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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“And what was your answer?” Ana asked impatiently.
Azade had told her at length about her fellowship in Boston, how she went on a trip to New York, about Bryan and about the job offer Professor Smith had made her. And about that day.
It was the day of going back home. ‘The home’ in Boston. Bryan was in the seventh heaven. Azade felt fulfilled.
They slept like rocks, without caring that breakfast was only served until ten a.m. No wonder, given the fact that the previous night had been so intense. Bryan, although he had had his share of lovers by then, he realized that until that night he didn’t really know what making love meant. And Azade, although it was her first time, centuries of tradition worked along her, starting from the legendary times of the One Thousand and One Nights, and mantled her with all their magic to unite her with Bryan in one entity.
The car was now going back, to Boston, purring softly. Bryan was watching the road, but at the same time he was body and soul closer to Azade. She smiled at him.
“What you want to hear,” she started, “you will hear.”
“That is more like it.”
“It’s the answer I promised to tell you first. But I want you to hear me out, otherwise you won’t understand everything.”
“Alright,” he said.
“Yesterday, when I descended from The Empire State Building, as you know, I talked to my parents.”
“I told you everything was alright,” Bryan rapidly added. “I told you, you had no reasons to be worried!”
“And you were right,” she confirmed. “Moreover, as you very well know, all the time, these days, I thought about what I am going to do next, what decision to take.”
Bryan nodded approving.
“The first decision is the basis of what happened between us was last night,” said Azade.
“It was the best decision you could have taken,” Bryan smiled at her lovingly.
“Indeed,” she confirmed. “It was wonderful.”
She stood thinking for a while, to relieve a bit of the previous night’s magic.
“And what happened is directly connected to what will happen next.”
Deep down, Bryan was optimistic. He didn’t want to express it, to let Azade say everything, but he now had big hopes that the decision was going to be a positive one.
“Therefore, I decided to finish my residency in Zürich, there are almost two years left. Afterwards, I will go back to work at home.”
‘Home’ sounded for Bryan like a hit in the nape of his neck. He couldn’t believe it, so he asked, to be sure:
“What does this mean?” he asked her for clarification.
“There is only one place that is truly home,” said Azade. “I am talking about my birthplace, not about the rented place, or about the internship. About Duhok, my home town.”
“But this is in Iraq…”
“Yes, in Iraqi Kurdistan, to be precise.
“What’s the difference?” Bryan snapped. “It doesn’t matter, it’s war everywhere.”
“It matters a lot,” she answered, “because people are the one making the difference. My best friend taught me a saying from her country ‘man sanctifies the place’. There is so much truth in this saying. Because, in fact, it all comes down to people. There is no country, as a geographical area, which does something good or bad. It is just geography. But the people leaving in that area, yes. They are responsible for everything, and they can transform the place into Hell: ‘man destroys the place’, or to Haven: ‘man sanctifies the place’.”
“And you are choosing to go to Hell, just like that?”
“No, I chose to go do my job there were people who hate Hell and fight against it need me the most.”
“But you are needed here as well. I need you!”
“That is why I have offered myself to you,” she said gently.
“No, that is not true. You gave me a gift of consolation.”
“Is that what you think?” she asked.
“How else should I interpret your gesture? And your decision? You don’t want to be with anyone, to give yourself to someone, and to promise yourself forever, only to then say you are leaving! I makes no sense.”
“No, you can’t see it. I gave myself to you because I chose to leave. And that is why I can leave, because I gave myself to you!”
“What you are saying makes no sense. From where I am looking, when you want to be with someone, you stay. You don’t leave…”
“You will understand someday, I hope,” said Azade.
“What is there to understand?” Bryan protested. “Explain it to me…”
“That I am yours. But, that we cannot be together yet, until we fulfill our destiny. And you, you will have to leave for the Air Force.”
“Yes, but I won’t be detached forever, not as you are leaving. And I will be safe, I will have the world’s strongest army watching my back. Whereas you won’t! Who will defend you? If something is to happen?”
“Nothing is going to happen to me, I’m not going to war myself. I will be in the refugees’ camps, to help people. There I will be at least as safe as you will be.”
“Why don’t you at least stay in Zürich?” Bryan tried something else. “You are happy there, people want you there, and you are already on an ascendant path. Switzerland is beautiful, and you love Zürich. How can you leave it for something so risk and unknown?”
“I do, indeed, love Zürich, and I like Boston too. But, despite this, I have chosen.”
Bryan didn’t know what else to say. All his hopes collapsed. It seemed unreal, that he was still sleeping in the hotel room, waiting to wake up. But it was real! Bryan felt deceived. His soul was wounded. He didn’t believe this would happen, but he wanted to cry. He was prepared for her to choose Zürich, although he had hoped so much that she would take Professor Smith’s offer, but the news of her choosing Duhok stunned him. Why had she given him such a night, how could she, after she had taken such a decision?
“Did you know about your decision last night? Or did you decide in the morning?”
“No. I knew last night.”
“But how did it occur to you? Was it your parents?” he rushed to ask.
“No,” she answered calmly. “They don’t even know yet, and I expect them to react as badly as you did.”
“Well, please forgive me for not reacting as you had hoped, but I cannot believe it. I keep waiting to wake up from this nightmare and it’s not happening. And, in the end, what would you have liked? For me to jump up with joy that you are leaving, especially there where is the worst?”
“No, I wanted you to understand, to support me, even though it hurts. Do you think I am not suffering?”
“Well, I don’t know, to be honest. Maybe you like suffering? Who gives up a career in medicine, at one of the most important University Hospitals in US, and not for a similar career at University Hospital in Zürich, but to go practice medicine at home, maybe sometimes only nurses work, or worse, of care taker, in a refugee camp. It’s a waste of talent. It is a betrayal of God who gave you such talent.”
“But I don’t believe in God,” said Azade empathetic.
“Then Allah, whatever.”
“No,” she stopped him to explain, “I don’t believe in gods. I only believe in people.”
“What people? People?! Who lay bombs, organize terrorist attacks, kill remorseless, creating the chaotic tragedy that led to the exodus of so many people to other countries and to refugees’ camps?”
“No, not in the first ones. I believe in the latter! I cannot stay away, do you understand? When my own kind needs so much help. Who will help them, if not us, the doctors who swore to do it?”
“I don’t know, the doctors there.”
“Think of it like this, if I were to have a contract as you do with Air Force, and they were to send me to Duhok. I couldn’t say no, could I?”
“It is only that you don’t have a contract,” he tried to avoid it.
“And why do you think it counts more if you are bounded by a contract than if you are bounded by an interior call?”
Bryan stopped talking. He stood thinking while driving his car out of reflex, like an auto-pilot. Azade left him to think. Finally, after a few minutes of silence, during which Bryan kept nodding, frowning, he said.
“You are right. I hate to say it, but it’s true…”
Azade put her left hand on his right hand. She knew it wasn’t easy for him to reach this conclusion, that it wasn’t easy to say it either.
“Please forgive me,” Bryan continued. “I left myself be blinded by worries, of my love for you, and I couldn’t see beyond it. But now I understand and you are right.”
“Thank you,” said Azade. “You don’t know how much your approval means to me. It is like an amulet, which will always remind me of you. And when things will calm down, because nothing lasts forever, we will be together again.”
“I’ll do everything it takes to visit you there as well. I’ll ask to be detached to Iraq!”
“I can’t wait to see you again, but until then, let’s enjoy all days that follow and that we will spend together.”
“Really?” asked Ana. “This is your decision?”
“Yes,” answered Azade.
Azade nodded yes, and Ana understood that nothing was going to make her change her mind.
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