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The Euphrates love


I looked out the window with anticipation: yes, finally, it is dark! I wear my winter jacket and a red scarf that I borrowed from a friend for this special day. I tried to hide my red scarf with the coat collar and sewed the red rose into the sleeve of the coat. I slipped out the door of my family’s house, ignoring their presence and sounds in the living room. I walked along the bank of the Euphrates into the next neighbourhood. I walked past the statue of the famous poet Muhammad al-Furati that was standing in a small square in the middle of my city, Deir Ezzor.

I approached it, stared at the standing figure and smiled to myself, and did not leave before the poet exchanged a smile and blessed me for my journey.

Now, I can see the garden fence surrounding my girlfriend’s house. I get closer and see the house from behind the trees and its bright window. My steps speed up, and I have a mixed feeling of longing and caution. Quietly checking my surroundings, I lightly approach the garden wall, raise my head to make sure that no one is looking out from the second-floor windows. I want to catch the right moment to celebrate our love. Quietly, I come closer to the jasmine tree hanging over the wall of her garden as if it had come to witness our love. The perfume of the jasmine sparkled around my head like little stars, gently illuminating the place. I fixed my gaze towards her room as a child waiting for the moonlight to shine from its small window. I hear a door creaking … my heart racing, and I can feel it twitching inside my chest. Is it longing? Or is it the fear that one of her brothers figured out our relationship? I keep looking, hoping that she will come.

Jasmine, photo by Jim Evans

The light of her face appears to me from among the intertwining branches of jasmine. That night, decorated with jasmine stars, is completed by the moon. Here, she is looking for me: holding a small bag in her hand and walking quietly towards the jasmine bow. She gets closer to me, and I move closer until we meet.

She smiles and snatches her gaze towards her door from time to time. I show her a piece of my red scarf, and I tell her, “I love you, every year, you are my sweetheart.” Her eyes sparkle in the dark, her face lights up with a smile. We enter our small world, cut off from everything that surrounds us. We swim in an infinite space on our own. I extend my hand to her, from among the branches of jasmine, to hold her soft hand. I put the red rose in her warm hand and say: “I love you, I love you, I love you. Oh, if I can only reach to kiss your hand.”

Bridge at night
The river Euphrates bankside, Deir Ezzor

She looks around cautiously and grasps my hand and my rose with her soft hands. She looks at me and smiles without saying a word. She leaves my hand while she snatches her gaze behind her and watches her door. She quickly pulls her hand out of my grasp and gives me a small bag that smells of her signature scent, magnolia. I hold her gift in my hand and smell it sweetly. She whispers to me: “Go.”

I understand this sign quickly and bid her farewell with a heart flying between the branches and flowers of jasmine. She runs quietly inside the house and closes the door on Valentine’s evening. I tuck her gift to my chest inside my overcoat and scurry away from the theatre of our love. I move away and the smell of magnolia fills my heart and soul.

Later, I smile at the statue of the poet Mohamed Fourati and whisper a thank you to him. I go home and quickly enter my room, close the book that I left open on my desk. I want to dedicate the whole night to love and away from the anxiety of studying for high-school exams.

Euphrates river, Deir Ezzor

I embrace the gift, throw my body on my bed, and return to the details of meeting with my girlfriend as if it were a movie reel revolving on the ceiling of my room.

Translated by Bayan Lababidi

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