Dushan Bumps into Evelyn

It was just after 12:30pm on Saturday. The weather was not unpleasantly cold. He didn’t need to wear a scarf which he didn’t like wearing. His gloves were in the pockets of his jacket in case he needed them. The snow had which had fallen a few days ago had long since melted. After being in warm and sunny Buenos Aires, he couldn’t wait for winter to go and for spring to take its place.

During spring, he planned to spend a lot of time outdoors with Chioma. He fancied taking her on day trips to places such as Bath, Windsor Castle & Stonehenge, Oxford, Blenheim Palace & Woodstock, The Cotswolds, Bristol and Downton Abbey Locations. They could even visit Paris which was two hours away by Eurostar and take a short flight, just over an hour, to Edinburgh. There were so many things he wanted to do and places he wanted to see with her.

He was on his way to see her. They were going to the Royal Albert Hall to see Cirque du Soleil. The show was at 3:30pm. Chioma had scored the tickets in a raffle.  

Dushan was walking to his car when he heard someone call out his name. He turned and was surprised to see Evelyn. After some hesitation, he walked towards her. A long time had passed since they last saw each other. He had often wondered how she was and hoped that in spite of the hurt he had caused her, that she was managing to do well.

When he reached her, he greeted her with a quiet, “Hello, Evelyn.” She was standing in the sun which shone its light on her red hair.

“Hello, Dushan.” Her eyes traveled over him. “You’re looking very well.”

“Thank you. So are you.”

“How are you, Dushan?”

“I’m doing very well.”

“I’m happy to hear that. I’ve thought about you often and always wondered how you were.”

“I’m truly sorry for the hurt I’ve caused you, Evelyn.”

“Are you still seeing her?” She still couldn’t bring herself to say the other woman’s name.

Dushan shook his head at once. “No. I ended the affair last year on Boxing Day.”

Her eyebrows rose. “What finally made you decide to end it?” she asked.

“It was the right thing to do and I met someone.”

“You met someone?”

“Yes. I met her on December 20.”

“She must be someone very special for you to finally end your eight year affair.”

“Yes, she is. Meeting her made me want to do the right thing.”

“Well, I’m happy that she was able to get you to do what I wasn’t able to. Does she know about me?”

“Yes. I told her that I was divorced and the reason why.”

“And she wasn’t put off?”

“No. She said that if she didn’t want to have anything more to do with me, she would have told me so to my face. I was very thankful that she didn’t hold my unsavory past against me and allowed me to see her again. We’ve been dating since then.”

“Does she know about your girlfriend?”

“Yes, Ruth knows about Chioma. In fact, she came to my office on the Monday after Chioma and I returned from Buenos Aires.”

“You and your girlfriend went to Buenos Aires?”

“Yes. She went there to do an interview and I went with her.”

“Interview? Is she a reporter?”

“She’s a staff writer at The Era.”

“I guess she made a big stink when you dumped her and told her about this new woman in your life. It serves her right. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. She didn’t give a damn about me or that poor husband of hers and now, she has no choice but to accept that the man she loves doesn’t want her anymore and that he has moved on. Are you in love this new woman?”

“Yes.”

“Yes. I can see it on your face when you talk about her. Well, I’m happy for you, Dushan. I’m happy that, you’ve found love at last. I knew that you didn’t love me even though I loved you. I also knew that you didn’t loved that woman or you would have left me for her. And that’s why it hurt so much when you became involved with her. You were cheating on me with a woman you didn’t even love.”

“Evelyn, I hate what I did to you and I still haven’t forgiven myself for it–“

“I forgave you so, I think it’s time that you forgive yourself.”

Her words seemed to take away a weight which had been on him. He felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted off him. Forgiveness was a wonderful thing, even as one felt that it was undeserving. “Thank you,” he said quietly. “I needed to hear that.”

She smiled. “Well, I wish you nothing but happiness with this new woman.”

“Thank you. And, what about you? How is life for you?”

“Life is good for me. I’m a single mother.”

He stared at her. “You are?”

“Yes. I adopted a little girl from Malawi.”

“That’s wonderful. You know you’ve always wanted to be a mother and I know that you would be a wonderful one.”

“Thank you. I wish now I had brought her with me so that you could see her in person, but she was sleeping and I didn’t want to disturb her. She’s with her nurse, Abeni, a lovely Nigerian woman.”

“Which part of Nigeria is Abeni from?”

“Lagos.”

“Chioma’s from Abuja.”

“Abeni has relatives who live there.”

“How did you family react when you told them that you were going to adopt?”

“They were thrilled until I told them that I was adopting an African child. They tried to discourage me, urging me to adopt a child from another part of Europe instead but I was determined to adopt a child from Africa. And, I did.”

“I’m glad you followed your heart.”

“Me too. Would you like to see a photo of her?”

“Yes, I would.”

She showed him a picture of a sweet little girl, about a year old. “Isn’t she adorable?” she exclaimed, her eyes shining.

Dushan smiled. “Yes, she is. What’s her name?”

“Hadassah.”

Dushan looked at her in surprise. “You named her Hadassah?”

“Yes. I’ve always preferred it to Esther. I want my daughter to be proud of who she is in spite of what others might think and say.”

“It’s the perfect name for her.” He felt ashamed that he had hidden his Jewish identity this long. “I shouldn’t hide who I am either.”

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Now it was Evelyn’s turn to stare at him, perplexed. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“I’m Jewish.”

“You’re Jewish?”

“Yes. Chioma is the only other person who knows this. As far as everyone else is concerned, I’m the son of Slovak immigrants.”

“Why have you kept your true identity a secret? Are you ashamed of being a Jew?”

“No, I’m not ashamed of being a Jew. My parents thought it best to kept our true identity a secret because of anti-Semitism. It was easier for them to get employment and affordable housing if people didn’t know that they were Jews. Like Mordecai, they told me to never tell anyone that I was a Jew. So, like Esther, I lived as a Gentile. I’ve never set foot in a synagogue but I can speak Hebrew because my parents taught me.”

“How awful it must be to hide who you are because of intolerance. Hadassah will be taught to love and accept who she is. I think you should stop hiding the fact that you’re a Jew.”

“That’s what Chioma said.”

“She’s right.”

“Evelyn, I wish I could chat longer with you but, I have to go. Are you here in London for a while?”

“I’m afraid not. We’re leaving this evening.”

“Oh. Well, it was nice seeing you.”

“It was nice seeing you too. Take care of yourself, Dushan.”

“I will.”

She hugged him and when, she released him, he turned and walked briskly away.

Sources: World of Wanderlust; Visit London; Royal Albert Hall

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