Time had marked Augusto’s face when, in Istanbul’s busy Sirkeci station, he waited to meet his daughter Letitia for the first time. The photos her mother had sent him showed a young woman, now 31 years old. But recognition was instantaneous when their gazes met on the platform. With her flowing scarf and worldly gait, Letitia walked towards him, her steps carrying echoes of the great bazaars of Istanbul and the cobbled streets of Budapest.
“Father,” she whispered, her voice trembling with emotion, as if she feared she would not be accepted in the depths she desired.
“Leticia, my daughter,” replied Augusto, his voice equally trembling.
And they hugged in a sea of longing and under the weight of unanswered questions. Over cups of aromatic Turkish coffee in a quaint café nearby, they delved into their lost years. Letitia spoke of her love for the Persian rugs woven by families over the years and of her love for the vibrant hues of Rothko’s canvases that mesmerized her at the National Gallery, as well as the graceful dance of Calder’s mobiles that stirred her soul in Washington, D.C.. Augustus listened, captivated by his daughter’s stories, his mind traveling through the Arabian sands of Lawrence, an enigmatic and free man of many worlds, with much of the daughter he had just embraced.
With each shared moment, the gulf between them began to close. Letitia learned of her father’s fascination with the vastness of T.E. Lawrence’s wilderness, which mirrored Augusto’s longing for a lost identity. In the vastness of their worlds and their estrangement, they found common ground in their appreciation of literature, with Nabokov being her favourite and Rulfo his.
As the day progressed, they walked the streets of Sultanahmet Square, exchanging stories and bridging the gap created by time and distance. Leticia mentioned the art that spoke to her soul, and Augusto told stories of distant lands, mirroring Lawrence’s exploits.
Back in Sirkeci, under the muted tones of a setting sun, they faced each other once more. This time Augustus felt at peace, as in a desert that, having no boundaries, accepts all directions.
Letitia, lowering her gaze and leaning closer to him, whispered, “Papa, we are not going to wait another thirty years.”
Augusto, holding Leticia’s face in his hands with a nod and a smile, recognized in the beauty of her words, an echo of his feelings. They parted with the promise of a communion made of stardust, inspired by the meeting of two worlds, one shaped by the free spirit of Lawrence and the other by the vibrant brushstrokes of Rothko and the suspended forms of Calder.