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E-Books (english-e-reader), Ekaterina (2)

Ekaterina (2)

The plane took off again, lifting up over sleeping Africa. For a short time the River Nile looked silver in the moonlight, until it was lost in the darkness. We went on climbing alone into the milky sky. The passengers started preparing themselves for sleep. Ekaterina turned towards the window, and I lay back in my seat, horribly uncomfortable.

About half an hour later I woke up. Like a newborn animal, Ekaterina had moved as close as possible to me. One arm was round my neck, and her face was half hidden in my shoulder. She smelt sweet and warm, like wild flowers or deep, newly turned soil. She was asleep, and in her dreams she had returned to Vari, to a street of quiet little houses, to a single room full of sisters and brothers, with animals to take care of, perhaps. Had she ever slept alone? Who was I in her sleep, who was held in her poor arms? A little brother who was always crying, a sister restless with hunger? How could her family have sold this lovely child to an unknown husband? Perhaps he was an honest man who had earned his place in South Africa. And now he was looking back into the past, to take a wife of his own country, of the blood of Greece. I only hoped he was good enough for her. I tried to tell myself, 'She's nothing to me. What does it matter who she marries?' But it wasn't easy to say that, when she was actually asleep and warm and living against my body.

I slept a little, and when I woke up, Ekaterina had not moved. But she was now awake, and her large eyes were fixed darkly on me. How long had she stared at me like that?

'Hello, Ekaterina,' I said.

'Hello.' She closed her eyes, preparing for sleep again.

'Ekaterina, I'm talking to you.'

A little movement of her head showed that she was awake.

'Listen, it may be a good thing that you don't understand. Listen, Ekaterina, you shouldn't be here. Go back, take the first chance to go back. This marriage may work, but it may not. It's all wrong. You're not a thing for a man to buy, you're not a prisoner. It's so important to be free. Go back and learn to be free. They've taken the past from you and you're throwing away the future. Ekaterina, it's always better to die fighting - you must know that.'

I was talking almost to myself. She could not understand a word, but something in my voice frightened her. She began to cry. The great plane went on into the silken blackness. Under us lay Africa, sleeping in the long night wind.

She cried quietly, but not for long. I think she was used to having sadness in her life. She took my hand and kissed it before I could stop her - a little show of grateful feeling which I found very moving. Then she dried her eyes, and talked brightly for a few minutes like a playful child. Soon she fell asleep, and her arms reached out again towards me, in that instinctively loving way of hers.

We came in over South Africa before daylight. People began to wake up. I went to have a wash, and when I got back, I found Ekaterina very unhappy. She and the air hostess were looking everywhere for something. The Italian was there too, down on his hands and knees to help with the search.

'What are you looking for?' I asked him.

He stood up, looking angrily at me. 'The girl's miserable. What have you done to her?'

'You haven't slept well, I suppose?'

'Slept! I never sleep well on a plane.'

'You should find another way of travelling.'

He went crossly back to his seat. Ekaterina asked me to help, but I had no idea what was missing. Had it disappeared at Khartoum?

'Khartoum!' She threw up her hands in the air. Yes, perhaps the people at Khartoum had robbed her. Then suddenly a passenger a few seats away held up a packet of newspapers. Ah, that was it - yesterday's Greek papers, for the good Savvas to read. The evening news from Athena arriving in Yoannisburg the next morning. Lucky man.

I helped Ekaterina off the plane with her bags and packets. The air was cold, and she looked around her, frightened. I lost her in the crowd at the passport desks, and did not see her again until we were in the main hall of the airport building. There she was in a group of four or five people. Her head was low and her face was hidden in her hands. I could not see which was Savvas; there was nobody who looked like the man in her photograph.

She lifted her head and stared around. Then she saw me and came running down the hall. She put her head, like a child, on my shoulder, crying miserably. The little group of strangers watched from a distance. Now I saw that Savvas, the new husband himself, was there. It was certainly the man from the photograph, but he was bald and old, and very short and fat. I had half expected it.

'Ekaterina, I'll help you get back if you wish, to Athena, to Vari...'

I gave her my business card, with my address and phone number, and she stared at it through tearful eyes. She took my hand and held it for a moment. Then she dried her eyes and walked slowly back to the waiting group, her head held high.

My son and his wife, Loraine, found me standing there. I had not moved, and was staring after Ekaterina.

'Who's that beautiful little thing?' Loraine asked.

'Ekaterina.'

'Is it a love story?'

'I don't know. I think it's more like an unhappy ending.'

They were amused, and laughed about it while we had breakfast in the airport's large, cheerful restaurant.

'It's possible you've got it all wrong,' said Loraine. 'Remember, you couldn't understand what she was saying.'

'My instinct tells me I'm right.'

'Your instinct! Only a woman can be sure of her instinct.'

Why didn't I speak to Savvas Athanassiades at the airport? I do not know where to find him. His name is not in the phone book. I have waited to hear from Ekaterina, but nothing, not a word. Where is she? I remember how she walked calmly away, with her head up. Her dark shining hair, the yellow of her suit... Choosing to go, walking freely into a darkened future... But after all, perhaps Loraine is right.

I have heard nothing, and it is now four days.

- THE END -


Ekaterina (2)

The plane took off again, lifting up over sleeping Africa. 飛行機は再び離陸し、眠っているアフリカを持ち上げた。 For a short time the River Nile looked silver in the moonlight, until it was lost in the darkness. ナイル川は、暗闇の中で失われるまで、しばらくの間、月明かりの下で銀色に見えました。 We went on climbing alone into the milky sky. 私たちは一人で乳白色の空に登り続けました。 The passengers started preparing themselves for sleep. Ekaterina turned towards the window, and I lay back in my seat, horribly uncomfortable. エカテリーナは窓の方を向いて、私はひどく不快になって席に横になりました。

About half an hour later I woke up. Like a newborn animal, Ekaterina had moved as close as possible to me. 生まれたばかりの動物のように、エカテリーナは私にできるだけ近づいていた。 One arm was round my neck, and her face was half hidden in my shoulder. She smelt sweet and warm, like wild flowers or deep, newly turned soil. 彼女は、野生の花や深く新しく変わった土のように、甘くて暖かい香りをします。 She was asleep, and in her dreams she had returned to Vari, to a street of quiet little houses, to a single room full of sisters and brothers, with animals to take care of, perhaps. Had she ever slept alone? 彼女は一人で寝たことがありますか? Who was I in her sleep, who was held in her poor arms? 彼女の貧しい腕に抱かれた私は誰でしたか? A little brother who was always crying, a sister restless with hunger? いつも泣いていた弟、空腹で落ち着きのない妹? How could her family have sold this lovely child to an unknown husband? 彼女の家族はどうしてこの素敵な子供を未知の夫に売ることができたのでしょうか? Perhaps he was an honest man who had earned his place in South Africa. おそらく彼は南アフリカで彼の地位を獲得した正直な人でした。 And now he was looking back into the past, to take a wife of his own country, of the blood of Greece. そして今、彼は過去を振り返り、自国の妻をギリシャの血で連れて行っていました。 I only hoped he was good enough for her. I tried to tell myself, 'She's nothing to me. 私は自分に言い聞かせようとしました、「彼女は私には何もありません。 What does it matter who she marries?' 彼女が誰と結婚するかはどういうことですか?」 But it wasn't easy to say that, when she was actually asleep and warm and living against my body.

I slept a little, and when I woke up, Ekaterina had not moved. But she was now awake, and her large eyes were fixed darkly on me. しかし、彼女は今起きていて、彼女の大きな目は私に暗く固定されていました。 How long had she stared at me like that?

'Hello, Ekaterina,' I said.

'Hello.' She closed her eyes, preparing for sleep again.

'Ekaterina, I'm talking to you.'

A little movement of her head showed that she was awake.

'Listen, it may be a good thing that you don't understand. 「聞いてください、それはあなたが理解していない良いことかもしれません。 Listen, Ekaterina, you shouldn't be here. 聞いて、エカテリーナ、あなたはここにいるべきではない。 Go back, take the first chance to go back. 戻って、最初のチャンスを利用して戻ってください。 This marriage may work, but it may not. この結婚はうまくいくかもしれませんが、うまくいかないかもしれません。 It's all wrong. それはすべて間違っています。 You're not a thing for a man to buy, you're not a prisoner. あなたは人が買うものではありません、あなたは囚人ではありません。 It's so important to be free. Go back and learn to be free. 戻って、自由になることを学びましょう。 They've taken the past from you and you're throwing away the future. 彼らはあなたから過去を奪い、あなたは未来を捨てています。 Ekaterina, it's always better to die fighting - you must know that.' エカテリーナ、戦って死ぬほうがいい。それを知っておく必要がある」

I was talking almost to myself. 私はほとんど自分自身と話していました。 She could not understand a word, but something in my voice frightened her. 彼女は一言も理解できなかったが、私の声の何かが彼女を怖がらせた。 She began to cry. The great plane went on into the silken blackness. 偉大な飛行機は絹のような暗闇の中に入った。 Under us lay Africa, sleeping in the long night wind. 私たちの下にアフリカが横たわり、長い夜の風の中で眠っていました。

She cried quietly, but not for long. 彼女は静かに泣いたが、長くは続かなかった。 I think she was used to having sadness in her life. 彼女は人生で悲しみを味わうことに慣れていたと思います。 She took my hand and kissed it before I could stop her - a little show of grateful feeling which I found very moving. 彼女は私の手を取り、私が彼女を止めることができる前にそれにキスをしました-私が非常に感動的であると感じた感謝の気持ちの小さなショー。 Then she dried her eyes, and talked brightly for a few minutes like a playful child. それから彼女は目を乾かし、遊び心のある子供のように数分間明るく話しました。 Soon she fell asleep, and her arms reached out again towards me, in that instinctively loving way of hers. すぐに彼女は眠りに落ちました、そして、彼女の腕は彼女のその本能的に愛する方法で、私に向かって再び手を伸ばしました。

We came in over South Africa before daylight. 私たちは日が暮れる前に南アフリカにやって来ました。 People began to wake up. I went to have a wash, and when I got back, I found Ekaterina very unhappy. She and the air hostess were looking everywhere for something. 彼女とエアホステスはどこでも何かを探していました。 The Italian was there too, down on his hands and knees to help with the search. イタリア人もそこにいて、捜索を手伝うために彼の手と膝を下にした。

'What are you looking for?' I asked him.

He stood up, looking angrily at me. 'The girl's miserable. 「少女は惨めだ。 What have you done to her?' 彼女に何をしましたか?」

'You haven't slept well, I suppose?' 「あなたはよく眠れなかったと思いますか?」

'Slept! I never sleep well on a plane.'

'You should find another way of travelling.' 「あなたは別の旅行方法を見つけるべきです。」

He went crossly back to his seat. 彼は横切って自分の席に戻った。 Ekaterina asked me to help, but I had no idea what was missing. エカテリーナは私に助けを求めましたが、何が欠けているのかわかりませんでした。 Had it disappeared at Khartoum? Khartoumで消えましたか?

'Khartoum!' 「ハルツーム!」 She threw up her hands in the air. 彼女は手を空中に投げた。 Yes, perhaps the people at Khartoum had robbed her. はい、おそらくカルトゥームの人々は彼女を奪ったのでしょう。 Then suddenly a passenger a few seats away held up a packet of newspapers. それから突然、数席離れた乗客が新聞のパケットを持ち上げました。 Ah, that was it - yesterday's Greek papers, for the good Savvas to read. ああ、それはそれでした-良いSavvasが読むための昨日のギリシャの論文。 The evening news from Athena arriving in Yoannisburg the next morning. Lucky man.

I helped Ekaterina off the plane with her bags and packets. The air was cold, and she looked around her, frightened. I lost her in the crowd at the passport desks, and did not see her again until we were in the main hall of the airport building. 私はパスポートデスクで群衆の中で彼女を失い、空港ビルのメインホールに着くまで彼女に再び会うことはありませんでした。 There she was in a group of four or five people. Her head was low and her face was hidden in her hands. 彼女の頭は低く、彼女の顔は彼女の手に隠されていた。 I could not see which was Savvas; there was nobody who looked like the man in her photograph. どちらがSavvasかわかりませんでした。彼女の写真に写っている男性のように見える人は誰もいなかった。

She lifted her head and stared around. Then she saw me and came running down the hall. それから彼女は私を見て、廊下を駆け下りてきました。 She put her head, like a child, on my shoulder, crying miserably. The little group of strangers watched from a distance. Now I saw that Savvas, the new husband himself, was there. 今、私は新しい夫であるサヴァスがそこにいたのを見ました。 It was certainly the man from the photograph, but he was bald and old, and very short and fat. I had half expected it. 私は半分それを期待していました。

'Ekaterina, I'll help you get back if you wish, to Athena, to Vari...' 「エカテリーナ、あなたが望むなら、アテナ、ヴァリに戻るのを手伝います...」

I gave her my business card, with my address and phone number, and she stared at it through tearful eyes. 私は彼女に私の住所と電話番号が書かれた名刺を渡したところ、彼女は涙目でそれを見つめました。 She took my hand and held it for a moment. 彼女は私の手を取り、しばらくそれを握った。 Then she dried her eyes and walked slowly back to the waiting group, her head held high.

My son and his wife, Loraine, found me standing there. I had not moved, and was staring after Ekaterina. 私は動いておらず、エカテリーナを見つめていました。

'Who's that beautiful little thing?' 「あの美しい小さなものは誰ですか?」 Loraine asked.

'Ekaterina.'

'Is it a love story?'

'I don't know. I think it's more like an unhappy ending.' 不幸な結末のようなものだと思います。」

They were amused, and laughed about it while we had breakfast in the airport's large, cheerful restaurant. 空港の大きくて陽気なレストランで朝食をとっている間、彼らは面白がって、それについて笑いました。

'It's possible you've got it all wrong,' said Loraine. 「あなたがそれをすべて間違っている可能性があります」とロレインは言いました。 'Remember, you couldn't understand what she was saying.' 「覚えておいてください、あなたは彼女が何を言っているのか理解できませんでした。」

'My instinct tells me I'm right.' 「私の本能は私が正しいことを教えてくれます。」

'Your instinct! 「あなたの本能! Only a woman can be sure of her instinct.' 女性だけが彼女の本能を確信することができます。

Why didn't I speak to Savvas Athanassiades at the airport? なぜ私は空港でSavvasAthanassiadesと話をしなかったのですか? I do not know where to find him. 彼をどこで見つけるかわかりません。 His name is not in the phone book. 彼の名前は電話帳に載っていません。 I have waited to hear from Ekaterina, but nothing, not a word. 私はエカテリーナからの連絡を待っていましたが、何も、一言もありません。 Where is she? I remember how she walked calmly away, with her head up. 彼女が頭を上げて静かに歩いて行ったのを覚えています。 Her dark shining hair, the yellow of her suit... Choosing to go, walking freely into a darkened future... But after all, perhaps Loraine is right.

I have heard nothing, and it is now four days. 何も聞いていませんが、今は4日です。

- THE END -