The Jasmine Girl

The fragrance of Jasmine was spreading across all the rooms, corridor, gallery and other places of my house, which was a sign of Afraa’s presence in my house. It seems that Jasmine and Afraa were synonym for each other, at least for me because if there was no smell of Jasmine than it means that Afraa hasn’t come on that day.

             I was very happy with her work as she never gave any chance of complain; always ready to do any work efficiently. Once I asked her to help me in making ‘Maklooba’ because it was an Arabic dish and in my place, Turkey not everybody can cook as finely as Arabians did it. When I asked her, she replied:

           “Yes Mrs Yildirim, I will help you”. I felt happy by her reply complaint but the next moment she started sobbing. When I asked her the reason behind her crying then she told me, “My mother cooked “Maklooba” very nicely so I became nostalgic thinking of her.”

“Do you miss her?” I asked her though knowingly that the question would hurt her.

“Yes a lot, at every moment of life.” She said with tears in her eyes.

“Had you any brothers and sisters?”

“I had two brothers, one elder and one younger.”

               “What was your father doing?”

“He was a Teacher in a nearby school where I and my brothers use to study.” She replied with a pause.

“Was your mother also working?”

“No, she was a really simple housewife”

“You went to class each day than when and how could you become familiar with these family unit tasks.”

“My mother always wanted to teach me all the household chores and so whenever I happened to return from the school then it was her daily routine to engage me in some kinds of household works to make me learn it though my father always got angry seeing me doing domestic chores.

                “My daughter will become a teacher like me. He always told my mother with a sense of pride.”

                But she always defended by saying that every girl should know house- making because she had to get married and go to other’s house. If she doesn’t know anything than her In-Laws will blame me that her mother has not taught anything to her.

             “At that time I didn’t realize that she has foreseen my future.So it is good that she taught everything to me otherwise it would have been very difficult for me to survive in this world.”

         Saying so she got discouraged, seeing her miserable and blameless face I changed the point.

            “Afraa, you look beautiful in red dress”.

            Hearing this, her face abruptly changed and there was a smile on her face and I realized that she was so beautiful. A perfect Arab beauty: with a fair complexion, hazel eyes and sharp features. She was 13-14 years old but seems not more than 12 years because of her thinness. Her clothes were always neat and clean though they seem old and loose. Today it was the first time that she spoke so much freely and openly to me though she was coming to my house since a month but she was mostly quite doing her work very efficiently and in a diligent way.

           Every morning whenever she came, there was always a bunch of jasmine flowers in her hands which no one else care to pick, and the first thing she did was to arrange them properly in vases in all the three rooms of my house. In the begining nobody noticed it but when she was sick and didn’t come for two days to my abode then me and Mr.Yildirim both felt that there is something missing in the house because there was no fragrance of Jasmine. My son and daughter had nicknamed her as, “Jasmine girl”.

          Sometimes back, I had asked her about bringing jasmine everyday than she replied.

          “My father liked jasmine very much and so he always brought it and my mother use to decorate my house with it.” While telling this it seems that she was lost somewhere.

The next day, when she came I gave her some books, notebooks, pen and other stationary required for studies. She felt very happy and told me that since more than six months she has not hold any book or notebooks in her hands.

“But I don’t have no time to study.”

          “After the work I have to look after Aunt Hilal because she is very old and I am living with her.”

        “Dear child, you can study here for an hour everyday.”

        Hearing this, she was elated complaint and I saw a smile on her face and this time she was smiling whole-heartedly, and I felt that with smile on her face she herself looks like a Jasmine flower blossoming in spring. Since then it became her routine to study for an hour everyday. I realized that she was a very intelligent girl.

One day, I ask her about the calamity which had befallen on her. At first she became mute but after a moment she started speaking and narrating details of her life.

“My family comprising of my father, mother, my two brothers and myself were living happily in Latakia, a Syrian town. But one day the Civil war broke out in Syria and all the schools, colleges and offices were closed. My father being a courageous and optimistic man believed that this will get over very soon. But soon after the war started taking dangerous shape and there were noises of explosions every now and then. But my father loved the town and my ancestral house so much that he did not wanted to leave.

Many people were leaving not only Latakia but Syria as well but he was of firm opinion not to leave the country. But one day when my neighbour’s house was hit and we all were terrified then he made up his mind to leave not only city but the country as well because it was more than a year since the war broke out and there were no sign of its ending moreover with the passage of time it was becoming disastrous day by day. Even the foreign forces also got involved in it with their vested interest”

          She paused for a moment than again started telling her story.

         “My father arranged everything and even asked some of my relatives to accompany him which they agreed. So there were four families including ours who decided to cross the border via waterroute and reach Turkey.”

“We all sat in the boat being optimistic that we will reach our destination in few hours. But suddenly after three-four hours of our journey on boat, there came a sea storm and our boat started trembling. Everybody in the boat started shouting and yelling.

I was so terrified that I became unconscious knowing nothing what is happening around me and when I woke up then my world went upside down as I saw myself on the shores of the sea being awakened by the Turkish coast-guard with no traces of any other soul besides me. Realizing the situation, I started crying and asked him again and again the whereabouts of my parents and brothers. But he knew nothing and told me that nobody else’s body was found and maybe they all must have been drowned in water.

        “He took me to the police station and from there I was sent to the Syrian refugee camp. There I lived for a week but I never liked the place because it was dirty-filthy with children crying and women wailing. I became depressed seeing their plight and one day I ran away from there.”

           “Then how you came here?”

           “I climb a bus and came here. I was very hungry and was standing in front of a food shop then suddenly a lady came near and asked me.”

            “Are you hungry?” She asked compassionately

            “I said yes and then she gave me food and took me to her home. Since then I am living with Aunt Hilal.”

           Her pains and sufferings were clearly visible in her eyes which have become so hollow as if there’s no life left for her. I was very much moved by her story and wanted to tell her that she should not lose hope because if there is no proof that her family members are alive than there is also no proof that they had died.

So I resolved to do some investigation in this regards and one day I asked her, whether her father had made his profile on any social networking site. She at once, showed me her father’s profile on my laptop. I found that there were no traces of any recent activity but my intuition was saying that he is alive. Since then I started sending messages to him every day but didn’t receive any reply. This I did for a month but received no reply neither any other sign of him being alive. Being frustrated I left the idea.

          Then the winter came and I caught cold and had fallen sick. Afraa looked after me like a family member treating me like a small kid; she fed me with food and medicine on time as per Doctor’s instructions. With her tremendous care, I started convalescing and in a few days became fit and fine.

And one day while I was surfing internet I saw her father’s message which he had sent a week back.He had sent message asking ‘who am I?’ and ‘how do I know him?’ I replied to him that I want to meet him urgently as I have something to tell him.

            The next day, he replied showing interest in meeting me and to my surprise he was living just 20 km away from my house.I did not tell about Afraa since I wanted the proof that he is her father. After discussing for few days we decided to meet at a nearby place.

When I met him, he was the same person whose profile Afraa has shown me. Though now he was not looking as fresh as in the profile picture of him because he has gone through such hardships in life. He seems to be very curious to know that how a Turkish lady whom he has never seen and met, knew him. I told him all those things whatever Afraa has told me about him and his life including her wife and children.

He was very surprised then I told him that Afraa her daughter has given me all these information. He couldn’t believe it because he and his wife thought that their daughter is dead by now. I showed recent photograph of his daughter to him and gave all information regarding her.

          He then started narrating his story as how they all were saved by Turkish navy but Afraa was drowned and they were not able to search her. So they all believed that she must have died. He, his wife and sons got shelter in one of their friend’s house for some days and after struggling for many days now he has been appointed as a teacher in one of the local school in the same city.

His wife was still optimistic that her daughter is alive.

He was very eager to meet his daughter immediately so I took him to my house which was opened by her daughter. When Afraa opened the door, she was shocked to see her father whom she thought had died.

        She burst into crying and hugged her father who was crying like her daughter. It was such an emotional scene to witness. After sometime there was smile on her face and this was real smile like a ‘Jasmine blowing in spring season’. Her fatherwas filled with gratitude for me and thanked me again and again and wanted to take her daughter at once but she wanted to meet Aunt Hilal.

         When they went to meet Aunt Hilal’s in her house, though she was happy to see Afraa being united with her family but at the same time she was feeling sad as now she will be left alone. Afraa too was upset as there was nobody to look after her. She then requested her father to take Aunt Hilal with them for which he agreed as a sense of gratitude towards her.

They took Aunt Hilal with them and went they reached home, her mother’s happiness seems no bound and her two brothers who always missed her were very happy.Afraa’s mother felt very grateful towards Aunt Hilal who looked after her in her absence. When they reached there, it was dinner time, and on that day by chance her mother had cooked “Maklooba” which Afraa ate very eagerly since she was eating food made by her mother after a long. This is destiny which has united them again.

           More than a week passed since the Jasmine girl, Afraa has gone, so now there was no fragrance of Jasmine in my house. One day when somebody was knocking on the door of my house than the smell of jasmine reached to my nostrils. I thought some flower sellers must have come. But when I opened the door, to my surprise it was Afraa. When I asked her about her coming because she was in school uniform, she replied that she has taken admission in a school nearby and that she will bring Jasmine for me every day.

So my house will always smells with the fragrance of Jasmine because Afraa will bring them every day.

by Dr. Shamenaz, India
( Literary Critic)
Author & Editor of 10 Books
*Member of Editorial Board of Journals: ‘JSIT’ (Azerbaijan),
Angloamericanie‘ (Macedonia), ‘Anglisticum’ (Macedonia), ‘KJHS’
(Azerbaijan), ‘Cyber Literature (Online),
‘Literary Miscellany’, ‘The Context’, ‘Research Access’, Expressions, IJRHS
Literature ( Jordan).
Levure Litteraire (Poetry Magazine, France-Germany-USA)

About the author: Soflay iNC
Soflay iNC shares an analysis of people’s important trends, technologies, and topics. Soflay iNC. provides knowledge of interesting information, stories, and articles.

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