The last person on the list was an English Professor from the University who lived along the river, very near the Princip Bridge. She lived on the top floor of a drab three-story building. The bell was broken. Undeterred, Ana charged up the stairs, with me struggling to keep up. She knocked at the door and leaned close to hear if anyone was home. She knocked again and then a third time. Discouraged she hung her head and fell heavily against the door.
“I knew it,” she said. I only looked at her, not knowing what to say. At that moment a neighbor lady poked her head into the hall.
“Can I help you?’ she asked.
“Please, gospodja,” Ana pleaded. “We are looking for the professor. Is she in?”
“No, child,” said the frail old woman. “I’m afraid you’ve missed her.”
“It’s terribly important,” said Ana. “Do you know where she’s gone?”
“Why she’s gone to the university, of course!”
“At school, did you say?’
“Yes, yes, to school.”
We ran the few blocks to the university building. It was chilly and dark inside the building. There were few students. We found the spinsterly professor just as she was leaving for the market. Stout, with jet-black hair and favoring a bad hip, Ana and I nearly ran her over as we rounded a corner at a run. Five more minutes and we would have missed her entirely. She loved the romance of our tale and said she would have done the work just to hear the story. She didn’t of course, but charged us a reasonable amount and finished the translations quickly.
It was just past one when we made it back to Opshtina. Again I waited for Ana outside. She came out after only a short time. It was impossible to read her expression.
“So what did they say?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she said. “I have a terrible feeling that we missed something.”
The door opened and we turned breathlessly. A young woman appeared. Her name was Vesna. Ana knew her from school.
“Everything is okay?” Ana’s voice strained.
“Everything is fine,” Vesna smiled. “Congratulations, your wedding will be tomorrow at one.”
We might have embraced or cried with joy. Instead we were sort of numb. It wasn’t until we were outside that it finally began to sink in. We embraced and laughed with ample amounts of disbelief. Ana led me downtown to the old Turkish market. There was just one thing left to do.
The small shops in Bashcharshija were closing for the day. The low branches of tall maple trees neatly framed the old Turkish fortress of Jekovac on the hill. Huge red and yellow maple leaves drifted lazily to the smoothed stones of the narrowing charshija. The final light of day painted the fort’s crumbling stonewalls a pale golden hue. At the shop of Sead Isanovich, near the great Mosque, Ana and I decided on two simple gold wedding bands. They cost sixty Marks, a good price from the amiable Isanovich. I was surprised they were so cheap and told Ana so on the way home.
“Perhaps business is bad,” she shrugged. “Perhaps they are stolen. Perhaps they were taken from the dead.”