A love of youth Chapter 4
By working this novel I focus on information that helps me to choose a theme that would interest readers fond of stories of manners, problems of society. I still feel a great pleasure to talk about the past and evoke the sequences as they presented to me at that time. The image that gives our society with this intermixing of people of various origin - where different beliefs - make me treating this topic related to cohabitation, to evoke the sublime understanding between people of varied ethnic and to imagine a story that could be experienced by each of us or by people we know. This is why many people can recognize or identify themselves through each of the characters mentioned in the narrative.
To discover my complete works ‘in French and in English language' published on Amazon Kindle, please click HERE
A love of youth
I leave the country
Short before my departure, I met a young Muslim boy who seemed interested in me. He was the son of an important trader of Saint-Denis. He often phoned me to speak about his feelings for me. My mother knew about our relation since the first day as I had decided to tell her everything. She said nothing. I understood that she accepted the situation. She was sometimes curious and asked questions to know more about the boy's intention. My father knew nothing of the situation, and that was somewhat dishonest on our part. My mother's help gave me the liberty that encouraged me to new adventures.
She allowed me to meet him during the day. He used to come to pick me with his car, and we drove to faraway districts. He often stopped in quiet areas and made love to me. I only let him kiss me. I wanted to make love with him and then announced him later that I was pregnant. However, it was the first time of my life that I had such a dishonest idea. It was indignant. How could I imagine acting so badly with a person who was in love with me? If I confess my state, I would feel better. Why did this dreadful aspect of human nature suddenly awake within me? I felt ashamed acting with hypocrisy and ingratitude. My situation incited me to commit innumerable silliness without feeling any remorse? I did not succeed in repulsing the pain that grew on me. Why did I compromise an innocent in my sins? I did not want to admit defeat. Yet my defeat was certain. My fall already took me far to an empire where I was lost. I wanted to cheat to raise up.
Why did I invent a similar lie? Is this a way to give a sense to my life? I had concocted the most terrible plan, the most ignominious act that placed me to the rank of impostors. How could I make a man believe that the child I was carrying was his, whereas I knew it was not true? Did I think about the consequences of my behavior? Would I have after this the courage to say to this man who would be so happy to become a father that the child was not of him? It would be absurd to want to complicate my existence this way. An innocent had not to pay for a culprit. A mass of ideas arrived in my mind and made me see the reality of my situation. I did not succeed in seeing the truth as it is. I tried to distort the facts to arrange my situation. For me, the countdown had already begun. Nature wanted that I did not use any method to change the course of my existence. I would better live my destiny as it was written.
I decided to break up with this young man. My mother could not understand the true reasons that made me decide to put an end to this relationship. She did not stop blaming me for having not been able to keep a boy who proved his love for me. She shifted the fault on me and did not stop reminding me that I was a difficult girl. At my age, I should have already married and got children. If I keep on repulsing boys, I will stay all my life alone. I locked myself in my room and cry a lot to feel better. Sometimes I wished to die.
I was upset. My mother wanted me to marry a boy from Reunion. It was not easy to meet someone who had the same aspirations. Nevertheless, it was too late. I had reason to find pretexts not to drag with me innocents who did not know my state.
The time to embark was approaching. I felt no hesitation launching me in this new adventure. I had decided to leave this restful and calm place and threw myself in this vast seething world that would teach me the rules of life. I was only a beginner when I embarked on this ship. The three foghorns pierced my heart while I was looking at the crowd giving us their last greetings. Tears of sadness and regret flooded on my face, and I wanted to return back to my island and never leave it. It was too late, the foamy waves were already impassable obstacles, and I was already a prisoner on the ship.
At sunset when the last rays of the sun illuminated part of the ocean and blazed the horizon, a great number of passengers left the bridge to face the long journey. I preferred to admire as night approached, the phosphorescent landscape that spread in front of me until the total extinction of all brightness. I kept on watching the awful abyss while listening to the waves breaking on and the strange noises of the machines that propelled the ship. It was a moonless night and a few stars shone in the firmament. A light breeze rose and made me shiver. My friend came and took me to my cabin.
It was an extremely narrow cabin. Florence confessed she had to fight to get me a place with her. Another gangling youngster shared the cabin. Her name was Tatiana, and her body was so hot that she only tried to rub to men. We told her that we would not tolerate her to bring men into the cabin. She would have to do her dirty tricks elsewhere. At first, I felt sick, and without the treatments that the doctor on board gave me, I could have lost my child. Florence took care of me like a mother. I was surprised by the interest she bore to me and I kept on thanking her for that. Tatiana had also devoted herself like a nurse and helped Florence during long sleepless nights that she spent at my bedside. It took time for me to recover. My state was not a secret anymore. The doctor had to make his reports to the chief; Tatiana arranged with him to keep quiet. During my convalescence, I received numerous visits from friends who were part of the team. They were about thirty. Some of them asked me embarrassing questions. I understood their curiosity and refrained from hurting them. I had recently endured a lot. I had lost weight and had become ugly. I avoided looking at me in the mirror. Will I hold out until France? I still had a long crossing. I gathered my courage and decided to face the days to come. The ports on the coast of Africa was good to me. It allowed me to get vitality, force, the energy I lack and that came from this black and mysterious continent. I mixed with people and discovered their culture and customs. It felt surrounded by mysteries. An uncommon civilization was in front of me. A terrifying fright seized me. I knew that it was not a world in which I could get used to.
All my life I’ve moved in with people I could recognize all around the world. It was among those people that my destiny decided to bring me. I will never be happy elsewhere.
More than two weeks had flowed out when the ship entered the Pacific. I felt better and did not suffer sea sickness. I went for a walk during the long and stuffy days. It was a way to entertain myself and to make time pass. I went through narrow corridors, to restaurants or sat down in the cinema to watch a movie with Brigitte Bardot. It was not boring during the day. Sometimes I was tired and stayed in my cabin, reading a book of Delly or Françoise Sagan. I went on the bridge only when the sun had disappeared behind the horizon and when night began. At this time, people were seen at every corner of the ship. It pleased me to be among those people who made this journey with me. I used to search for the company of older persons with whom I talked till late in the evening. Some friends sometimes invited me to have an ice cream in a remarkably calm area.
My complexion was nicer and I began to take the weight. I was ten weeks pregnant and surprised by my weakness for food. Being far away from my parents made me so sad because, during my hours of loneliness, I thought of them. This nostalgic feeling preoccupied me as I was alone and disturbed me so much that I could not enjoy a moment anymore. I often spent the evenings in a dark corner of the ship thinking about my destiny. I could not see a lot of perspective for my future. My friends had fun on the crammed dance floor. The feast was in full swing at this late hour of the night. I never felt like joining even if my friends implored me to accompany them in their quest of distractions. I preferred looking at the firmament, marking the stars I noticed the day before, and listening to the incessant noises of the engines, and the surge of the waves.
I was asleep in my berth when Florence entered in the cabin with two friends Mauritian . It was three o'clock in the afternoon. The heat was oppressive. When I saw them, I sat on the edge of the bed and arranged my hair. They had a funny way to look at me and were not talkative. They dressed in extremely mediocre quality clothes. Florence had met them some days before and had found them amusing. The first one named Abou Taleb and the other Rachid. They were going to Europe with other Mauritian friends. Coming from different areas of Mauritius, they traveled to find work abroad. Emigrating allowed numerous families to escape from poverty. I had plenty of time to familiarize with many Mauritian friends and discover their exceptional human qualities. Florence often met Taleb, and they spent their time together. I stayed alone in my cabin. Tatiana often left. She shared the luxurious apartment of a German general. She was often seen beautifully dressed in the company of distinguished men. Her disappearance worried everybody. The small group was affected, and we had no respite. The research began as soon as the Captain was informed. The ship was inspected from top to bottom. Disconcerting news reached and shocked us. The German who received Tatiana was suspected by the agents of the C.I.A to have tortured prisoners in concentration camps. He was also sought-after by the justice for having infringed law many times. People were afraid. No one wanted to stay for a long time on the bridge. Rumors spread that the German hid somewhere on the ship and was extremely dangerous. He died in awful conditions. Tatiana was tortured but was alive. We should have grouped together to take care of her. Her state was serious according to the doctor. She had to be transported urgently to the hospital. It required days to reach Marseille. She died of internal bleeding. Her body was repatriated. We were overwhelmed by sadness and affliction. I feared the future. I entered a world full of mystery and uncertainty. I wondered if I could manage to cope with this world alone. A strange feeling seized me and made me doubt of what was waiting for me in the future. After spending three weeks on the ship, a lot of faces were familiar to me, and people often came to talk to me. I used to stay close to the bulwark to take advantage of the freshness of the night. I already considered this small world as a family. A lot of people were strolling on the bridge at that time. Small groups gathered almost everywhere. The children filled the air with strident screams while running as idiots. They bumped into those who hindered their way during their infernal races and disappeared in the darkness. When they were tired they went to bed. The rest of the night was quiet and restful.Those who did not fall asleep stood up until early morning. I returned to my cabin around midnight to try to sleep.
In a small world, friendship is found easily. I had just met a French family who did not stop talking about the fabulous trip they made to the islands of the Indian Ocean. Their story fascinated me and awoke in me the nostalgia for the country. I was not absorbed for long in my thoughts when a friend came to tell me that the chief wanted to see me. I guessed what he wanted to talk about. I entered in his cabin, and found him in a bad mood. He has a sullen face and his eyes were full of anger and made me lower the eyes. I had the impression that he was going to reprimand me severely and could not prevent me from feeling the fright. However, I was ready to listen to the sentence he was going to pronounce. He invited me to sit in the chair close to the table where he stood. I felt guilty and did not have any element to defend myself.
‘I was informed of your state a little late. Otherwise, I would have sent you back to your island. Are you aware that you trespassed?’
‘Yes Sir. I certainly wanted to leave Reunion.
‘You did not choose the best way. The contract you signed stipulates that in case of false declaration, of incompatibility, of nonconformity to the rules, you would be disqualified. It is not necessary to go through the details to understand the reasons why you act this way. I thought a lot before deciding to speak to you. Believe me. I am not happy of this dirty trick you played. Considering in what state you are I do not see how I must punish you. Now I must inform the direction of this incident and tell you that you will have problems.’
Later I joined Florence in the cabin. She was waiting for me to know about what have been said. We discussed the projects I intended to launch, as soon as we reached Marseille. Really, I had no idea.
Original title : Un amour de jeunesse©Kader Rawat
Translated by ©Kader Rawat