AQUI EN ESPANOL: El fuego de la amistad
AQUI EM PORTUGUES: O fogo da amizade
When I arrive at the Moscow hotel with my publisher and my editor, a young woman is waiting outside for me. She comes over and grasps my hands in hers.
‘I need to talk to you. I’ve come all the way from Ekaterinburg to do just that.’
I’m tired. I woke up earlier than usual and had to change planes in Paris because there was no direct flight. I tried to sleep on the journey, but every time I managed to drop off, I would fall into the same unpleasant, recurring dream.
I hold out my hand to say goodbye and notice that hers is very cold.
‘Why didn’t you wait for me inside?’
‘I read your blog the other day and realised that you were talking directly to me.’
She takes out a piece of paper containing the article. I know it by heart, although I can’t remember who told me the story.
A man called Ali is in need of money and asks his boss to help him out. His boss sets him a challenge: if he can spend all night on the top of a mountain, he will receive a great reward; if he fails, he will have to work for free. The story continues:
When he left the shop, Ali noticed that an icy wind was blowing. He felt afraid and decided to ask his best friend, Aydi, if he thought he was mad to accept the wager.
After considering the matter for a moment, Aydi answered:
‘Don’t worry, I’ll help you. Tomorrow night, when you’re sitting on top of the mountain, look straight ahead.
‘I’ll be on the top of the mountain opposite, where I’ll keep a fire burning all night for you.
‘Look at the fire and think of our friendship; and that will keep you warm.
‘You’ll make it through the night, and afterwards, I’ll ask you for something in return.’
Ali won the wager, got the money, and went to his friend’s house.
‘You said you wanted some sort of payment in return.’
Aydi said, ‘Yes, but it isn’t money. Promise that if ever a cold wind blows through my life, you will light the fire of friendship for me.’