Dedicated to my grandfather.
I regret not asking him to narrate me the stories of his life. But I am lucky to hear my grandmother talk about their lives spent together and the miseries they overcame; for life and struggles come in package. Brodsky has said something beautiful: “Whenever you are in trouble, in some scrape, on the verge of despair or in despair, remember: that’s life speaking to you in the only language it knows well.” It might be that life knows other languages, too, but after listening to the story of my blood, comprehending the capacity of human endurance against the calamities of life, for a period to come I became invincible: I had no doubt in my own will.
When I entered the empty room, instead of peace and calmness I felt discomfort — as if the lack of something necessary could also disturb the soul. What is this? — I asked — We don’t have nothing; the bare floor that we should sleep on will be too cold during winters, but the child should grow healthy. She is small, you see, she can’t grow ill.
I also cannot think here or work here, the room is too small. It is narrow for my mind when it is narrow for my body. Though that is all right if you can keep the room clean and tidy, and it is easier to do that when the room is small. Even after some years, when there will be additional rooms, you should still keep them neat — what is the use of having extra space when it is dirty and bring confusion to the heart?
Now that I have somehow established myself, we may start buying things to fill the room with everything beautiful and rich. But before that, we need to repair the floor. Nice curtains will also be necessary so that the guests of respectable backgrounds will be satisfied in the room.
Years pass slowly. You have changed a little bit, became more direct and angry, which I disapprove of. Although today, the men of honor and rank are our guests — that is good. The rooms are much wider now too, with more curtains; they are tidy and clean. That is also good.
Our garden, isn’t she beautiful? Tell the son to take care of the garden, to water the plants, to be careful with them. To be patient, to tolerate their coquetry, to never be angry, to never take them too seriously. He has to love the garden unconditionally and do everything that she demands. To never ask questions, to never become angry, or furious, or hateful toward her. Tell him it is very tiring to live with hatred.
Children are growing up very quickly. Trees bring a good harvest this year. The rooms are bigger and wider. We have lots of guests and enough respect. We hope for tomorrow, and that makes us more alive, but will it always be this way? Life is getting monotonous and I don’t want to live my life as a burden, as if she is something that I should overcome.
What a gloomy rain, what a sad evening. Push the pedal, be faster, what kind of misery is this? Her childish scream and pain break my soul. Don’t cry, honey, please, we shall be there in no time.
I am growing old and tired, I am not as powerful as I used to be. It’s so sad that we are having such a bad period of our lives when we are old. We are forced to abandon our home, our beautiful home that we have been nurturing all these years. Don’t cry. Take everything important. Take her photo so that we can remember her. And mourn for her. Who will take care of her graveyard, who else will mourn for her?
We don’t have nothing again, and the floor is bare. And winters will be cold. It’s difficult to restart everything from scratch, we are not young anymore. Will we have enough time? We should build our home again, slowly, with patience, for the second time. Two homes and two gardens for a lifetime shouldn’t be very bad of an accomplishment. Just try to be patient and have faith in tomorrow.
The floor is new, and the rooms are becoming wider and wider. You bought rich and beautiful curtains and we are starting to have our guests. Our grandchildren are growing up so quickly. I am even older now so I should learn to narrate my stories to them.
We live for the memories, don’t we? Not for the future, but for the past. So that we can remember our childhood when we are old, when we are on the death bed. We shall remember everything.
I recall my stories and feel lonely in my garden. I have a nice garden, it has a good harvest, and I have a nice home and a big family. But I have grown even wearier of life. When I understand that I have done everything I could, and I no longer am needed in this world, I will slowly fade away.
I open my eyes. My family surrounds me, there are tears in women’s eyes. My chin is trembling as if I want to cry. Females don’t notice it, but you do, because you don’t have tears in your eyes. You want to understand what I am thinking of, what I am feeling. Am I proud of my life, proud that my family surrounds me on my death bed? Did I live a life worthy of respect?
Three seconds. You look at me, you look aside, you shut your eyes. I didn’t know that I loved you.