С 9 лет пишу стихи. С 13 прозу. Это мое первое участие в литературном конкурсе. Более 6 лет прожила в Пекине и в данный момент пишу роман о любви, разных культурах, студенческой жизни за рубежом. Получаю степень магистра в Дипломатической академии, работаю в нескольких разных направлениях, в том числе шеф-редактором молодежного журнала.
«Novel-writing is like living in two parallel universes at once: you are inside the story, and you are in reality at the same time. And it really takes time to learn how to balance easily on the edge of these two worlds».
It was a hot and unbearably humid July afternoon in Beijing. The color of the swaying leaves was gleaming in the sun. People on the street were slowly trailing home. Summer lethargy and laziness were soaring in the air. He, as usual, was late to pick me up after work. It is funny that he, who is in a hurry, always arrives late. That day was not an exception either. I was walking unhurriedly down and looking at the small European-style cafes mixed with Chinese eateries on the other side of the road. At the furthest end of the street, I saw a low, white building with a blue roof. When I came across, the wooden door was opened from inside and I heard “Welcome, senorita”. How could it be that I never saw this place before? It was a simply decorated, but cozy restaurant with long blue benches, photos of Flamenco dancers on the white walls and windows overlooking a small floral patio. Next to me was standing affable waiter in a white shirt. Except him and tanned skin guitarist, my eyes did not find any other people. They let me choose one of the small tables and gave a menu. I felt like I was transported to an absolutely different atmosphere, as if there was Europe but not China outside the windows.
“What can I drink here?” I asked.
“I would like to recommend you a white sangria. It is a perfect choice in summer.” Said the dark haired waiter with a slight Spanish accent.
When he came back, I was asked several questions about my preferences in food and occupation in Beijing. Still feeling summer heat I was greedily sipping my drink and distinctly felt how much this middle aged Spanish waiter wanted to talk to me. It seemed to be hard for him to speak in English, so I switched to Chinese.
“Sorry, – he smiled, – I do not speak any Chinese.”
Nevertheless our dialog continued and we understood each other mostly by gestures and facial expressions. When we came across the question of my home country, the waiter was suddenly delightfully surprised and said in perfect Russian:
“Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia! You should have told me earlier.”
“A Spanish who speaks fluent Russian in China and knows about Kyrgyzstan. How did that happen?”
“Well, when I was in my early twenties I was studying in Saint Petersburg. There I had a girlfriend from Kyrgyzstan.”
I smiled. Now I understood his desire to talk to me. Who knows, maybe I reminded him of that girl. At that moment I got a call from my boyfriend and explained him how to get to the restaurant. His voice took me back to reality. I heard Chinese speech from outside and saw characters on my phone. Sadness filled my heart and penetrated into the veins throughout the body when I thought that he would leave for Australia very soon. With his departure, there will be one more painful farewell in my life and one more empty chair in my soul.
The waiter brought crispy bread topped with crab and basil.
“Can I ask you something,” – I said.
“What did you like the most about your Central Asian girlfriend?”
“I guess it was obedience and inner power. She was strong enough to never give up and solve her problems without any help but at the same time she was fully obedient and let me make decisions for her life.”
The blue entrance door was opened again and I saw my boyfriend. A smile lit up my face as I saw his kind eyes. We met last year at the end of September. And this pair of green eyes was the first thing I saw when entered crowded party at a new Vietnamese restaurant. Now he looked closer – as if he became an inseparable part of me. He sat down at my table and gently touched both of my hands. A slight smile ran across the waiter’s face. Later he brought us seafood paella and did not try to talk to me again. But while I was talking to my boyfriend, his two words – obedience and power – were stuck in my head. I understood that after my French boyfriend would leave China for Australia I would probably never meet him again. And that is why for him I should be more than just an obedient and strong Kyrgyz girl he met in China. I should give him more precious memories which he would hide somewhere deep inside his heart.
The world became so small. It is easy to travel now. It is easy to meet hundreds of new people and then forget their faces very soon. The only thing people will definitely remember is how you made them feel once. I touched my boyfriend’s hand and looked deeply in his eyes. “I feel that our goodbye will never be said.” He knew what I meant. His fingers filled the distance between mine. I could not be selfish with him. I should have let him go without leaving any promises. I should have let him pursue his dream. But for a fraction of time I pretended that our fairytale had just started in this big theatre called Beijing and we would find new secret places where with a taste of Italian pasta, Japanese tempura, French croissants or Kyrgyz beshbarmak, we would enjoy again and again this interlacement of our cultures.
When we were about to leave the restaurant, I turned my head to waiter and asked:
“But what happened to your girlfriend?”
He smiled and said:
“She left for Australia.”