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L'Oubli

agosto

In a joyous green garden, enlivened by a variety of multi-colored flowers. Wearing an attractive white dress, laces, veils, embroidery and all. Black veil hanging over my head. Everything is very lovely and pretty. In a white classical temple some players in pinstriped white suits and straw hats are executing a summer concert, waltzes, polkas, and arias from most recent operettas... Around them white banisters. Much green. Greene, Raymond, from New Jersey... Many people dressed in white or all sorts of light, bright colors; pale blues, smashing yellows, delicate ochres, etc. Balcony with bellevue of the whole city, small and spread out over the hills. A lady drives by in her cabriolet, her veil leaves a short trail, she's gone. Children playing, jumping, screaming, giggling. Mothers cleaning off ice-cream from children's holiday clothes. All men strolling around with walking sticks. Among them, the young ones are especially handsome, gay, some can hardly hide their curls underneath straw hats. One in particular attracts my attention. I follow him. He hasn't noticed me yet; he's walking with a friend deeply absorbed in animated conversation. The two part and my man turns left. As he turns I get a good glimpse of his face. A pair of dark, soft, deep eyes. A well-drawn nose, still tender with youth. Fair, luminous complexion. Quick, free and easy pace. He must have seen me with the tail of his eye. He stops, turns around, stares at me. I stop and look at him. He turns forward again and resumes his speedy walk. I resume mine. He stops again, again he turns and comes towards me. I stop. His face, expressionless.

He's two feet away from me, less. He looks at me and opens a shining smile. “Well, how about that? I didn't recognize you at first. When did you get back?” Get back? I look at him, I can't believe it. I don't understand, get back from where? I lower my eyes and fix them on his black, shining stick, the stick of a gaga. I feel melancholic... why did I come back? Hm, good question. “Well, what's the matter? You've lost the power of speech? Really, nothing to tell me?” I raise my eyes, and fix them on his intently. The blinking light in his pupils tells me something, but what? He understands my confusion. “I'll walk with you, can I?” A cabriolet runs by real fast and almost kills me. By force I am being pulled aside by the arm. “Phew! That was close!” What's his name, darn? God, now I can't even remember his name. Are his eyes really blue like the lake? Or are they brown like chestnut candies? Could I drop dead if they are not brown. After the incident of the chariot, my companion has become more loquacious. I'm happy to be on his side, melancholy has vanished. No need to hurry now, I slow down my pace. Him too. We're in a park again, but this one is smaller, gayer, lovelier. I sit on a stone bench. Him too. Feel excited for no special reason, look up at the moving clouds, waiting. He looks at me, I know that, I feel his eyes on me. I like that feeling of being looked at. What a story! And I really love to look at the world through little white holes... I think he's going to say something. Go ahead, speak up! Wait, I have a feeling... abruptly turn, he's gone. Another missed opportunity. What a failure! Get up and start strolling along the cast-iron railings around the pond. Idiot, I behaved like an idiot!

“Hey, Miss, leaving already? Don't you like my flowers, Miss?” It's him, laughing, irradiating youthfulness and happiness all round him, and holding a lovely bouquet. Images of lost times reappear like dead ghosts now: again that melancholia I couldn't explain before. At last, I'm experiencing it in all its depth and strength. I can't understand quite well. I'm holding his bouquet, daisies, carnations, daffodils, they're so pretty, like the countryside in the spring, the stinging smells, the gurgling rivers, the wind and the clouds. A whole series of mistakes lies behind me, a long chain of wrong choices that had deprived me of that man. I had been trying to forget about it all along. So much so that I don't remember any more why or what had happened and when. Very convenient. Feel like crying. A lump in my throat. I don't even look at him now. Memories swarm in my mind, my eyes are getting dim and blurred. His hand lifts my chin, titling my head. Full vision of his face. “Hey, that's all right, you know. Don't cry. I didn't mean to hurt you.” Does he remember? Probably better than me, but he pretends. We are playing a game of pretences. Asking would be embarrassing. I grab his hand and fix him right in the eyes. Explanation will come, eventually. I am determined, I am not going to let go, I don't even twitch. His face brightens up, as if in surprise. “So you forgot, didn't you? And I thought you had come back for me, I had deluded myself for a moment that you had changed your mind. So what brought you here, lady?” What difference does it make if I remember? It won't make the birds chirp any louder, nor the flowers smell any stronger. Whatever it was, it's dead now, we cannot resurrect it.

He's not smiling any longer, he's looking down, scratching his black and white shoes against the sand, drawing unintelligible pictures with his black cane. Inner conflict between starting all over again, whoever he is, and going on with my life. After all, I can't change my life just like that, not even for him, simply because I might regret it one day. I feel his virile presence very strongly. Grab him, hold him tight while you can, says an inner voice. Look, gosh I don't even remember your name. What's your name? He bitterly smiles at me. “Does it matter? Look at ourselves, we're standing here in front of each other after all this time and you don't even remember my name. Ha, I deserve it. Just serves me right.” I cannot stand his eyes on me any longer, they are reproachful. Look, I say again, all I can remember is hills of grass and silver rivers; obviously whatever happened was too much for me. I have a new life now. Can you give me at least a hint? He looks away, his brown dots floating on the surface of the water, like a seagull planing on the opposite shore, fighting against a tear that slides down his cheek anyway. “We were made for each other, ma petite. You should have never left with those people, they took you away from me. You belonged to me, to me and to the trees and the hills. You were like the moors, like the bushes, you used to say you'd never leave them, that nobody could ever separate you from them without killing you. But they did, and they killed your love, they killed the trees and the moors in you. Please, go back to where you came from. You don't belong here any more.” These words transfix my heart like spiked lances of fire. Was that the melancholy I experienced before? Was that the reason I forgot? All I can say is I'm sorry.

Can we walk for a bit? And we do, but in dead silence. Nothing to say, nothing to offer, nothing at all. Our steps lead us to the gates, I formulate a vague promise and we part forever, I think. I am still confused and perplexed and imprecisely sad. As I walk out of the black cast iron gate, in the little temple the band is still playing a recent aria.


[ 25/01/1984 ]

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© 1985-2005 marina pianu, italy | narrative :: 


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