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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 20 page 10

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I walk away from Azad, my thoughts full of our conversation. For hours, I repeat his words in my mind and picture different scenarios to how the conversation might have unfolded. I chew it over and over again until night-time.

As the evening gets darker, suddenly I hear someone imitate a hyena sound. My heart tells me it is Azad. Though it is dark, love guides me to where the sound comes from. He is there — Azad! He stands next to the tree trunk where he reads with a lighter in his hand that he lights near his face so I recognise him.

Silently we walk hand in hand, until we choose a place that can pick up an internet signal so we can play music on YouTube. We stray far from the group, we gather wood and bushes, we light a fire. By its light we sit, and I look at the flecks of ambrose in Azad’s pitch-black eyes. I rest my head on his shoulder, close my eyes, lose myself in him and in what I never knew until now: love.

“I am confused between two moons, about which of them is more beautiful: you or the one in the sky,” Azad whispers into my ear. My eyes go into trance, so does my heart, my soul, my entire me. I melt in Azad’s lap, like the ice-cream I eat in August in Aleppo.

Azad looks down every time I try to gaze into his gazelle eyes. He protects me, not because his world teaches him he has to, but because he cares. He knows that smugglers are a pack of wolves around women of the group and wait for any chance to attack them.

Azad seemed to treat me differently than I was used to from other men. “I don’t want to force my protection on you,” he said, “but you are welcome to tell me of any bother.”

“I am fine.”

“Just so you know, I am here for you. If you need me.”

That extra care from Azad not to force his manhood on me, not to make me an object that needs protection, to give me a choice, is to assure my identity, my humanity. The Syrian war I detested and abhorred — but without that war, how could I have met Azad?

Dawn approaches. “Tomorrow buses will come to take us to Macedonia,” Azad says sadly.

“Where in Europe do you want to go?” I ask him.

“Germany. You?”

“England. Go to Germany if you like, but before that, leave a seed inside me. Take my virginity.”

“You lost your mind?” Azad replies with eyebrows up.

“If not England, I don’t know where I will be in Europe. Watch your Facebook. We will find each other.”

“You’re serious?”

“Absolutely. I read that in Britain during the World War young people rushed to have sex, it was now or never, or else they might die before they tasted that pleasure.”

“Okay.”

“Look into my eyes as you do it.”

Azad’s black eyes dig into mine. I undo the abaya, unfasten the shirt, let loose my skirt and lie back. I guide Azad to my body, as if I have made love thousand times before. As if Azad has been my lover since the first drop of blood coloured my thighs. The smell of Azad is unique, different to everything else. This is how a man body smells. My lips walk on his eyebrows, nose, ears, then I pull Azad’s hair to bring his head close to mine and we kiss.

I bury my head deep in Azad’s chest to hear his heartbeat rise. He attempts to speak. “Hussssshhhhh,” I say with a finger on his lips.

With my strong thighs, I encircle Azad’s waist, press tight then push him inside me. I push so hard for my virginity to break.

Hot breath warms my face when he sighs in relief. He finishes to leave a mixture of sweat, sperm and blood inside me.


—♦—


A few weeks later, Azad sends a message. He is in Germany. I am in England.

“Your remark, ‘Go to Germany if you like, but before that, take my virginity’: still I remember, still I feel astonishment. You remind me of spring. I had a dream about you where you sit on a chair, you sit in contemplation. Passers-by eye you up and down, never to understand your thoughts. A child chases a balloon, a pink balloon. A flower seller begs a couple to buy a rose. In the river, a fish catches a scrap of bread. You see a leaf fall by your side. An old man sits beside you. ‘Young girl,’ he says, ’there are two ways, choose one.’ You choose and leave, but where to, I don’t know. I love you Houda.”

“I got what I wished for,” I replied to him. “I am pregnant. I love you too.”