15 Νοέ The weight
«Kalavryta, December 13, 1943. Do you remember, Mother? Death and fire everywhere. But now that I see everything all clean and clear, without smoke covering my eyes, I say that back then a disaster and a righteousness occurred.»
«I want to start from that morning of ’41, with you stumbling disheveled and beaten up through the cold. I could foresee your future and it was not bright. It was not only the fact that I had sprouted, little, sick and unexpected. It was that the dirt from the American mines and the rust from the hook of your man’s cut-arm – the one he earned along with the pounds – all had gotten tangled with your blond hair for years now. You, white like an angel and him, black like iron. But, poverty,you see. You were for sale, and he had pounds to buy you. Marriage, they say. Buried every day in a bridal bed, I say.»
«Because he was a wild man, mama, a wild man. Of course, there was also Costis, who was a good guy and he wanted you. But he had no pounds to give to your mother and his face fell as he saw Mitsos the Limp crossing your doorstep. How come the iron knows to tell the stone from the flower, he had thought, and his heart tightened.
«The day he came to get you, I … Not even a hair from your hair, not even a tiny touch, my angel, not even a tiny ‘chic’, my girl …»
«And his sweet words came and sat on your skin just enough to wake it up, to make it shiver, to make it crave to have something sweet to remember from this life, and so I was born, number fourteen in line. After all, you were sick of Mitsos. And it was the hook that stained with blood every movement of yours that might have been a hint of ‘no’ to him. For me, it’s easy to tell, for he was your husband but not father of mine.»
«That morning you held me in your bosom, trempling and running to save me from the hook. Too much misery, too many kids, way too much beating up. It was too much altogether for your youth to take. You went to pieces.
«I can’t stand it anymore, sweet Mary, I just can’t! Take one of my burdens away!»
»Difficult times back then. And now, sure. Many quote it, but few understand it. The evil has not stopped, mama, and I’m afraid to come down. I’m afraid that I will again become the angel, the odd one amongst the sins. And there are so many odd ones, we are not a few, but for those who make wars, ever, we will never be enough.»
«After two nights, the Lady in red came and sat next to me. She was light, her gauntlets were barely heard stepping on the floor. I was sad to leave you, but She told me it would be better. Her sweetness convinced me and I got up. You often cried for me, I did not mean for that burden, sweet Mary, I did not mean for that one, you were saying, but the Lady kept smiling.»
«Look now, see for yourself», She told me one day, and She showed me with her hand far on the horizon, above the mountain.»
«And I saw my brothers communist rebels in Kerpini, in Vishoka, not buying the double-talk about negotiating with the conquerors. Seventy-seven had been left and each one got wacked. And I also saw that in December of ’43, they executed all the men of the village along with your your husband, so there goes the hook mama, it’s over now. And I saw the conqueror leaving and I bursted with pride for my brothers, and, even if this pride eventually costed so much, if I were to come back, red like my brothers I would like to be.»
«I wanted to tell you, mother, so that you don’t bear the burden. Humane was your wish, mother, and justice works in mysterious ways. Neither as it should, nor as you would like it to be, but as is it is with every justice, heavy, out of the asphyxiation of the soul that cannot put up with anything no more.»
» And, you know, mama, it was worth it, it was worth it for me, fot the only thing I could ever want was the warmth of your breast and to love you. And now, now that I think again of your devastating wish, and I’ve seen the History through with my big eyes, I love you even more, because, with you being so weak the morning that you went into pieces, you finally stood like a fine woman and put things in perfect order.»
Copyright © 2017 Athina Zografaki All rights reserved».
(I am grateful to Dimitris Gkioulos for the translation of this piece of work, which was initially written in Greek, my mother tongue.)