Impression

Twenty minutes waiting for a coffee in a hot summer day… I remembered the first night I arrived in this town, almost five years ago. It was middle of November, a very cold night. I got off the train and started walking towards my friend’s house, following the directions written on a box of matches. “Take the road to the left and keep going straight until the end of the street”. As I was half way to the outskirts of the town the street separated into two alleys. I decided to go left. Soon though, I could only see the lights of few houses scattered in the dark. I was not sure whether I should keep walking or turn back. I was tired and lost. There, a person appeared behind me. “Where are you going?” All I could say was “Here!” I handed the box of matches with no doubts and no other words. We reached the steps of my friend’s house. “Have a good stay!” I got a glimpse of two beautiful eyes when my friend turned on the front door light. “The most beautiful person on earth!” I thought. As I was getting ready to leave, a waiter approached. “This is from the person who was standing in front of you in line”, he said as he handed me a box of matches with my friend’s address written on it. I got a glimpse of two beautiful eyes staring at me from across the street… 100_1787

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Golden

“A man had a hen that laid a golden egg for him each and every day.

The man was not satisfied with this daily profit, and instead he foolishly grasped for more.

Expecting to find a treasure inside, the man slaughtered the hen.

When he found that the hen did not have a treasure inside her after all,

he remarked to himself, ‘While chasing after hopes of a treasure,

I lost the profit I held in my hands!’

–Aesop’s Fables (Chambry edition), Index Chambry 287 = Perry 87

 

Ὄρνιν τις εἶχε καλὴν χρυσᾶ ὠὰ τίκτουσαν· νομίσας δὲ ἔνδον αὐτῆς ὄγκον χρυσίου εἶναι καὶ θύσας εὗρεν οὖσαν ὁμοίαν τῶν λοιπῶν ὀρνίθων. Ὁ δὲ ἀθρόον πλοῦτον ἐλπίσας εὑρεῖν καὶ τοῦ μικροῦ κέρδους ἐστερήθη. Ὅτι τοῖς παροῦσιν ἀρκείσθω τις καὶ τὴν ἀπληστίαν φευγέτω.”

Aesop

(Hellenistic statue claimed to depict Aesop, Art Collection of Villa Albani, Rome)

Αἴσωπος, Aisōpos, (620–564 BC). Greek historian Herodotus claimed that Aesop (c. 620-560 BC) was a slave first owned by Xanthus on Isle of Samos and later by Iadmon who gave him freedom because he was such a skilled storyteller (Herodotus, Waterfield & Dewald,1998).

http://www.researchgate.net/…/02e7e535e6dc2bb7f6000000

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Silk Road Fables:  http://www.amnh.org/ology/features/silkroadfables/

 

DieSeidenstrasseSilkRoad

In 1877 the term “Seidenstraße” (Die Seidenstrassen, literally “Silk Road”) was coined by the German geographer, cartographer and explorer Ferdinand von Richthofen (http://www.silkroutes.net/orient/mapssilkroutestrade.htm).

 

On the history of “Silk Road”:  http://www.ancient.eu.com/Silk_Road/

Prompt

As long as you live, be bright

Don’t be sorrowful;

Short is life

The end time requires.

 

(Seikilos epitaph-200BC)

 

Tant que tu vis, brille !

Ne t’afflige absolument de rien !

La vie ne dure guère.

Le temps exige son tribut.

 

The following is a transliteration of the original words of the Seikilos epitaph which are sung to the beautiful melody: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUkabSGrK7I

Hoson zēs, phainou

Mēden holōs sy lypou;

Pros oligon esti to zēn

To telos ho chronos apaitei

 

“The Seikilos epitaph is the oldest surviving example of a complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world. The song, the melody of which is recorded, alongside its lyrics, in the ancient Greek musical notation, was found engraved on a tombstone, near Ephesus (in today’s Turkey). The find has been dated variously from around 200 BC to around AD 100.

Also on the tombstone is an indication that states:

“I am a tombstone, an icon.

Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of

deathless remembrance”.

While older music with notation exists (for example the Delphic Hymns), all of it is in fragments; the Seikilos epitaph is unique in that it is a complete, though short, composition”.

Seikilos

Compass

I am walking barefoot on an endless white beach. Suddenly the water keeps rising and covers every piece of land. Now I am walking in the water. I can feel the sand with my feet but I cannot see it. I have to find my way out of the water. I have to swim. Which way did I come here? I have to remember.

I am walking barefoot in my sun filled apartment. Suddenly the walls of the rooms are disappearing. Now I am walking from room to room. I can feel the doors that I close behind me but I cannot see them. I have to close all the doors. I can start over. Which way did I come here? I have to remember.

I am walking barefoot in your charming eyes. Suddenly I am hearing a crying woman. Now I am walking among crying women. I can feel their feelings but I cannot see them. I have to find my way out of your eyes. I have to run. Which way did I come here? I have to remember.

Victoria

There was a house at the end of our street behind tall willow trees.
As a child I used to walk by that house every day on my way to school.
All I could ever see was an old lady dressed in black clothes,
cooking in her kitchen. Once I asked my mother “Are there witches?”.
“ No!” she said. “Now go get your father, our dinner is ready”.
At that time I was convinced that the old lady was a witch,
teaching magic to the young girl who was always standing besides her.
Why else was my mother so reluctant to talk about them?

After a long time I tried again: “Who lives at the house with the tall
willow trees?” “Victoria. Now don’t you have any homework to do?”,
was the reply I got that time. By then Victoria was a beautiful young lady
with long blond hair like her mother. All those years I had never seen her
outside of her kitchen. At times I thought that she must have had some kind
of strange disease. Why else was she never outside?

When I moved away from hometown I was still wondering about Victoria.
By that time I had convinced myself that Victoria must have been crazy.
She must have fallen in love with someone who betrayed her and lost her mind.
Her mother must have told her that she would not let her see anyone again.
Why else was she never outside all these years?

The last few times I walked by that house the kitchen was empty.
Victoria and her mother must have died.
Why else was nobody at the kitchen window?

ps/ The young girl was born out of wedlock. Her mother had tuberculosis
but she could not afford proper care at a hospital. She became her only caregiver.
When her mother died she moved to another town and was living with her aunt.

Image: http://robertgouldhistoricalartist.blogspot.com/

Short Goodbyes

 

The Short goodbye (by Steve Almond, in “This won’t take but a minute, honey”)

“…This was the summer of my eighth year, spent a cabin with my grandparents, both of whom I loved more than I would allow. My grandpa and her raspy laugh, her green crochet needless knit together under the lamp, like tiny axes whet and whet. My grandpa leaning over the checkerboard with his beautiful crooked teeth. They were burdened people contented by simple pleasures. I should have kissed each of them more than I did. We waste so much of our hearts. Only the dying keep a full account. In their moment of passing, the exact amount is revealed on our tongues, which turn black with regret.”

The Short goodbye (by myself, using Steve Almond’s words; this took more than twenty years…)

This was the last summer I spent with my grandmother, “whom I loved more than I would allow”. “Her raspy laugh, her green crochet needless knit together under the lamp, like tiny axes whet and whet”. My grandpa had passed away a long time ago. “They were burdened people contented by simple pleasures. I should have kissed each of them more than I did. We waste so much of our hearts. Only the dying keep a full account. In their moment of passing, the exact amount is revealed on our tongues, which turn black with regret”.

ps/ I do not read modern literature often. But I saw this book with short stories in one direction (that, yes take less than a minute to read…) and short essays on writing (that you find by flipping the book over), and thought “this ought to be interesting…”.

Twice upon a time.

Twice upon a time.

Isabella was sitting by the lamp with the green light, staring at her book.

With her mother visiting her older sister at a nearby city and her brother working till late,  it was awfully quite around the house. She would have gone for a walk, but the rain kept her indoors, thinking about him.

She felt great relief when found out that he was back in town. She could not wait to see him again. She asked her maid to occupy her stepfather so she can leave through the kitchen door. She quickly walked through the garden and into the small forest behind the house.

She kept walking as fast as she could through the fields until she got to the place where they used to meet. There she waited until she heard steps approaching. Not being sure if it was him, she pulled her coat over her head, and remained still in the dark. She felt the steps right behind her. She stopped breathing.

The sound of the steps started fading away…

As she uncovered her face she saw the shadow of a man walking away across the fields.

__________________________________________________________________

“I have already begun to forget about the house with the mezzanine, and

only now and then, when I am working or reading, suddenly–without rhyme

or reason–I remember the green light in the window, and the sound of my

own footsteps as I walked through the fields that night..”

From the : House with the Mezzanine (P. Chekhov)

 

Dream

Dream

The water kept rising until everything was covered by it. He looked around and could not see land anywhere. He stared at the sky. It must have been late afternoon, but the sun was still so bright that the surface of the water looked yellow.

He started swimming slowly in the yellow sea, dreaming about his rescue. No land anywhere…

When he suddenly felt something solid on his feet, he thought he could step on it to rest. To his disappointment it was a fish passing by. He could not tell how big it was, because it moved away very fast.

It became dark. He was tired and cold. He tried to stay awake for awhile by looking at the moon. He has not seen such beautiful moon in his life. Right before he was about to close his eyes, myriads of flowers and green leaves started falling from the sky. It seemed as if someone was throwing them from the moon… In few minutes he was surrounded by colorful flowers. They  were glowing like little stars all around him, keeping him awake till dawn, till he drowned.

“Luc! You will be late to work.” Marcelle said, as she rushed into the bedroom to get her shoes. “Your coffee is ready. I will see you at lunch”.

Some nights Luc still stares at the sky waiting for those flowers to fall, and dreaming about Marcelle coming back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mirror.

Mirror.

There was a young woman who lived on my street. You could watch her early in the morning drinking coffee by her bedroom window or at night walking her dog at the near by park. Her hat was almost hiding the calmness of her face which made her look like a young girl.

She started studying at the local university, but because money had been tight she spent most of her time helping her father at his small accounting office. On Friday evenings she would stop by the flower shop next door to get fresh flowers for their dinner table.

That evening, as she was searching for the keys to her apartment, she heard the voice of a man calling her name. She looked quickly towards the street and kept searching. She finally opened the door. He ran behind her and asked to come in. She walked inside the house and left the door wide open.

“Where have you been?”, she whispered, as she walked towards the kitchen to get water for the flowers.

“You know”.

“I have not heard from you for years…Why did you come back?”, she asked, as she was putting the vase with the flowers on the dining table.

“I told you that I will come back some day!”.

She took off her shoes and walked slowly towards the bathroom. Her image in the mirror started becoming one with the wall behind her, as her tears started running on her face. For a moment she really believed that he was there, behind her…

Breakfast

 
 
 

“Are you leaving Luc?” the host of the party yelled.

 “Yes! Will call tomorrow!”, Luc yelled back as he was leaving the crowd behind him, and started running down the stairs.

 Marcelle took a deep breath, buttoned her coat, and looked at her watch. It was8 o’clock. “I should get some tea before I go home”, she whispered, as she was leaving her dark office behind her and started walking towards the bus station.

She was counting her steps ( …., nine, ten, eleven, …) when she felt his shadow.
“Hi, I am Luc. May I walk you home?”.
“My home is two miles from here. I am taking the bus”, said Marcelle with a quiet laugh. 
“I need a walk. Walk with me!”
And so they walked, for two miles and two years.

Maybe because they found each other on Christmas eve, their life together was like the eve of a holiday. An eve that never turned into a real holiday, since one morning, during breakfast in the sunroom her father built for her when she was a child, Marcelle started chasing her dreams into Luc’s silence.
 

(By  J. Prévert)

Déjeuner du matin
Il a mis le café
Dans la tasse
Il a mis le lait
Dans la tasse de café
Il a mis le sucre
Dans le café au lait
Avec la petite cuiller
Il a tourné
Il a bu le café au lait
Et il a reposé la tasse
Sans me parler
Il a allumé
Une cigarette
Il a fait des ronds
Avec la fumée
Il a mis les cendres
Dans le cendrier
Sans me parler
Sans me regarder
Il s’est levé
Il a mis
Son chapeau sur sa tête
Il a mis
Son manteau de pluie
Parce qu’il pleuvait
Et il est parti
Sous la pluie
Sans une parole
Sans me regarder
Et moi j’ai pris
Ma tête dans mes mains
 
Et j’ai ri.

___________

(Pardonnez-moi Monsieur J. Prévert)

____________

He poured the coffee
Into the cup
He put the milk
Into the cup of coffee
He put the sugar
Into the coffee with milk
With a small spoon
He stirred
He drank the coffee
And he put down the cup
Without speaking to me
He lighted
A cigarette
He made circles
With the smoke
He shook off the ash
Into the ashtray
Without speaking to me
Without looking at me
He got up
He put
A hat on his head
He put on
A raincoat
Because it was raining
And he left
In the rain
Without a word
Without looking at me
And I buried
My face in my hands

And I laughed.

 _________
As soon as Luc left, Marcelle went out to do her daily shopping. They never saw each other again.

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