Monday, November 22, 2010

Birth of a thirty-year-old virgin


The island of Cyprus has always kept its secrets

Guilty words of little kids, sentences of the elder,

in sealed lips they were trapped of sovereign crowds.

The story we are about to tell took place in a Mesaoria village

but the wind that blew along

took it to all the island’s cape legs.

A mother and a father both in unity and agreement

Have kept their only daughter jailed

in their backyard

In an adjacent barn

This started when she was fourteen, indeed an innocent child

But she sincerely fell for the village’s most admired guy.

They eloped in secrecy to be together away of all

But it was no time until Eleni’s father caught her

And in one night from midnight to dawn he

-killed Sophocles with an axe-

-and beat Eleni to the brink of death-

-and locked her in the barn taking out the goats-

Eleni forgot everything from the same moment

They even say she suffered amnesia from the hits

And in the barn she knew nothing of who she was

Or why she was there,

Or of her soul’s torment.

The barn had been her little world, of hay for a nap

Of little food like beans and fried legumes

Of little light from a tiny window

and Bible tales from her mom.

There were no chains around her ankles,

No rinks around her wrists,

Just a half-kilo padlock outside the one metre door.

Window on the door and rust had been Eleni’s friends,

And as the rust was coming in, expanding on the inside,

“What are you?”

Eleni’d ask

-But no answer-

She imagined a snug dust of hope.

-But -

the shimming smells of the carnations invading every morning

Were no friends of hers, as they disturbed her gothic fiction.

In her immaculate riddles she always answered back to the world outside

with her smell of the enclosure

Familiar smells, of mold, waste and ammonia.

-years had passed-

Than the priest started suspecting of all these twenty years later,

when all the neighbours knew

And all agreed -but one- that it was best for all

That she was kept inside.

Sophocles had a trusted friend

Who took an oath for revenge

And that Eleni would be free

To live and love somebody.

He was the one who made the priest suspect

When all the others had been tricking him

about all the smells and cries,

about the secrecy of 13, Acheloou Str.

With him the kids sometimes made up sounds

like the ones Eleni made

But they were always told off by their fathers

And so the story went on,

Until one day eleni heard a passing Caravan

Announcing a children’s play of three acts.

Scene one:

(In the barn, mother outside unlocking the door in difficulty, the padlock is very heavy)

Eleni: (weakly) Mum, is it you, mum?

Mother: Yes, hold on a second to get this lock down, if I break it your dad’s gonna kill us both!

Eleni: did you bring me food?

Mother: Yes

Eleni: and milk?

Mother: yes

Eleni: what food?

Mother: beans

Eleni: again?

Mother: it’s Friday. We fast.

Eleni: Mum, you know I don’t like beans.

Mother: You always eat them.

Eleni: I don’t like beans!

Mother: You always eat them and you never complain!

Eleni: I don’t like beans at all! (intensely) I hate them!

Mother: no you don’t! You don’t hate them! I watch you eat them every time with such passion!

Eleni: I heard something today…

Mother: What is it with you today?

Eleni: (repeating in internal tone and moving her head back and forth) I heard something today, I heard something today, I heard something today, I heard something today

Mother: Stop it! I don’t see you eat, I’ll go and get you some bread today, drink your milk and I’ll be right back

Eleni: I heard something today, (fading as the mother leaves) I heard something today…

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