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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When she saw that Bryan was going pass the Majestic Theatre building as well, Azade asked herself “I wonder what he’s planning. To what musical does he want to take me?” Bryan read the impatience off her face and he started laughing.
“What?” asked Azade. “Tell me!”
“I’m all confused,” he answered. “I don’t know where to now.”
“What?!” cried Azade.
“I’m just joking,” he answered quickly, not to push it too much.
Then he pointed with his hand backwards, towards the theatre they had just passed by.
A huge poster with The Phantom of the Opera was sitting in state in the middle of the building. Azade’s face lid up.
“We are going here? To see The Phantom of the Opera?” she cried, happily.
Bryan nodded yes. Azade clapped her hands, enthusiastic and jumped in his arms. She gave him a peck on the cheek. Those around were looking at them amused, but Azade didn’t even notice that all eyes were on her. She could still be as happy as a child, without simulated demureness.
“It is wonderful,” cried Azade.” I always wanted to see The Phantom of the Opera. I missed it when it was in Basel, because I got to Switzerland later. Then I kept planning to see it at Oberhausen, but I never found the time to do it…”
“I am happy, you now get to see it straight from the tin, here on Broadway!” Bryan told her.
He gave her a fugitive peck on the check as well and they both headed towards the entry.
“Are you ready to enter a magical land, Fräulein?”
– Natürlich, I can barely wait, dear gentleman,” she answered in German.
“Let’s not get into details, he said, in good spirits. ‘Danke’ is the last word I know in German.”
Azade laughed clear as a bell. People around could not refrain from thinking: “What a wonderful couple!”
They got to their seats a few minutes before the show started.
“It is considered to be one of the best musicals on Broadway, of all times,” Bryan whispered to her. “And it is very likely that it will surpass ‘Cats’ in top ‘longest running musicals on Broadway’.”
Azade nodded, to indicate she agreed. All her face radiated happiness. If she were to be a mystic during his prayers, any observer could have sworn that a divine light was glowing on her face. But in her case, the light was coming from inside, unmistakable and unstoppable.
For as long as the show was running, Azade seemed to have stopped breathing. But when it was over, she stood up and applauded until all other viewers stopped. It was only then when she stopped as well. She was so happy.
“I am very happy,” she confessed to Bryan.
“I’m so glad,” he said, “I am happy too.”
“Yes, but not as happy as I am,” she said as they were going out.
New York’s air greeted them. It was a warm greeting, just like the temperature that night.
Bryan took a deep breath.
“No other season is as beautiful as autumn in New York,” he said.
“It is indeed very nice outside,” Azade agreed.
“Do you want to go change this gala outfits, I had enough of this tuxedo,” Bryan smiled, “and then go out somewhere, maybe dancing? In a club, or in a bar where one can also dance?”
“Hmm, I would like that, how could I not, but I must confess I am not much of a dancer.”
“Then you are my ideal partner, because I am not much of a dancer either.”
“Really? Then it is settled!” cried Azade.
Five minutes later they were in their rooms, and after five more minutes they were in front of the hotel, looking towards the left and right and considering which way to go.
“We have at least two options,” said Bryan. “The first one, we take a taxi and ask the driver to take us to the most famous Manhattan club. The second, we start walking the streets and let faith decide which is the most appropriate bar…”
“Chances are high, aren’t they? After all, we are in New York.”
“Yes, probably. And there is a third option. In fact combined with the second: we take 7th Avenue, towards Central Park, until the West Dr. Entry, it won’t be more than fifteen minutes of slow walking. And if on our way we find something that might work, we enter. If we like it, we stay. If not, we go take a walk through Central Park.”
“A wonderful idea,” said Azade. “I like it.”
“Then it’s settled?”
“Yes, absolutely, we have a deal!”
“Good, then let’s start. This way!”
Azade didn’t grab his arm, as before, but she didn’t oppose him taking her hand, for the first time. This gesture, so simple that even the teenagers who smoked laughing out loud in front of a bar, from where a lot of noise was coming, would have run a saw on it if they knew, deeply shuddered Bryan. Bryan felt as if he were in high school all over again, when he was first in love. His great and only love, he used to say back then. Lost and, consequently, he felt lost as well. Until he fell in love again and was lost again, namely, until he realized that in fact there was nothing serious at that age. Now, however, more mature and responsible, he knew that it wasn’t only the illusion of a hebetic love, and that this time it was real love.
Azade, on the other side, as she never had time or thoughts for boys and their love, had never experienced delusion, but she had never had any expectations either. It seemed natural for her to do things at due time: first school, then residency and specialty, and only afterwards, after she would get a job, love, marriage, children, in one word, family. However, she was now holding Bryan’s hand, which gave her a strange feeling that she never had before. She felt embarrassed, so that eventually she took her hand away.
“Don’t get upset,” she said to Bryan, “but it’s just not the right moment.”
“Why?” Bryan asked her.
“Let’s make a deal,” she said without answering. “Since we came to New York to enjoy ourselves, we won’t let anything spoil our good mood. Alright?”
“Agrees, I see nothing bad about it. But…?”
“But,” continued Azade, “I will tell you what I have decided on our way back.”
“Aha, you already decided?”
“No,” Azade stopped him. “In fact I haven’t. I should have said: what I will decide. Believe me, it’s not easy, I know you won’t like it and that you will feel excluded, but I must take this decision by myself. That is why I am not going to include it in this wonderful trip of ours, because it could ruin it.”
“But I don’t want you to feel abandoned–”
“No, “Azade interrupted him again. “I know you are by my side. I know it! And I also know that if you want to help me, you must let me think about it when I am by myself, without you intervening.”
Azade looked at him with pleading eyes.
“Please,” she said out loud as well, so as to make everything clear.
“Alright,” Bryan promised her. “If that is what you really want, I won’t bring it up.”
“That is what I want and thank you for being by my side. I promise that if I have any questions, or even the slightest concern that you might spread light upon, I will come to you and ask.”
“You can come any time, be it day or night,” Bryan told her.
“Thank you,” Azade answered simply.
Simply, indeed, but the way she knew how to thank said more than one hundred words.
At a crossroad there was on the left street, almost ten meters away, the entry to a club. It looked alright from outside, it was quiet. Bryan pointed to it with his eyes.
“What do you say? Should we give it a try?”
“Yes,” agreed Azade.
They went left, on that street and walked in front of the club. They opened the door that opened to a long inclined hallway where there was no one. But one could hear, from deep underground the sound of music and of voices.
“Hmm, I wonder what is here,” Bryan said mostly to himself.
As they got closer to the door that separated the hallway from the street, the sound of music was clearer. There weren’t any heavy rhythms, but it didn’t seem appropriate for dancing. At least not for the sort of dance they were thinking about. They wanted the kind of music that would make them jump, not a slow one as they could hear clearer now, in this place.
When Bryan opened the door, Azade remained shocked in the doorway.
“Ups,” Bryan said as well.
On the small stage there was a band playing, otherwise very good, a sweet, soft song. A few couples were dancing lecherous in front of the stage; others were sitting at the tables, with eyes lost. On the right part of the stage, Bryan thought he saw two completely naked girls, but it was quite semi-obscure to see clear. On the wall next to the entry, near the place they had stopped two youngsters were kissing intensely, each with one hand in the pants of the other. Azade couldn’t even realize if they were two boys, two girls, or one boy and a girl, because she rapidly turned around.
Bryan went after her, not knowing what to say.
When he finally came up with her, outside, Azade was smiling, and that calmed him down.
“What was that?” she asked, this time quite cheerful.
“I have no idea,” Bryan answered. “Probably we got to the wrong club.”
“I have no problem with these youngsters, it’s their business,” said Azade, “however I am not into this type of fun.”
“Oh, neither am I.”
“You know what?” said Azade. “I think I just lost my appetite for going in bars. Let’s not stop until we reach Central Park.”
“I agree,” said Bryan relieved.
For a moment, he thought that Azade was going to get upset or maybe suspect that he knew about that club or how knows what she might believe. But her reaction calmed him down, and now that she wanted to go on to Central Park fully reassured him that everything was alright.
However he felt the need to say:
“I apologize. I swear I had no idea about that place.”
“I believe you, don’t worry, it’s alright.”
For a few more steps they walked in silence, until Azade broke the silence.
“But if they were now already in that stage, I wonder what is going to happen next,” and she burst into laughter.
“They will mingle until they will no longer know which one is who,” Bryan laughed as well.
That is how they entered Central Park, in a very good mood. Laughing and scaring off two raccoons that were walking on the alley. They scuttled in the tall grass next to the alley that separated it from water.
“Look, what are those?” Azade asked.
“I think they were raccoons,” said Bryan. “I didn’t get a chance to see them too well…”
Azade went closer to the grass.
“I can’t see them anymore,” she said. “They were so cute!”
“They ran, they hid.”
Bryan sat on a nearby bench. Azade joined him.
“They don’t like our company either, just like we didn’t like that of others,” said Azade. “But this doesn’t make any of us wither better, or worse.”
“That is right,” said Bryan.
“I believe that a human being should be measures, so to say, according to its deeds. Not according to what he or she is wearing, what jewelries he or she is wearing and where he or she is wearing them. If one wants to wear them in the nose, that’s a personal choice, how is that bothering me or others?”
“You are right,” Bryan agreed again.
“And if some are different than most, for example transvestites or gays, how is that bothering anyone else, as long as they, heterosexuals, aren’t bothered by anybody? Of course, I stand against the invasion of personal space, for example if a girl would hit on me just because she is gay, I would be bothered. But, just as much, I would be bothered if a man would invade my peace just because I am a woman and he is a man and he believes that the laws of nature are on his side.”
“But if people don’t bother me, if they mind their own sexuality, what did they do wrong? Why don’t others leave them alone? You know that where I come from, well, not my city, nor Hewlêr, but in some rural areas, or in other countries, some dangerously neighboring, homosexuality is illegal and it is even punished by death?”
“I know! That is terrible!”
“Yes, it is frightening. It’s the same for adultery! There are places where women are killed, and not anyway, but in the cruelest manner, with stones, according to tradition, with the participation of many of those in the community, just because her husband suspects an adultery or because he wants to get rid of her! A trial is not considered necessary, and, more often than not is just a quasi-trial where men deliberate without the victim being able to defend itself, without a lawyer and so on. And anytime one stands up to ask for equal rights for everybody, there are many prepared to cut their upsurge, because they are powerful and they invoke even stronger powers like Allah or other deities. And, the problem is that they have may, too may followers that are capable of anything…”
“Don’t be upset for me saying this, but I cannot even imagine how it is like to live in such places.”
“I will tell you how it is, it is atrocious. And as if centuries of tradition when the injustice of government didn’t suffice, as if all bad things that happen to people in that part of the world, forgotten by gods and tormented by faith wouldn’t suffice, the plague of terrorism has fallen over.”
“Then, what do you think? Do you agree with the participation of American troops in the war against terrorism, like in Afghanistan or Iraq?”
“If the real reason is oil or other interests, then I don’t agree, of course! But if they are really motivated by their wish to save human lives, to change a dictatorial regime with a democratic one, then I agree with their involvement, but I don’t agree with war. Other reasons methods be considered, not only those involving the army, because violence generates violence. I know it is said that there is no other way, but fighting should be the last resort, after everything else has failed. From my point of view, it shouldn’t even get to fighting… I don’t know, economic sanctions, diplomatic actions, I have no idea. I am not very good at politics,” Azade added. “Anyway, I am a doctor, therefore I am not, and I cannot agree with murdering people. I want to save people’s lives, to help people!”
She stopped. It seemed that she had already said too much, that she had spoken too passionately. Bryan looked at her with admiration. Her face was dimly bright due to the street lamp next to them, but again it seemed as if she blazed a light which could not be seen with the naked eye, only felt with a pure heart. Again he would have liked to kiss her, but for who knows how many times before, he retrained again from doing it.
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