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Thursday, September 21, 2023

A Chinese Princess like no other (Part I)

A story of Valentine

 By Ardain IsmaCSMS Magazine Staff WriterRomance doesn’t always come at first glance, and it doesn’t always last forever. In fact, rarely love at first sight propels lovers to the highest echelon of what the French call L’amour chevaleresque (Love crafted with pride and great stoicism). However, a sincere relationship, even loosely maintained, can perhaps give birth to the desired effect: the infinite bliss.This piece could have been easily titled When a Caribbean prince meets his Chinese princess. One remembers the Barbara Stern’s story The land of the blue faces, which recounts the tale of a Tibetan princess going to China to claim her prize, but faces an unimaginable dilemma: marry her Chinese prince and loses her Tibetan throne or gives up the love to maintain her throne. This story can claim some similarities to that, but it is by no means a fairytale like the one that Barbara describes in her beautiful collection titled Tales from many lands.                Sometimes in the pursuit of furtherance of love, deliverance pops up when one least expects it. That’s what happens to Yvon Jean-Pierre, a flamboyant bachelor from Saint Louis Du Nord, the legendary town nestled on Haiti’s northern coast. He arrives in New Jersey on a business trip and checks in an exclusive Hotel near the Garden State Parkway in the town of Odell, just few miles from Downtown New York City.            Tired and exhausted after a long voyage from Miami where he lives and works as a college professor, he enters his room with one thing in mind: Rest. Resting, he does; but tonight as all the previous ones, a nightmarish feeling engulfs his soul, making the crossing from dusk to dawn a dreadful impasse to overcome ever since he walked out a nasty divorce with his estranged wife. His tiresome body saves him, though, as he plunges into a deep sleep, snoring in ecstasy only to be awoken by the sunray, breaking though the colonial window, beaming into his room.            He gets up, stretches his legs and arms like a wild eagle and rolls to the right side of the bed. He glances across the window to catch the hibiscuses floating in the outside, cool breeze. He looks at his watch. “It is now nine o’ clock already?” he murmured, scratching his neck. He jumps off the bed, runs to the bathroom and immediately feels refreshed after a cool morning shower.It is Sunday, his favorite day. He puts on his tennis shoes and gets dressed in his casual outfit—kaki pants and red, long sleeve shirt with horizontal, blue stripes. He then walks out of the room and makes his way down through the elevator, navigating between the hallways to reach the front desk. “Is breakfast over?” he asks a short lady with a freckled face who stood erect behind the desk.            “Sorry, breakfast is over,” she replies with a worried smile. “Look at the sign in the corner. A brunch will be served at noon,” she continues, pointing her blue pen to the direction of the sign. Yvon makes a turn to the adjacent hallway, where the sign is being posted. Disappointed, his stomach is churning. He has to eat something. He goes back to his room, pulls some Haitian crackers out of his suitcase and starts devouring them in an attempt to squelch his hunger.  He then grabs one of his favorite novels—One hundred days of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez—and starts reading to kill some time.            Two hours later, he decides to walk back downstairs to be surrounded by other guests as his dormant solitude begins to be felt, returning with an uncontrollable sense. He gently opens the door to avoid its squeaky sound and steps out in the hallway. There comes behind him a charming young woman with Asian features. He glances backward and throws his smile while waving at her, advancing at a faster speed. She smiles back and waves back, sending chill to his heart. Still, he does not stop. He presses on to the stairways, walking without looking back. His book tightly held in his hand, he makes his way to the lobby, passing through several Canadian tourists chatting among themselves to finally reach the Hotel restaurant, where the brunch is already in full display.            There, he sits at a small table fit for two. With so much food to choose from, he suddenly becomes overwhelmed. He drops his book on the table and edges over the buffet, grabs a plate and begins to fill it with some garden salad. As he turns around to step back to his seat, he comes face to face with the Asian beauty he has just met few minutes earlier. They both throw their smile and once again say hello to each other as if they have not seen before. The glow on the lady’s face captures his utmost attention, wraps his soul and takes away whatever is left of his appetite. He glues to his seat, berries his face in his book while sneaking through the pages to steal a glimpse of the saintly beauty that has just invaded his solitude, leaping his heart to the highest level of palpitation.            Through the pages, he watches with awe the breathtaking composure of the young woman now sitting majestically at her table about a foot away from his. She is of medium height, wearing a pair of blue jeans and colorful T-shirt. Her hair—pitch black and pulled back in a bun—brings a lot of fanciness to her round-shape Asian visage uplifted by her stylish hoop ring. She has clean supple stride and gentle swaying hips well sustained by her firm, straight legs. Sitting upright, tipping on her food and eating like a bird, her small breast—each time she leans forward—heaves up under the thin-colorful shirt, looking like star apples in sunny pathways. Maybe she is being paralyzed by the same magnet that has already knocked Yvon down across from her table; and when she throws her smile, her buck-hole cheeks radiates under the chandeliers, sending shockwaves to his heart.             “Is this a mere mirage or a true reality,” he ponders. He begins to touch the tablecloth, the silverware, the food and he begins to look around the room with an irreverent gaze, making sure that he is not in a dream. When he finally realizes that he may be in the presence of a real beauty queen, he starts to regain his composure; and in a blur, he edges closer to the young woman. “Can you please join me?” he stutters with repressed emotion. The young woman looks at him, throws a vague smile, shakes her head and gives him the negative nod. He quickly realizes that he has just made a strategic blunder. A man doesn’t ask a woman he meets for the first time to come his way without an introduction.             “Oh my God! What does she think of me now? A guru?” His face becomes pale and reddish, blurred by shame. He is now frozen in his chair, feeling trapped like a fly that gets caught in a spider web. He begins to ponder how to repair the goof he has just committed. Meanwhile the charming lady continues to tap the food into her mouth, sometimes just tap her fork on the plate to give an impression that she is focusing on one thing: her food. But deep inside, her heart is racing toward the zenith of its palpitation. She too is puzzled by this unexpected “meet.” Yvon is of medium height, just like her with a fair complexion, majestic sideburns and thin mustache. His reddish black eyes reinforced by the glow of his dark kinky hair make him utterly handsome, but also dignified, which plays well into the heart of the marvelously charming lady sitting adjacent to him with a voluptuousness impossible for anyone to ignore.            If Yvon feels embarrassed for his mistake, he is not alone. She too feels the same way, hanging her head down, blushing in embarrassment and desperately waiting for Yvon to make a second move. She knows she has paralyzed him. In the end, their mutually inclusive shame washes away as Yvon, irresistibly, edges closer for a second time. “My name is Yvon Jean-Pierre, and I have been watching your glittered eyes since you walked in here,” he says with an awesome glee.            “Really?” she reciprocates with a blissful smile, stroking her hair backward in a sign of self-reassurance.            “And what is yours?” he asks. He puts his book aside and waits with an ushered, revolutionized eagerness for a reply.                                 “Jenny.”            “Jenny who?” he asks again as if her last name is of great significance to him.            “Jenny Lai”            “What a wonderful name! That reminds me of a childhood friend back home.”            “Where is home?”            “Back in Haiti, where I’m from originally. And where are you from?”            “China. I’m here on a business trip.”            “What do you do?” He moves his chair closer to hers, but a small gap of pace still keeps them apart.            “I’m an executive for a Swiss jewelry company based in Hong Kong.” She turns toward him, her face aglow, sizing him up from head to toe, then takes a timid bite on a slice of tomato. “I’m assuming you’re not from here. May I ask the purpose of your trip?” She continues, throwing again her saintly smile.            “You’re right. I’m not from here. I’m from South Florida, where I work as a college professor in the Literature Department. I’m here to participate at a writer’s conference.”            “Are you a writer?”            “I think I am one, but far from being one of the best ones.” He laughs while sticking his hand into his right back pocket to release a business card that he hands to her.            “Have you published any book, Yvon?”            “Yes, I have.”            “Wow! I’d like to read some if not all of your books,” she reveals, grabbing her purse from her seat to join him at his table. At that point on, total confidence sets in on his mind. They chat for more than one hour at the brunch, talking about the facts of life, their professional life and even teaching each other how to express feeling of love in their respective languages.            It is now one o’ clock in the afternoon, and few guests still remain at their desk, taking on some butterfly shrimps while wining in their glasses. It is truly time to leave, but both Yvon and Jenny cannot find their way to the exit door, remaining glued to their seat and hoping that this dazzling moment lasts forever. It is high noon for both of them, and they know it. And they also know if they have a chance at ever getting a reoccurrence of this memorable, unforgettable, unimaginable, pure/sweet, dream-like moment, they must reveal the true paralysis that holds them pinned down at the table. (End of Part I)Also see The last time I saw ElodieCoping with holiday stress Best tips for emerging writersCommercial success or literary lust: the dilemma facing many of our promising authorsPaul Laraque, internationally renowned Haitian poet and militant, has diedNote: Dr. Ardain Isma is a novelist and chief editor for CSMS Magazine. His latest book “Alicia” was critically acclaimed by all of its reviewers.

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