|A Short Excerpt From The Book|
Ctesiphon sat on the Tigris River, not far from Baghdad. The men were mostly Armenian, although there were Greeks and Jews as well, supervised by the contingent of Turkish and German soldiers. The ground would be leveled and the wood and track would be carefully laid out and aligned. The Baghdad-to-Berlin route was critical.
Hagop and Souren had been here almost three months. God! Was it hot! They had left early the next morning and Souren had spirited Sona out the moment that she and Hagop had said goodbye. Their families had waved the boys off, Sarkis and Dikran saying nothing.
Hagop leaned the shovel against his leg. He wiped his forehead with the handkerchief that Sona had given him.
"Bahbam," he said, "Dak eh." It is hot.
"Ayo," Souren said, nodding. The sweat beaded up on his arms and chest and all he could think of was a tall, cool glass of tahn, yogurt, cucumbers, and mint. All in all, they had been treated well. They worked bare-chest, and already the few months had done wonders for Sourens physique, while Hagops took on a harder sheen.
"After we finish this line, do you think they will give us soldier uniforms?" Souren asked.
"I dont know," Hagop said, folding the handkerchief and putting it back in his pocket.
"Do you think they can win the war?" Souren said.
"The Germans are fine and disciplined," Hagop said. "Look at them."
Souren looked over at the Germans who stood off to the side.
"Very fit," he said. He glanced down at their black boots, polished highly. "Good boots, too. Better than the Turks."
"Smart, too," Hagop added. "Yes, maybe they can win."
"Do you think of her?" Souren asked.
Hagop looked at him for a moment. "Yes," he said, finally. "I think of her all the time."
Souren smiled slightly.
"Good! She is right for you," he said, slapping his friend on the back.
"Is that so?" Hagop asked. "Since when did you become such a philosopher, my friend?"
"Ah. I can tell these things."
"Oh. I see."
"Now," Souren said, digging his shovel into the ground. "When will they give us rifles to fight?"
Hagop leaned on his shovel and looked at his friend.
"Soon," he said, hiding the suspicion he held. "Perhaps soon."