Argiris Eftaliotis: The Dumb

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Argiris Eftaliotis

 

The Dumb

 

09-Iota-Century_Mag_I REMEMBER the poor guy. Tall, lean and handsome lad. He was born dumb. Which means, he was also deaf. And as if these flaws were not enough, he was also an orphan ever since he was five. A neighbour took him and raised him, that is she taught him how to carry water, to buy things and to rock the baby, if he had no other chore to do.

         The Dumb grew with it; but when the baby grew up, it was wearing short dresses. For the baby the Dumb was rocking was a girl.

         They became siblings. And as siblings they were growing up. The little girl was the only one who did not tease him. Even his mother was mocking him, despite her kind heart. In the villages, there is no way for the mocking to stop. They would burst if they did not mock a dumb man. And sometimes, he may not even need to be dumb.

         I remember him until the age of fifteen and the little girl until she was ten. I remember them going to the fountain together. Somebody would throw a small stone or a melon skin to the dumb man. I do not forget his face, all bitter and sad, turning to the girl, as if he was saying: “See what it means to be dumb?” The little girl would look around then, with eyes flaring. Woe to the mocker, who threw the stone or the skin to her companion, if she set her eyes upon him.

         I also remember the poor Dumb in the fair. He was older then. A true lad. He was again with the daughter and her old mother. A true woman the daughter as well. Not very beautiful, but pretty, pretty and plump like an apple in May. I remember her dancing with the other women in the neighbourhood. The Dumb – his whole hearing and voice concentrated in his bright eyes and his cheery lips – would watch her to his heart’s content and encourage her with his kind nods. And the girl kept dancing, and the open-hearted Dumb was hopping lightly.

         Ah, I remember him the last time I saw him! I was walking alone one night down at the seaside. I went to the cape, stood on a rock, and started looking at the calm and deep waters. On my side there was another rock, a little bit further in the sea. And next to the rock, closer to me, something was floating, and it did not take me long to understand what it was. It was floating serenely and heavily and every little while a wave would dash it against the rocks. I reached closer and I was not mistaken. It was a man, it was the poor Dumb!

         Just after the little girl got married!

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Source: Argiris Eftaliotis, I mazoxtra and other stories * Vourkolakas, Special Edition for the newspaper “Vima”, [1st edition 1900].

Argiris, Eftaliotis (Molivos, Lesvos, 1849-Aix La Pain, France, 1923). Poet and prose writer. His first book: Nisiotikes istories (1894, short stories).

Translated from the greek by

Vassilis Manoussakis (Athens, 1972). Poet, short-story writer, translator. He studied English Language and Literature. He currently teaches at the University of Peloponnese in Kalamata.

 

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