A love of youth Chapter 9
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A love of youth
It was late in Paris to find a hotel room to spend the night. I relied on Alain to help me. I would be lost without him, in this city that frightened me. It was cold, and the rain had begun to fall. We took a taxi and asked the driver to take us to the nearest hotel. I did not want a luxury hotel, but a small and clean room would be sufficient.
I slept until late the following day. Alain had slipped a note under my door telling he would be absent the whole day. I went to the kiosk in front of the hotel to buy the newspapers. I had to rent an apartment. I returned to my hotel and thought how I had to continue my life. I had the impression to go round in circles and did not know how to solve my problems. I was convinced that my destiny was not good and that I had to fight to pave my path in this world. I had to recognize that I was responsible for these problems. I could not feel sorry for myself. My son gave me energy; he was the second breath I needed to face life.
Alain left the following day. I left the hotel and settled in a cheap studio. I started to work. I dropped Akbar early morning in a nursery and fetched him in the evening. On Sundays, I often walked in Paris. Akbar liked to travel a lot by the subway. My first visit to the Eiffel tower let me lovely memories.
One Sunday afternoon, I went for a walk with Akbar on the Champs-Elysées when the bad weather surprised us. The rain began to fall. We took refuge under a porch. I wanted to protect my son. He had a fragile health. As night approached, the time did not improve. I began to worry. I certainly had to go back home. The taxis did not pass into this alley. A young man passing by noticed that I was searching for a transport. He proposed to drop me off at home if I accepted. I had to make up my mind quickly. I accepted the proposition as I did not want to spend the night outside with my son under the rain. This man inspired me with confidence. His car was in the parking. He went to take an umbrella to protect us. Akbar was sleeping deeply. It was already night when I reached home.
His name was Frank, written on the jacket he covered Akbar. He forgot it at home. He would certainly come back to take it the next day. I wondered when he would knock at my door. I waited for his visit; I understood that our destiny was sealed forever. He knocked at my door on a Saturday morning. I invited him to take a coffee. I had the intention to thank him for help that he brought me last evening. The few words we exchanged made me feel lots of sympathy for him. When I told him that I was living alone with my son, he proposed to come to pick me on Sundays to visit the country. I accepted.
I used to keep the only room I lived in clean. I never let clothes lying around; the bed was made and covered with a sheet in plush I bought at a flea market not long ago. I did not live in luxury, but I was proud of my home. Akbar slept in a cradle far from the light of the day. The kitchen table was covered with a tablecloth printed with happy colors that Akbar liked to admire when he did not sleep. In the corner, an old refrigerator I only plugged on weekends snored. The television and the sofa were all my furniture and represented all my wealth and my universe. I enjoyed staying there. Since that day, Frank has become my best friend. He often paid me a visit. He came on Saturdays, and we went for dinner at the restaurant. I arranged with my neighbor who took care of Akbar. She was a student and was happy to have extra money to assume this responsibility. The image of my first love often came to disturb me in the deep feelings I had for Frank. I would have to make tremendous efforts to get rid of this black stain deeply hidden in my heart. I must confess that I hoped, without believing it, luck would give me the opportunity to see once again the first man I loved. When I noticed that they carried me with such attention and wowed to me such love, so intense, I considered myself the happiest woman in the world. My relationship with Frank strengthened, and I could not imagine how, after several months of disappointments and difficulties, I began to appreciate the most charming moments of my life. I was so confident in the new way of life I was leading. Frank was so attentive and loved me so much that I was happier than ever.
One afternoon, Frank came home earlier. I had just arrived and held in my hand a piece of cheese that I had just cut.
"Tonight”, he told me", we will have dinner in the restaurant. Instead of wearing your apron to cook, you will wear your beautiful dress, and we will go out ".
While speaking, he dragged me on the bed, and we made love. Akbar was three years, and I dropped him in a nursery at walking distance from the house. I usually fetched him around five and a half o'clock while returning to the bakery at the corner of the street. Akbar was turbulent. At home, he gave me no moment of respite. I had to look after him while I prepared the meal. He was extremely capricious and wanted me to take care of him at all time.
While I was taking my shower, Frank had gone to take Akbar. He was happy when I put his beautiful clothes.
"It is true mom," he asked me, "that we are going for a walk in the city with Uncle Frank?"
A little later, we were in the car. Frank did not seem to hurry. He seemed extremely tired. We stopped in front of a monumental building and Frank took the direction of the main entry and asked us to follow him. On the third floor, we took a narrow corridor before stopping in front of a door that Frank opened with the key he has in hand.
"This is our new home", he told me.
It was such a surprise! I didn’t expect it. This apartment of four rooms was superb, and the cost of the rent appeared also exorbitant to me. Anyway Frank could afford such a luxury. But when it was the question to live there, I immediately thought about my liberty. The salary that I earned was limited and hardly covered my monthly expenses. However I allowed myself rare fantasies; they generally sank all my resources. I wanted to make him understand that I didn't want to leave my studio to come to live in his apartment although he insisted, telling me that he had rented it especially for me. He was angry and did not speak to me anymore during several days nor came to see me. I felt sorry and lost. I wanted to keep my autonomy. It was crucial for me.
Nevertheless Frank and I had never spoken of a common life. I appreciated my freedom and would prefer my independence. It was what I had wanted Frank to understand when he finally came home some weeks later. I never had the courage to tell him about myself before. I relate to him my story without feeling ashamed. I knew I had accomplished precisely nothing I could be proud of. Disappointments had accompanied me during all my life and had hardened my heart. I mentioned several anecdotes that had marked me and represented examples that made me think before committing myself. I had brought some changes in my life. I confessed him that I was her mistress because I passionately loved him. Our relationship was strong, and we belonged to each other. For me, it was sufficient.
"If you want to live like husband and woman", I said, “We will waste the happiness that fills our hearts. Life made us meet and love. Why did not we take the opportunity we are offering to dedicate more time to each other? When you hear the call, you will understand that moment to accomplish your duty has arrived, and you will abandon everything. “I thank you for having rented this apartment for me. I am not ready to live here. I am sorry, Frank. I want you to know that I love you as strongly as it is possible. I will always love you with this same intensity. If you try to arrange our lives too much, we will only succeed in destroying everything. Love me as I am Frank, and accept me as I am. I will do the same to be happy."
"Why do you say that, Yasmine? My intention is not to hurt you. I want to please you."
In spite of the happiness Frank brought me, my strongest feelings belonged to Akbar. For him, I would move heaven and earth. When he was admitted at school and made friends, I often received reports from her teacher. He behaved badly and often quarreled and fought with the other pupils. I met her teacher. She advised me to see a psychologist. He had no real difficulties but needed to gain confidence in himself. The psychologist would help him.
During the winter, I took lots of precautions. The healthiness of Akbar was delicate. He hardly supported the cold weather. The care I administered to him until spring was my only secret, and it helped him to stay healthy. I used to make him take a preventive treatment throughout the season. He was treated by his doctor. Akbar liked a lot watching cartoons. He was fond of Walt-Disney. In the evening, he went to bed early.
Original title : Un amour de jeunesse©Kader Rawat
Translated by ©Kader Rawat April 2013