Chapter one (continued)
Her gaze wandered again on her neighborhood. She knew every family that lived there. Nana loved company and a good gossip. The women would gather every morning around the “manghal”, a large round copper container placed on a thick pad in the middle of the room and filled with smoldering coal used for heat and cooking. Aunt Yeran her mother’s sister would make coffee. it was an elaborate event. First a large cast iron pan was placed on the burning coal and fresh green coffee beans were slowly roasted. the aroma would fill the whole room. Once roasted the beans were poured in a cylinder grinder. Each one would take turn grinding the coffee bean by quickly rotating the lever. the ground coffee was gathered in a receptacle at the bottom of the grinder. A large copper “jazvah” (an oddly shaped small pan with a long handle used only for making coffee) filled with fresh water was placed on the burning ashes. Aunt Yeran would then add the freshly roasted and ground coffee. She would patiently stir it until it came to a boil and then pour it in little cups and pass it around. The gossip will continue uninterrupted reinforced by countless coffee refills and delicious pastries baked fresh.
Aunt Azniv’s house was the biggest in the quarter. She was her mother’s best friend. Not a day would pass without them having a visit from Aunt Azniv or her sons. She had four sons and was very proud of them. They had large farming lands. In fact she could see the eldest son Kevork riding his horse and examining the crop. He was a tall young man with dark hair and eyes. Her friends found him very handsome and always tried to get his attention. What she envied him the most was his horse. It was a magnificent animal. How she wished she could ride.
Last summer at her cousin Arsine’s wedding, the bride had arrived to church sitting on Kevork’s horse. During the ceremony, she had quietly slipped out of the church and walked toward the horse. It was quietly waiting under a tree. When she had got near it, it had turned its head and nuzzled her shoulder. Its fur was soft and silky. She had heard footsteps behind her. She had turned her head and Kevork was walking toward them. She had shyly asked him if she could sit on his horse. He had looked at her disapprovingly and said:
“Young ladies do not ride horses. You better go back to your family.”
That was the last time she had talked to him. Since then she avoided him and when they met by chance she would look the other way.
Dark clouds had gathered. A storm was brewing. She stood up and started walking downhill. Large raindrops splashed on the jagged trail. She slipped on the mud formed by the downpour. She stood up and plodded off. She was soaked through and covered with mud. Once at the bottom of the hill, she ran as fast as could. She was fervently hoping that no one would see her in this state. Head low, she hurried on. She was almost there. In the next moment she fell sprawled in a puddle of icy water. She had collided with a dark wall. She looked dazedly up and the wall moved and bent towards her. Two strong hands held her by the shoulders and pulled her up.
She looked straight into dark disapproving eyes. Kevork’s eyes. Of all the people to meet!
“What are you doing out in this weather?”
She turned around and started walking in the direction of the house without answering. A strong hand took hold of her arm and stopped her.
“Almast answer me.”
Hearing him say her name, froze her to the ground. He knew her name. She stood transfixed. She still didn’t answer. Dark eyes were mockingly examining her disheveled state. She held her head high and said.
“ I was up on the hill and the storm took me by surprise.”
A reluctant smile twisted his lips and he shook his head.
She turned around and started running. Reaching the heavy iron gate, she stopped and looked back. He was standing at the same spot under the pouring rain, waiting for her to get inside. She stumbled with the latch. Her hands were cold and wet. She finally opened the gate and ran in the courtyard, closing the heavy gate securely behind her.