~ 11 May 1870, 0830, Munich, Bavaria
Alongside Tikva, Adamina began her breakfast in the hotel restaurant with a thankful prayer towards her aunt’s charity. Afterwards Tikva wanted to stroll outside seeking some fresh air. She wanted Adamina with her, but Adamina was still tired and desired to write in her journal. The clerk, having introduced himself as Fester, assured them that the area around and within the hotel was safe, so Tikva departed while Adamina stayed behind.
Adamina saw a carved wooden table and its two cushioned chairs with cabriole legs snuggled under the morning sun perfectly feathered through a spotless window. Sitting down, she could clearly see her mother admiring the statues and colorful gardens in the hotel’s Promenadeplatz. Such cleanliness and beauty reminded her of her father’s pure and spotless love. She sought inspiration from the morning sun and opened the bag containing her journal. A case fell out and landed on the table with a clunk. When they fled Romania, her father gave her this gift and told her how the Romanian Petrache Poenaru invented the first fountain pen. At that time, she didn’t care; she disliked the Romanians and wanted to destroy the fountain pens. But she remembered her father’s words: Dearest Minna, all people are good; all people are evil. We struggle to escape prejudice and discrimination and to live every day within God’s will together in a humanity where the honor and humility of difference serves to unite us in understanding. Adamina sat and thought of these words and the kind wisdom her father always shared. Even now, a few days after his death, he still lived within her.
Adamina sat down and began to write. Dearest Father, I miss you and I love you, but how can I love when hate consumes me against those who killed you. How can hate exist alongside love? Does that make me evil? Does God still love me? She tried to understand her feelings, to decide if it was love or hate that would define her. She breathed deeply and looked out the window across the promenadeplatz. She saw her mom sitting on a park bench admiring the statues guarding the hotel. She found grace through her mom’s strength, thanking God for such an example. Watching the people, she admired the men in top hats walking with their wives in dresses that had abandoned the crinoline in favor of the slimmer bustle. They all walked among the flowering trees and bushes oblivious to the tall statues or perhaps comforted within the gratitude and safety granted by their ancestors.
She didn’t know when, but a tear soon splashed upon her journal. And she began to cry. Her lacrimal system purged her emotions down her eyes and cheeks while her mouth shuddered to maintain her dignity.
Fester, the clerk who welcomed them yesterday, saw Adamina crying. He walked over and placed his hand on her shoulder, “Adamina, are you okay?”
Adamina felt queasy at his touch and squiggled away from his hand. Although she believed it was just a thoughtful and benevolent gesture, she still didn’t like it. “Thank you Fester. Yes, I’m Okay. I just need to cry. Thank you, but please just leave me be.”
Having noticed her aversion to his touch, Fester removed his hand and gently responded, “Okay Adamina, please let me know if you need anything.” He walked away repeatedly muttering hohlkopfe to himself, and he felt like he did something inappropriate. He just couldn’t understand what.
Adamina cried. She lost her father. No, not lost. Her father’s wise and gentle spirit was wrested away while his body laid lifeless before them. She needed him. Mom needed him. Looking out the window again, she saw her mom sitting alone on a bench, her head resting in her hands. This grief connected Adamina to her mom in the most intimate way. Separated as they were, she mourned with her mother. The grief of losing her father, she discovered, was both isolating and unifying. An act nobody seeks, yet life cannot exist without it. She continued writing: Dad, how can we recover without your guidance? Mom is broken; I’m broken. We are broken. Aunt Angelika arrives in a few days to bring us to Hamburg. She will be expecting you. She doesn’t yet know the grief we live. Where will this journey end? I don’t, can’t, want to live without you.
Adamina paused, looked again outside, her mother was admiring one of the statues. Adamina wondered who they were. Around them, many flowers either began their, or were in, full bloom. Delicate petals of yellow, red, blue, and violet attracted the wanderers hypnotized by such strong yet ephemeral palettes to reach down and accept their aromas. She saw her mom among them. Adamina could just make out the slightest grin on her mother’s face when she smelled some flower. She wanted that happiness to last for her.
Several guests engaged Fester in hotel business. Adamina watched him work flawlessly. She imagined his maneuverings to cater to each guest’s needs as a delicate dance. A performance only for her. It excited her. Her chest heated and her breathing became agonized; she then recognized a growing untoward anger. It was not for Fester, but for them who occupied his time. He was the first person she knew in this new land. She wanted to know more, to understand his kindness from the passion that stirred his turbulent eyes that reminded her of the vast Black Sea. She hoped that tempestuous passion in his eyes echoed a kind yet passioned intelligence for life and happiness.
Finally, he was free. She walked over “Fester, I—”
“Adamina, I’m sorry for—”
“No.” she emphasized. “You did nothing wrong.” You didn’t, you don’t know.
“Know what Adamina?”
“My father was killed by a gang who, who tried to.” Adamina’s hands clammed; she felt a flushing rise through her neck to her face.
Fester stood still. He saw her hands grab the counter to ground her and how her jaw tightened against her growing anger. He kept calm and quiet, hoping it would help her. No emotion showed on his face except for a calm patience to let Adamina finish.
Adamina refused to succumb and capitulate to raw emotion. She anchored her eyes with Fester’s. “They tried to attack me, to grab me and hurt me.”
“Thank you, but please don’t ask me about it.” Her phrases became fragmented. “I can’t. I feel responsible. My dad died.” She wanted to stop, to talk about something else. A few seconds passed, maybe a minute, and she looked at the flowers resting on the counter. “Fester, what are these flowers?”
“Ah,” he replied, stepping over to the vase. “This is the German Chamomile. It has a beautiful yellow bloom surrounded by white petals.” He leaned a little closer to her and soften his voice as if in caution. “But its aroma is powerful.” Then in a whisper hiding a secret, Fester dared Adamina, “It is magical.”
This intrigued Adamina; she was caught in his trap. She lowered her face and at first took in a few testing breaths, and then pleased she wasn’t turned into a toad, she inhaled deeply. “Oh Fester, what a wonderful scent. It is so calming and, I don’t know, apple-y. I love it.” And she stole another long taste of its scent. “Where are you from Fester?”
~ Continued next page
“I’m from the Black Forest.” And then standing tall, weight spread evenly with arms straight and hanging slightly down with palms outward, he smiled and proudly declared. “I am Fester. I am from the black woods.”
Adamina held back a giggle as she sought the best response and crossed her arms on her puffed-out chest. “Well, I’m from Romania and I once swam in the Black Sea.” And then she could no longer hold her emotions.
They both laughed.
Tikva walked back in the hotel through the beautiful revolving doors. She looked at them with incredulity. How amazing, she thought of the hotel’s seemless integration of beauty with technology and architecture. Back in the lobby, she saw Adamina and Fester laughing together. Anger overcame her. She wanted her daughter next to her. Dawud, Adamina’s father, Tikva’s husband, died just a few days ago and had to be buried within twenty-four hours per his Islamic traditions.
She glared at Adamina. Has she already forgotten him, forgotten her? How could she so soon disrespect her family? Unable to think calmly, she marched over to Adamina who was still looking at and laughing with that little pernicious German boy. Tikva reached out for Adamina’s shoulder, and loudly bolted “Adamina!”