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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“Tell me the truth,” Ana, who had been waiting for her at the airport, confronted her after they kissed. “Did you have an affair in Boston?”
Azade returned to Zürich one week later than expected, therefore Ana was sure that she knew why she stayed there after the program ended.
Azade blushed, she smiled mysteriously, but she didn’t comment.
“Come on, tell me everything!” Ana insisted. “I can read it off your face…”
“Really, you can tell?!” she said eventually. “You can’t tell a thing. How could you?”
“You are more radiant than usual. And you know that you are radiant anyway. But now you are as glamorous as the sun, I can barely look at you.”
Ana took her big trolley, and she left the little one for her. Azade protested, but Ana insisted.
“Come on, you are probably tired from the road. And, maybe your boyfriend exhausted you as well,” she laughed.
Azade laughed, too. They were headed to the airport’s railway station. The train was arriving in ten minutes, so they had plenty of time to get there without hurrying.
“Well, how was it? I missed you, you know?”
“It was wonderful, and I missed you too. And Boston is such a beautiful city. If I were to choose between Boston and Zürich, hmm, I really don’t know what I would choose… Luckily I don’t have to.”
When Azade applied for the fellowship during her residency, she didn’t think, not even for one moment, that she was not going to get it, but she didn’t think of the fact itself either, that she will have to leave and that she will be away from Zürich for so many months. But when the positive answer came, she took the time and thought it through.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for me,” she told Ana.
“Yes, it is wonderful. I’m so happy for you!”
“But it is so difficult for me to leave now–”
“Come on, what are you talking about? It’s not like you are leaving forever. It’s just for a few months. And then you will come back to me,” Ana joked.
Azade laughed with her crystalline laughter.
“Of course I will come back,” she said earnestly. “You know I would never leave you! You are my best friend!”
“And you mine! And now, get started on the preparations, time goes by quickly, you won’t even realize when the next semester will start and you will have to leave soon. Where will you stay?”
“At least I don’t need to worry about accommodation. I was already given a room in the campus, a super dorm with single rooms. I will even get an office; it is right in the building next to the university’s library.”
“Oho! You will wear out those chairs!”
Azade laughed. She continued:
“And the hospital where I will work as an intern is also close. It’s a very well organized campus, you know, how they do it in the US.”
“Great. I will come visit. What? To miss an opportunity to see Boston?”
“Great. I insist that you do.”
“We’ll see. The important thing is for you to take care of yourself, be careful not to fall for some handsome American and never come back…”
Ana was so happy when Amanda accepted her invitation to come to Zürich and to stay with her for a few weeks.
“You can, are you sure you can?” Ana asked her over the phone.
“Yes, of course, I’m a freelancer. I make my own schedule,” she added.
“And isn’t Ioan going to be upset?”
“Eh, he will survive, dear thing. Now it’s my turn, he went abroad several times, and I can’t even remember when the last time I left home was.”
Amanda had given up her well-paid job in a multinational company, with headquarters in Germany, and which had opened a branch in Brașov, to start on her own as translator. Because she was so talented at foreign languages, fluent in six languages, plus several others she could handle, she was in contact with the biggest publishing houses, to translate to Romanian a large diversity of books.
Her favorite were love stories. Right now she was working on two texts, a novel originally written in Spanish and another one, originally written in Italian.
“I’ll take them with me,” she told Ana, “and I’ll work, every now and then, if I get the chance.”
“I’m so happy!” Ana cried. “I can’t wait to see you again. I haven’t seen you since forever.”
“I can hardly wait!” Amanda added. “Indeed we haven’t seen each other for a long time. When were you home last?”
“I believe it was three years ago…”
“Wow, it’s been a while.”
“How are you? How are you two doing?”
“Al right. Ioan works a lot, too much, kind of like I used to work before. Even though now I stay home more than he does, he is away most of the time, so we still don’t get to spend too much time together. It’s just that I am more relaxed now.”
“That is good. It is a shame, however that you spend so much time separated.”
“Yes, it is a big issue. But, other than that, we are OK. Anyway, we’ll have time to talk at leisure when we’ll meet–”
“I can’t wait!” cried Ana.
“Me neither,” answered, just as excited Amanda.
At first she didn’t even notice him at the welcome party thrown in her honor, but he approached her and he introduced himself. He was a tall, blond young man, with deep blue eyes and a sincere and irresistible smile.
“I am Bryan,” he told her.
“I get it you are coming from Zürich. But, in the end you don’t look Swiss.”
“It’s that obvious, isn’t it? No, I’m not from Switzerland; I’m just studying there… I’ve studied there for a lifetime, I could say.”
“And where are you from? Let me guess… Morocco?”
“No,” Azade giggled.
“I give up.”
“A little too fast,” she nodded. “Come on, you get three attempts.”
“Al right. Aaaa…”
Bryan took an extremely serious pose; he started thinking as if he was taking an exam.
Azade startled, the she patted him on the shoulder.
“Hey, you tricked me!”
Bryan laughed as well.
“Everybody knows where you are from, what do you think? When we were told that the valedictorian from Zürich, original from Duhok was coming, you can imagine that I said to myself: I have to meet this young lady. Definitely!”
“I can’t believe you tricked me,” Azade laughed. “And? Did you find what you expected?”
“Even more,” he whispered. “Even more!”
Azade blushed, pleasantly surprised.
“Tomorrow, at 9 a.m. what are you doing?”
“Well, I don’t know,” Azade stumbled.
“Perfectly, I’ll come get you, for a free tour of Boston!”
Azade didn’t protest, as her first instinct dictated. She was thinking that it was good to take a walk through Boston, to get to know the city a little, o breath for the first time the air of true freedom. Afterwards she will seriously get to work, and that’s that.
“Okay,” she agreed.
“Perfect,” said Bryan again.
Ana was at the gate of the terminal where Amanda was expected to show up. She was extremely nervous, as if she were waiting for her boyfriend. Memories from their youth and childhood, spent together, like two sisters, invaded her. She especially remembered a particular evening in their life, when they went to see a movie with the two boys courting them, Mircea and Ioan. The two were colleagues in the XII A at Honterus high school, whereas them, they were in XII B. Ana was so shy that Amanda had to insist a lot to convince her.
“You cannot leave me alone with two boys,” she told her.
“Well, tell Ioan that only he should come…”
“Come on, what could happen to you? We’re only going to see a movie, not on a desert island in the middle of the sea! Although, she smiled, I wouldn’t complain–”
“Cut it off–”
“To see that supple, tanned body,” continued Amanda impassibly, “wet by the sea’s water, and him swimming naked to catch fish for dinner…”
Ana was completely red.
“I know you as well want to see Mircea as–”
“Stop,” Ana threw a wet blanket on it again.
“As Mother Nature made him,” winked Amanda.
“You are insane,” Ana told her. “You need to go to a doctor, not to the movie.”
“I am very sane,” Amanda laughed. “Oh, yes, I am as sane as it gets. Dear, soon I will be 18! Can you imagine that that means I am going to be of age?”
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean that you have to mess around…”
“Who is messing around?” she said seriously. “We’re going to see a movie that is all.”
She lingered for a while and then she smiled mysteriously again:
“Although, I wouldn’t mind if…”
Ana stopped her from continuing, pinching her.
“Ouch,” Amanda exaggerated.
“Shhh, I don’t want to hear it,” Ana smiled at her. “If I come to the movies with you, I don’t want to hear a word about tanned skin, naked bodies, and definitely nothing about what you would do!”
“Why? It stirs you? You feel a tingling?” Amanda laughed loudly.
“Oh, I don’t know what to do with you,” Ana sighed.
But she left her to maunder, she knew she was only joking, and that she was actually a good girl. Even though she still had something of her rebel past, she had proved on so many occasions that she was no longer the girl she used to be, ready for any stupid thing. She had especially proved it at one party, where truth being said she drank a glass of wine and she was laughing a little too much, but when Jonny, as they used to call the host, of whom half the girls in their high school were dreaming, wanted to kiss her during the dance, she rejected him briefly and she left. Ana followed her, running.
“Wait for me,” she shouted. “I’m coming too.”
She reached her and she asked her:
“Didn’t you see? He was hitting on me. The nerve! What does he think I am?”
“I didn’t notice a thing; I only saw that you pushed him and that you left.”
“He put his hand on my butt and he tried to kiss me! He thought that I was going to faint, like that sucker Paula, everybody knows she is no longer a virgin, for and with him!”
“What a jerk,” said Ana bluntly. “How can he do that? Especially since they are together? Maybe he was drunk?”
“That’s no excuse,” Amanda almost screamed. “I know that from my experience! I know very well…”
“Okay, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you–”
“You didn’t upset me,” said Amanda in a calmer voice. “It was firstly that jerk who did it.”
She took a break.
“And, secondly, this pig.”
Ana looked at her, firstly surprised. Amanda started smiling. Ana understood immediately. She started laughing as well. Now, they were both laughing, disturbing the silent noise of the cars passing on Calea București.
“Come on, let’s take a taxi,” said Ana, seeing how many taxi cars were waiting for their customers in the taxi station.
“Wouldn’t you rather walk? It is a wonderful night after all.”
Indeed, it was quite worm for September, so Ana agreed.
“Will you sleep over?” she asked her.
“Of course, if you don’t mind…”
“What are you talking about? When did I ever mind?”
“That is right, my little sister!”
She hugged her, lovingly.
They started walking to Ana’s house.
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