Τζένιφερ Μπέρμαν (Jenifer Berman): Πρόλογος: Τὸ κατὰ Ἰωάννην εὐαγγέλιο

fos1400104-960x671


Τζέ­νι­φερ Μπέρ­μαν (Jenifer Berman)


Πρό­λο­γος: Τὸ Κα­τὰ Ἰ­ω­άν­νην Εὐ­αγ­γέ­λιο


02-TaphΟ ΑΠΟΓΕΥΜΑΤΙΝΟ ΦΩΣ ἀρ­χί­ζει νὰ ξε­θω­ριά­ζει καὶ ὅ­ταν ἐ­κεί­νη μπαί­νει στὸ δω­μά­τιο μυ­ρί­ζει ἔκ­πλη­ξη. Κα­θὼς τὸ δι­α­σχί­ζει περ­πα­τώντας στὸ πά­τω­μα μὲ τὶς πλα­τι­ὲς σα­νί­δες τὸν βλέ­πει νὰ κά­θε­ται στη­τὸς στὸ κρε­βά­τι. Τὸ ση­μά­δι ἀ­πὸ τὶς τρί­χες του ἔ­χει ἀ­πο­τυ­πω­θεῖ πά­νω στὰ φρε­σκο­σι­δε­ρω­μέ­να σεν­τό­νια καὶ κα­θὼς ἐ­κεί­νη προ­χω­ρά­ει πρὸς τὸ μέ­ρος του τὰ βή­μα­τά της γί­νον­ται κο­φτὰ καὶ δι­στα­κτι­κά. Δὲν ἔ­χει ξα­να­δεῖ πο­τὲ κά­ποι­ον νε­κρό. Οὔ­τε νε­ο­γέν­νη­το ἔ­χει ξα­να­δεῖ, ἀλ­λὰ στὸ στρε­βλὸ φῶς τοῦ λυ­κό­φω­τος αὐ­τὴ ἡ μά­ζα ἀ­πὸ μύ­ες, αἷ­μα καὶ κό­κα­λα μοιά­ζει μὲ που­λά­ρι ποὺ μό­λις ἔ­χει βγεῖ ἀ­πὸ τὸν ἀ­μνια­κὸ σά­κο τῆς μη­τέ­ρας του.

        Ὅ­ταν φτά­νει στὸ κρε­βά­τι, τὸν σκουν­τά­ει ἐ­λα­φρά. Μα­ζεύ­ει τὸ δά­χτυ­λό της, κα­θὼς τὴ φό­βι­σε τὸ δέρ­μα του, ἐ­νῶ τῆς φαί­νε­ται πὼς εἶ­ναι νε­κρὸς ἐ­δῶ καὶ ἀρ­κε­τὸ και­ρό. Τὰ μά­τια του εἶ­ναι ἄ­ψυ­χα καὶ γκρί­ζα. Ἔ­χουν τὸ χρῶ­μα μιᾶς χι­ο­νο­θύ­ελ­λας καὶ κοι­τά­ζουν τὸ τα­βά­νι, ὅ­που ἡ ὑ­γρα­σί­α ἔ­χει προ­κα­λέ­σει τὸ ξε­φλού­δι­σμα τῆς μπο­γιᾶς. Ἀ­κο­λου­θεῖ τὴ μα­τιά του. Ψη­λὰ μέ­σα στὰ σύν­νε­φα ὅ­που γεν­νι­έ­ται μιὰ κα­ται­γί­δα, ἐ­νῶ τὸ στό­μα του ἔ­χει ἀ­νοί­ξει λὲς καὶ πρό­κει­ται νὰ ἀρ­θρώ­σει μιὰ πο­λὺ σύν­το­μη ἐ­ρώ­τη­ση. Ἡ ἀ­νά­σα του μυ­ρί­ζει μέν­τα. Εἶ­ναι μιὰ κα­θα­ρή, κα­θη­συ­χα­στι­κὴ μυ­ρω­διά, ἀλ­λὰ ἀ­πὸ ὅ­λες τὶς ἄλ­λες ἀ­πό­ψεις ὁ θά­να­τος τὸν ἔ­χει κά­νει νὰ μοιά­ζει μὲ ἄ­γνω­στο: τὰ πα­χιά του μά­γου­λα καὶ τὰ μυ­τε­ρὰ αὐ­τιά του, τὰ πλα­τιὰ δά­χτυ­λά του, σχε­δὸν σὰν τῆς πά­πιας, τὰ νύ­χια του με­λα­νι­α­σμέ­να στὸ χρῶ­μα τοῦ δα­μά­σκη­νου.

        Τὸ στο­μά­χι της γουρ­γου­ρί­ζει δυ­να­τά. Πλη­σιά­ζει ἡ κα­ται­γί­δα. Τὴ βλέ­πει στὸν οὐ­ρα­νό, μὲ τὰ ἄ­μορ­φα σύν­νε­φά της καὶ τὴ δυ­σοί­ω­νη ἀ­νη­συ­χί­α τῆς βα­θιᾶς ἀ­νά­σας της. Ὁ οὐ­ρα­νὸς βα­στά­ει τὰ βά­σα­να ὅ­λου τοῦ κό­σμου, ὅ­λο το χυ­μέ­νο αἷ­μα καὶ τὴν πλη­γω­μέ­νη κού­ρα­σή του. Καὶ βλέ­πει τοὺς στρα­τι­ῶ­τες νὰ κρα­τᾶ­νε σφι­χτὰ στὰ χέ­ρια τους τὶς ψυ­χές τους, νὰ σκί­ζουν τὰ δι­α­κρι­τι­κά τους καὶ νὰ βογ­γᾶ­νε μπρο­στὰ στὶς νο­σο­κό­μες τους ζη­τών­τας λί­γη ἀ­να­κού­φι­ση. Καὶ ἀ­κού­ει καὶ αὐ­τές, τὶς νο­σο­κό­μες, μὲ τὶς λε­πτὲς καὶ ψυ­χρὲς φω­νές τους, κα­θὼς χτυ­πᾶ­νε τὸ κρύ­ο δέρ­μα γιὰ νὰ βροῦν μιὰ φλέ­βα. Αὐ­τὸς εἶ­ναι ἕ­νας οὐ­ρα­νὸς ποὺ βα­στά­ει ὅ­λη τὴν κού­ρα­ση τοῦ κό­σμου. Εἶ­ναι μου­δι­α­σμέ­νος καὶ κε­νός. Σὲ δι­α­περ­νά­ει σὰν ἠ­χώ.

        Για­τί αὐ­τό, πι­στεύ­ει ἐ­κεί­νη, πὼς εἶ­ναι αὐ­τὸς τώ­ρα. Μιὰ ἄ­δεια ἀν­τή­χη­ση, ἕ­να σύ­νο­λο μο­ρί­ων μό­νο, ποὺ αἰ­ω­ρεῖ­ται μέ­σα στὸν χρό­νο. Κά­πο­τε ἦ­ταν ἄν­τρας καὶ τώ­ρα εἶ­ναι ἕ­να ποί­μνιο ποὺ ἔ­χει χά­σει τοὺς πι­στούς του. Ὑ­πάρ­χουν καὶ ἀν­τι­κεί­με­να, φυ­σι­κά: μιὰ βέ­ρα, ἕ­να ρο­λό­ι τσέ­πης, ἕ­να ἐ­πι­με­λῶς φρον­τι­σμέ­νο σὲτ βουρ­τσί­σμα­τος δον­τι­ῶν. Ὅ­μως, μέ­σα στὴν ἀ­χνὴ πά­χνη, αὐ­τὰ τὰ ἀν­τι­κεί­με­να ἔ­χουν ἐ­λά­χι­στη ση­μα­σί­α. Κά­πο­τε ἴ­σως κα­θό­ρι­ζαν τὴ ζω­ὴ κά­ποι­ου, ἀλ­λὰ τώ­ρα ἁ­πλῶς αἰ­ω­ροῦν­ται δί­χως νό­η­μα. Χω­ρὶς τὸ ὑ­πό­βα­θρο τῆς Ἱ­στο­ρί­ας, χω­ρὶς κά­ποι­α ἀ­φή­γη­ση, μιὰ ἱ­στο­ρί­α, αὐ­τὸς ὁ ἄν­τρας εἶ­ναι κα­τα­δι­κα­σμέ­νος νὰ γί­νει ἕ­να πε­ρί­γραμ­μα μό­νο. Ἀ­κό­μα καὶ αὐ­τὴ ξε­χνά­ει καὶ χω­ρὶς τὰ κα­τάλ­λη­λα ἔγ­γρα­φα εἶ­ναι κα­τα­δι­κα­σμέ­νος νὰ γί­νει ἕ­να παι­δι­κὸ παι­χνί­δι τη­λε­φώ­νου, ἕ­να μέ­σο δι­α­σκέ­δα­σης σὲ πάρ­τι γε­νε­θλί­ων, ποὺ χω­ρὶς τὴν πα­ρου­σί­α κά­ποι­ου γιὰ νὰ τὸ ἀ­πο­κρυ­πτο­γρα­φή­σει δὲν ἔ­χει κα­νέ­να νό­η­μα.


Bonsai-03c-GiaIstologio-04


Πη­γή: Α­πό τον τό­μο 110 Stories. New York Writes After September 11. Edited by Ulrich Baer (New York University Press, NY, 2002).

Ἀ­πὸ τὸ ἀ­φι­έ­ρω­μα τοῦ ἰ­στο­λο­γί­ου Πλα­νό­διον – Ἱ­στο­ρί­ες Μπον­ζά­ι καὶ τῆς μη­νια­ίας ἐ­πι­θε­ώ­ρη­σης τοῦ βι­βλί­ου Books’ Journal γιὰ τὰ δε­κα­πέν­τε χρό­νια ἀ­πὸ τὴν ἐ­πί­θε­ση (11-09-2001) στοὺς Δί­δυ­μους Πύρ­γους τῆς Νέ­ας Ὑ­όρ­κης, μὲ τί­τλο «Μπον­ζά­ι γιὰ τὸ Ση­μεῖ­ο Μη­δέν», ποὺ ἐ­πι­με­λή­θη­καν ὁ Βα­σί­λης Μα­νου­σά­κης, ἡ Ἠ­ρὼ Νι­κο­πού­λου καὶ ἡ Ἔ­λε­να Σταγ­κου­ρά­κη.

 

Τζέ­νι­φερ Μπέρ­μαν (Jenifer Berman). Συγ­γρα­φέ­ας καὶ ἑρ­μη­νεύ­τρια νο­η­μα­τι­κῆς γλώσ­σας. Δι­η­γή­μα­τά της ἔ­χουν ἐμ­φα­νι­στεῖ σὲ πολ­λὰ λο­γο­τε­χνι­κὰ πε­ρι­ο­δι­κά. Ζεῖ στὴ Νέ­α Ὑ­όρ­κη.

Με­τά­φρα­ση ἀπὸ τὰ ἀγγλικά: Βα­σί­λης Μα­νου­σά­κης.

Βα­σί­λης Μα­νου­σά­κης (Ἀ­θή­να, 1972). Ποί­η­ση, δι­ή­γη­μα, με­τά­φρα­ση. Ἔ­χει δι­δα­κτο­ρι­κὸ στὴν Ἀ­με­ρι­κα­νι­κὴ ποί­η­ση. Δι­δά­σκει λο­γο­τε­χνί­α καὶ με­τά­φρα­ση στὸ Hellenic American College. Ἔ­χει με­τα­φρά­σει πά­νω ἀ­πὸ 20 λο­γο­τε­χνι­κὰ βι­βλί­α καὶ δε­κά­δες δι­η­γή­μα­τα καὶ ποι­ή­μα­τα. Ἔ­χει ἐ­πι­με­λη­θεῖ λο­γο­τε­χνι­κὰ ἀ­φι­ε­ρώ­μα­τα στὸ ἐ­ξω­τε­ρι­κό, ἐ­νῶ με­τα­φρά­σεις καὶ ἄρ­θρα του ἔ­χουν δη­μο­σι­ευ­τεῖ σὲ πε­ρι­ο­δι­κὰ τῆς Ἑλ­λά­δας καὶ τοῦ ἐ­ξω­τε­ρι­κοῦ.

Advertisements

Μύριελ Ρουκάιζερ (Muriel Rukeyser): Μύθος


Rukeyser,Muriel-Myth-Eikona-01


Μύ­ρι­ελ Ρου­κά­ι­ζερ (Muriel Rukeyser)


Μύ­θος

(Myth)


02-PiΟΛΥ ΚΑΙΡΟ με­τά, ὁ Οἰ­δί­πο­δας, γέ­ρος καὶ τυ­φλός, περ­πα­τοῦ­σε στοὺς δρό­μους. Κι ἀ­να­γνώ­ρι­σε μιὰ οἰ­κεί­α μυ­ρω­διά. Ἦ­ταν ἡ Σφίγ­γα.

       «Θέ­λω νὰ σοῦ κά­νω μιὰ ἐ­ρώ­τη­ση. Για­τί δὲν ἀ­να­γνώ­ρι­σα τὴ μη­τέ­ρα μου;» εἶ­πε ὁ Οἰ­δί­πο­δας.

       «Ἔ­δω­σες λά­θος ἀ­πάν­τη­ση», εἶ­πε ἡ Σφίγ­γα.

        «Μὰ αὐ­τὴ ἦ­ταν ποὺ τὰ ἔ­κα­νε ὅ­λα ἐ­φι­κτά», ἀν­τα­πάν­τη­σε ὁ Οἰ­δί­πο­δας.

       «Ὄ­χι», εἶ­πε ἐ­κεί­νη. «Ὅ­ταν ρώ­τη­σα: Τί εἶ­ναι αὐ­τὸ ποὺ περ­πα­τά­ει στὰ τέσ­σε­ρα τὸ πρω­ί, στὰ δύ­ο τὸ με­ση­μέ­ρι καὶ στὰ τρί­α το βρά­δυ, ἐ­σὺ ἀ­πάν­τη­σες: ὁ Ἄν­θρω­πος. Δὲν εἶ­πες τί­πο­τα γιὰ τὶς γυ­ναῖ­κες.»

       «Ὅ­ταν λὲς ὁ Ἄν­θρω­πος», ἀ­πο­κρί­θη­κε ὁ Οἰ­δί­πο­δας, «συμ­πε­ρι­λαμ­βά­νεις καὶ τὶς γυ­ναῖ­κες. Ὅ­λοι τὸ γνω­ρί­ζουν αὐ­τό.»

       Κι ἐ­κεί­νη εἶ­πε, «Ἔ­τσι νο­μί­ζεις ἐ­σύ».


Bonsai-03c-GiaIstologio-04


Πη­γή: Ἀ­πὸ τὴ συλ­λο­γὴ Breaking Open (Random House, USA, 1973).

Μύ­ρι­ελ Ρου­κά­ι­ζερ (Muriel Rukeyser ) (15 Δε­κεμ­βρί­ου 1913–12 Φε­βρου­α­ρί­ου 1980). Ἀ­με­ρι­κα­νί­δα ποι­ή­τρια καὶ πο­λι­τι­κὴ ἀ­κτι­βί­στρια, ἡ ὁ­ποί­α ἔ­γι­νε πε­ρισ­σό­τε­ρο γνω­στὴ γιὰ τὰ ποι­ή­μα­τά της μὲ θέ­μα τὴν ἰ­σό­τη­τα, τὸν φε­μι­νι­σμό, τὴν κοι­νω­νι­κὴ δι­και­ο­σύ­νη καὶ τὸν Ἰ­ου­δα­ϊ­σμό. Ἔ­χει γρά­ψει πολ­λὲς ποι­η­τι­κὲς συλ­λο­γές, θε­α­τρι­κὰ ἔρ­γα καὶ δι­η­γή­μα­τα, κα­θὼς καὶ ἕ­να μυ­θι­στό­ρη­μα. Ἡ πιὸ γνω­στὴ συλ­λο­γὴ ποι­η­μά­των της τι­τλο­φο­ρεῖ­ται Τὸ Βι­βλί­ο τῶν Νε­κρῶν (1938) καὶ ἀ­να­φέ­ρε­ται σὲ μιὰ ἐρ­γα­τι­κὴ τρα­γω­δί­α, ὅ­που ἑ­κα­τον­τά­δες ἐρ­γά­τες ὀ­ρυ­χεί­ων πέ­θα­ναν ἀ­πὸ σι­λί­κω­ση.

Με­τά­φρα­ση ἀ­πὸ τὰ ἀγ­γλι­κά:

Βα­σί­λης Μα­νου­σά­κης (Ἀ­θή­να, 1972). Ποι­η­τής, δι­η­γη­μα­το­γρά­φος, με­τα­φρα­στής. Ἔ­χει δι­δα­κτο­ρι­κὸ στὴν Ἀ­με­ρι­κα­νι­κὴ Ποί­η­ση. Δι­δά­σκει Με­τά­φρα­ση στὴν Ἑλ­λη­νο­α­με­ρι­κα­νι­κὴ Ἕ­νω­ση. Ἔ­χει δη­μο­σι­εύ­σει τὶς ποι­η­τι­κὲς συλ­λο­γὲς Μιᾶς Στα­γό­νας Χρό­νο­ς (ἐκ­δ. Πλα­νό­διον, 2009) καὶ Εὔθραστο ὅριο (ἐκ­δ. Πλα­νό­διον, 2014), καὶ τὴ συλ­λο­γὴ δι­η­γη­μά­τω­ν Ἀν­θρώ­πων Ὄ­νει­ρα (ἐκ­δ. Στα­μού­λη, 2010). Ποι­ή­μα­τα καὶ δο­κί­μιά του ἔ­χουν δη­μο­σι­ευ­τεῖ σὲ πολ­λὰ λο­γο­τε­χνι­κὰ πε­ρι­ο­δι­κὰ τῆς Ἑλ­λά­δας καὶ τοῦ ἐ­ξω­τε­ρι­κοῦ.

Εἰκόνα: Antoni Stanislaw Brodowski, Oedipus and Antigone, 1828.



		

	

Andreas Karkavitsas: The Gorgon

.

KarkabitsasAndreas-IGorgona-Eikona-01

.

Andreas Karkavitsas

 

The Gorgon

 

02-Iota WAS SAILING amidst sea with the brig of captain Farasis that night. What an exquisite night! The first and last, I think, in my life. What did we have loaded in the hold? What else but wheat. Where were we going? Where else but the port of Piraeus. These two things, I had already done at least twenty times. That very night, though, I was feeling such a burden on my soul, that I thought I was going to faint. I didn’t know what was wrong with me; perhaps it was the serene seas, perhaps the unclouded sky, perhaps the biting sun; I could not tell. But my soul was so heavy and I found life so pointless, that if someone grabbed me and threw me in the water, I wouldn’t say no.

      The sun had already set now. The gold and crimson little clouds, accompanying the sunset, were stopped on their tracks and turned black, like the big black-rust. The evening star looked as shiny as the crystal snow in the dark. The constellations appeared high up in the sky one by one. The waters had acquired that dark white colour, the cold but desirable of the steel. The young sailor turned the lanterns on; the captain went downstairs to sleep; Bulberis sat on the wheel. Brahamis, our dog, crawled up at the base of capstan to get some sleep.

      I couldn’t rest at all. Neither sleep nor stay awake. I tried to make small talk with the helmsman; but the talk was so tasteless, that it was extinguished like fire lit with green wood. I tried to play with Brahamis; but the dog stuck its muzzle between its feet even more and it growled as if it was bored, as if it was saying: Leave me alone! I don’t want your games! Then, bored as I was myself, I went and lay with my face down in the middle of the deck and covered my eyes with my hand. I wanted to see nothing, to lose the feeling of life. And gradually I succeeded. I felt a spark of life inside me, like a dim lampion and my body started becoming one and get embedded in the lifeless wooden boards of the deck.

     I do not know how long I stayed in this position. I cannot remember whether I had any thoughts. All of a sudden, though, I started shivering; as if some kind of magnet was stimulating my nerves, like the humidity which forces the birds into twittering. And immediately a crimson wave poured all over me. I thought I was drowning in blood. And as the sleeping man in a dark room immediately awakes in the bright light of day, I too opened my eyes. I opened or closed them, I can’t remember. I only remember that I stayed still. My first thought was that I had woken up in the belly of a fish, which swallowed our boat. But it wasn’t a fish. The sky was still above and the sea below. Everything, though, above and below were covered with a bright red wavy garment, painting with a pleasant light even the kelson of our boat. Somewhere at the edge of the world, a fire was exploding its heat high up in the sky and was spreading its horrible crying around. But, where was the crying and where was its smoke? Both were missing.

      In the depths of northern wind, an amaranthine cloud reached and covered the stars in light blue colour and hidden them inside its thick head cover. And an arch spread white and yellow and poured dark and green rivers amidst the sky, and also golden red and blue, as if it wanted to paint the firmament. The arch, moving like a windblown curtain, was blowing the fringes forward, spreading its gossamery lace and proceeding, just like the flood proceeds and covers a sandy beach with foam and tongues of water. The airy rivers were running fast, swelling and flowing always dark or green, golden red or blue, glowing like electricity in fat and unexpended rays. The sea was still, reflecting all those colours that looked surprised within the bright glow. But I myself was more surprised. I did not know what to do and what to think. It is the end of the world, I said to myself. Such an end, though, could satisfy everyone. The Earth is willing to die in the rosy waves!

      I was suddenly startled. Deep down, from within the violet-coloured cloud, I saw a gigantic shadow appearing. A big body and the towering head looked like the Holy Mountain. Its two eyes were throwing bright circles and gazed proudly at the World before they kick it into doom. There he is, I said, the God-sent angel, the destroyer and saviour! I was watching him and my soul was trembling. I was anticipating the terrible blow to fall like a hammer on the world. There goes the Earth with its fruit, there also goes the sea with its wood! No more songs, no more travels, no more kisses!

      But I did not hear the blow. The shadow was walking the waters with fiery leaps. And the faster it walked, the smaller its body got. And suddenly the terrible huge body was turned into a woman of immense beauty standing before me. She was wearing a diamond crown on her head and her lush hair was falling blue on her back and touching the waves. The wide forehead, the almond shaped eyes, the coral lips were sending forth an immortality glow and a regal pride. From her crystal neck a golden scaly armour was hung and in her left hand she was holding a shield and in her right, a Macedonian sarisa spear.

       I had not recovered from my scare and I heard a voice sweet, soft and calm asking:

       — Sailor, oh good sailor, is King Alexander alive?

      King Alexander! I whispered even more surprised. How is it possible for king Alexander to be alive? I didn’t know what kind of question it was and what to reply, when the voice asked again:

       — Sailor, oh good sailor, is King Alexander alive?

      — Now, my lady! I replied without even thinking. Now, King Alexander! Not even the soil that covered him is on this earth anymore.

        Alas! What disaster befell upon me!

       .

      The gorgeous woman turned immediately into an abomination. A cyclops emerged from the water showing its scaly half body. The silky hair turned into live snakes, which rose in the air, stuck out their tongues and their poisonous stings and started hissing terribly. The armoured chest and the virgin face changed right away and she looked like the One-breast monster woman from the fairy tale. Now I realized who was standing before me! It was the Great Ripper of the Earth, the destroyer and saviour angel. It was the Gorgon, Alexander’s sister, who stole the water of immortality and was scouring the seas alive and almighty. She was the Glory of the great conqueror and emperor, untouched by time and eternal in both land and sea. And only for her coming, did the Pole poured its glow, so as to fill her ether with colour purple. She wasn’t of course asking about the mortal body, but about the memory of her master. And now, in my uninformed reply she furiously darted a bushy and heavy hand on the railing, she waved her tail and showed the ocean.

      .

       — No, my lady, I lied! I cried with shaking knees.

       She gave me a stern look and she asked again with a shaky voice:

       — Sailor, oh good sailor, is King Alexander alive?

       — He lives, he is lord, and dominates the whole world.

.

       She heard my kind words. As if my voice became the water of immortality and poured through her veins, she was immediately transformed into a gorgeous virgin. She raised her lily white hand from the railing and smiled, spreading rose petals through her lips. And suddenly in the purple air a war song started booming, as if the Macedonian army was returning from the lands of the Ganges and the Euphrates river.

       I lifted my eyes and I saw the airy rivers, the dark and green, the golden red and blue, meet high up in the sky and form a gigantic crown. Was it a weather phenomenon or was it a reply to the question of the immortal? Who knows? But slowly the rays started dimming and fade away one after another, as if the Gorgon was taking their beauty into the abyss with her.

        Now, neither crown nor arch could be seen anywhere. Some scattered clouds only, ash grey and pale, and inside my soul, dim and faded, the blood red of my homeland.

       I was sailing amidst sea with the brig of captain Farasis that night.

 Bonsai-03c-GiaIstologio-04

Source: From the short story collection Words from the Bow, Nefeli editions, 1991. 1st edition: Athens, 1899.

Andreas Karkavitsas (Lechaina 1865-Marousi 1922). Fiction and travel writer. He studied in the Medical School of the university of Athens and served as a military doctor. He was one of the pioneers of ethography. His first book was titled Short Stories (Athens, 1892). Other works: The Lissom Girl (1896), The Beggar (1897), Old loves (1900), The Archaeologist (1904).

 

Translated from the greek by

Vassilis Manoussakis (Athens, 1972). Poet, short-story writer, translator. He holds a Ph.D. in Contemporary American Poetry. He currently teaches at the Hellenic American University in Athens.

 

E.H. Gonatas: The Cows

.

Gonatas,E.Ch.-OiAgelades-Eikona-01

.

E.H. Gonatas

 

The Cows

 

01-W-Century_Mag_Illuminated_W_BarbizonE ARE SITTING at an outdoors cafe: five or six chairs scattered on the bank of a small river and further down, under a plane tree, a cabin covered with vines, and a sign that reads “The educated Spider.” We are drinking our ouzo watching the trouts leap in pairs out of the water, which foams like a white garland around their shiny heads. We enjoy the serene beauty of the scenery without uttering a single word.

         Only a few minutes pass by and three loud explosions one after the other make the glasses on the tables shake and deafen me. I snap out of my reverie leaping from the chair. Far away, in a farm, the sound of glass windows breaking is heard; voices and swearing idealised by the distance disturb the silence for a while. Then silence again. The others around me – local men – remain calm, as if they heard nothing at all, and they continue to sip their ouzo, wiping the drops lingering on their mustaches with their hands. Above their hair fly big evening mosquitoes. I can’t sit quiet and turn to the one sitting next to me. He is wearing purple robes.

         “Father,” I ask, “what’s going on? Did you hear the cannon shots?”

         The priest was struggling to push a chicken, that kept popping its head out, up his wide sleeve with his fat fingers. Without looking at me, he says:

         “God, my son, is punishing the miser cowmen.”

         Then, seeing that the bird calmed down and stopped popping in and out of his sleeve, he stands up and beckons me to follow him. The others don’t even notice us. We go past the backyard of the cafe, through a fence covered with vegetable marrows full of orange flowers, in the size of big brass trumpets, and we enter a vast field with many basins. You can hear animals snorting. We go from basin to basin. They are all deep and waterless, and brown cows are gadding on their bottom. They stoop every once in a while above the manger and start masticating. Their bellies are enormous and they pop out of their bodies perfectly round and swollen.

         “Look carefully at those over there, now that they are fanning their tail to drive flies away,” my companion tells me.

         I look and see a big white bung shoved well inside their asses. Straps tied under their legs and bellies and tightened around their back, hold the bung in place, making it impossible for the animal to get rid of it.

         “Using this method,” he explains, “which prevents cows from discarding from their bodies the unwanted residues of food, the cowmen believe they will succeed in fattening them faster. They won’t leave a single barleycorn undigested. “It is also weighed on the merchant’s scales and we paid for it,” they say, “it wasn’t a gift!”

         “And the animals never relieve themselves?” I ask, looking at the cows with pity, while they are picking with their huge lips some long weeds growing in patches on the wall of the basin.

         “Why yes! Every twenty five days when they unstrap the belts. I have seen many of them lasting longer. But there are others that even on the fifth day they become seriously ill; their belly starts swelling, it balloons within a few minutes and if the cowmen do not haste, they burst suddenly and their pieces scatter into the air with terrible noise, like bombshells.”

         At that very moment, we heard footsteps. Two unshaved men with dirty short aprons hanging above their knees, are approaching the basin. They are cowmen.

         “We don’t want them to see us,” the priest whispers to me. “You are a stranger in these parts and they might think that I brought you here on purpose to steal their method.”

         We quickly hide behind the terrace. The cowmen climb down the steps and enter the basin. One of them, holding a measuring tape, goes from cow to cow and measures the perimeter of their belly. The other one, in the dim light of a lantern, scribbles the measurements in a notepad.

         “They are panicking,” the priest whispers again. “Including today’s three, the count of the lethal cases reached number eleven this month. There is a God above and He sees. They are very worried, so they became careful. They are now checking upon their herd more often to see if the belly of the cows has reached past endurance level.”

         When they finished measuring, the cowmen climbed up and headed to another basin. Then, we come out of our hiding place and return following the same road with our heads full of thoughts but remaining speechless.

         At the very edge of the field, there shines a windowless hut, made of tin cans. Instead of a door, there is a round opening. Two more cowmen, with the same unshaved faces, but wearing aprons that reach down their heels, bend over a long wooden bench, where pieces of bloody skin are spread. They clean them up with big knives.

         “More slowly,” the priest says. “They are the ones that lost three animals this afternoon. They are counting the damage and seething with anger. In a while, when the moon rises, they will take the remains of the animals outside the cabin and bury them. They don’t want anyone to see them. When they get angry, they can become really mean.”

         We tiptoe away like ghosts. Crossing the edge of the field, I am beginning to see the river again. Big leaves travel slowly on the water. In the engulfing silence, we hear only the mosquitoes’ wings and our steps that crack twigs and branches as we walk.

 .

 Bonsai-03c-GiaIstologio-04

.

Source: From the short story collection The Cows, “Texts”. Athens 1980, 1st edition. Proti Ili editions, Athens, November 1963.

E.H. Gonatas (Athens 1924-2006). He studied Law and he is a poet and essay writer of the post war generation. He was mainly known as “a writer of the paradox.” He made his first appearance in Greek letters with the short story, titled “The traveller” (1945). His last book was the Three nickels (short stories, Stigmi editions, 2006). In 1994 he received the National Translation Prize.

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.

.

 

Argiris Eftaliotis: The Dumb

.

EftaliotisArgyris-OBoubos-Eikona-01

.

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!

.

 Bonsai-03c-GiaIstologio-04

.

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.

 

Sotiris Dimitriou: Man from Bulgaria

.

Dimitriou,Sotiris-AntrasApoTiBoulgaria-05a

.

Sotiris Dimitriou

 

Man from Bulgaria

.

02-IotaT’S THIS WHORE’S FAULT. Hers and hers only. If only you knew what she says behind your back. She’s mean and she has the devil inside her. Bye now, bye. I’m hanging up because she’s coming.”

“On the phone again, my dear Rita? Where were you calling this time?”

         “Oh, shut the fuck up, you crazy woman! To my boyfriend, to whomever I want. I’ve got ears, I’ve got mouth. Ain’t I allowed to call? I’ve got pussy. Ain’t I allowed to fuck? Go to hell, you old bitch. You shouldn’t have borne me.”

         She was a reddish girl, around 18 years of age, and very fat. There were folds in her belly and neck because of this.

         Her eyes, two small shiny little holes, lost in the swollen, barely outlined face and the voice was shrill, penetrating. She was eating the whole day and at nights she would get up every once in a while and open the fridge or the cupboard, with her eyes closed, looking for something to eat. Whatever that was. As long as it was edible.

         She would place her in an asylum, but she pitied her – she was her blood – and on the other hand, only God knows what she would have done in there. She was a beast. Even when she was breastfeeding, she would pull and bite her nipples. She never cast a peaceful eye on her. In several occasions, when she tried to hug her, intentionally using a funny excuse, she would punch her on her belly and below and when her breasts started swelling, even without a provocation, she would shout all kinds of dirty words at her.

         Where did she learn those things? They would rarely go out together. Growing up, she would find more sophisticated ways to torture her. She wouldn’t wear a tampon in her period so as for the underwear to moist in blood, she would shit herself and make her wash, whispering in frenzy:

         “It was an accident. As if I did it on purpose? You shouldn’t have borne me, you old bitch. You shouldn’t have spread your thighs for the dick of that punk. He had better put a viper in your hole. Won’t I find him one day? I will cut his dick with my teeth.”

         “The parents’ sins torture the children. You think I don’t know?”

         When they were going out on a visit in the neighbourhood, she would hug the men tightly, laughing and sighing at the same time, she would kiss them hard on the cheeks, and look, pretending to act childishly, for the lips.

         She started going out by herself, in a small radius around the house, and was showing her breasts and her genitals to men.

         One Sunday, after the church, she locked herself in her room and started shouting:

         “Fuck me hard, my man. Fuck me hard. Oh! Wow!

         “Wow! What a big dick you have, baby!”

         Her mother was scared, because several men realized what she was doing and lusted after her strolling around the house.

         “What if she let someone in,” she thought.

         She begged her to open the door. In the end, she comes out naked and throws a fat bloody torch on her mother’s face.

         “Here, you bitch. My first fucker. Put it in your own cunt as well. But what do you care? You fuck like a bitch when you go out. Where do you go, bitch? Shopping only?”

         Her mother burst into tears and that made her mad.

         “Shut up. Don’t even say a word. Now, you care? Shut up or I’ll beat the shit out of you.”

         Just then she started the thing with the telephone. She was calling everyone they knew and was saying a bunch of things about her mother. She was pressing people. Always with the phone receiver in hand.

         The doctors would always say the same thing. To keep her close, to show her love, to take her out and if it is possible to take her out on trips. She would benefit from all these.

         In the beginning, she did not want to, but when one of her aunts told her, “come on, Rita.You will find your groom. In those travels it is easier” her life became only travels and search for a groom.

         She even changed behaviour somehow in the hope of finding a man. She would dust the floor a bit, she even washed the dishes every now and then. Thus, her relieved mother, was struggling to save money and they travelled a lot. She had some fun as well.

        At first, they chose close destinations. Aegina, Loutraki, Evia. Then, by joining a group, a bit further. Where they roamed, whenever she found someone she liked, she would approach him and pointing with her finger, she would shout, “There, you bitch, him.”

         In the first few times, she was able to trick her by saying: “What? Just like that? Let’s go back, and we’ll see.”

         “Let’s go abroad. The men there are not as cunning as they are here.”

         The days passed and she started getting impatient and wild.

         At nighs, she would caress her genitals, moaning rhythmically for a long time, not because of pleasure, but to spite her mother.

         Until one day, she lashed at her and grabbed her by the throat.

         “When are you going to find me a groom, you culprit? You’ re trying to trick me, right?”

         “My daughter, my little daughter. Don’t. Abroad. We’ll go abroad. To Bulgaria.”

         “To Bulgaria? It sounded real and beautiful. She believed deeply that there her love awaits. And the whole day she would sing in the tune of folk songs, “My Bulgarian, My Bulgarian.”

         On the phone, in the neighbourhood and the passers-by, she had nothing to say but “My Bulgarian.”

         The long awaited hour finally came. Her mother was shivering during the whole trip. She couldn’t hold her anymore. The moment they set foot on Bulgaria, she started pointing and crying. “Him, him.”

         She tried to trick her again by saying that “here it can’t be done right away, they have a different system, we have to go to the State to agree upon it.”

         She had to fight to bring her back, with the promise she had already talked about someone she liked, they had agreed and when his passpost was ready he would come to Greece.

         She continued in the same tune. She would paraphrase well known folk songs:

         My history, my sin

         My Bulgarian worship

         I see you in my dreams

         and I fart my sorrow.

         She kept cleaning the house to make it presentable, she bought cosmetics and spent time in front of the mirror.

     The time was passing and she gradually let go. She neither spoke nor moved from the bed. Her mother was filled with sweet expectations. “My God, I wish she stayed like that.”

         Until one night, she burst stark naked into her room, holding her cunt.

         “Where is the Bulgarian, you bitch? What am I going to do with it?”

         The mother was startled and scared and she became furious.

         “Which groom are you waiting for, you demon? Who, you Satan? What are you going to do with him? To wash your hair? To feed you? To put your knickers on? Men want to take them off, you creep, not to put them on. Like that beast that spawned you and disappeared. But it was a good decision, you monster, very good. And I hope they find him, Lord, with his tongue bitten and his mouth full of maggots. You ruined my life. One breath, you bitch. One breath and I will die. How is breath, you bitch? You’re sick.”

         She couldn’t speak no more, she got spasms and was making odd sounds like sucking her saliva.

         “You clipple, slurp. Mathouse, slurp.”

         “So, you got him in your brain. I’ll show you,” the daughter says in a mild sweet voice.

         She went out of the room and when she returned she was holding a fat bottle full of olive oil and started beating her on the head with it. The bottle broke, but she kept crashing her head with what was left, until her face became unrecognizable.

         She then covered her feet so as not to feel cold, she sat beside her and stuck her greasy fingers into her cranium, looking for the brain. Whenever she found a piece of the Bulgarian, she chewed it, and cursed her mother, calling her a whore and a liar.

.

Bonsai-03c-GiaIstologio-04

Source: A child in Thessaloniki, short stories, Kedros editions, Athens, 1989.

 

Sotiris Dimitriou (Povla, Thesprotia, 1955). He is a fiction writer. His first book was Gropings, poems (1985), his most recent book was Like scarce water, fiction (2010).

 

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.

 

.

 

Vassilis Tsiambousis: Monday

.

Tsiampousis,Basilis-IDeytera-Eikona-03(Foto= HolgerMöhle)

.

Vassilis Tsiambousis

.

Monday

 .

06-sHE CAREFULLY UNDRESSED HIM. The water in the pot was almost boiling. She washed his hair, his armpits, his feet… She rinsed the soap off and wrapped him in a worn out bath robe. They crossed the yard and climbed up the stairs to the house. The belt was trailing on the ground and he even lost his slipper at one point. She dressed him in festive clothes and gave him some cheap cologne. She kissed him on the forehead and accompanied him to the front door.

       Despite his hastiness it took him an hour to get there. He had a problem in his arms and legs and was walking as slow as a snail. He climbed the stairs and entered the small living room. He was alone. He sat on a chair and waited.

      She came out of her room wearing a red nightgown. “The only one we needed now was you…,” she said. “I am not available today, come back next Monday.” She entered the bathroom. The flush was heard. The door opened and a bad odor filled the room. “Still here? Why don’t you go to someone else, is mine made of honey? All these years and we never found a faithful man and fate brought us you…” Why was she taking it upon this relic now… She lifted her nightgown up to her shoulders. “Come, damn you, I don’t want you to say that you stayed hungry…” He could see her breasts, her belly and a huge black underpants stuffed with cotton strips. “Come, you can touch a little if you want…”

      He suddenly felt shy and lowered his gaze. He left a hundred drachmas on the table and went out. He took the street that led to the public gardens. He bought a sandwich and sat on a an isolated bench. He gave his battle in the dark, but he was not redeemed. His hands and trousers were filled with mustard. He buttoned up. He didn’t like moving at all.

      This Monday was unremarkable. And tomorrow he will start his everyday struggle, the agony to sell his lottery tickets. Six days of passing from offices, tavernas… and every street is uphill for him. And only next Monday night – every Monday after the draw – he will again have three hours for himself, family time, himself, his mother and his lover.

      Tonight the bath was useless – “The roof of the washing room needs mending,” said the mother – useless were the two hours walk to her house, since he didn’t have those five minutes of his redemption.

      Tonight a whole week’s work was pointless. “Our whole life is useless, mother, I wish this Monday would never dawn.”

      He started slowly for his home. He was very tired. The moon rose and lighted up his path. A hungry dog neared the bench and devoured the leftovers of his sand

.

Bonsai-03c-GiaIstologio-04.

Source: From the short story collection I Vespa and other provincial short stories (Nefeli editions, Athens, 1990).

Vassilis Tsiambousis (Drama, Greece 1953). Studied Civil Engineering at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He lives and works in Drama. His first book is I Vespa and other provincial short stories (Nefeli editions, Athens, 1990). His last book is: Na s’ agapaei i zoi (Short stories, Pataki editions, 2004).

Translated from the greek by

Vassilis Manoussakis (Athens, 1972). Poet, short-story writer, translator. He holds a Ph.D. in Con­tem­porary American Poetry. He currently teaches at the Hellenic American University in Athens.

 .