “It wasn’t easy for me to learn it either!”
“Maybe because you didn’t start as a child, as I did,” said Ana.
The three continued their tour, and entered the Oscar Levy-Raum, dedicated to Nietzsche’s publisher and translator to English.
“You may not know, in fact few people know of Oscar Levy,” stated Ana, “but he initially was a doctor. Then, the man became not only Nietzsche’s translator, but a writer himself; I believe a quite controversial one. He didn’t live an easy life in Germany either, although he was rich. He left the country towards the end of the 19th century, to move to England. But he left England as well in 1921.”
“I don’t know exactly, let’s see what it says here.”
Ana read a few lines of the presentation, then she told her parents out loud:
“It says that he wrote about the political events of his time, and that he was expelled as ‘an enemy’. He then lived in France, Germany and Switzerland. But he was accepted back in England in 1938, where he lived until his death, in 1946. Look, this text here is quite interesting: he had already wrote “Die Exkommunizierung Adolf Hitlers – Ein Offener Brief” in 1938.”
“Yes, very interesting. Just let me write down the name, to do some research at home. Maybe I’ll even read his texts; it’s quite intriguing what I’ve found out.”
They moved on, to the library, where a lot of important books and document were displayed to be admired.
“We have an original piece of furniture here as well, this armchair that belonged to Nietzsche.”
Her parents nodded with approval and admiration.
Then they went through a corridor with portraits of famous writers whom had visited Nietzsche’s house over time. Elena stopped in front of photography of Hesse.
“You favorite author, isn’t it, mom?”
“Anyway,” said Ana, entering another room, “this is really Nietzsche-Zimmer. Here you can see it, as you said mom, the simplicity, even austerity that surrounded Nietzsche’s house.”
“This is what I recalled, indeed, about this, in the end, great writer!”
“A literature teacher, what do you expect?” smiled Dan, winking at Ana and affectionately kissing his wife on the cheek.
“Wonderful, my dear,” Elena whispered to her. “Thank you for this extraordinary surprise!”
Dan nodded affirmatively, and then he kissed Ana on her forehead.
Shortly afterwards, the three went out of the museum, and stopped for a while in the courtyard admiring the view.
“A movie was filmed here,” said Dan. “Now I see why it is so sought. It is indeed of rare beauty!”
“We have our places as well,” added Elena. “From the Transfăgărășan, for example, the view is spectacular.”
“Yes, mother, it is. But, where do we stand with the holes in the roads?”
“Eh, never mind, don’t be such a growler,” smiled her father.
“Maybe in one hundred years the holes in the asphalt will disappear,” said her mother. “But I was talking about the landscape!”
They were headed towards the car, in a good mood and relaxed.
“One last stop before re-visiting St. Moritz. Toooo Silvaaa-plaaana,” said in a military rhythm Ana. They all laughed and went in the car even happier.
“How’s your hunger?” asked Ana.
“Eh, it’s alright!”
“I mean, can you hold it until St. Moritz? I want to take you to a restaurant that I like a lot.”
“Of course we can,” answered Elena. “At our age, we eat less and less.”
Indeed, both her parents were supple.
“What age?” pointed out Ana. “You are still young!”
“Ha, ha,” giggled Elena. “Young! Did you hear that, young man?”
“I’ve heard it, of course, because I am young. Ha, ha.”
“OK then, we’ll run quickly to my favorite bench on Silvaplana.”
The road back, until the crossroad with a roundabout, didn’t take more than a few minutes. Then started an ascending road on Via da Güglia, with a few turns that made Elena dizzy. However, she didn’t have time to complain, because soon Ana stopped her car in a small parking place. There was no one there, those who had admired the landscape before were just leaving when they arrived.
“Come, through here,” Ana told them.
A few meters away from the road, in a small clump of threes, there were two benches, from where one could admire the entire valley, the mountains from the other side, the lakes and the settlements that were down.
“Wow,” cried Ana’s parents at once. “Wow, it is so beautiful!”
“Look,” said Dan, acting like a child, looking towards the left, towards St. Moritz. “We can see all the way through to your apartment…”
“Or,” added Elena, looking the opposite way, “all the way through to Nietzsche’s house!”
Ana looked at them happy, smiling contentedly.
“I could get used to these wonders,” said Elena.
“Oh, definitely!” confirmed Dan.
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