Obsession (Year of Fire)

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Authors: Florencia Bonelli
dream of peace in my land and seeing a nation made up of both Israelis and Palestinians, united in the understanding that we are all creatures of God.’”
    Al-Saud thought about how Sabir’s adapted phrase had paved the way that Shiloah Moses would take in a few weeks: the struggle for the creation of a two-nation state. Eliah thought that his friends were crazy, that the idea of a two-nation state was a mirage. Suddenly he remembered that, like him, Sabir and Shiloah had been born in the year of the Horse of Fire; they weren’t ordinary men and they’d never think or act in ordinary ways.
    “And I thought it was a magnificent moment when he looked upward, pushing his speech to one side, and declared: ‘I didn’t say Allah and I didn’t say Yahweh, I said God, a universal term that we all know, because there is one God for all of us.’”
    Eliah began to understand that he wasn’t going to seduce this girl with expensive watches and French perfumes. He would win her with enthusiasm and attention to the things she was most interested in—for example, it seemed, the acceptance speech given by the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. She glowed so beautifully when she was passionate about something. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes shone as she delicately waved her long-fingered hands, the same hands that apparently, though it was hard for him to believe, could handle a scalpel. A moment later, as she continued to talk, she was rebraiding her hair, and Al-Saud regarded the mixture of nearly platinum-blonde strands with darker shades. In her fervor for Al-Muzara, Matilde had drawn her legs up into her seat and was sitting cross-legged, facing toward him. She’s small enough to fit sitting like that , he pondered. How would it feel to hold her?
    “But my favorite part,” Matilde resumed, “was when he mentioned the children.”
    “Mat!” Juana interrupted without turning around, “Don’t say children , for the love of God!”
    Al-Saud laughed out loud at the face Matilde made. She rolled her eyes toward the ceiling and bit her bottom lip, revealing straight, white teeth; her front teeth were adorable; square, well-proportioned and flawless.
    “Juana, it’s not polite to listen to other people’s conversations.”
    “I couldn’t help hearing, darling Mat, you’re talking loud enough for the whole plane to hear.”
    “Anyway,” Matilde went on, more quietly now, “I loved it when he said that, above all, he dedicated this prize to the Israeli and Palestinian children, the ones who had left and the ones that were still there, because the peace he was fighting for was for them, so that they could walk the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Gaza and Ramala with smiles on their faces and without a care in the world. And he was so right to say, ‘Because I abhor the idea of children having their childhoods taken away from them, forced into adulthood at ten years old.’ I was moved to hear that he had donated the prize, which is a lot of money, more than a million dollars, to the Palestine Red Crescent.” She fell silent, her head bowed, as if she was meditating on her last words. “He’s not a wealthy man, is he?”
    “No, to the contrary. He lives a very simple life.”
    “Do you know him well?” Matilde was amazed. When Al-Saud didn’t answer, she added: “Of course, Al-Muzara must earn a lot from his book sales.”
    “He donates it all to charity.”
    “His speech wasn’t very long,” she noted after a pause.
    “They don’t call him the Silent One for nothing.”
    “Yes, that’s true. I read that he prefers listening to speaking.”
    Eliah found that Matilde’s devotion to Al-Muzara was starting to irritate him.
    “Why is the part about the children your favorite? Are children important to you?”
    “Yes, very much,” she answered, but quietly, without any of the previous emphasis. The sudden change disconcerted him and he kept quiet, looking at her. She lowered her head,

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