[Novel] The Road to Shamawes ⑯

[25]

Nargis’s early tension began to ease as she saw the old and new faces coming to the villa. She forgot for a while the beginning of the crisis, but she was aware that the end would not be so smooth. She might have looked at her watch over two hundred times within two hours, something which both Viola and the general noticed.

Viola’s friends make her villa the meeting place for people of various types where they find quiet and peace away from Cairo’s noise and eyes. They also enjoy fresh air, but above all, they enjoy such unique relationship which they establish to the tune of music: former ambassadors, merchants, speculators and business tycoons. But she doesn’t allow her guests to indulge in their personal whims.

“As you are now intimate friends, let me say goodbye to you.”

It was a sharp, serious gesture to dismiss anybody who attempted to turn this business centre into a night club or brother. It was secret sign calling her bodyguard who looked at her all the time to help the guests leave the villa.

Nargis realized that one of the languages she heard in Viola’s villa was Hebrew, but she pretended to be heedless. Since Viola found it OK to receive Jews, she couldn’t do anything. Didn’t she say to her. “Regard yourself to be in the UN”?!

That night Nargis only heard the phrases that Viola wanted to hear. Viola sits closer to the speaker, a signal to Nargis to interpret. The semiotic signs between Nargis and Viola are not many, but they are suggestive and satisfactory.

When the last guest left, the General’s movement had been slower. He waited all that time from the early evening to talk to Nargis, but now he didn’t know what to say to her.

“You stayed up too late, General, didn’t you?”

Viola’s short sentence was quite significant. It was an invitation to him to go, but he had already been prepared for that.

“Before I go I’d like to have a word with Miss Nargis.”

“Is this the right time? We’re all tired, she the most. What about tomorrow?”

What Viola said wasn’t a suggestion but rather an order, which she finished decisively.

“Well, let’s meet tomorrow morning. I’ll get up at eleven for your sake. She’ll be waiting for you. Goodbye, General.”

That sentence and Nargis’s smile were the last things the General carried going down the stairs on his way to his villa at the other end of the road.

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