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Asmi’s Freedom (Shortstory)

Asmi’s Freedom

Asmi looked outside the window of her sleeping room. It was almost eight o clock in the evening but the weather outside was still so bright and warm. She was tired and sleepy but she couldn’t sleep. She thinks it strange that the sun stays that long during the day, but then she has seen a lot of strange things here since she left her country three days ago.
In her country it’s always dark outside just before seven in the evening. At that time, she usually would be at home with her parents, her sister and her two brothers, eating dinner, watching TV and chatting in the living room until sleeping time. Early in the morning they all would wake up, doing the morning pray, having breakfast, going to school and then later going to work until evening, and so the routine repeated for almost twenty seven years of her life. She occasionally had free time sometimes, which she would spend it with her friends or sister, shopping or going to the movies, watching an American romantic comedy. She always thought she was happy. She had everything she needed, a family who loved her, a bunch of friends who were always willing to spend time with her, and maybe later she would actually have a man who would ask to marry him and having family of her own just like she had now.
But now she was here, in her room in Berlin, in the heart of Europe, alone. The German class that she took ended at one o’clock in the afternoon. All her classmate friendly waved her goodbye and soon disappeared. She went to the nearest restaurant for lunch but hesitated to go in. The thought of sitting alone in restaurant scared her. What would she do? Eating and staring the window? What should she do while she waited for the food? She always had her friend during lunch time, never, as long as she could remember had she gone alone to restaurant or any other place as the matter of fact. She always had appointments to meet at restaurants, book stores, the movies, the library or even a Moshe. Her younger sister was always more than willing to company her, because that meant she would have everything paid for. And so she’d get free entertainment. The brothers would finally say yes with the promise to be introduced to one of her beautiful friends. The thought of sitting alone! In a restaurant was so unbearable to her, that she finally decided to go to the Asian shop and simply buy groceries.
Now it was eight in the evening. The sun so bright and the weather so warm outside. She had done everything that she could do; cooked, ate, washed, studied, and taken a bath. She had even watered the flowers on balcony twice. She could not sleep even though she felt rather sleepy.
She grabbed her jacket and her bag, went outside and walked to the station. She walked rather slow but with certainty. Behind the sunglass, her eyes looked around comfortably. People passed her by with faster speed than her walk. She noticed that people almost always ran everywhere here. They even ran to the strand cafe just too lazily lie in the sun. From the Hauptbahnhof she walked in the direction of the Kapelleufer, crossing the Konrad-Adenauer-Strasse. Her eyes cached some faces of the people who went in the other the direction. Most of them just passed by and minded their own business, but one or two actually smiled friendly to her. She didn’t have a chance to smile back because she didn’t really expect it. She didn’t know why those people smiled at her, as she recalled, she had never met them before, but it is also possible that they just smile to everybody because they were really happy. Because as she later found out, the sun can make Europeans extremely happy! But somehow that smile made her heart warmer and she walked more rapidly and with certainty. When she was going to the Brandenburgtor with her classmate, she had seen some people reading books on the bank beside the Spree near the Palast der Republik, and that’s where she was going now.
She sat herself on the one empty bank on the river, reached for her book from Claudia Rusch about the girl who grew up in the DDR. Shortly later she was deep into her reading and hardly noticed her surrounding.
After a while she felt rather tired, so she stretched a little. It was beautiful weather and the Palast of Republik was one the of important tourist attractions in Berlin, so it was no wonder that people crowded the area. She looked around and but nobody seemed to notice her. So one or two did look in her direction, but she assumes that they were actually looking through her. Maybe they see the object behind her. She felt tired and the long bench that she was sitting on. Was so tempting, so she decided to lie on her belly with her back toward the sky, tried to make she as comfortable as she could while her sight fell to the dark water of the Spree. Once and a while, boat passed by with a bunch of tourists sometime waving. She could feel the warm sun on her back, and the feeling of open air surrounded her. She felt rather funny but also liberated that she was lying around on the public place all by herself, busy with her own thought. She would never be able to do something like this back home. People might not say anything to her but surely they would turn over their heads to her and consider her rather strange. And suddenly a thought struck her, a thought of how much freedom she had actually had to do what she really wants to do. All this time, she had felt like people were watching every move she made. A friendly warning from people around her to make sure that she had done everything properly would always echo in her head. When she thought about it now, it seems that all her life was occupied with the thought of what people expected from her. And she had taken it for granted because she had never had a chance to think for herself. Now she was here, alone, miles away from the people she knew, surrounded by people, whose opinion didn’t really matter to her. She feels like she was free to do everything she wanted now. She could have fun and do what she really wanted to do. Of course she had to figure it out first what it is that she really wanted to do, but then she had much time here because there was no phoning to be occupied with, no friends to be entertained, no family to be pleased. She rose from the bench, decided that she could try to find a nice deutsches restaurant because she felt hungry now.

August 2006