The watch stopped ticking and I was suddenly aware of the outside world again. The grass was green to the point of sickliness, the sky a disturbingly brilliant electric blue, the same blueness of the parasite's eyes that had been such a fixture in my life recently. I felt as though I had given birth to this pasture, this singularity without which I would not have been reborn into the life of basmachi banditry. It was here, after all, where the events that had changed the course of my life forever had occurred.
The wild flowers smelled like roses. Roses. Why have humans associated them with love and the rawness of sexuality? I never understood why sexuality was taken by so many to be an integral part of romantic love. What was romance? When Nurana sat down with me and tried to explain to me many years ago, I could only remember getting confused.
We had never been close, but I was going to marry her in a month's time. I had to; there had been no other path for me due to my poverty. Could there be any other way out for me? I could not return to America, for Daniar and I were now bankrupt due to a number of past missteps, and isolated as I was from the native Kirghiz community, I felt as if the only way I could build connections and rebuild a semblance of self-sufficiency was through marriage to my childhood friend, Nurana.
How was our union going to work? What is a union? Marriage should not be a sacrament. Nikkah. In Islam, marriage is defined as a contract for the procreation and legalizing of children. When I went to elementary school in America, I was taught that marriage was about consent, not descent. Consentyes, both parties had agreed to this marriage. American marriage, however, involves the ever-present indefinable variable, love. I grew up on films like Hearts Adrift, in which both parties in the relationship defined their relationship by the process of falling in love. They married because they fell in love. They had a child because they fell in love. In America, the reductio ad absurdum of all existence must be love. Well, at least to me it is. After all, the idea of love in America is like the idea of democracysure, it's nice on paper, but once you get around to applying it in real life, it's utterly useless. Well, maybe not totally, but the idea of "falling in love" does result in a lot of broken hearts.
You see, Nurana and I are not "in love" and never have been. We, as I said before, barely know each other. That'd be fine, of course, since neither of us is American. However, the idea of living with someone you barely knew and God forbid, having sex with her, was a little too much for me. No, I needed my freedom.
What about freedom, then? In America, freedom is considered a right, as something every human being should have. It's like the idea of loveyou have to experience it because it is an innate part of human nature. As the Declaration of Independence said, liberty is among mankind's unalienable rights. Not here in Kirghizia. Freedom is not something that is owed you; rather, it is something granted to a select few. We Kirghiz learned that back in the days of the Uzbek Kokand Khanate. We had been second-class citizens in every sense of the word.
Now, who were we treating as second-class citizens?
Idle reader, I have long been wanting to tell you about a certain young man we had imprisoned here against his will. The son of a Russian official who had enraged our dear leader, Enver Pasha, Mitya had been held for ransom, and I suppose, was eventually murdered at the end of the debacle. It was somewhat pitiable, because the whelp really had no say in this.
But then again, who gets to actually have a say in life? Americans love to talk about self-determination. Ever since Benjamin Franklin wrote that Autobiography of his, self-determinism has been central to American life. However, is it applicable at all, or is it just like the dreary notion of romantic love, desirable in theory but utterly useless and ultimately a burden in reality?
Just as I was forced into marriage and into becoming a basmachi by circumstance, Mitya was forced by his to suffer an untimely death. How pitiable had it been to see such a young boy sentenced to such a fate!