بخش 59

کتاب: ملت عشق / فصل 59

بخش 59

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 5 دقیقه
  • سطح سخت

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل

Ella

NORTHAMPTON, JUNE 17, 2008

Beloved Ella,

You were kind enough to ask me to tell you more. Frankly, I do not find it easy to write about this period of my life for it brings back unwanted memories. But here it is:

After Margot’s death my life underwent a dramatic change. Losing myself in a circle of addicts, becoming a regular at all-night parties and dance clubs in an Amsterdam I had never known before, I looked for comfort and compassion in all the wrong places. I became a night creature, befriended the wrong people, woke up in strangers’ beds, and lost more than twenty-five pounds in just a few months.

The first time I sniffed heroin, I threw up and got so sick I couldn’t keep my head up the whole day. My body had rejected the drug. It was a sign but I was in no state to see it. Before I knew it, I had replaced sniffing with injections. Marijuana, hashish, acid, cocaine—I tried whatever I could get my hands on. It didn’t take me long to make a mess of myself, mentally and physically. Everything I did, I did to stay high.

And when high I planned spectacular ways to kill myself. I even tried hemlock, in the manner of Socrates, but either its poison didn’t have an effect on me or the dark herb I bought at the back door of a Chinese takeout was some ordinary plant. Perhaps they sold me some kind of green tea and had a laugh at my expense. Many mornings I woke up in unfamiliar places with someone new by my side, but with the same emptiness eating me up inside. Women took care of me. Some were younger than me, others much older. I lived in their houses, slept in their beds, stayed in their summer resorts, ate the food they cooked, wore their husbands’ clothes, shopped with their credit cards, and refused to give them even a speck of the love they demanded and no doubt deserved.

The life I had chosen quickly took its toll. I lost my job, I lost my friends, and finally I lost the apartment Margot and I had spent many happy days in. When it became apparent that I couldn’t bear this lifestyle anymore, I stayed in squat houses where everything was collective. I spent more than fifteen months at one squat house in Rotterdam. There were no doors in the building, neither outside nor inside, not even in the bathroom. We shared everything. Our songs, dreams, pocket money, drugs, food, beds … Everything but the pain.

Years into a life of drugs and debauchery, I hit rock bottom, a shadow of the man I used to be. As I was washing my face one morning, I stared into the mirror. I had never seen anybody so young who was so drained and sad. I went back to bed and cried like a child. The same day I rummaged through the boxes where I kept Margot’s belongings. Her books, clothes, records, hairpins, notes, pictures—one by one, I bade farewell to every keepsake. Then I put them back in boxes and gave them away to the children of the immigrants she cared so deeply about. It was 1977.

With the help of God-sent connections, I found a job at a well-known travel magazine as a photographer. This is how I embarked on a journey to North Africa with a canvas suitcase and a framed picture of Margot, running away from the man I had become.

Then a British anthropologist I met in the Saharan Atlas gave me an idea. He asked me if I had ever considered being the first Western photographer to sneak into the holiest cities of Islam. I didn’t know what he was talking about. He said there was a Saudi law that strictly forbade non-Muslims from entering Mecca and Medina. No Christians or Jews were allowed, unless one found a way to break in to the city and take pictures. If caught, you could go to jail, or even worse. I was all ears. The thrill of trespassing into forbidden territory, achieving what no one else had accomplished before, the surge of adrenaline, not to mention the fame and money that would come at the end … I was attracted to the idea like a bee drawn to a pot of honey.

The anthropologist said I could not do this alone and needed a connection. He suggested checking the Sufi brotherhoods in the area. You never know, they might agree to help, he said.

I didn’t know anything about Sufism, and I couldn’t have cared less. As long as they offered to help, I was happy to meet the Sufis. To me they were just a means to an end. But then, at the time, so was everyone and everything else.

Life is odd, Ella. In the end I never made it to Mecca or Medina. Not then, not later. Not even after I converted to Islam. Destiny took me on a different route altogether, one of unexpected twists and turns, each of which changed me so profoundly and irrevocably that after a while the original destination lost its significance. Though motivated by purely materialistic reasons at the outset, when the journey came to an end, I was a transformed man.

As for the Sufis, who could have known that what I had initially seen as a means to an end would very soon become an end in itself? This part of my life I call my encounter with the letter u in the word “Sufi.”

Love,

Aziz

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