Τομπάιας Γούλφ (Tobias Wolff): Πὲς ναί

 

 

Τομπάιας Γούλφ (TobiasWolff)

 

Πὲς ναί

(Say yes)

 

­ΚΑ­ΝΑΝ ΤΗ ΛΑΝΤΖΑ, ἡ γυ­ναί­κα του ἐ­πλέ­νε τὰ πιά­τα κι αὐ­τὸς τὰ σκού­πι­ζε. Τὸ προ­η­γού­με­νο βρά­δυ τὰ εἶ­χε πλύ­νει ἐ­κεῖ­νος. Σὲ ἀν­τί­θε­ση μὲ τοὺς πε­ρισ­σό­τε­ρους ἄν­τρες ποὺ ἤ­ξε­ρε, ἐ­κεῖ­νος συ­νει­σέ­φε­ρε οὐ­σι­α­στι­κὰ στὶς δου­λει­ὲς τοῦ σπι­τιοῦ. Πρὶν ἀ­πὸ λί­γους μῆ­νες εἶ­χε κρυ­φα­κού­σει μιὰ φί­λη τῆς γυ­ναί­κας του νὰ τὴ συγ­χαί­ρει ποὺ εἶ­χε ἕ­ναν τό­σο κα­λὸ σύ­ζυ­γο, καὶ εἶ­χε σκε­φτεῖ, Προ­σπα­θῶ. Τὸ νὰ βο­η­θά­ει στὸ πλύ­σι­μο τῶν πιά­των ἦ­ταν ἕ­νας τρό­πος ποὺ εἶ­χε βρεῖ γιὰ νὰ ἀ­πο­δει­κνύ­ει πό­σο κα­λὸς σύ­ζυ­γος ἦ­ταν.

       Μι­λοῦ­σαν πε­ρὶ ἀ­νέ­μων καὶ ὑ­δά­των καὶ κά­πως ἦρ­θε ἡ κου­βέν­τα στὸ ἂν πρέ­πει οἱ λευ­κοὶ νὰ παν­τρεύ­ον­ται μὲ μαῦ­ρες ἢ τὸ ἀν­τί­στρο­φο. Ἐ­κεῖ­νος εἶ­πε ὅ­τι, ἂν τὰ ἔ­βα­ζες κά­τω, ἦ­ταν μᾶλ­λον κα­κὴ ἰ­δέ­α.

      «Για­τί;» τὸν ρώ­τη­σε.

      Ὧ­ρες-ὧ­ρες, ἡ γυ­ναί­κα του ἔ­παιρ­νε ἕ­να συγ­κε­κρι­μέ­νο ὕ­φος: ἔ­σμι­γε τὰ φρύ­δια, δάγ­κω­νε τὸ κά­τω χεί­λι καὶ κάρ­φω­νε τὸ βλέμ­μα της κά­που χα­μη­λά. Ὅ­ταν τὴν ἔ­βλε­πε ἔ­τσι, κα­τα­λά­βαι­νε ἀ­μέ­σως ὅ­τι ἔ­πρε­πε νὰ κρα­τή­σει τὸ στό­μα του κλει­στό, ἀλ­λὰ πο­τὲ δὲν τὸ ἔ­κα­νε. Μά­λι­στα, κά­τι τὸν ἔ­σπρω­χνε νὰ μι­λά­ει ἀ­κό­μα πιὸ πο­λύ. Ἐ­κεί­νη εἶ­χε πά­ρει τώ­ρα αὐ­τὸ τὸ ὕ­φος.

      «Για­τί;» τὸν ξα­να­ρώ­τη­σε καὶ στα­μά­τη­σε μὲ τὸ χέ­ρι της μέ­σα σ’ ἕ­να μπόλ, δί­χως νὰ τὸ πλέ­νει πα­ρὰ κρα­τών­τας το μό­νο πά­νω ἀ­π’ τὴ σα­που­νά­δα.

      «Ἄ­κου», τῆς εἶ­πε, «εἶ­χα συμ­μα­θη­τὲς μαύ­ρους, ἔ­χω συ­νερ­γα­στεῖ μὲ μαύ­ρους, ἔ­χω μεί­νει στὴν ἴ­δια γει­το­νιὰ μὲ μαύ­ρους, καὶ πάν­τα τὰ πη­γαί­να­με μιὰ χα­ρά. Δὲν μοῦ ἀ­ρέ­σει κα­θό­λου νὰ ὑ­παι­νίσ­σε­σαι ὅ­τι εἶ­μαι ρα­τσι­στής».

      «Δὲν ὑ­παι­νίσ­σο­μαι τί­πο­τα», εἶ­πε ἐ­κεί­νη κι ἄρ­χι­σε πά­λι νὰ πλέ­νει τὸ μπόλ, στρι­φο­γυρ­νών­τας το στὸ χέ­ρι της σὰν νὰ τὸ σμί­λευ­ε. «Ἁ­πλά, δὲν κα­τα­λα­βαί­νω τί πει­ρά­ζει νὰ παν­τρεύ­ε­ται λευ­κὸς μὲ μαύ­ρη ἢ μαῦρος μὲ λευ­κή.»

      «Ἔ­χουν ἄλ­λη κουλ­τού­ρα ἀ­πὸ τὴ δι­κή μας. Στῆ­σε μιὰ φο­ρὰ αὐ­τὶ νὰ τοὺς ἀ­κού­σεις – ἔ­χουν καὶ τὴ δι­κή τους γλώσ­σα ἀ­κό­μα. Ἐ­γὼ δὲν ἔ­χω πρό­βλη­μα μ’ αὐ­τό, μ’­ἀ­ρέ­σει νὰ τοὺς ἀ­κού­ω νὰ μι­λᾶ­νε» —κι ἦ­ταν ἀ­λή­θεια, ὅ­ταν τοὺς ἄ­κου­γε, τὸν πλημ­μύ­ρι­ζε ἕ­να ἀ­νε­ξή­γη­το αἴ­σθη­μα εὐ­δαι­μο­νί­ας— «ἀλ­λὰ ἡ γλώσ­σα τους εἶ­ναι δι­α­φο­ρε­τι­κή. Ἕ­να ἄ­το­μο ἀ­πὸ τὸν δι­κό τους πο­λι­τι­σμὸ κι ἕ­να ἄ­το­μο ἀ­πὸ τὸν δι­κό μας, δὲν γί­νε­ται νὰ γνω­ρί­σουν πο­τὲ ἀ­λη­θι­νὰ ὁ ἕ­νας τὸν ἄλ­λο».

      «Ὅ­πως γνω­ρί­ζεις ἐ­σὺ ἐ­μέ­να, δη­λα­δή;» ρώ­τη­σε ἡ γυ­ναί­κα του.

      «Ναί. Ὅ­πως γνω­ρί­ζω ἐ­γὼ ἐ­σέ­να.»

      «Ἄν, ὅ­μως, ἀ­γα­πι­οῦν­ται», εἶ­πε. Τώ­ρα ἐ­πλέ­νε μὲ πιὸ γορ­γὲς κι­νή­σεις, δί­χως νὰ τὸν κοι­τά­ζει.

      Ὤ, Θε­έ μου, συλ­λο­γί­στη­κε ἐ­κεῖ­νος. «Ἐν­τά­ξει, μὴν ἀ­κοῦς ἐ­μέ­να», εἶ­πε. «Γιὰ δές, ὅ­μως, τὶς στα­τι­στι­κές. Οἱ πε­ρισ­σό­τε­ροι μι­κτοὶ γά­μοι δι­α­λύ­ον­ται.»

      «Οἱ στα­τι­στι­κές!» Ἡ γυ­ναί­κα του στοί­βα­ζε τὰ πιά­τα μὲ ἰ­λιγ­γι­ώ­δη τα­χύ­τη­τα στὸ στραγ­γι­στή­ρι ἐ­νῶ μό­λις ποὺ τὰ εἶ­χε πε­ρά­σει μὲ τὸ σφουγ­γά­ρι. Πολ­λὰ εἶ­χαν λί­πη ἀ­κό­μα, ὑ­πῆρ­χαν κομ­μα­τά­κια φα­γη­τοῦ ἀ­νά­με­σα στὰ δόν­τια τῶν πι­ρου­νι­ῶν. «Ὡ­ραί­α», εἶ­πε. «Καὶ αὐ­τοὶ ποὺ εἶ­ναι ἀ­πὸ ἄλ­λες χῶ­ρες; Ὑ­πο­θέ­τω ὅ­τι ἔ­χεις τὴν ἴ­δια ἄ­πο­ψη καὶ γιὰ τοὺς ξέ­νους ποὺ παν­τρεύ­ον­ται με­τα­ξύ τους».

      «Πράγ­μα­τι», εἶ­πε ἐ­κεῖ­νος, «τὸ ἴ­διο πι­στεύ­ω καὶ γι’ αὐ­τούς. Πῶς εἶ­ναι δυ­να­τὸ νὰ κα­τα­λά­βεις κά­ποι­ον ποὺ προ­έρ­χε­ται ἀ­πὸ ἕ­να πε­ρι­βάλ­λον τε­λεί­ως δι­α­φο­ρε­τι­κό;»

      «Δι­α­φο­ρε­τι­κό», εἶ­πε ἡ γυ­ναί­κα του. «Ὄ­χι ἴ­διο, ὅ­πως ἐ­μεῖς.»

      «Ναί, δι­α­φο­ρε­τι­κό», τῆς πέ­τα­ξε, θυ­μω­μέ­νος μα­ζί της ποὺ κα­τέ­φευ­γε στὸ τέ­χνα­σμα τοῦ νὰ ἐ­πα­να­λαμ­βά­νει τὶς δι­κές του λέ­ξεις ἔ­τσι ὥ­στε νὰ ἠ­χοῦν ἀ­νό­η­τες ἢ ὑ­πο­κρι­τι­κές. «Αὐ­τὰ εἶ­ναι βρό­μι­κα», εἶ­πε καὶ ξα­να­πέ­τα­ξε ὅ­λα τα μα­χαι­ρο­πί­ρου­να μὲς στὸ νε­ρο­χύ­τη.

      Τὸ νε­ρὸ εἶ­χε γί­νει θο­λὸ καὶ γκρί­ζο. Ἐ­κεί­νη τὸ κοί­τα­ξε μὲ σφιγ­μέ­να χεί­λη, κι ὕ­στε­ρα βύ­θι­σε τὰ χέ­ρια της κά­τω ἀ­π’ τὴν ἐ­πι­φά­νεια. «Ἄ­ουτς!» ἔ­κα­νε κι ἀ­να­πή­δη­σε. Ἔ­πι­α­σε τὸ δε­ξί της χέ­ρι ἀ­π’ τὸν καρ­πὸ καὶ τὸ σή­κω­σε ψη­λά. Ὁ ἀν­τί­χει­ράς της ἔ­τρε­χε αἷ­μα.

      «Ἄνν, μὴ κου­νη­θεῖς», τῆς εἶ­πε. «Μεῖ­νε ἐ­κεῖ ποὺ εἶ­σαι». Ἔ­τρε­ξε ἐ­πά­νω, στὸ λου­τρό, καὶ ψα­χού­λε­ψε στὸ ντου­λα­πά­κι τοῦ φαρ­μα­κεί­ου γιὰ νὰ βρεῖ οἰ­νό­πνευ­μα, βαμ­βά­κι καὶ λευ­κο­πλάστ. Ὅ­ταν ξα­να­κα­τέ­βη­κε, τὴ βρῆ­κε ἀ­κουμ­πι­σμέ­νη στὸ ψυ­γεῖ­ο, μὲ τὰ μά­τια κλει­στά, νὰ κρα­τά­ει ἀ­κό­μα τὸ χέ­ρι της. Πῆ­ρε τὸ χέ­ρι καὶ σφούγ­γι­σε τὸν ἀν­τί­χει­ρά της μὲ τὸ βαμ­βά­κι. Τὸ αἷ­μα εἶ­χε στα­μα­τή­σει. Πί­ε­σε τὸ δά­χτυ­λο νὰ δεῖ πό­σο βα­θιὰ ἦ­ταν ἡ πλη­γὴ καὶ φά­νη­κε μό­νο μιὰ αἱ­μά­τι­νη στα­γό­να, τρε­μου­λια­στὴ καὶ κα­τα­κόκ­κι­νη, ποὺ ἔ­πε­σε στὸ πά­τω­μα. Ἐ­κεί­νη τὸν πα­ρα­κο­λου­θοῦ­σε πά­νω ἀ­π’ τὸν ἀν­τί­χει­ρά της μὲ κα­τη­γό­ρια. «Δὲν εἶ­ναι τί­πο­τα», τῆς εἶ­πε. «Αὔ­ριο οὔ­τε ποὺ θὰ φαί­νε­ται.» Ἤλ­πι­ζε ὅ­τι θὰ ἐ­κτι­μοῦ­σε ἡ γυ­ναί­κα του τὸ πῶς εἶ­χε σπεύ­σει νὰ τὴν πε­ρι­ποι­η­θεῖ. Τὸ εἶ­χε κά­νει ἀ­πὸ γνή­σιο ἐν­δι­α­φέ­ρον, δί­χως νὰ σκε­φτεῖ νὰ ζη­τή­σει κά­τι σὲ ἀν­τάλ­λαγ­μα, τώ­ρα, ὅ­μως, τοῦ πέ­ρα­σε ἀ­π’ τὸ νοῦ ὅ­τι θὰ ἦ­ταν εὐ­γε­νι­κὴ κί­νη­ση ἐκ μέ­ρους της νὰ μὴν ἐ­πα­νέλ­θει σ’ ἐ­κεί­νη τὴν κου­βέν­τα, για­τί τὸν εἶ­χε κου­ρά­σει. «Θὰ τὰ τε­λει­ώ­σω ἐ­γώ», τῆς εἶ­πε. «Ἐ­σὺ ἄν­τε νὰ ξε­κου­ρα­στεῖς.»

      «Δὲν πει­ρά­ζει», εἶ­πε ἐ­κεί­νη. «Θὰ τὰ σκου­πί­ζω.»

      Ἐ­κεῖ­νος ἄρ­χι­σε νὰ πλέ­νει πά­λι τὰ μα­χαι­ρο­πί­ρου­να, προ­σέ­χον­τας ἰ­δι­αί­τε­ρα τὰ πι­ρού­νια.

      «Ὁ­πό­τε», εἶ­πε ἐ­κεί­νη, «ἂν ἤ­μουν μαύ­ρη δὲν θὰ μὲ εἶ­χες παν­τρευ­τεῖ».

      «Ἄνν, γιὰ ὄ­νο­μα τοῦ Θε­οῦ πιά!»

      «Μά, αὐ­τὸ δὲν εἶ­πες;»

      «Ὄ­χι, δὲν εἶ­πα αὐ­τό. Τὸ ὅ­λο ἐ­ρώ­τη­μα εἶ­ναι γε­λοῖ­ο. Ἂν ἤ­σουν μαύ­ρη, τὸ πι­θα­νό­τε­ρο εἶ­ναι ὅ­τι δὲν θὰ εἴ­χα­με πο­τὲ γνω­ρι­στεῖ. Ἐ­σὺ θὰ εἶ­χες τὶς πα­ρέ­ες σου κι ἐ­γὼ τὶς δι­κές μου. Ἡ μό­νη μαύ­ρη κο­πέ­λα ποὺ γνώ­ρι­σα πραγ­μα­τι­κὰ ἦ­ταν ἡ παρ­τε­νέρ μου στὸν ρη­το­ρι­κὸ ὅ­μι­λο, καὶ τό­τε τὰ εἶ­χα ἤ­δη φτιά­ξει μα­ζί σου.»

      «Ἄν, ὅ­μως, μὲ γνώ­ρι­ζες καὶ ἤ­μουν μαύ­ρη;»

      «Τό­τε τὸ πι­θα­νό­τε­ρο εἶ­ναι ὅ­τι θὰ τὰ εἶ­χες ἤ­δη μὲ κά­ποι­ον μαῦ­ρο.» Πῆ­ρε τὸ ντοὺς τοῦ νε­ρο­χύ­τη καὶ ξέ­πλυ­νε τὰ μα­χαι­ρο­πί­ρου­να. Τὸ νε­ρὸ ἦ­ταν τό­σο καυ­τὸ ποὺ τὸ ἀ­τσά­λι ἔ­γι­νε στιγ­μια­ία γα­λα­ζω­πὸ πρὶν ξα­να­πά­ρει τὸ ἀ­ση­μέ­νιο χρῶ­μα του.

      «Ἂς ποῦ­με ὅ­τι δὲν τὰ εἶ­χα μὲ κα­νέ­να», συ­νέ­χι­σε ἐ­κεί­νη. «Πὲς ὅ­τι εἶ­μαι μαύ­ρη, ἐ­λεύ­θε­ρη, γνω­ρί­ζω ἐ­σέ­να κι ἐ­ρω­τευ­ό­μα­στε.»

      Τῆς ἔ­ρι­ξε μιὰ μα­τιά. Τὸν πα­ρα­κο­λου­θοῦ­σε μὲ μά­τια ποὺ ἔ­λαμ­παν. «Ἄ­κου», τῆς εἶ­πε, σὰν νὰ ἤ­θε­λε νὰ τὴ λο­γι­κέ­ψει, «αὐ­τὸ δὲν γί­νε­ται. Ἂν ἤ­σουν μαύ­ρη δὲν θὰ ἤ­σουν ἐ­σύ». Κα­θὼς τὸ ἔ­λε­γε αὐ­τό, συ­νει­δη­το­ποί­η­σε ὅ­τι ἴ­σχυ­ε πέ­ρα γιὰ πέ­ρα. Δὲν ὑ­πῆρ­χε ἡ πα­ρα­μι­κρὴ ἀμ­φι­βο­λί­α πὼς ἂν ἦ­ταν μαύ­ρη δὲν θὰ ἦ­ταν ἐ­κεί­νη ποὺ ἦ­ταν. Κι ἔ­τσι ἐ­πα­νέ­λα­βε: «Ἂν ἤ­σουν μαύ­ρη, δὲν θὰ ἤ­σουν ἐ­σύ.»

      «Τὸ ξέ­ρω», εἶ­πε, «ἀλ­λά, ἔ­τσι, πές».

      Ἐ­κεῖ­νος πῆ­ρε βα­θιὰ ἀ­να­πνο­ή. Τὴν εἶ­χε κερ­δί­σει μὲ τὸ ἐ­πι­χεί­ρη­μά του, ἀλ­λὰ ἐ­ξα­κο­λου­θοῦ­σε νὰ τὸν δι­α­κα­τέ­χει μιὰ ἀ­νη­συ­χί­α. «Νὰ πῶ τί;» ρώ­τη­σε.

      «Πὲς ὅ­τι εἶ­μαι μαύ­ρη, κι ὅ­τι εἶ­μαι ἀ­κό­μα ἐ­γώ, κι ἐ­ρω­τευ­ό­μα­στε. Θὰ μὲ παν­τρευ­τεῖς;»

      Ἐ­κεῖ­νος τὸ σκέ­φτη­κε.

      «Λοι­πόν;» τοῦ εἶ­πε κι ἔ­κα­νε ἕ­να βῆ­μα πιὸ κον­τά του. Τὰ μά­τια της ἀ­στρα­πο­βο­λοῦ­σαν. «Θὰ μὲ παν­τρευ­τεῖς;»

      «Τὸ σκέ­φτο­μαι», τῆς εἶ­πε.

      «Δὲν θὰ τὸ κά­νεις, εἶ­ναι ὁ­λο­φά­νε­ρο. Θὰ πεῖς ὄ­χι.»

      «Νο­μί­ζω ὅ­τι βι­ά­ζε­σαι πο­λύ», εἶ­πε ἐ­κεῖ­νος. «Ἔ­χου­με πολ­λὰ πράγ­μα­τα νὰ βά­λου­με κά­τω. Δὲν εἶ­ναι σω­στὸ νὰ κά­νου­με κά­τι γιὰ τὸ ὁ­ποῖ­ο θὰ με­τα­νι­ώ­νου­με σ’ ὅ­λη τὴν ὑ­πό­λοι­πη ζω­ή μας.»

      «Ἄ­σε ἔ­ξω τὴ λο­γι­κή. Ναὶ ἢ ὄ­χι;»

      «Ἐ­φό­σον τὸ θέ­τεις ἔ­τσι…»

      «Ναὶ ἢ ὄ­χι.»

      «Κα­λά, Ἂνν – ἐν­τά­ξει. Ὄ­χι.»

      «Εὐ­χα­ρι­στῶ», τοῦ εἶ­πε καὶ φεύ­γον­τας ἀ­π’ τὴν κου­ζί­να πῆ­γε στὸ σα­λό­νι. Ἕ­να λε­πτὸ με­τά, τὴν ἄ­κου­σε ποὺ ξε­φύλ­λι­ζε ἕ­να πε­ρι­ο­δι­κό. Ἤ­ξε­ρε ὅ­τι ἦ­ταν πο­λὺ θυ­μω­μέ­νη ὥ­στε πραγ­μα­τι­κὰ νὰ τὸ δι­α­βά­ζει, ἀλ­λὰ δὲν γύ­ρι­ζε ἀ­πό­το­μα τὶς σε­λί­δες ὅ­πως θὰ ἔ­κα­νε αὐ­τὸς ἂν βρι­σκό­ταν σὲ πα­ρό­μοι­α θέ­ση. Τὶς γύ­ρι­ζε ἀρ­γὰ-ἀρ­γά, σὰν νὰ με­λε­τοῦ­σε τὴν κά­θε ἀ­ρά­δα. Τοῦ ἔ­κα­νε ἐ­πί­δει­ξη τῆς ἀ­δι­α­φο­ρί­ας της καὶ αὐ­τὴ ἡ ἐ­πί­δει­ξη εἶ­χε τὴν ἐ­πι­θυ­μη­τὴ ἐ­πί­δρα­ση πά­νω του. Τὸν πλή­γω­νε.

      Δὲν εἶ­χε ἄλ­λη ἐ­πι­λο­γὴ πα­ρὰ νὰ τῆς δεί­ξει κι αὐ­τὸς τὴ δι­κή του ἀ­δι­α­φο­ρί­α. Ἔ­πλυ­νε ἥ­συ­χα καὶ προ­σε­κτι­κά τα ὑ­πό­λοι­πα πιά­τα. Με­τὰ τὰ σκού­πι­σε καὶ τὰ ἔ­βα­λε στὸ ντου­λά­πι. Σκού­πι­σε τοὺς πάγ­κους, τὴν ἑ­στί­α τῆς κου­ζί­νας κι ἔ­σκυ­ψε νὰ κα­θα­ρί­σει τὸ πά­τω­μα στὸ ση­μεῖ­ο ποὺ εἶ­χε πέ­σει ἡ στα­γό­να τοῦ αἵ­μα­τος. Πά­νω ἐ­κεῖ ἀ­πο­φά­σι­σε ὅ­τι ἦ­ταν εὐ­και­ρί­α νὰ τὸ σφουγ­γα­ρί­σει ὅ­λο. Ὅ­ταν τε­λεί­ω­σε, ἡ κου­ζί­να ἦ­ταν σὰν και­νού­ρια, ὅ­πως τὴ μέ­ρα ποὺ ὁ με­σί­της τοὺς ἔ­δει­χνε γιὰ πρώ­τη φο­ρὰ τὸ σπί­τι, πρὶν κὰν ἐγ­κα­τα­στα­θοῦν ἐ­κεῖ.

      Πῆ­ρε τὴ σα­κού­λα τῶν σκου­πι­δι­ῶν καὶ βγῆ­κε ἔ­ξω. Ἦ­ταν ἀ­νέ­φε­λη ἡ βρα­διὰ καὶ στὰ δυ­τι­κά, ἐ­κεῖ ποὺ δὲν ἔ­φτα­ναν τὰ φῶ­τα τῆς πό­λης, δι­α­κρί­νον­ταν με­ρι­κὰ ἀ­στέ­ρια. Στὸ Ἒλ Κα­μί­νο, ἡ κί­νη­ση τῶν αὐ­το­κι­νή­των ἦ­ταν ἀ­ραι­ὴ καὶ στα­θε­ρή, σὰν ἤ­ρε­μο πο­τά­μι. Ἔ­νι­ω­θε ντρο­πὴ ποὺ εἶ­χε ἐ­πι­τρέ­ψει στὴ γυ­ναί­κα του νὰ τὸν πα­ρα­σύ­ρει σ’ αὐ­τὸ τὸν κα­βγά. Σὲ κα­μιὰ τρι­αν­τα­ριὰ χρό­νια ἀ­πὸ τώ­ρα θὰ ἦ­ταν καὶ οἱ δυ­ό τους πε­θα­μέ­νοι. Τί ση­μα­σί­α θὰ εἶ­χαν ὅ­λα αὐ­τὰ τό­τε; Συλ­λο­γί­στη­κε τὰ χρό­νια ποὺ εἶ­χαν ζή­σει μα­ζὶ καὶ πό­σο στε­νὴ ἦ­ταν ἡ σχέ­ση τους, πό­σο κα­λὰ γνώ­ρι­ζαν ὁ ἕ­νας τὸν ἄλ­λο, κι ἔ­νιω­σε ἕ­να κόμ­πο στὸ λα­ρύγ­γι ποὺ δὲν τὸν ἄ­φη­νε νὰ πά­ρει ἀ­νά­σα. Ἕ­να φούν­τω­μα ἁ­πλώ­θη­κε στὸ πρό­σω­πο καὶ τὸ λαι­μό του. Μιὰ ζέ­στη πλημ­μύ­ρι­σε τὸ στῆ­θος του. Στά­θη­κε ἐ­κεῖ γιὰ λί­γο, ἀ­πο­λαμ­βά­νον­τας αὐ­τὲς τὶς αἰ­σθή­σεις, κι ὕ­στε­ρα πῆ­ρε τὴ σα­κού­λα καὶ βγῆ­κε στὴν πί­σω αὐ­λή.

      Τὰ δυ­ὸ ἀ­δέ­σπο­τα σκυ­λιὰ τῆς γω­νί­ας εἶ­χαν τρα­βή­ξει πά­λι τὸν κά­δο τῶν σκου­πι­δι­ῶν πιὸ πέ­ρα. Τὸ ἕ­να κυ­λι­ό­ταν κα­τα­γῆς ἀ­νά­σκε­λα, ἐ­νῶ τὸ ἄλ­λο εἶ­χε κά­τι στὸ στό­μα του. Γρυ­λί­ζον­τας, τὸ πέ­τα­ξε στὸν ἀ­έ­ρα, ἔ­κα­νε ἕ­να ἅλ­μα καὶ τὸ ἔπι­α­σε, γρύ­λι­σε ξα­νὰ καὶ κού­νη­σε τὸ κε­φά­λι πέ­ρα-δῶ­θε. Ὅ­ταν τὸν εἶ­δαν νὰ πλη­σιά­ζει, ἔ­σπευ­σαν νὰ ἀ­πο­μα­κρυν­θοῦν μὲ κο­φτά, λε­πτε­πί­λε­πτα βή­μα­τα. Σὲ ἄλ­λη πε­ρί­πτω­ση θὰ τοὺς πέ­τα­γε πέ­τρες, ἀλ­λὰ αὐ­τὴ τὴ φο­ρὰ τὰ ἄ­φη­σε νὰ φύ­γουν.

      Τὸ σπί­τι ἦ­ταν σκο­τει­νὸ ὅ­ταν ξα­ναμ­πῆ­κε μέ­σα. Ἐ­κεί­νη ἦ­ταν στὸ μπά­νιο. Κον­το­στά­θη­κε ἔ­ξω ἀ­πὸ τὴν πόρ­τα καὶ φώ­να­ξε τὸ ὄ­νο­μά της. Τὴν ἄ­κου­σε ποὺ με­τα­κι­νοῦ­σε κά­τι μπου­κα­λά­κια, ἀλ­λὰ δὲν τοῦ ἀ­πάν­τη­σε. «Ἄνν, συ­γνώ­μη – εἰ­λι­κρι­νά», εἶ­πε. «Θὰ ἐ­πα­νορ­θώ­σω, στὸ ὑ­πό­σχο­μαι.»

      «Πῶς;» τὸν ρώ­τη­σε.

      Αὐ­τὴ τὴν ἐ­ρώ­τη­ση δὲν τὴν πε­ρί­με­νε. Ἀλ­λὰ ἀ­πὸ τὸν τό­νο τῆς φω­νῆς της, ποὺ εἶ­χε μιὰ νό­τα ἤ­ρε­μη καὶ τε­λε­σί­δι­κη, μιὰ νό­τα πρω­τά­κου­στη γιὰ τὰ αὐ­τιά του, κα­τά­λα­βε ὅ­τι ἔ­πρε­πε νὰ δώ­σει τὴ σω­στὴ ἀ­πάν­τη­ση. Ἔ­γει­ρε πά­νω στὴν πόρ­τα. «Θὰ σὲ παν­τρευ­τῶ», ψι­θύ­ρι­σε.

      «Θὰ δοῦ­με», εἶ­πε ἐ­κεί­νη. «Ἄν­τε στὸ κρε­βά­τι. Ἔρ­χο­μαι σὲ λί­γο.»

      Ἔ­βγα­λε τὰ ροῦ­χα του καὶ χώ­θη­κε κά­τω ἀ­π’ τὰ σκε­πά­σμα­τα. Κά­ποια στιγ­μὴ ἄ­κου­σε ἐ­πι­τέ­λους τὴν πόρ­τα τοῦ μπά­νιου νὰ ἀ­νοί­γει καὶ νὰ κλεί­νει πά­λι.

      «Σβῆ­σε τὸ φῶς», τοῦ εἶ­πε ἀ­π’ τὸ δι­ά­δρο­μο.

      «Τί;»

      «Σβῆ­σε τὸ φῶς.»

      Ἐ­κεῖ­νος ἅ­πλω­σε τὸ χέ­ρι καὶ τρά­βη­ξε τὴν ἁ­λυ­σί­δα τοῦ πορ­τα­τίφ. Τὸ δω­μά­τιο βυ­θί­στη­κε στὸ σκο­τά­δι. «Ἐν­τά­ξει», εἶ­πε. Ἔ­μει­νε νὰ κεί­τε­ται ξα­πλω­μέ­νος, ἀλ­λὰ τί­πο­τα δὲν συ­νέ­βη. «Ἐν­τά­ξει», εἶ­πε πά­λι. Ὕ­στε­ρα ἄ­κου­σε μιὰ κί­νη­ση στὴν ἄλ­λη ἄ­κρη τοῦ δω­μα­τί­ου. Ἀ­να­κά­θι­σε, μὰ δὲν ἔ­βλε­πε τὴ μύ­τη του. Ἐ­πι­κρα­τοῦ­σε πά­λι σι­ω­πή. Ἡ καρ­διά του χτυ­ποῦ­σε ὅ­πως τὸ πρῶ­το-πρῶ­το βρά­δυ ποὺ πέ­ρα­σαν μα­ζί, χτυ­ποῦ­σε ὅ­πως ὅ­ταν ξύ­πνα­γε κα­μιὰ φο­ρὰ τὴ νύ­χτα ἀ­πὸ κά­ποι­ο θό­ρυ­βο κι ἔ­στη­νε αὐ­τὶ μή­πως τὸν ξα­να­κού­σει – τὸν θό­ρυ­βο κά­ποι­ου ποὺ κι­νεῖ­ται μὲς στὸ σπί­τι, μιᾶς πα­ρου­σί­ας ξέ­νης.

 

Ὁ Το­μπά­ιας Γοὺλφ δια­βά­ζει τὸ δι­ή­γη­μά του «Say Yes» στὴ Βρα­διὰ Πε­ζο­γρα­φί­ας 2008 στὸ Σὰν Φραν­σί­σκο. Πα­ρα­τί­θε­ται τὸ ἀγ­γλι­κὸ πρω­τό­τυ­πο:

 

 

Tobias Wolff

 

Say Yes

 

THEY WERE DOING THE DISHES, his wife washing while he dried. He’d washed the night before. Unlike most men he knew, he really pitched in on the housework. A few months earlier he’d overheard a friend of his wife’s congratulate her on having such a considerate husband, and he thought, I try. Helping out with the dishes was a way he had of showing how considerate he was.

       They talked about different things and somehow got on the subject of whether white people should marry black people. He said that all things considered, he thought it was a bad idea.

      “Why?” she asked.

      Sometimes his wife got this look where she pinched her brows together and bit her lower lip and stared down at something. When he saw her like this he knew he should keep his mouth shut, but he never did. Actually it made him talk more. She had that look now.

      “Why?” she asked again, and stood there with her hand inside a bowl, not washing it but just holding it above the water.

      “Listen,” he said, “I went to school with blacks, and we’ve always gotten along just fine. I don’t need you coming along now and implying that I’m a racist.”

      “I didn’t imply anything,” she said, and began washing the bowl again, turning it around in her hand as though she were shaping it. “I just don’t see what’s wrong with a white person marrying a black person, that’s all.”

      “They don’t come from the same culture as we do. Listen to them sometime – they even have their own language. That’s okay with me, I like hearing them talk” – he did; for some reason it always made him feel happy – “but it’s different. A person from their culture and a person from our culture could never really know each other.”

      “Like you know me?” his wife asked.

      “Yes. Like I know you.”

      “But if they love each other,” she said. She was washing faster now, not looking at him.

      Oh boy, he thought. He said, “Don’t take my word for it. Look at the statistics. Most of those marriages break up.”

      “Statistics.” She was piling dishes on the drainboard at a terrific rate, just swiping at them with the cloth. Many of them were greasy, and there were flecks of food between the tines of the forks. “All right,” she said, “what about foreigners? I suppose you think the same thing about two foreigners getting married.”

      “Yes,” he said, “as a matter of fact I do. How can you understand someone who comes from a completely different background?”

      “Different,” said his wife. “Not the same, like us.”

      “Yes, different,” he snapped, angry with her for resorting to this trick of repeating his words so that they sounded crass, or hypocritical. “These are dirty,” he said, and dumped all the silverware back into the sink.

      The water had gone flat and gray. She stared down at it, her lips pressed tight together, then plunged her hands under the surface. “Oh!” she cried, and jumped back. She took her right hand by the wrist and held it up. He thumb was bleeding.

      “Ann, don’t move,” he said. “Stay right there.” He ran upstairs to the bathroom and rummaged in the medicine chest for alcohol, cotton, and a Band-Aid. When he came back down she was leaning against the refrigerator with her eyes closed, still holding her hand. He took the hand and dabbed at her thumb with the cotton. The bleeding had stopped. He squeezed it to see how deep the wound was and a single drop of blood welled up, trembling and bright, and fell to the floor. Over the thumb she stared at him accusingly. “It’s shallow,” he said. “Tomorrow you won’t even know it’s there.” He hoped that she appreciated how quickly he had come to her aid. He’d acted out of concern for her, with no thought of getting anything in return, but now the thought occurred to him that it would be a nice gesture on her part not to start up that conversation again, as he was tired of it. “I’ll finish up here,” he said. “You go and relax.”

      “That’s okay,” she said. “I’ll dry.”

      He began to wash the silverware again, giving a lot of attention to the forks.

      “So,” she said, “you wouldn’t have married me if I’d been black.”

      “For Christ’s sake, Ann!”

      “Well, that’s what you said, didn’t you?”

      “No, I did not. The whole question is ridiculous. If you had been black we probably wouldn’t even have met. You would have had your friends and I would have had mine. The only black girl I ever really knew was my partner in the debating club, and I was already going out with you by then.”

      “But if we had met, and I’d been black?”

      “Then you probably would have been going out with a black guy.” He picked up the rinsing nozzle and sprayed the silverware. The water was so hot that the metal darkened to pale blue, then turned silver again.

      “Let’s say I wasn’t,” she said. “Let’s say I am black and unattached and we meet and fall in love.”

      He glanced over at her. She was watching him and her eyes were bright. “Look,” he said, taking a reasonable tone, “this is stupid. If you were black you wouldn’t be you.” As he said this he realized it was absolutely true. There was no possible way of arguing with the fact that she would not be herself if she were black. So he said it again: “If you were black you wouldn’t be you.”

      “I know,” she said, “but let’s just say.”

      He took a deep breath. He had won the argument but he still felt cornered. “Say what?” he asked.

      “That I’m black, but still me, and we fall in love. Will you marry me?”

      He thought about it.

      “Well?” she said, and stepped close to him. Her eyes were even brighter. “Will you marry me?”

      “I’m thinking,” he said.

      “You won’t, I can tell. You’re going to say no.”

      “Since you put it that way – “

      “Yes or no.”

      “Jesus, Ann. All right. No.”

      She said “Thank you,” and walked from the kitchen into the living room. A moment later he heard her turning the pages of a magazine. He knew that she was too angry to be actually reading it, but she didn’t snap through the pages the way he would have done. She turned them slowly, as if she were studying every word. She was demonstrating her indifference to him, and it had the effect he knew she wanted it to have. It hurt him.

      He had no choice but to demonstrate his indifference to her. Quietly, thoroughly, he washed the rest of the dishes. Then he dried them and put them away. He wiped the counters and the stove and scoured the linoleum where the drop of blood had fallen. While he was at it, he decided, he might as well mop the whole floor. When he was done the kitchen looked new, the way it looked when they were first shown the house, before they had ever lived here.

      He picked up the garbage pail and went outside. The night was clear and he could see a few stars to the west, where the lights of the town didn’t blur them out. On El Camino the traffic was steady and light, peaceful as a river. He felt ashamed that he had let his wife get him into a fight. In another thirty years or so they would both be dead. What would all that stuff matter then? He thought of the years they had spent together, and how close they were, and how well they knew each other, and his throat tightened so that he could hardly breathe. His face and neck began to tingle. Warmth flooded his chest. He stood there for a while, enjoying these sensations, then picked up the pail and went out the back gate.

      The two mutts from down the street had pulled over the garbage can again. One of them was rolling around on his back and the other had something in her mouth. Growling, she tossed it into the air, leaped up and caught it, growled again and whipped her head from side to side. When they saw him coming they trotted away with short, mincing steps. Normally he would heave rocks at them, but this time he let them go.

      The house was dark when he came back inside. She was in the bathroom. He stood outside the door and called her name. He heard bottles clinking, but she didn’t answer him. “Ann, I’m really sorry,” he said. “I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”

      “How?” she asked.

      He wasn’t expecting this. But from a sound in her voice, a level and definite note that was strange to him, he knew that he had to come up with the right answer. He leaned against the door. “I’ll marry you,” he whispered.

      “We’ll see,” she said. “Go on to bed. I’ll be out in a minute.”

      He undressed and got under the covers. Finally he heard the bathroom door open and close.

      “Turn off the light,” she said from the hallway.

      “What?”

      “Turn off the light.”

      He reached over and pulled the chain on the bedside lamp. The room went dark. “All right,” he said. He lay there, but nothing happened. “All right,” he said again. Then he heard a movement across the room. He sat up, but he couldn’t see a thing. The room was silent. His heart pounded the way it had on their first night together, the way it still did when he woke at a noise in the darkness and waited to hear it again – the sound of someone moving through the house, a stranger.

 

  

Πηγή: Ἀ­πὸ τὴ συλ­λο­γὴ δι­η­γη­μά­των Sha­pard, Ro­bert and Ja­mes Tho­mas, eds. Sud­den Fi­ction, A­me­ri­can Short-Short Sto­ri­es, Salt La­ke Ci­ty: Gibbs-Smith pu­bli­sher, 1986. Προ­δη­μο­σί­ευ­ση ἀ­πὸ τὸ προ­σε­χὲς τεῦ­χος τοῦ Πλα­νό­διου τὸ ἀ­φι­ε­ρω­μέ­νο στὸ ἀ­με­ρι­κα­νι­κὸ μπον­ζά­ι.

 

Τομπάιας Γούλφ (Tobias Wolff) (Μπέρ­μιγ­χαμ, Ἀ­λαμ­πά­μα, 1945). Εἶ­ναι γνω­στὸς γιὰ τὰ χρο­νι­κὰ τοῦ T­h­is B­o­y­’s L­i­fe, κα­θὼς καὶ γιὰ τὰ δι­η­γή­μα­τά του, ἐ­νῶ ἔ­χει γρά­ψει καὶ δύ­ο μυ­θι­στο­ρή­μα­τα. Οἱ κρι­τι­κοὶ τὸν κα­τέ­τα­ξαν στὸ κί­νη­μα τοῦ βρό­μι­κου ρε­α­λι­σμοῦ μα­ζὶ μὲ τὸν Ρέ­ι­μοντ Κάρ­βερ καὶ μί­λη­σαν γιὰ ἀ­να­γέν­νη­ση τοῦ ἀ­με­ρι­κα­νι­κοῦ δι­η­γή­μα­τος, ἀλ­λὰ ὁ ἴ­διος ἀρ­νεῖ­ται τέ­τοι­ους ἰ­σχυ­ρι­σμούς. Ἔ­χει τι­μη­θεῖ μὲ δι­ά­φο­ρα βρα­βεῖ­α, ἐ­νῶ τὰ χρο­νι­κὰ καὶ ἕ­να δι­ή­γη­μά του ἔ­χουν με­τα­φερ­θεῖ στὸν κι­νη­μα­το­γρά­φο. Βλ. καὶ Πλα­νό­διον ἀρ. 44 (Ἰ­ού­νιος 2008), μιὰ πρώ­τη ἐ­κτε­τα­μέ­νη γνω­ρι­μί­α μὲ τὸ ἔρ­γο του στὸ ἀ­φι­έ­ρω­μα: «Ἡ χα­ρὰ τοῦ πο­λε­μι­στῆ καὶ ἄλ­λα δι­η­γή­μα­τα», Εἰ­σα­γω­γή-με­τά­φρα­ση-ση­μει­ώ­σεις: Τά­σος Ἀ­να­στα­σί­ου. Ἀπὸ τὶς ἐκδό­σεις Πό­λις κυ­κλο­φο­ροῦν ἐ­πί­σης τὰ βι­βλία του Τὸ πα­λιὸ σχο­λεῖο (μυ­θι­στό­ρη­μα, 2008) καὶ Ὁ κλέ­φτης τοῦ στρα­το­πέ­δου (δι­η­γήμα­τα, 2009).

 

Με­τά­φρα­ση ἀ­πὸ τὰ ἀγ­γλικά:

Τό­νια Κο­βα­λέν­κο. M­ε­τα­φρά­στρια ἀγ­γλό­φω­νης λο­γο­τε­χνί­ας. Ἔ­χει ἐκ­δώ­σει τὶς ποι­η­τι­κὲς συλ­λο­γὲς Γι­ού­ρι (ἐκδ. Χατ­ζη­νι­κο­λῆ) καὶ Πό­τε νυ­χτώ­νει; (ἐκδ. Ἠ­ρι­δα­νός).

 

Βλ. ἀκόμη ἐδῶ Ἡμερολόγιο Καταστρώματος (ἐγγραφὴ 21-02-2011)

 

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