فصل 15

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فصل 15

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN

The Names of the Dead

The main hall of the U.N. was full of people again. The interpreters were in their booths.

“Dr. Zuwanie, the President of Matobo, will continue his speech,” the U.N. Secretary-General said.

Zuwanie and Silvia walked to the front of the silent room. Zuwanie looked at the people in front of him, then he started to speak in Ku. Silvia interpreted his words into English.

“Nukwe wa Bamcha… Temsha wa Bamcha… killed by bombs. Bukewechu we Lali… Alexander Mungoshi… shot by soldiers. Stambuli wa Tikuu… Ruth Kufomo… killed for crimes against Matobo.”

Tobin stood at the back of the hall and listened.

Zuwanie continued. “Edgar Sekuu… Avu wa Mfusani…”

“Killed in their home by a bomb,” Silvia interpreted.

There were microphones inside the hall, so the protesters outside the building could hear Zuwanie’s words.

“He’s reading a list of the names of the dead,” one protester whispered. “He’s saying that he murdered them.”

Inside, too, people were beginning to understand.

“Zimwe wa Ngwama… Dukura wa Mboko… holding a newborn child,” Zuwanie said in Ku. “I don’t know its name.” And then in English: “I’m sorry.” He looked at Silvia.

He read the names for a long time. Finally he said, “Simon Broome,” and Silvia repeated, in English, “… shot to death.”

Two days later, the sun was shining on New York, Tobin was outside the U.N. building, watching the river.

Silvia came out and walked over to him. “Hi,” she said. Tobin turned around. “Hi,” he said. “What happened?”

“It was OK,” she replied. “They told me what you said. You don’t think I’m dangerous.”

“Yes,” Tobin said. “I lied.” They both smiled. “Thank you,” Silvia said. “Are you at work again?” Tobin asked.

“No,” Silvia said. “They didn’t believe you. I’m going home.”

“Home? To Africa?”

“Yes,” Silvia said quietly. “I miss it. I never had the time to tell you. I miss the animals at night, the rain, the smells.”

“We’ve got rain here, and smells,” Tobin said and pointed at the river. “There’s nobody there for you in Africa, is there?”

“No,” she said. “But I can remember them there.”

“You can remember people anywhere,” Tobin said. Silvia understood that he was thinking about his wife. She touched his arm. “My job has changed,” he continued. “Who am I protecting? I need to know. Maybe I need a change.”

“Have you visited Africa?”

Tobin laughed. “I was born in New York, and I went to school on the same street. Then I came across the river to Manhattan. It’s not far.”

“You’re a traveler,” Silvia smiled. “I’ve known you for five or six days - it feels much longer.”

“When are you leaving?” Tobin asked.

“Tomorrow,” Silvia said.

“Will you be safe? Is there another Zuwanie in Matobo?”

“No. That can’t happen. We won’t let it.”

Tobin smiled at her. “You’re already there, aren’t you?” he said softly. Then he pointed at the water. “Hey, look - we’re on the same side of the river now.”

“Will you be OK?” Silvia asked. “Will you tell me?”

She turned to leave, but he stopped her. He pulled her close and kissed her, then she moved away.

“You’ll always know,” Tobin said.

Silvia walked a few steps away from him and then stopped again. “What was her name? Your wife?” she asked.

“Laurie Keller,” Tobin said. “Killed in a car accident in Santa Fe. Twenty-three days ago.”

Silvia smiled sadly at him and said a few words in Ku.

Tobin guessed the meaning. “Rest in peace,” he said.

Silvia walked away toward the U.N. gates. She didn’t look at him again, but she was still smiling. Tobin looked back at the calm, wide river and across it toward Africa.

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