This novella takes the form of a journal written as a paean to the narrator’s beloved and a testament to their doomed passion. It celebrates the power of enduring love and the beauty of nature to transcend suffering and inspire survival of the spirit in the most brutal of ordeals. Despite the tragic story, it is not depressing and I defy anyone to be unmoved by the achingly beautiful last chapter.
On the left-hand side, in one of the thick streams of mortar that affixes the stones of the wall, a script flows, carved in beautiful handwriting. The alphabet is familiar to me but the words are foreign. It is Persian, Abbas has told me, a line of poetry that reads: 'If there is paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this'. He told me that this word, pairidaeza, is from the old Persian, and originally referred to a walled area, a garden. So in my first weeks in this place I have come to understand that not all enclosed spaces are prisons, and that some are for safety: some are sanctuaries.