That was a long time ago; she and her brothers and sisters were all grown up; her mother was dead. Tizzie Dunn was dead, too, and the Waters had gone back to England. Everything changes. Now she was going to go away like the others, to leave her home.
Home! She looked round the room, reviewing all its familiar objects which she had dusted once a week for so many years, wondering where on earth all the dust came from. Perhaps she would never see again those familiar objects from which she had never dreamed of being divided.
Eveline thinks she wants to go overseas.
She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy? She had a right to happiness. Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his arms. He would save her.
I have a friend who has a friend from Mosul whom quit his job, gave up his apartment, sold things, and gave other things to my friend to give away. The friend of my friend is an engineer who gave up fulfilling work in the aid sector here in Gaziantep in his field of expertise. He had gotten his legs under him here.
America was not beckoning — “He didn’t want to go.” But he has two kids and a wife. So when the family received the news that they had been accepted to the US for resettlement as refugees, he accepted it for his children’s sakes.
But in her new home, in a distant unknown country, it would not be like that. Then she would be married—she, Eveline. People would treat her with respect then. She would not be treated as her mother had been. Even now, though she was over nineteen, she sometimes felt herself in danger of her father’s violence.
There is a similar deferred development among the Syrian diaspora here. I was taking çay with two young men from Aleppo this morning. My father is like that, one said. For a long time he was just waiting, to learn Turkish for example, because he thought that he would go back soon. If we had started building ourselves four years ago, things would be much better now.
Those in Gaziantep, especially from Aleppo, especially those of means (those without don’t have such luxury) live in the past or think about what had happened or from how far they’ve fallen instead of where they want to go and what they want to do now.
“Because the news always tells us that a solution is coming soon,” he added. “And we must believe, to have hope.”
It was hard work—a hard life—but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life.
And during the pernicious wait to restart not now but at such and such a nebulous date, they abet the limbo imposed on them.
Their passage had been booked. Could she still draw back after all he had done for her? Her distress awoke a nausea in her body and she kept moving her lips in silent fervent prayer.
A bell clanged upon her heart. She felt him seize her hand:
All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her. She gripped with both hands at the iron railing.
Eveline’s intensity is somehow achieved. Is it diction? Why our rapid familiarity with someone unfamiliar? Or is it the multiplication of composition — a great whole from simple parts? And anticipation, an incorporeal substance, is it here a product of the well ordered brevity?
Dubliners is a surface spherical and whole, and we run our fingers across it carefully, then slowly with our fingers tipping and our eyes closed. But we never detect a seam.
It was about ten years ago I read a line my friend Tim wrote about the stories: they may seem overwhelmingly conventional to the contemporary reader but it is because they are the spring of those conventions.
So yesterday the engineer from Mosul flew from Gaziantep with his mother in law and wife and two kids. All five were stopped in Istanbul. Their luggage arrived to JFK but they weren’t let on the plane. All their paperwork had been in order.
They waited in Istanbul for everything they had packed for their new lives to fly back over the ocean.
Back over that “bowl of bitter tears” — a politicking paraphrase JFK used for the Atlantic (in a 1963 speech in Dublin) when Joyce had actually written “a bowl of bitter waters” to describe Dublin Bay in the open to Ulysses — a sentimentalist misquotation now so common that the curator of The Little Museum of Dublin repeated it to me last year.
All light is lamplight and the aspirants to diaspora drown now elsewhere. But sometimes, in the brief morning lull while the lamps remain lit in the sunsoak, I am given an impression of knowledge of the true kind. Then fleeting it is gone.