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TO KILL A FLOWER by Alcina Amara

© Alcina Amara

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Chapter 3

Mohsen built his new shop at the edge of his farm, by the road that branched into the motorway that lead to the five-hour journey to Tehran. The construction built was just big enough to stock most things the villagers needed: open sacks of rice, olives, notebooks, axe heads, herbs, refreshments for the passing motorists and fruit and vegetables from Mohsen’s farm.
The shop stood alone among the green fields. A few metres away, lined a dozen orange trees, that stood like beaten guards under a scorching sun.

Scattered across the rolling green fields, a mixed herd of sheep and goats grazed the outcrops. A lone cow with a brown skin and some white here and there, caught my attention.

Nostalgia swept over me. Grandmother smiling was showing me how to milk a cow. I was back at my little village on the mountain. I felt happy… but not for long. My carefree mood caved in as a flood of unanswered questions rushed in my troubled mind..

Why was my father hanged, the day I was born?

What happened to my mother?

Who shot my grandmother?

Why did Parvez, a cleric take me to a secluded mansion, to live amongst other young woman?

Was it just a coincidence that most of the girls that lived in the mansion happened to be daughters of executed parents?

What were those therapies I was forced to go through, did they changed me?

Why did Parvez, send me to live on this farm with Mohsen?

Why was I forced me into a temporary marriage?

These questions haunted me.

A deep sadness consumed me, so much that even the sun seemed to became dark. I remembered Andre the only person who showed me love, ever since I lost my entire family.

My sadness turned to anger. I should of never came back. I should of ran away when the mutt’ah with Johnny expired.

I started to unlock the shop.

“How is Minoo?” Someone shouted.

I shaded my eyes against the sun. It was an elderly woman waving her walking stick.

“Minoo is at home alone, Mohsen has gone to Tehran, he will be back in a few days.”

“Tell Minoo, I will come to visit her, keep her compony.”

“I will do Mrs Fathima.”

“Make sure you get some fresh tomatoes oh and two big onions ready, I will collect them on my way back from the bakers.

“No problem, Mrs Fathima.” I closed the door, switched the lights on, removed my white scarf and run my fingers through my long black hair, then wore the traditional black abaya. I rolled up my sleeves and climbed the ladder to stock up shelves

The door opened.

“Your order is ready, I won’t be long.” I said.

“My order?”

I turned my head, squinting my eyes against the blinding sun.

“Roxana… it’s you!”

My lips parted, I covered my mouth to stop myself from screaming. With trembling knees, I climbed down from the ladder.

He stood there. He was tall and slim with black wavy hair that surrounded his sculptured face.

My heart raced. “Andre.”

“I can’t believe you’re… I… I must be dreaming.”

There was a sadness in his voice. I lowered my head and bit my lower lip, to hold back tears that threatened to fall.

“Roxana, I heard what happened. He said as he walked closer to me, I’m so sorry you had to go through that.”

I kept my gaze to the floor.

“Is it over?” He asked in a soft gentle voice. “You’re not with him anymore… are you?”

I looked into his eyes. “No Andre, I’m not with him. It’s over… the mut’ah is over.”

He let out a relieved breath, and I wished I could have felt that relief myself.

“I didn’t want to marry him, I didn’t have a choice.”

He touched my arm. A heavy silence settled between us.

I stepped back. “What can I get you?”

He pushed back his hair from his eyes. “A bar of chocolate.”

“Chocolate” I giggled.

“I missed that laugh of yours.”

“I walked past him, a masculine aroma hit my nostrils, blood rushed to my cheeks.

“My uncle has an upset stomach, do you have a remedy for that?”

“let’s see, there’s ginger, chamomile, peppermint,” I counted each option on my fingers, “all those are great remedies, it’s just a matter of your uncles’ taste… oh a sock full of warm pressed rice held on his stomach will do wonders.”

“Is that a fact?”

“Im not making it up,” I said placing my hands on my hips, “my grandmother used to do that to me when I had a belly ache, and it worked every time… well most of the time.”

I broke a bar of chocolate from the block and wrapped it up. “Have you decided what you will buy for your uncle?”

“Erm he likes peppermint gums so I better take that… oh and a kilo of rice.”

We burst out laughing.

I went to the till and packaged his items.

There was a comfortable silence.

“Roxana…”

I glanced at him. “Yes…”

He stared at me with his penetrating eyes. Our eyes locked in some secret eternity.

“I was afraid I would never see you again.”

I wanted to run to him and throw my arms around his shoulders but I just smiled.

Andre lowered his gaze. “Roxana, I—I wanted to find you, I did everything I could… Mohsen made sure nobody knew where you were.

Not even Minoo, I tried, I—”

“Andre, please,” I said, my heart breaking, “none of this was your fault. It wasn’t your duty to save me.”

Andre shook his head, “Roxana…”

I pressed his lips with my finger. “Please don’t,” I whirled around. “It’s all behind me now,” I turned back to face him, “that’s all that matters.”

“But… I understand,” he said, then coughed.

“Your thirsty, Il get as a drink.”

I pulled two bottles of lemonade from the drink fridge opened them and placed them on the counter and stuck a straw in each of them. I handed one to Andre. He took a sip of his drink and let out a content sigh. It felt natural to have him so close, even if so much had changed in the past six months.
I packed his items in a paper bag. He gave me the money, his fingertips brushed against the palm of my hand and I felt goosebumps rise all over my skin. Even that slight touch was enough to feel like an electric current between us. Our eyes met, and it felt like a dream where everything was perfect in the world.

“I… I don’t want to lose you again.” His hand brushed against my arm.

A strong attraction pulled me towards him, my breath caught in my throat, I started to move closer to him when the door opened.

“Have you got my tomatoes?” She said.

I stepped away from Andre. “Yes, I have them ready for you Mrs. Fatima.”

She looked at Andre before turning to me. “I’m cooking for my grandchildren who are coming this weekend.”

“Thats nice Mrs Fathima.” I said holding out the purchased items packed in a paper bag. “Your grocery, madam.”

She turned back to Andre. “Why are you hanging about, don’t you have anything useful to do?”

“I was just leaving Mrs Fathima.” He said, then turned to me and winked.

I watched him go, I felt a pang of nostalgia in my heart. So much time had passed, but it felt like it was yesterday when I’d left him at the village center.

“Be careful how you manage yourself dear.” She said looking straight at me. “And pull your sleeves down, you shouldn’t be showing your flesh in public.”

“I heard your advice.” I said.

“Good.” She said opening the door to leave. “I know you are a good girl, just be careful.”

My blood boiled as I glared at her leaving. She had spoiled the most romantic moment of my life and had the effrontery to give her advice on how to live my life.

Thoughts of Andre seeped back into my mind like water on burning coal. Andre was in love with me, I knew it, it was obvious; I also knew I loved him.




*
I sat outside the shop, under the shade of a tree and sipped my tea.

“How is the most beautiful doctor of Iran.” Andre said in my ear.

“Stop it Andre, someone may not appreciate seeing you so close to me.”

“Don’t worry, nobody’s here.”

“Someone is always peeping around,” I sipped the remaining tea then stood up, “let’s go inside.”

“Thanks to your secret rice recipes Dr Roxana it worked wonders on my uncle.” He said as we went inside.

“Oh, come on, don’t make fun of me.”

“Im serious, you don’t you know what a bore my uncle is when his not feeling well.”

“I can imagine.”

“I want you to have this.” He handed me a little white box.

“What is it?” I said staring at it.

“It’s a gift. Open it.”

I took it and lifted the lid: “Oh Andre, they’re beautiful,” I pulled out a pair of golden earrings with shiny white stones, “help me try them on,” I said turning my back to him.

He came behind me and helped me put them on. His breath on my neck made me shiver. I turned around, “How Do I Look?”

“Like a beautiful Persian goddess.”

“A goddess,” I laughed, “your funny.”

Tears welled up in my eyes, nobody gave me a gift ever since my grandmother got shot.” I wrapped my arms around his neck and he placed his hands around my waist and pulled me in tighter. I rested my head on his chest, his heartbeat was a soothing melody to my ears.

“Roxana…”

“Yes?”

“I want to ask you something?”

I looked up at him.” What?”

“I was wondering…”

“Oh Andre what’s the matter? Why are you anxious?”

“I thought…”

I pulled back from him. “What did you think?”

“I love you Roxana, I loved you from the moment I set eyes on you. I never want to lose you again.” He squeezed me tighter. “I want you to marry me Roxana.”

I leaped away from him, I hadn’t been expecting that question which had just reeled out of his mouth, I gazed at him for some time as if lost in utmost contemplation. “What- did -you say? You want me to marry you. Did you just ask me to marry you?”

He came close to me. “Roxana, will you marry me?”

I stared into the distance.

“What’s wrong darling? Dont you want to marry me?”

I turned to face him. “Marry you, for how long? A month, a year, how long do you want to be married to me?”

“No Roxana no, it’s not what I mean. God forbid, I wouldn’t dream of dishonouring you like that.”

“What do you mean, what exactly do you mean.?” I asked frowning.

“I am asking you to be my wife, my real permanent wife, not a mut’ah.”

He came close to me and tried to touch me but I pushed his hand away and walked past him to the door and looked at Mohsen’s farm across the road. Tears swelled up on my eyes. Confusion was clouding my mind. I burst out in tears.

“Im sorry Roxana I didnt mean to make you cry.”

“We can’t marry.”

*

It was a starry night with a full moon the wind blew silently.

Andre sat on the bench under the porch. “Sir, I love Roxana more than anything, she will never suffer with me.”

Mohsen stood up. “Roxana is Muslim, you are Christian, it just can’t happen, it’s prohibited by our religion.” He thumped his chest.

“Impossible.” Mohsen said.

“Nothing is impossible, with love, besides Roxana is a Christian.” Andre said.

“You are a rude, arrogant young man, how dare you presume to tell me about Roxana, her father was Muslim that makes her a Muslim by law… do you hear me.” Mohsen said.

Unable to remain silent any longer I came from behind the door. “I am a Christian my mother baptised me when I was a child.”

“Do not undermine me, get inside.” Mohsen said.

I ran inside to Minoo standing by the door quiet throughout the discussion.

Minoo stepped outside. “Perhaps if you become Muslim, then you can marry her.”

“Shut your mouth woman, why don’t you go to the kitchen. Let me deal with this, don’t you know that you can’t use Islam like a toy.”

Mohsen said pointing his finger at Minoo.

“I’m sorry I wanted to help.” She said.

“Get inside woman and, you, young man get out of my compound.” Mohsen said.

“I love Roxana, and we will get married, with your permission… or without.” He turned to the door. “Roxana we will be together, God willing. Give them time to think.

Andre walked away into the growing night; Mohsen sat down back on the chair.

Minoo stood at the backdoor watching him.

“Quit moping at me and go bring me tea.” Mohsen said.

*


Standing under the blue sky and above the valley I felt connected to heaven and earth. My heart belonged to the mountain, nothing was more stable and more dependable than the mountain?

From here the town below with all its human problems was an insignificant dust, and too small to worry about.

A rush of wind blew on my on my face, sparking my desire of something that I couldn’t name, freedom? Perhaps, I wasn’t sure. Freedom is vague, abstract, and yet I yearned for something but what? — I didn’t know.

I removed my shawl, my hair hanged loose. I leaned my head back inviting the wind to dance with my hair

Andre stood opposite me watching my hair fluttering in the wind “You’re a flower that stands out in a well-groomed garden.”

With the wind whispering through my hair I turned my attention to Andre. “One summer day, you walked into my life out of nowhere. You are my medicine. Who could love me more than you? Know this my treasure; as long as I have breathe, I am yours for as long as you want me.”

Andre’s held my hand and drew me closer to him. He slid his hands to the small of my back, enveloping me in his strong arms.
I rested my head upon his chest; Love at that moment was the rhythm of his beating heart, and the rustling wind.

“Angel, how do you feel?”

The rising heat, the need to touch and be touched… how can I put that into words?

As if he’d read my mind, Andre kissed my lips.

A gentle kiss at first, soft and tentative, but it soon grew more passionate as our mouths seemed to melt into each other. I parted my lips to let Andre’s tongue into my mouth and let out a blissful sigh.

He explored every inch of my mouth, claiming it as his. The longer we kissed, the more my need for him grew.

I returned his kiss with mounting passion, my tongue tasting his mouth as I struggled to contain the fire within me.

Andre leaned forward, encouraging me to lie down on my back.

He broke the kiss, hovering above me as he looked into my eyes with such intensity. “You’re so beautiful.” He said, letting his eyes roam over my body.

I felt almost bashful, but I didn’t hide from his view.

He slid his hand down the side of my body, tracing every dip and curve as he watched.

I wanted so much more; I reached my hand up and caressed his cheek.

Andre turned and kissed to the palm of my hand and then leaned down to kiss the curve of my jaw.

My eyes closed at the new sensation that stirred within me.

He moved his down to the column of my neck, where he stopped.

“Oh, Andre…” I burst with want.

I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him closer, wanting to feel the weight of his body on top of mine.

Our bodies fit together perfectly, even with our clothes on. He was warm and solid on top of me, his body covered my own as his lips continued their path to my neck.

“Kiss me,” I breathed out, need audible in my voice, “please, kiss me.”

I didn’t need to ask twice: Andre’s mouth left my neck and returned his attention to my lips.

This kiss was even more passionate than the first. Our tongues battled for dominance as our bodies pressed together.

We were trying to get as close to each other as we could, but even that wasn’t enough.

There was a burning need within me. I needed more of Andre. More of his skin against me, more of his mouth on mine… I dragged my hands down his back, feeling his muscles rippling under my fingertips.

He shifted on top of me, and our bodies pressed even closed together. I could feel the heat of his skin through our clothes. His hips rocked against my own, and a quiet, airy moan escaped my lips and was caught by his mouth.

Our chests heaved with the effort of keeping ourselves from crossing a line… but how long could we keep it up? The desire for each other’s body was a like fire spiralling out of control and if we continued, it would have consumed us.

Andre cupped my breast through the fabric of my clothes. I tilted my head back with a moan.

He kissed me again and again, each kiss hungrier and deeper than the one before. I was losing my self-control and had no intention of stopping his hands from slipping under my blouse. He explored my breasts, rubbing my hardened nipples. His other hand was caressing my stomach. Sounds of pleasure were escaping my mouth as he moved his hand lower and lower until he suddenly broke the kiss and shifted himself off me. He sat up and offered me his hand to help me do the same.

I looked at him. Had I done something wrong?

He looked deep into my eyes and reached over and brushed a strand of hair away from my face and set me at ease with a kiss. It was softer than the previous ones.

“Do you still want to marry me?” I asked smiling

“More than anything else.”

I leaped toward him and he lifted me in the air and spun me round three times, then he put me down got something out of his pocket.

I beamed a smile. “Not another present.”

He gave me a little box. “Open it.”

I opened it. “A ring…” I whispered covering my open mouth with my hands.

“Yes darling” He took the ring and placed it on my finger.

A sense of hopelessness fell on me. “I’m scared Andre, you don’t know Parvez.”

“I love you and that’s all that matters, one way or another, we will get married, trust me.” Andre leaned to kiss me but stopped when he heard sheep’s bleating. “There must be a Shepard nearby.”


*

It was a starry night with a full moon the wind blew silently. Andre sat on the bench on the porch. “I have two hand. I can work weekends and part time in the evenings.”

Mohsen stood up. "You are studying to be a surgeon, that takes years.” He thumped his chest.

“Sir, I love Roxana more than anything, she will never suffer with me.”

“Impossible.” Mohsen said.

“Nothing is impossible, with love.”

“Roxana is Muslim, you are Christian, it just can’t happen, it’s prohibited by our religion.” Mohsen said.

“Roxana is a Christian.” Andre said.

“You are a rude, arrogant young man, how dare you presume to tell me about Roxana, her father was Muslim that makes her a Muslim by law… do you hear me.” Mohsen said.

Unable to remain silent any longer I came from behind the door. “I am a Christian my mother baptised me when I was a child.”

“Do not undermine me, get inside.” Mohsen said.

I ran inside to Minoo standing by the door quiet throughout the discussion

“You know very well, changing religion is forbidden.”

Minoo stepped outside. “Perhaps if you become Muslim, then you can marry her.”

“Shut your mouth woman, why don’t you go to the kitchen. Let me deal with this, don’t you know that you can’t use Islam like a toy.” Mohsen said pointing his finger at Minoo.

I’m sorry I wanted to help.” She said.

“I love Roxana, and we will get married, with your permission… or without.” He turned to the door. “Roxana we will be together, God willing. Give them time to think.

“Get out of my compound.” Mohsen said.

Andre walked away into the growing night; Mohsen sat down back on the chair.

Minoo stood at the backdoor watching him.

“Quit moping at me and go bring me tea.” Mohsen said.


*

I was lying under the shade of the tree. Andre was breaking twigs. The fresh air pervaded the atmosphere of the mountain. It was quite with that peculiar stillness that came with being among the trees.

“My mother owned an orchard.” I said. I can remember being on the mountain with my mum, playing in the tempestuous wind which blew at my scarfs making it flutter in the wind. Roxana, don’t let the wind blow off your scarf, hold tight to it, my mother warned smiling. Yes, mother. I would reply pulling at an apple. These memories seem so distant; what I would give to have my mother back
.
“What happened to your mothers’ land?” Andre said interrupting my thoughts.

“Parvez, took it to pay for my experiences at the mansion.” I looked at Andre.

“What? You more than earned your keep.”

“Parvez came yesterday to see me.” I looked away into the distance.

“To teach you the Quran I suppose?”

“Yes… but he doesn’t do that.” I said.

Andre lifted himself upright. “What do you mean?”

He gets me to do exotic dancing to tap into some mysterious power.”

“You mean he is hypnotising you with those satanic powers the way he did at the mansion?”

I looked at him. “Yeah.”

“Does Mohsen know?”

“I don’t know if he does, but he doesn’t care.”

“This is the only reason they don’t want us to marry, they don’t want to lose you, they are using you for their own evil plans, they already sold you once.” Andre said.

“What can we do?” I asked.

“We will start our life together.”

“How can we do that?”

“We’re going to another city.”

“You mean run away?”

“Yes, that’s right, run away, they are planning something, I’m sure about it.” Andre said.

The thought of running away had always occurred to me but I dismissed it most times out of fear.

I looked at the hills from the distance. “Runaway… run away together… can you imagine that.”

The clouds seemed dark my smile faded away I drew my eyebrows together in a frown. Fearful thoughts looped around in my mind menacing my sanity.

Parvez will send some of his friend to look for us, they would kill Andre and sell me to another mut’ah in Pakistan or Afganistan.

I looked at Andre. “We can’t, we can’t get away from him.”

Andre saw the fear in my face. He embraced me. “We can get away from them, all we have to do is go as far away as possible, I know they may try to come after us but they won’t find us.”

“You thought about that already?” I gaped at him in astonishment, he had conveyed out the bothersome thoughts which had laid heavy on my mind.

“Roxana, we will outsmart them.”

“Sure?”

“Yes my love.” Andre hugged me as the sun travelled over the darkening horizon.


13

After a long and tiresome drive we arrived at our destination, the main bus station of Shiraz. The bus screeched to a stop. The passengers collected their luggage’s rushed out the bus. We did the same. Andre gripped my hand as we squeezed through the bustling Crowed, pulsating with a lively energy mixing traffic of vehicles.

We made our way to the main road where Rumi was standing under a raised platform; he was slim in his mid-thirties, clean shaven with short neat brown hair, he embraced Andre. "How’s my cousin?”

“Hello Rumi, I see your taking good care of yourself, you’re looking good. Meet Roxana,” Andre pulled me closer to him, "Honey this is Rumi.”

“The beautiful Helen of troy.” Said Rumi with a wide grin.

“I lowered my gaze. Is he mocking me?

He turned to Andre. “So Paris, are we to expect Agamemnon with a thousand ships on my doorstep?”

“Quit that Rumi, don’t make those kinds of jokes, it’s not nice under the circumstances.”

“Am just kidding Andre, you know me, I ‘mean no offence.”

Dark clouds overhead formed, the day grew dark, the rain was falling in light drizzles.

“I suggest we harry to my car parked ten minutes away from here if you don’t want to swim to my house,” Rumi said with his usual grin.

We walked towards a tall modern apartment, up a few steps to the entrance, Rumi opened the exit. We took the lift to the 12th floors
A blonde, blue eyes with a bulging belly Welcome us at the door.

“That baby is coming along I see.” Andre said.

Artemis smiled.

My wife Artemis,” Rumi kissed her on the cheek, “this is Roxana, Andre’s fiancé.

We greeted each other with the customary three kisses then we removed our shoes before we followed him through the living room, which was fairly large, there was a flat screen TV affixed to the wall and there were electric lamps of different varying colours which lighted up the room.

“You want to get freshen up, let me take you to your room.” Rumi said.

We followed him through another door.

The bed looked so welcoming.

He pointed to a small closed door, “the bathroom is through that door, it’s your own private one,” he smiled, “dinner will be ready soon. Artemis’s cooking is always wonderful I’m sure she’ll prepared something delicious to celebrate your arrival.”

Andre took me in his arm, “don’t you worry about anything Roxana, everything will be fine,” he caressed my back, “I will take care of you.”

I nodded against his chest, taking in a deep breath that filled my lung with his scent.

“I should freshen up,” I said, taking a step back, “I want to look decent.”

Andre sat on the edge of the bed. “That’s a good idea,” he said, stretching his arms over his head.

Sliding my fingers under the soft silky fabric of my headscarf, I pulled it off my head letting my soft hair cascade down my back, I glanced at Andre, who was staring at me, motionless, I removed my blouse.

I started to unbutton my skirt, Andre started to reach for the door. “I wait for you in the living room.”

“Why are you going?”

He looked at me with concern in his eyes, “Erm, so you can undress.”

“No, please don’t, stay with me, I don’t want to be alone.”

He continued to stare at me a few moments… he gave a hesitant nod, “all right Roxana, Il stay with you.”

I pulled down my skirt in a fluid motion, then I unclasp my bra, letting it fall on the floor to join the already fallen pile of clothes. I felt comfortable without clothes to constrict my flesh.

Only my black underwear shielded my nakedness from Andre’s eyes, his cheeks had a hint of colour, his eyes were wider than usual. I could have gone into the bathroom to undress, but I didn’t want to shield my body from him, I wanted him to know I trusted him.


*

It was hot; the sun shined at its peak; the birds chirping loud and pleasant, the voice of children playing some throwing a big red ball at each other, the park was full of decorated flowers; it had a huge pond and a children’s playground area.

Artemis and I were sitting on a bench. “You must be excited that you will have a baby.” I said.

“Yes, I am.” She replied.

“When I had been a child, I often asked my mother where babies come from, she smiled and only said that children were gifts from God and as I grew older I understood that babies were the product of sexual relations, yet I think she was right, children are a gift from God.”

“Yeah, your right they are.” Artemis said looking at the children playing.

“Do you prefer. a boy or a girl?”

“Rumi, wants a girl, I don’t mind, as long as it’s healthy.” Artemis replied.

She turned to me. “Do you want a baby?”

I pointed at my chest, “me? I am not married.”

“But would you like to have a baby?” Artemis said looking at me trying to read my mind or expression.

"Who is Parvez? do you mind talking about it?”

Her sudden question threw me off course, I looked at the distance, a flock of birds were flying towards the red sun.

“I think I have a right to be told, since we are sheltering you.”

My whole body felt hot, I took a deep breath then looked at Artemis in the eyes.

“Parvez has connections with the intelligence service.” I stopped to take another deep breath. “They… Parvez I mean, and… some high-ranking officials from the secret intelligence services…. run human trafficking.”

“Woud does that mean?”

“They take girls from politically executed parents and take them to secret places and turn them to agents for the regime or just sex slaves to used and sold.”

Artemis pulled her eyebrows together and bit her lip. “Was you one of these girls?”

I nodded.

“Were your parents executed?”

I steadied my gaze on her. “they hanged My father, my mother disappeared they shot my grandmother in her house when I was living with her.”

“That’s terrible, I don’t know what I would do if I was in your place but how do you expect to escape them if they are the intelligence service.” Artemis said.

“Andre said to trust in God.” I said looking at the sky.

“Yes… perhaps you can, nothing is imposable with God but…I don’t want Rumi getting in trouble over this by letting you stay with us… look I’m sorry I understand your situation but I’m having a baby soon and I just don’t want any trouble coming to us.” Artemis said.

“Andre said we won’t stay long; he will get a job and get our own apartment.” I said.

“let’s go shopping and go home.” Artemis said rising up from the park bench.


*

Mohsen sat at the backyard, with his hoe in his right hand; he had been trying to till the ground to commence the planting of fresh veggies, carrots and oranges, work around the farm had grown quite difficult ever since Roxana had somehow eloped with that guy, and what’s more? Parvez will blame it all on him, he stood up from the wooden bench and threw the hoe to the floor angrily, he snarled twisting his mouth in awkward manner, he was angry at Roxana and Andre for making him look like a fool but he was even more infuriated at himself for not thinking in that direction, if only he had known that they would have eloped.

He walked slowly and deliberately moving with massive strides, he couldn’t exactly think of what to do, at first he had wanted tto keep the whole matter a secret from Parvez but then nothing was ever kept secret from him he always had a way of finding out.
Mohsen sighed heavily and opened the door of the shed which served as a temporary storage space for some the crops which he harvested, he backed out after checking and headed back to the house, he could make out the figure of Minoo seated in the kitchen, she sat looking into the fire blankly as if lost in a trance, she had been acting that way ever since Roxana had eloped, he himself stood at the door of the kitchen watching the flame emanating from the stove, he moved closer to Minoo and bent down beside her,
“Minoo I know you are still worried about Roxana, but I assure you that we will find her.” Mohsen said.

Minoo looked up to stare intently at her husband, Roxana’s sudden absence was eating through her rapidly like acid through linen. “I hope you never find her; I hope they go to another country and get married and live happy and safe.”

“What are you saying woman, have you gone mad?” Mohsen said.

“You should have allowed them to marry.” Minoo sobbed heavily.

“But you know I couldn’t Parvez would not permit it, you know that… she belongs to the state.” Mohsen put his hands around Minoo and held her to himself as tears flowed from her eyes freely.

Minoo struggled feebly with her husband but soon succumbed to his embrace; the very same embrace which had broken her state of depression several years when they had lost their daughter. “Only God knows where they are now, what are you going to tell Parvez?”
“Well I have no obvious choice but to actually state the truth, Parvez would no doubt be angry but then we will have to try and find her somehow.”

*

It had been quite challenging to get a job in the city; Andre knew that he had to get a job as soon as possible which he would try to balance with his studies. Andre had sworn that he would make sure I was as comfortable as he could afford, after all the whole idea of eloping had been his own idea from the start and he wanted to live up to the promises he had made to me. He had to sometimes restrain himself from attempting to make love to me, he had made promise not to touch me until we were properly married even though the temptations had intensified overtime.

He thought about his uncle and hoped that he had made the right decision, he knew that Mohsen and Parvez would be trying to find us but then he taken stringent steps to ensure that we wouldn’t be found so easily, all he really needed to do was to find a supplementary job as soon as possible which would aid him in finding an apartment; one which could accommodate us for the time being, and he also had to make sure I remained inconspicuous, it would take some time but Andre believed that with perseverance anything was possible, he also didn’t want to be much of a burden on Rumi and Artemis.

Andre had arrived quite early for the interview, the man in charge of the auto-shop was a rather huge sturdy man who appeared to be in his late forties, the man peered at Andre from a newspaper which lay open in his hand.

“So you claim to have good experience with fixing cars, how good are you at it?” the sturdy manager asked.

“Perhaps a trial could convince you, since motor mechanics is more practical than theoretical.” Andre replied.

“Okay, let’s head to the main garage, there’s an old car which might need a new rim-job, let’s see how you fare.” The sturdy manager said putting aside his newspaper and moving straight to unlock the garage.

The garage itself was quite large and spacious, lots of other motor mechanics were busy at work, some were welding and doing new paintjobs on various cars, while some others were fixing burnout engines and replacing flat tires, mechanical tools littered the floor and the manager barked desperately at workers who were careless with their tools, Andre followed him closely lost in the reverie of the garage, the man finally stopped in front of the car which looked like it had seen much better days.

“So what do you think? Can you fix this?” the manager asked, Andre nodded his head and the manger motioned to another worker to bring a toolkit for Andre.

Andre worked for almost three hours in which he did the rim-job of the car, replaced the tyres which had long deflated and also worked on replacing the oil valve which seemed to have over-floated and within almost three hours he had fixed the car while the manager supervised the other workers, after he was done he matched up to the manager, “Excuse me sir, I’m all done.”

“Really, are you?” the manager asked with a bit of biting sarcasm in his voice, he followed Andre to the car and gaped at it, he could only admit that the young man had done a terrific job with the car all that remained was a paintjob and the car would be functioning right, he shook Andre’s hand and told him he could start working at the auto-shop immediately.

The sun was fast travelling down the horizon, dim streetlights lighted up the surrounding suburbs and Andre walked briskly out of the auto-shop. The interview had been a great success and he had been given the job; it hadn’t really taken much to convince the man in charge that he was more than able for the task.

Walking home now, Andre couldn’t quite contain the delight and joy he had felt after searching for a job for quite some time, he hoped he could get home quickly enough to break the news to me, he had decided that he would do the work full time and study in the evenings which followed for his in course exams coming up at the end of the academic year.

Andre called me on her cell phone he bought me and asked me to meet him at the local park because it was busy there and there were less chances of being stopped by the morality police to ask for paperwork to show, what kind of relationship existed between them, on seeing me he asked me to walk near him enough to be able to hear each other talk but to keep a considerable distance, anyone could be watching us closely and Andre we risk being arrested by the morality police which would only spell doom and jeopardize the plans that we had considerably worked so hard for.



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