بخش 88کتاب: ملت عشق / فصل 88
- زمان مطالعه 13 دقیقه
- سطح سخت
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
BOSTON, JULY 3, 2008
Boston had never been this colorful and vibrant, Ella thought. Had she been blind to the city’s beauty all this time? Aziz spent five days in Boston. Every day Ella drove from Northampton to Boston to see him. They had tasty, modest lunches in Little Italy, visited the Museum of Fine Arts, took long walks on Boston Common and the Waterfront, watched the whales in the aquarium, and had coffee after coffee in the busy, small cafés of Harvard Square. They talked endlessly on subjects as diverse as the curiosities of local cuisines, different meditation techniques, aboriginal art, gothic novels, bird-watching, gardening, growing perfect tomatoes, and the interpretation of dreams, constantly interrupting and completing each other’s sentences. Ella didn’t remember ever talking so much with anyone.
When they were outside on the street, they took care not to touch each other, but that proved to get increasingly difficult. Small peccadilloes became exciting, and Ella started looking forward to a brush of their hands. Goaded by a strange courage she never knew she had in her, in restaurants and on the streets Ella held Aziz’s hand, kissed his lips. Not only did she not mind being seen, it felt as if a part of her longed to be seen. Several times they returned to the hotel together, and on each occasion they came very close to making love, but they never did.
The morning of the day Aziz was going to fly back to Amsterdam, they were in his room, his suitcase standing between them like a nasty reminder of the parting to come.
“There’s something I need to tell you,” Ella said. “I’ve been thinking about this for too long.”
Aziz raised one eyebrow, acknowledging the sudden shift in Ella’s tone. Then he said carefully, “There’s something I need to tell you, too.”
“Okay, you go first.”
“No, you go first.”
Still smiling her half smile, Ella lowered her gaze, contemplating what to say and how to say it. Finally she started. “Before you came to Boston, David and I went out one evening and had a long talk. He asked me about you. Apparently he read our e-mails without my knowledge. I was incredibly angry at him for that, but I didn’t deny the truth. About us, I mean.” Now Ella raised her eyes with apprehension to see how Aziz would react to what she was about to reveal. “To make a long story short, I told my husband that I loved another man.”
Outside on the street, the sirens of several fire trucks broke the usual sounds of the city. Ella was distracted momentarily, but then she was able to finish. “It sounds crazy, I know, but I’ve been thinking this over very carefully. I want to come with you to Amsterdam.” Aziz walked to the window and looked down at the hurrying and bustle outside. There was smoke coming out of one of the buildings in the distance—a thick black cloud hovering in the air. He silently prayed for the people who lived there. When he started to speak, it sounded as if he were addressing the entire city.
“I would love to take you to Amsterdam with me, but I cannot promise you a future there.”
“What do you mean?” Ella asked nervously.
At this, Aziz walked back, sat by her side, put his hand on hers, and as he caressed it absentmindedly, said, “When you first wrote to me, it happened to be a very strange time in my life.”
“You mean there is someone else in your life …?”
“No, sweetheart, no.” Aziz smiled a little, and then the smile faded. “It’s nothing like that. I once wrote to you about the three stages in my life, remember? Those were the first three letters in the word ‘Sufi.’ You never asked me about the fourth stage, and hard as I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to tell you. My encounter with the letter i. Would you like to listen to it now?” “Yes,” Ella said, although she feared anything and everything that could disrupt this moment. “Yes, I would.”
In a hotel room on that day in July, a few hours prior to his flight back to Amsterdam, Aziz told Ella how he had become a Sufi in 1977, adopting a new name for himself and also, as he had hoped, a new destiny. Ever since then he had traveled the world as a photographer by profession, a wandering dervish at heart. He had made close friends on six continents, people who saw him as part of their family. Though he hadn’t married again, he had become the foster father of two orphans in Eastern Europe. Never taking off the necklace in the shape of the sun that he wore to remind him of Shams of Tabriz, Aziz had lived life by traveling, reading, and teaching in the footsteps of Sufi dervishes, encountering signs of God everywhere and in everything.
Then, two years ago, he learned about his sickness.
It started with a lump in his armpit, which apparently he was late to notice. The lump turned out to be a malignant melanoma, a fatal form of skin cancer. The doctors said it didn’t look good, but they had to run several tests before giving him a more definite diagnosis. A week later they returned with bad news: The melanoma had spread to his internal organs and invaded his lungs.
At the time he was fifty-two. He was told he would not make it past fifty-five.
Ella moved her lips to say something, but the words did not come out and her mouth felt bone dry. Two tears rolled down her cheeks, which she quickly wiped off.
Aziz kept speaking, his tone firm and urgent. He said thus commenced a new, and in some ways a more productive, phase in his life. There were still places he wanted to see, and the first thing he did was find a way to get to them all. He established a Sufi foundation in Amsterdam with worldwide connections. As an amateur ney player, he gave concerts with Sufi musicians in Indonesia, Pakistan, and Egypt and even made an album with a group of Jewish and Muslim mystics in Córdoba, Spain. He went back to Morocco and visited the lodge where he had met real Sufis for the first time in his life. Master Sameed was long dead, and Aziz prayed and meditated by his grave, contemplating on the trajectory his life had followed.
“Then I retreated to write the novel I had always wanted to write but, in my laziness or lack of courage, had postponed endlessly,” said Aziz with a wink. “You know, it was one of those things I had wanted to do for a long time. I named the book Sweet Blasphemy and sent it to a literary agency in America, not expecting much and at the same time feeling open to all possibilities. A week later I received an intriguing e-mail from a mystery woman in Boston.” Ella couldn’t help but smile. A weak smile of respectful compassion, tender and pained.
Aziz said ever since that moment nothing had been the same. From a man getting ready to die, he had turned into a man falling in love at a most unexpected time. Suddenly all the pieces that he thought he’d long ago put into place had to be moved. Spirituality, life, family, mortality, faith, and love—he found himself rethinking their meanings again and not wanting to die.
This new and final stage of his life he called his encounter with the letter i in the word “Sufi.” And he said so far this stage had proved to be much more difficult than all the earlier ones, because it had come at a time when he thought he’d worked through most, if not all, of his inner conflicts, a time when he thought he was spiritually mature and fulfilled.
“In Sufism you learn how to die before death. I have gone through each of those stages, step by step. Then, just when I start to think I’ve got it all neatly sorted, here comes this woman out of nowhere. She writes to me, and I write back. After each e-mail I start waiting for her answer with bated breath. Words become more precious than ever. The whole world turns into a blank screen, waiting to be written upon. And I realize I want to get to know this person. I need more time with her. Suddenly my life is not enough anymore. I realize I am scared of death, and one part of me is ready to rebel against the God I have revered and submitted to.” “But we will have time.… ” Ella said when she found her voice.
“My doctors tell me I have sixteen months,” Aziz said, lightly but firmly. “They might be wrong. Or they might be right. I cannot know. You see, Ella, all I can give you is the present moment. That is all I have. But the truth is, no one has more than that. It is just that we like to pretend we do.” Ella peered down at her feet, leaning sideways, as if part of her were about to fall down and part of her resisted. She started to cry.
“Don’t, please. I wanted you to come with me to Amsterdam more than anything. I wanted to say, ‘Let’s travel the world together. Let’s see distant lands, get to know other people and admire God’s composition together.’ ” “That would be nice,” Ella said sniffing, like a child offered some bright-colored toy in the midst of her wailing.
Aziz’s face darkened. He looked away from her toward the window.
“But I was afraid to ask you. I was even afraid to touch you, let alone make love. How could I ask you to be with me and abandon your family when I had no future to offer you?”
Cringing at his question, Ella said, “Why are we being so pessimistic? You can fight this illness. You can do it for me. For us.”
“Why do we have to fight everything?” Aziz wanted to know. “We’re always talking about fighting inflation, fighting AIDS, fighting cancer, fighting corruption, fighting terrorism, even fighting extra pounds.… Don’t we have any other way of dealing with things?” “I’m not a Sufi,” Ella croaked impatiently, her voice sounding like the voice of someone else, someone older.
At that moment many thoughts crossed her mind: the death of her father, the pain of losing a loved one to suicide, the years and years of resentment and regret that followed, sifting through every little bit of memory of the one who is dead, wondering if things could have been any different had those details been shuffled differently somewhere.
“I know you’re not a Sufi.” Aziz smiled. “And you don’t have to be one. Just be Rumi. That’s all I’m asking of you.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Some time ago you asked me if I was Shams, remember? You said I reminded you of him. As happy as I was to hear that, I cannot be Shams. I think he was way beyond and above me. But you can be Rumi. If you let love take hold of you and change you, at first through its presence, then through its absence—” “I’m not a poet,” Ella said this time.
“Rumi wasn’t a poet either. But he was transformed into one.”
“Don’t you get it? I’m just a housewife, for God’s sake, a mother of three,” Ella exclaimed, breathing in huge gulps.
“We’re all what we are,” murmured Aziz. “And we’re all subject to change. It is a journey from here to there. You can make that journey. And if you are brave enough and if I am brave enough, we can go to Konya together in the end. That is where I want to die.” Ella gasped. “Stop talking like that!”
Aziz watched her for a moment, and then his eyes dropped. There was a new expression on his face now, a distance in his tone, as if he were swiftly drifting away, like a dry leaf at the mercy of the wind.
“Or else,” he said slowly, “go home, Ella. Go back to your children and your house. You decide, love. Whatever you choose, I will respect your decision and I will love you till the end.”
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