بخش 55

کتاب: ملت عشق / فصل 55

بخش 55

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

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متن انگلیسی فصل

Ella

NORTHAMPTON, JUNE 15, 2008

Beloved Ella,

You asked me how I became a Sufi. It didn’t happen overnight.

I was born Craig Richardson in Kinlochbervie, a harbor village in the Highlands of Scotland. Whenever I think about the past, I fondly remember the fishing boats, their nets heavy with fish and strands of seaweed dangling like green snakes, sandpipers scurrying along the shore pecking at worms, ragwort plants growing in the most unexpected places, and the smell of the sea in the background, sharp and salty. That smell, as well as those of the mountains and lochs, and the dreary tranquillity of life in postwar Europe composed the background against which my childhood was set.

While the world tumbled heavily into the 1960s and became the scene of student demonstrations, hijackings, and revolutions, I was cut off from it all in my quiet, green corner. My father owned a secondhand-book store, and my mother raised sheep that produced high-quality wool. As a child I had a touch of both the loneliness of a shepherd and the introspectiveness of a bookseller. Many days I would climb an old tree and gaze out at the scenery, convinced that I would spend my whole life there. Every now and then, my heart would constrict with a longing for adventures, but I liked Kinlochbervie and was happy with the predictability of my life. How could I know that God had other plans for me?

Shortly after I turned twenty, I discovered the two things that would change my life forever. The first was a professional camera. I enrolled in a photography class, not knowing that what I saw as a simple hobby would become a lifelong passion. The second was love—a Dutch woman who was touring Europe with friends. Her name was Margot.

She was eight years my elder, beautiful, tall, and remarkably headstrong. Margot regarded herself as a bohemian, an idealist, a radical, a bis@xual, a leftist, an individualist anarchist, a multiculturalist, a human-rights advocate, a counterculture activist, an ecofeminist—labels I couldn’t even define should one ask me what they meant. But I had early on observed that she was one more thing: a pendulum woman. Capable of swinging from extreme joy to extreme depression in the span of a few minutes, Margot had unpredictability written all over her. Always furious at what she construed as “the hypocrisy of the bourgeois lifestyle,” she questioned every detail in life, waging battles against society. To this day it is still a mystery to me why I did not run away from her. But I didn’t. Instead I let myself get sucked into the whirling vortex of her animated personality. I was head over heels in love.

She was an impossible combination, full of revolutionary ideas, unbridled courage, and creativity, yet as fragile as a crystal flower. I promised myself to stay by her side and protect her not only from the outside world but also from herself. Did she ever love me as much as I loved her? I don’t think so. But I know she did love me in her own self-centered and self-destructive way.

This is how I ended up in Amsterdam at the age of twenty. We got married there. Margot dedicated her time to helping refugees who had found themselves in Europe for political or humanitarian reasons. Working for an organization that specialized in immigrants’ needs, she helped traumatized people from the most troubled corners of the world find their feet in Holland. She was their guardian angel. Families from Indonesia, Somalia, Argentina, and Palestine named their daughters after her.

As for me, I wasn’t interested in greater causes, being too busy working my way up the corporate ladder. After graduating from business school, I started working for an international firm. The fact that Margot didn’t care about my status or salary made me yearn even more for the trinkets of success. Hungry for power, I wanted to sink my teeth into important works.

I had our life completely planned out. In two years we would start having children. Two little girls completed my picture of an ideal family. I was confident of the future that awaited us. After all, we lived in one of the safest places on earth, not in one of those troubled countries that kept pumping immigrants into the European continent like a broken faucet. We were young, healthy, and in love. Nothing could go wrong. It is hard to believe I am fifty-four years old now and Margot is no longer alive.

She was the healthy one. A staunch vegan at a time when the word hadn’t been coined, she ate only healthy things, exercised routinely, stayed away from drugs. Her angelic face brimmed with health, her body was always thin, brisk, and angular. She took such good care of herself that despite the age difference between us, I looked older than she did.

She died a most unexpected and simple death. One night, on her way back from a visit to a famous Russian journalist who had applied for asylum, her car broke down in the middle of the highway. And she, who always abided by the rules, did something completely out of her character. Instead of putting on the flashers and waiting for help, she got out of the car and decided to walk to the next village. Wearing a taupe trench coat with dark trousers, she didn’t have a flashlight or anything that would make her more noticeable. A vehicle hit her—a trailer from Yugoslavia. The driver said he never saw her. So completely had Margot melted into the night.

I was a boy once. Love opened up my eyes to a more fulfilled life. After I lost the woman I loved, I metamorphosed drastically. Neither a boy nor an adult, I became a trapped animal. This stage of my life I call my encounter with the letter S in the word “Sufi.”

I hope I haven’t bored you with such a long letter.

Love,

Aziz

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