Thanks for sharing this wonderful story with us Bassim. I'm already looking forward to the sequel.My leave-taking was painful. I felt as if I were leaving my family. Miroslav and I had become close friends, like brothers. We gave each other a long hug with tears in our eyes. I wished I could have told him we would meet again, but I knew this was the last time I
was lookingwould look in his eyes. I carried my suitcase across the courtyard through the clusters of playing children and adults discussing various thing aloud and gesticulating. I went through the entrance door, sat in toa taxi, and before we drove off, I cast the last glance at the dilapidated buildings.
At the train station, I caught the train to Stuttgart and arrived there in the afternoon. The station was quiet. The majority of passengers were the
celebrantscommuters returning with theon local trains. In cafes and on thebenches, sat groups of immigrants engrossed in conversations-- Italians, Greeks, Turks, Yugoslavs. They spoke in their mother tongues and made a constant din. I waited until the train arrived and went aboard. I chose an empty compartment, but before we departed, mytwo of my (fellow) countrymen barged in, each lugging two heavy suitcases. They greeted me and heaved their luggage onto the overhead racks. As they did so, I smelled the leather of their short black jackets, and I wondered if anyone had ever told them how ludicrous they looked in those short jackets, behind which protruded twotheir bulging stomachs. They probably were in their forties, but their flabby faces and rolls of fat made them look much older. They made themselves comfortable, and one of them smacked his lips, rubbed his hands, and said, “My wife made me a cheese pie just before I left. went.We’d better eat it before it turns cold.” He pulled the suitcase down from the rack and opened it quickly. He took out a parcel wrapped in white greaseproof paper, unwrapped it, and held it in front of me. I could not resist its wonderful smell and took a slice. of it.“Man, you’re not a bird; take more.” He shook the parcel before my eyes to encourage me, and this time I took a larger piece. He turned to his friend, and just like he did with me, urged him to take more. He put the rest of the pie on a foldaway table, rubbed his hands again, dived into his suitcase, and pulled out a bottle of Slivovitz. “Ten years old; homemade. Got it from my father-in-law.” He pulled out three polystyrene cups, put them on a table, and filled them with the alcoholic drink.
I was devouring the excellent warm pie when he asked, “Mate, what do you do here? Work?” I managed not to choke, but felt blood rushing into my face.
“I was visiting my uncle.” I spluttered and swallowed the bite which threatened to get stuck in my throat.
“What does he do?”
“He is a car mechanic,” I said, glad that my mind responded quickly.
“Good, good,” he grunted and picked up the cup and gave it to me. He took one for himself, and his friend took another.
“Let’s drink a toast to your uncle’s and your health.”
He downed the
cupSlivovitz in one gulp, and I did the same. It burnt was burningmy mouth, and felt like lava in my throat, but it was the best drink I ever drank in my life.
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