"Mr Gabriel, I must admit we were quite impressed with your resume, the skills you offer are exactly what we're looking for in our next assignment, and our current reporter is... under the weather right now, so really. you're a godsend"
I smiled at the chief editor of The Current, the finest newspaper establishment in Melbourne, and grabbed my seat from fear of flying in a joyous array of laughter, "easy Pete" I thought, "don't lose it now you're almost there!"
She took a breath, I could tell this was going to be an offer I can't refuse, "We would need you to go to Iraq in about a month, and cover parts of the country for three weeks"
I could tell my facial features were giving away my surprise, I could never keep that sort of thing inside. "We realise it's a bit hurried of us to ask you like this. but we're a bit overstreched, and this trip shoudln't be too much trouble, I mean the war's been over for 5 months now"
"I'll take it, thank you" we both stood, shook hands, and that was it !
I was flying, I told my friends, my family, everyone was happy for me, my parents were a bit worried ofcourse, but they're suppose to.
Then I told Nadia.
It was really her opinion I wanted, I could almost hate myself for needing her like this, but she always seems to know what to say, and I hoped to get her blessing as well.
We'd talked about this alot. I knew she didn't like the war, but I thought she might like that I'd go there to see it for myself, maybe prove to her how criminal these insurgents were.
"I don't think you should go" for the first time in a long time, she wasn't smiling anymore, she looked worried, about me ? I was mixedly happy and confused.
"why not ? it's the oppoprtunity of a lifetime, it'd never come again !"
"it's an illegal invasion, people die all the time, and the news makes them look happy, you'd just have to stay with the propaganda" she looked down and said softly "and it's dangerous there"
As she spoke I was getting indignant, and quite angry, how dare she accuse me of propagating and lying for anything ? then my heart went soft again, I was more and more aware of that little lump of flesh these days.
" As for the propaganda, you know me Nadia, I wouldn't do anything like that, these people really are animals, and as fo.. "DON'T CALL THEM THAT "
I was taken aback, she'd never yelled at me before, but I could see she was very angry. I hated to see that anger on her face, and hated myself for bringing it there.
"I'm sorry, but I meant to say I wouldn't lie for anyone like that, money is not everything, and Ill be safe, I'll be travelling embedded with american military"
Just as quickly as she she looked at me with those sad eyes again, there was no anger left in them "that's what I'm afraid of"
. . .
For the next month I saw alot less of her, I didn't know her number so I was just left with no way of contacting her, I was feeling very guilty for getting her so angry, and didn't know how to make it up to her coz I dind't know where she was. All I could do was just say her name again and again, which made me feel better
In my last day at university, a couple of days till I leave the country, I went to the library to return some books, and I saw her again. I ran to her but she knew I was coming, and smiled at me. ThankGod I thought, at least we won't part of bad feelings.
"so when are you leaving ? "
"Friday, where have you been ?"
"nowhere, just thinking, I have something for you"
"yeah ? for me ?" I felt like a little kid, stop it ! I told myself.
" what is it ?"
she took something out of her bag, it was a talisman of some sort, which looked like a book.
what is this ? a charm ? "this is a book called 'muqaddimat ibnu khaldun', it shall keep you safe"
I was so touched and dissapointed, does she still believe in such hocus pocus supersitions ? I didn't want to say anything to sour the situation so I thanked her.
"I'll remember you by it" she held up her hand and I took it, and held her hand.
This was the first time we had touched, and I felt that same electrifying feeling again, I could tell she felt it too, but she pulled her hand away and looked down, then she looked up at me, she had tears in her eyes that were harder on me than a ton of bricks, I wanted to held her and wipe away her tears, but I knew we were so different, and that talisman proved it.
"I will pray for you" and she walked away, for the last time. She stopped and turned around "remember, dont' take it off" I looked at her walking away, and cried inside.