Woman At Crossroads (Part 1)

Spring 2016

If any woman could define herself as a successful one, it would be definitely Sonia. At 48 years of age, she achieved everything she ever dreamed of, and even more: her education, her career, her marriage, and raising her two sons were her most notable achievements she was so proud of, and Sonia’s vicinity recognized her success as well.

As the sole owner of a middle-sized Czech cosmetic company, directed at producting desired anti-aging female beauty products, Sonia had high social reputation, exceeding the borders of her home quarter most significantly. A regular guest at various national TV shows, aimed at female issues, she could give very good advices to her female colleagues, not only in beauty and cosmetics, but also in the matters of coping with life, and winning the eternal fight for female happiness.

If she would lose everything tomorrow, all that passing values, as a beautiful house, money or fame, there was always something that would remain: her two sons, her real treasure. She was so proud of them, they didn’t disappoint her, as many sons disappointed their mothers. Studying elite universities, dating with the right kind of women she liked, these two young men really fulfilled her dream about a right family.

Sonia’s husband, 15 years senior from her, was the only person, who remained in their large house, a luxurious mansion, in a VIP suburbs close to Brno, second largest Czech city. Both sons were studying abroad, arriving back home only occasionally, as they were occupied by their quickly rising careers, so Sonia spent her evenings in various VIP cafés of Brno with her friends and colleagues, visiting famous opening of art exhibitions, charity events and so on. She simply had enough time for her hobbies again: she married and conceived both her children soon, and now, she was free again, but still young.

It was still possible, if a photographer used Photoshop filters well, to make the appearance of Sonia ten years younger. On her professional, representative photos, nobody would guess her age more than some fourty years.

The reality was slightly worse, although Sonia knew well, how to use beauty products to her own advantage. She was not a tall woman, rather small, only some 160 centimeters of height, very thin, even girlish – and those features made it easy to pretend, that you will stay young further, maybe forever.

Sonia felt still young, and she saw no reason to fight desperately with natural aging. The time she lived in, the beginning of 21st century, was a great epoch, a renaissance of older persons: they all travelled intensively, they often took their alpine sticks, backpacks, and went boldly to the mountains, like if age wouldn’t matter anyhow, they even blended between youngsters, blessed with young skin and everlasting smiles and optimism.

Sonia, she was a woman who could sit back into a High school class, and nobody would notice. Her face shined with positivity, she consumed only healthy food, she had enough of regular sport activities, and completely healthy lifestyle.

She simply wanted to remain attractive, to represent her two beloved sons appropriately: and it was a beautiful, very satisfying mission. Both of them were much taller than she and her husband, and if all four of them went to a ball or similar social event, she felt so great: protected, cared of, powerful, mighty, satisfied, balanced, fulfilled. She simply did the right thing, and many or her female peers could only envy all what she achieved, although it was the result of hard work, talents, and of course, a little bit of luck.

Her peers, women in her age, were dying from cancer in masses, killed by poisons they ate, their hearts destroyed by eternal fear, troubles and stress. But Sonia was different: she was positive from the nature, she didn’t use all that wise books, how to become and remain happy.

She was a natural talent, how to survive and succeed in this life, that will end for all of us one day. But Sonia? She was as woman who had all time in the world. If she would want, tomorrow she could have a pack of lovers, much younger, who would make her yet younger, maybe immortal.

But her relationship with husband was quite fine. They were good friends, they both believed in family and staying together in all times, they both were positive persons, so they naturally attracted each other, and they remained with each other for almost thirty years already. Very often they talked about their great sons they were both so proud of, and it seemed that they are totally surprised with such miracle – the newspapers were full of disintegrated families, disasters, children who fell into drugs or crime. It was complicated times: but not for Sonia’s family. They simply succeeded under all conditions, in all economic or social crises.

So, all went well – until lately. Even happy people like Sonia had to fight with their adversaries and demons.

Since Spring 2015, the media were full of refugee crisis and islamic terrorism. Apocalyptic forecasts were everywhere: in 2015, the Europe received more than a million of refugees, and very wide, even official estimates for the current year of 2016 were another three million refugees, coming into Europe to search for asylum and protection. And then, later, maybe another hundred of million could be expected, because of climate change, which forced many people in Asia and Africa out of their homes, and they directed at the rich North, to the beaches of the European continent.

It simply lasted too long: over a year, it was June 2016 already! Sonia didn’t remember, that a single issue would occupy the mainstream media so long, and so extensively. Every day, you opened any newspaper, and they were only refugees and terrorists.

“When there will be more of us here, we will cut your throats,” one of the refugees, not satisfied with provided care in a refugee camp in Sweden, allegedly threatened. And there was thousand more disturbing news, day after day, plus another terrorist attacks: in Egypt, Tunisia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Libya, Yemen…

Sonia tried to isloate herself from this neverending flow of bad, negative news, but it was simply everywhere. You couldn’t escape it. On Facebook, in a pub, or talking with her friends – sooner or later, the theme of discussion was the refugee crisis, and the future of Europe. And many people stopped trying to hide their fear of the future already.

“This is an organized invasion to destroy our civilization,” Sonia listened to Czech president Zeman, who announced this bad news with very deep and serious voice.

She couldn’t remember exactly, when her mind started to slowly deteriorate, her positive attitude started disappearing, substituted by simple and primal fear, mostly beause her children she loved so much. Although they were adults long time, and strong young men, how could they protect themselves from that treacherous Islamic State terrorists, who could hit anywhere, anytime, and no walls of boundaries could protect you?

One of her sons, Jan, studied in Paris, at Sorbonne university. After November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, Sonia took her mobile phone with shaking hand, to dial his number immediately, to check and assure herself whether he is OK – but her healthy mind told her to calm down, to relax, to stop this madness and succumbing to fear. She even avoided to beg her beloved child to return from a hot combat zone immediately – yes, Sonia was able to keep control and healthy judgement even in such hard times.

Jan calmed her eventually, as he decided on his own, to move to America, where the second son, Michal, was studying at Yale university. Those were the moments Sonia loved her kids so much: they always did, what was right, and she didn’t have to persuade them. In that moment, she was scared of losing them no more.

But there was something else that disturbed her, something was growing inside her. At first, she defined it as fear, but later, when she self-analyzed this feeling or status of mind, she realized, that this fear is not directly connected to any terrorist threat, or to refugees, invading Europe in masses, with indifferent tired eyes and having nothing to lose, and it made them more than unpredictable, or in other words, dangerous for peaceful citizens of the EU, as Sonia was.

Sonia was not a physically big, strong woman – it was men in her family, who supplied her with protection and physical power. She was rather a calculating person, fighting with life challenges using proper, correct decisions, using her mind, instead of muscles or intimidating.

The unrest she felt, she couldn’t identify it for very long time, and another days passed, full of disturbing news about world crises, without any pause. And the New Year 2016 was calm neither – right after the celebrations ended, Europe woke up into a world of rising anti-female violence.

Sonia felt, that as a female, her role in the society is forever changed with that infamous Cologne attacks. And this was the fact that made her unrest: what should she do, to be at a right place again, unlike people around her, who will realize the truth too late, and they will lose, like always?

Sonia kept her mind calm, studying the news, searching for a solution. She simply added this strange information gathering activity to her daily routine, she accustomed to it. She was just looking for some valuable information, what to do – or just to wait to be crushed by the flow of the world, to be an object of history, not a subject, who makes her or his own destiny?

Sonia was always standing on the right side of action. She was waiting patiently, to understand what is really happening.

And one evening, her search and wishes, how to bring a sustainable future for her family she loved so much, were heard.

She was just working on her laptop, checking some company accounts and overviews, when she heard something in the TV. She reached for the remote control and turned volume up.

“Disturbing reports are coming from all European countries, that Islamic State started another wave of their anti-woman terror campaign, to hit the center of our society, our women,” the male TV presenter said with agitated voice. “To discuss this new issue, we invited our Minister of Defence into our programme, to provide answers the citizens have the right to have. Mister minister,” the presenter welcomed their guest, and Sonia turned volume yet up, so the living room of their house was rumbling with male voices from distant TV studio.

“Thanks for the invitation,” the minister nodded. “I am glad to take this opportunity to inform the public about latest developments, as there are many rumors in the Czech republic. So, let me tell you, what we know so far… at first, I want to assure the public, that situation is fully under control of our security forces. Our police, our Intelligence and Counterintelligence services, plus our Military, are working in extensive cooperation, to immediately contain this new threat.”

“That is a great news, mister minister. But please, could you be more specific about that threat we are facing now? I want to remind the viewers, that this issue is concerning not only women, but also their fathers, husbands, brothers, friends… the whole society is concerned,” the presenter went straight to the matter.

“That is absolutely natural, but I repeat, there is nothing to be afraid of. There are some incidents, mostly in the Western Europe, and our domestic Intelligence service detected certain attempts of the Islamic State operatives to expand their malicious influence into our lands as well, but on a much smaller scale.

What we know, Islamic State terrorists are attempting to misuse a stolen special technology they acquired in Iraq, because of an unfortunate security mistake, made by our great American NATO allies. It’s is rumored that the terrorists were able to reverse-engineer it, and now, they are deploying the device against certain group of European citizens.”

“Could you be more specific? Are those persons VIPs, as all that public rumors say?” the presenter insisted on revealing the truth.

“From security reasons, I can’t specify the affected social group. But we strenghtened our security precautions, and everything is under control.”

“OK, mister minister. How exactly could the terrorists get to this special technology, as you defined it? And what threat can it impersonate for our citizens?”

“A commando of U.S. Special Forces, participating in a combat operation against Islamic State, was surrounded and captured during a fierce battle near Mosul, Iraq. Unfortunately, one of their vehicles was a Pandur II 8×8 PSY-AA, equipped with special technology, particularly a classified anti-aircraft measure, mounted on this armored personnel carrier. This device sends a long range PSY signal to influence the minds of enemy pilots, forcing them to bail out of the plane, or turn against their benefactors. The device was installed to protect our NATO allies from possible Russian aerial attacks, as Russia expanded their foreign intervention into Iraq lately…”

“Let me interrupt you here, mister minister,” the presenter waved his hand. “Is it correct, that this APC was supplied by our own, Czech military? Aren’t we somehow responsible for this security breach? That terrorists now allegedly possess a device with such destructive, dangerous capabilities not only in combat, but in a civilian use as well?”

“We supplied the U.S. Military with this special technology under exactly specified set of strict conditions, where and how we permit to deploy the device, to avoid capture and potential misuse by the enemy. Plus, there were extensive countermeasures to stop the enemy from physically seizing it, including auto-destruction sequence…”

“… but this countermeasures obviously failed, as we can see,” the TV presenter couldn’t avoid irony in his voice.

“There are losses in every war, it’s inevitable,” the minister kept his voice calm. “If you ask me, what kind of threat are we standing against, I can tell you, that we totally exclude any possibility, that the enemy was able to successfully manufacture their own version of the device. Not to mention, that the U.S. were able to quickly neutralize all scientific sites and manufacturing plants of the terorrists, able to produce such special technology, using precise airstrikes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.”

“So you want to claim, mister minister, that there is no immediate danger? That all this commotion is just made by public rumors?”

“Yes, it’s only rumors, plus malicious participation of Russian Intelligence services, who deliberately spread this rumor and false propaganda, to weaken NATO efforts in liberating the region from Islamic State influence…”

Sonia was watching the interview. Completely catatonic, she listened to flow of highly disturbing words. Should she believe to that calming politician’s words? But something inside her was calm and ready suddenly.

She knew, what to do, where to go, to secure a sustainable future for her family.

But she will keep this for herself… nobody from her vicinity would like her decision…

She started searching for the nearest flight tickets to Istanbul, Turkey. She will go there, alone, and she will make the necesary arrangements. Or at least she will have a tourist trip… but she knew, that she will return here as another person.

She had very good reasons, why to choose right this particular city. There was a lot of tourism, so she will be able to blend in… like just another inconspicuous tourist. Moreover, she had a Turkish female friend there, a woman she met during a beauty convention in Prague several months ago, so she can explain this special journey as a simple friendly visit.

When she was removing her make-up in front of a large miror in her bedroom, she watched herself, like if she would see the person in the mirror for the first time. Something inside her was different suddently. But she feared no more. She was like a sphinx, firm and concentrated on matters that have to be done.

It was a matter of minutes, to obtain a flight ticket into Istanbul for the day after tomorrow. It was quite usual for her to take business trips abroad, even unexpected ones, so she will raise no undesirable attention at home or work. Anyway, her current mission has the utmost importance.

When Sonia was lying in her bed and asleep, she felt something like joyful expectation. Like long time ago, when she was expecting her first love in a park many years ago, or when she was expecting her first child. Like when she was young.

This is what has to be done for her, and for her family. And this time, she won’t be a weak female individual who will wait for her men to arrange things… she was still the mother of the family, who knows her responsibility well.

Sonia was in leadership again, and those were the moments that made her so happy.

Istanbul, Turkey… she hasn’t visited this place. Just before she closed her eyes, she reached for her mobile phone and watched impressive pictures of Hagia Sophia temple, later changed to a mosque, when Roman empire definitely crumbled and Constantinopole was conquered, and she felt, that near this building, maybe she will find her destiny…

A new beginning. Catching up with this new, berserk epoch she lived in.

(continuation in part 2: “The Turkish Affair”)

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Alan Svejk

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