from the letters
Like fragrant and mature fruits autumn's first nights fell over Christian's
windows. The grasshoppers outside the window played a painful melody on
the wounded piano-hours. In the air, between the ground and the moon,
the steam breath of the summer was still hanging, wet and warm…
In one of those nights Christian woke up; he had suddenly forgotten his
dream. It only seemed to him, that it was a good dream. He lifted his
hand to his face, searching to touch his smile, but he didn’t feel
anything. Instead his fingertips wiped away a tear. Until the first rays
of sunlight broke through the misty autumn sky he lived in the sole fear
of his hollow eyes, of the day…Yearnings, like vapor on the lips.
That's why he wrote:
A postcard in tiny letters
A journey from Nantes to La Baule (Bretagne)
To, the girl who stayed there
I am not crying. I am not crying
anymore. It is so narrow, the place in the train cabin with the big word
Besides her I have more three neighbors: a. a doctor from Bordeaux. Jewish.
hoarse. b. a traveling agent from "nowhere" accent pretending
to be American. The slops of the small towns in western France on his
lacquer shoes and to my astoundment, not even one joke. c. Umbertina,
a 17 year old girl, originally from Italy. Now on her way to visit her
grandmother. Fragrances arise from Italian cheese, bad perfumes and cheap
cigarettes. Talking about nationalism and inter-nationalism. The conclusions
are like this: international fountain pen is better than a typewriter.
Simply because you can write in all the languages with fountain pen.
Trying relentlessly to engage in conversation with Umbertina who has kept
herself away from the exhausting discussion. Looks like she's hiding a
thing or two, and at such a young age.
When we get closer to La Baule, she is happy to discover that she is going
to her grandmother's house to, once more, see the Italian man who works
in the restaurant next to her grandmother's garden. With a half-smile
she also admits about a possible wedding. "International wedding",
says the traveling agent with a smile.
I am taking from Umbertina the address of her grandmother and I promise
to visit. Maybe I will be able to see with my own eyes this exciting international
And beyond the window light racing and erect trees speeding towards you,
shiny stripes like two exposed arms desiring to embrace the waist of the
abandoned land. Is everything getting far? Is it getting far?
In my ears a needlelike, desperate fly is buzzing of the doctor's and
the traveling agent's conversation. I am starting to nap. And when I am
describing to myself the twilight of your shadowed look on this postcard,
perhaps I am even smiling.
The evening inside the room was familiar and misunderstood like a domestic
dog putting his head in his owner's bosom. Rafram leafed through foreign
songs and wondered why it wasn't him who wrote them. In the songs he saw
a grief of far cities and human faces befuddling and passing by, pale
and tall like towers head gazing at the train windows. He remembered all
the train windows - - - he wrote:
Hotel des Tennis
At the corner of two close streets, a brunette girl is pacing, dressed
in black fur and high red shoes. 17 years old (and one day, as I'll find
out later). I met her on the train; she claimed she was on the way to
her lover. She revealed to me that that day she was celebrating 17 winters.
Umbertina likes to sing Italian and French song. Less dancing, she says.
She likes to sneak to her grandmother's garden and supervise Dario from
the distance, an Italian guy who's few years older then her, but still
capable to return love glances, and so he does.
Maybe we'll get married and move to Italy and live there, she tells with
honest enthusiasm. Dario will build the house, probably in Biella. People
say that you can find a good job there in the wool industry.
I wanted to see her again, that's why I frequently looked beyond the window.
Beyond the house I saw gleaming red shoes, but the autumn's rain coat
was old and torn, and above him an ugly head, the ethics didn't change
in the Régime de Vichy – the ethics reduced.
Door. My hotel. The house didn't change at all. The hotel exist from 1919
and standing, for my surprise, until today. Through all the periods it
got all the troubles and it still exists and stands. In the time of the
small Russian immigration, Andrei Bali lived here. He was jealous of the
fish; of the happiness that god gave them, by being in the sea. Every
day he was talking in praise of his father, Prof. Bugaev. Promising, that
from all the dances there is only future for the "infinite cradle"
(he was dancing on the floor the number 8), and disappeared from here
on an unclouded day, when nobody waited for this. The window of my room
observing the street. The hour is late and I am, after a whole day of
scampering, tired and don't want to sleep. From time to time giving a
look beyond the window to see the girl with the red shoes, checking if
she found her love.
The street fell asleep against his windows.
Good night, don't see me in your dreams tonight. I will not come back.
Written after a lonely trip around the city. There were golden autumn
hours on the dropping leaves and the time dropped to his legs like memory.
When he went home he knew, that everything is running and going.
It seems that the years are not
causing to forget anything. Only a few good memories. My heart is getting
complicated in the entanglement of the human relationship and the nature
is going away from me. You can almost quote Socrates: "indeed the
stones and the trees are not coming to tell me nothing and only the humans
that in the city", I see now streets, chimneys, lights and people
more then "the sky and the earth". The nature fills for me recently
the part of the valerian drops, when it's very bad for me…
And I suddenly see a very familiar woman in the street. I ask her for
her name and I start to remember Umbertina, the girl I met ages ago. For
40 years Umbertina has been working here in the wool factories. Every
year she goes back to France, to visit the family. If only I knew. The
warm memory flooded me. Here is the house that Dario built for me, she
points to a beautiful house with a garden. And Dario? Answering to invisible
question I had, he passed away 31 years ago. I didn't look for new husbands,
she says in the same smile I remembered clearly. She still misses the
landscapes of France, the movies. She invites me to her house and makes
her special "roses cake" for me. In the background Massimo Ranieri
sings about "Rose Rosse".
I am leaving the house thrilled. Looking into the night in the street
and think about everything that doesn’t need to be though of, like