After, Alas!

Short, Short; Story: After, Alas!

After, Alas!

Gently, Rojin closed the door (kids are asleep) and briskly stepped out of the hotel room. The room has been serving as temporary shelter for over eighteen weeks. She felt a tremor in her heart. All those anxieties were condensed into tremor.The tremor eclipsed as quickly as it arrived.

Rojin noticed a chilling feeling of cheer in her bosom: Finally!

The familiar streetscape seemed serene unlike other days: desertion and abandonment. She waited for the cyclist to pedal past her.The cyclist waived at her: good day.

The sky was clothed in clouds. The Gothenburgian sky is a canvass of shades of grey and blue. She cast her glance: she saw the moving mass of clouds. Dancing and chirping, she thought. At the Pressbyrån the store that sells basic necessities, she went in. She wanted to buy something for her workmates: share the news of a house allotted to her. Among the newspapers and magazines, fizzy drinks and chocolates, what can one buy? The glassed showcase beamed with unusual buns:Lussekatter the saffron bun. She picked up a dozen and placed them in a paper bag.

At the counter, without waiting for her to ask, Wilhelm the shopkeeper turned his back as she approached towards him and picked up a box of snus, turned, and waived at her: including this?

Wilhelm noticed something that was never revealed in her since he came to know her over eighteen weeks. She was one of the regular customers visiting now and then and for this and that. He sensed the sparkle in her eyes and the lurking smile on her lips. ‘You look beautiful’ he wanted to say instead he said, ‘this too?’ dangling the snus box at her. They came closer: eyes to eyes separated only by the counter. ‘Of course,’ she said but with the unusual joy: the joy of moving into a house of her own released in her lips. She smiled for him flicking the strands of hairs falling on her face. Taking the payment through the cash-card in the cash-machine, Wilhelm told to himself, ‘unable to believe that a girl of her age could conceal so much style and beauty’.

– – –

Since the separation from her husband and moving down to Gothenburg from Lap(p)land, Rojin endured unendurable feelings and inconveniences. The cheerful and convivial mother of two became cheerless and unsociable: serious face, stony stares and snappy retorts. They are set to melt now, she wished. Those unendurable days made her to experience many inexperienced experiences, and taught her to set her priorities right. She could have as well moved back to that Kurdish town but her mother and grandmother suggested her to ‘stay back’ for they knew Rojin’s mettle.

Rojin could have had fought against patriarchal prejudices and for the unborn nation of Kurdistan, and could have had ended up like Asia Ramadan Antar. When Rojin complained to them about her plight, they heard her. Their hearing, as patiently as patience can be, was her consolation, in addition to their assurances and suggestions.

But who could help her with a house? Rojin breathlessly flitted here and there in the city with her kids buzzing breathlessly for a house like a bee for honey and hive. After two years, yesterday she got a letter from the housing authority of the City of Gothenburg that a flat is allotted to her: first-hand contract the coveted aspect of an adult life in Gothenrbug.

– – –

Rojin thanked Wilhelm with a sparkle in her eyes and smile on her lips, and exited from Pressbyrån. She craned her neck at the infinite roof: The sky was clothed in more grey and less blue. She felt: What a wonderful blue!

With that sparkle in her eyes and with that smile on her face, she reached the tram station to catch Tram 5 towards Östra Sjukhuset the Eastside Hospital.

The tram arrived dot on time: many things happen as they planned, she mused. Now is the time to live the leftover life.

As the train trundled on to the Göta River Bridge, the whole city appeared to her ‘welcoming’: steeples, tips of buildings, the greenery, the Göta River and a Gothenburgian skyline.

Rojin did something she had not done in years: noticed fellow human beings with a sparkle in her eyes and a smile on her face.

—Lucinda Palme


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