Excerpt from Chapter VII: “Guten Tag,” he said in an official tone.
“Guten Tag,” my parents said together as the agent looked through our passports. He turned the pages of one booklet, scanning each page carefully, then flipped back to the first page.
“You’re not finding a visa because we don’t have one,” my father said.
What? I wanted to call out. My mind began to race faster than my heart.
“We’re seeking asylum,” my father said calmly.
The young agent continued to stare at my father; it made me feel we were the Von Trapp family, in the middle of a cathedral cemetery, at the mercy of Rolph’s dilemma. Finally, the agent called out to one of his colleagues to take his position and waved for us to follow him. From the second-floor glass window, we could see the reunited families on the other side of Passport Control. A tall man in a navy jacket and chapeau stood below, alone, looking up in our direction. It’s him, I thought, Pari joon’s brother.
And suddenly, she was there too, her voice washing over me like a wave, her chant as loud as the announcements that were flying over the speakers.
I dive into ‘We Insist’ and become one with the cello beats, my heartbeats..the urgency, the moment.. linking us to our fate.
Thank you Zoe!
Excerpt from Chapter VI: Why isn’t he coming?” my mother said finally after the third hour had come and gone.
“Maybe,” I said, “there’s a lot of traffic,” a response that only elicited a distracted nod.
Or maybe some secret police followed us from the border this morning, I said to myself, and has stopped him somewhere to question him. Maybe that’s why it was so easy to leave Pakistan and enter India.
“You know how crazy people drive, always cutting in,” I said. “He’s just stuck in traffic.”
Or lying in some car wreck or hospital.
“I think that plane moved,” Joubin said from the window.
“Right,” I said.
“It did,” he said, squinting. “Just a little.”
“Where do you think Layla is now?” I asked my mother.
Probably still in Lahore,” my mother said.
“Wish she was here now,” I said. Her faraway gaze dissipated my questions, adding an extra sixty seconds to each minute we spent within those lifeless walls.
Once again I travel back with Eva Maria Rauter’s evocative music, this time “The Dawn”–destination: a place where I am a child, a grown-up, an impostor, and almost Roya..
Thank you Eva Maria!
Excerpt from Chapter VI: “There’re no words to thank you,” my mother said. Exactly, I thought as I ran my foot back and forth over the lone pebble beneath my sole. Thank you for saving us from getting killed—three times? Thank you for taking us to the movies? Thank you for finding a way to Germany? Thank you for Ali B. . . .
“Keep well,” Hamid said, directly looking at Joubin and me, saluting in midair.
My lungs were heavy, my forehead still spinning with words, my voice empty of sound; Joubin smiled and waved.
“Merci,” I finally heard myself say. No amount of gargling with salt water or happy news could relieve the ache in my throat.
“Go, it’s getting crowded,” he said to my father with a nod towards the border.
Yes, let’s go, I agreed. We merged with the foot traffic, and I defied my vows not to look back at Hamid, catching glimpses of him still standing where we had left him, with crossed arms, among the young and old bearing their belongings in wrapped cloths, oversized nylon sacs, and plastic baskets.
No Answers I & II instantly stir me into the intricacies of leaving Hamid & Nasser, our guides, friends, confidants, and heading into more of the unknown–to get closer to freedom.
Thank you Eva Maria!
Excerpt from Chapter V: The wait for the calls that never came pushed us into the streets, wandering about, stopping at the shops overpowered by the sweet and spicy scents of Masala incense, carrying marble chess games, ivory elephant figurines, and ornate ashtrays.
Foreigners in a new land, we aimlessly roamed into shopping centers, sitting at tables with Nasser who enthusiastically rolled my miniature dice and made up rules with Joubin and me as we went along, buying fruits for our breakfasts, vegetables for our faithful burner, watching vendors pour pepper on clementines, watermelon, and corn, skipping about in panic from my mother’s sudden warnings, lest we step on spit, or worse.
Guidance, protection, illumination, stars..and tapping into Might & Power. A needed prayer during our weeks in Islamabad..as well as twenty-seven years later, when I felt stuck in the same place..
Thank you TaliaSafa!