“My mother” (NIKOS KAZANTZAKIS)

“My mother” (NIKOS KAZANTZAKIS)

The hours I spent with my mother were full of mystery; we sat opposite each other, she on a chair beside the window, me on a stool, and in the silence I felt my chest to fill to satiation, as if the wind around us were milk and I was suckling it. Over our heads stood the acacia tree and when it was in bloom the courtyard was gloriously scented. I loved how my mother put the fragrant yellow flowers in all our chests and linens; my entire childhood smelled of cassie.

We were talking, a lot of quiet conversations, when my mother recounted about her father and the village she was born in, and then I told her about the lives of the saints I had read and tried to unravel their life using my imagination; as if what they had suffered already weren’t enough, I added more of it on my own, until my mother started weeping.

Then I felt regret, sat on her knees, caressed her hair and consoled her: -“They went to heaven, mother, don’t worry, they’re strolling under blooming trees, chatting with the angels and have forgotten their sufferings. And every Sunday they put their gold clothing, caps with red tassels and go to pay a visit to God”.

Mother then wiped her tears, looked at me as if saying “Really, do you think so?” and she smiled. And the canary, in its cage, listened to us, lifted its throat and sang drunkenly, happy, as if it had left the saints for a moment and came down to earth to spread goodwill among the people.

My mother, the cassie and the canary are inseparably mingled, immortal in my mind; I can no longer smell acacia or hear a canary without having my mother rise from the tomb ~from my gut!~ and to mingle with this scent and the singing canary”.

I had never seen my mother laugh; she simply smiled and regarded everyone with deep-set eyes filled with patience and kindness. She came and went in the house like a kindly sprite, anticipating our every need without noise or effortm as though her hands possesed some magical, beneficent power which exercised a benevolent rule over eveyday needs. As I sat silently watching her, I reflected that she might be the Nereid mentioned in the fairy tales , and imagination set to work in my childhood mind: My father had glimpsed her dancing beneath the moon one night as he passed the river. He pounched, caught hold of her kerchief , and that was when he brought her home and ewnt all day logn in the house, searching for the kerchief so thath she could throw it over her hair and become an Nereid again. and depart.

I used to watch her coming and going, opening the wardrobes and coffers, uncovering the jugs, stooping to look under the beds, and I trembled lest she chance to find her magic kerchief and become invisible. This fear lasted many years, deeply wounding my newborn soul. It is with anguish that I observe all the people or ideas that I love, because I know they are searching for their kerchiefs in order to depart.

 

 

 

NIKOS KAZANTZAKIS
REPORT TO GRECO



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