She received the Autumn wind as she opened the window, like an embrace from a loving mother or a passionate lover.. The wind rushed into her still room, full of still objects, fingering her hair and engulfing all of her as if the cool air longed for her warmth, her existence.. Everything danced, the blouses were like they were worn by unseen spirits, the books flapped their papers in ecstasy, the chandelier swang, and some photo frames slammed on the desk..
She shivered, and surrendered to the whirl of love with closed eyes, wet with tears.. She was swaying unconsciously, and when she opened her eyes she saw the branches of trees in the dawn's light swaying just like her, and there, she entered a moment of complete rapport..
Only then, her door opened..
"Dammit, Nana! Close the window, you woke me up, what are you thinking, letting in this damn freezing current!"
.. and the door was shut back, though it slammed hard by the force of the wind which seemed to not have liked the angry man either..
She stood gazing, lost in thought, for some minutes, then she stepped to close the window, with effort as if the wind didn't want to leave her, the branches seemed to bend towards her.. but the window closed, and everything fell still and silent again, and she was back to her lonely misery, hearing the wind moaning sadly outside, her unexplained, unsaid misery..
It had been many years since Magda had left.. Lots of things happened, but to be back to the starting point -even if it was just a visit- wasn't a pleasant feeling.. Like nothing had happened, like she was lost just a little bit longer in one of her day-dreams she used to have while walking down those streets.. She walked apprehensively, glancing around as if every citizen would be a former acquaintance who would recognize her..
Nothing much had changed in the front, but there was a think air of gloom and desolation.. Everything was erect and compact, yet all looked like ruins... The last time she was there she remembered she had been escaping a collapsing community.. Exactly it felt like everything was coming apart and falling down on their heads.. But very few shared this feeling, not because it wasn't obvious in some way, but because according to the laws that was set for facts, scientific facts, they were managing fairly well, and they couldn't disbelieve the facts, instead, they disblieved a crystal clear truth..
So she would be running in panic in a street with cube buildings and people and cars -all was ok- and screaming "the sky is falling!"? No, not particularly a good idea for a person who wanted to live outside an asylum, even if the asylum's fence was, afterall, the borders of this city..
Her friends were making her a welcome party in a cafe in the near neighbourhood, and all was invited..
She was grateful for it, for the sake of their appreciated love, and also for making it easier for her, she was only staying for eight days and to visit each one independantly would have been difficult, with the family yet in the schedule...
Hurrying down the sidewalk, she was thinking, nothing specific but there was a swarm of thought inside her head.. Only to look up and see that she missed the right turn.. She was lost, she thought.. It was quite exaggerated to think so, she knew the streets very well, but she couldn't help telling herself that she was lost.. lost.. Trying to counteract the nagging thought, she looked up the trees along the sidewalk and took some steps back to where she should have turned.. And the halted swarm of thoughts began to creep again..
Those trees, she didn't know they were so sad until now.. Not only the poor quality of the environment and nourishment, but also the feelings the streets and what walks the streets diffuse into them..
Sad tree, they did all they could..
A screaming horn and a woman yelling from her car "Blind idiot!" made Magda unable to hear a cheerful "hello!" shouted by her friend on the other side.. She smiled and waved and crossed the street to her.. After the welcoming she introduced Magda to her fiance.. Right, Magda thought, they were in the age when they get engaged or break up or marry or stay single.. all orbitting the matter that become, at some point, even more important than their names in the process of presenting.. "My fiance, Adham", not "Adham, my fiance".. She smiled at the thought.. She knew, then, how she would spend the rest of the day, listening to such stories of all kinds, with so little to say herself.. She would try to stick to the men's table as much as she could, she joked to herself..
Kisses and long embraces and vigorous hand-shaking, there were about fifteen to twenty friends, it felt loud, chaotic, and good..
"Maggie, welcome back home, I missed you so much!"
"Me too, Nana, it's good to be here, how are you?"
Nana was good, Maggie was fine, or so they said..
She looked deeply into Nana's dark eyes, and knew.. This deadly kind, when one cannot say she is not alright because she cannot say why, and all is left is this haggard look of the eyes, and the phantoms of words on quivering lips..
Suddenly she felt strong, like something was put into her.. She held Nana's hand and kept holding it for long, taking her around as she saluted friends.. She let her go only to have her tea..
Her hand had sweated, true, but she wished Magda didn't leave her, and her heart fluttered when she released her hand.. She felt safe, like she was falling in a deep hole and suddenly there was land beneath her feet.. She was glad to receive that which flowed between their fingers..
Her friends blamed her for not showing up frequently.. Harmless blame.. But sometimes she appeared melancholic and became afraid to meet friends, for they would ask what was wrong, and she wouldn't be able to answer..
What would she say? Someone as social and life-loving like her, in melancholia, why was it?
Why did she have to be so absorbent and sensitive to the anger and suffering of others? Even a passer-by who was near her only for a few seconds?
Why did she sit crying the last day for an hour next to the puppy whom street boys cut his tail and left him bleeding to death? She couldn't go near them till they left, or should she?
she cried for the puppy, and for the children so deformed and wounded as to do this to the puppy, and for the community that fostered all that, and for herself...
She looked up, Magda was smiling ot her..
She smiled back, collecting a few hair strands behind her ear..
She was a natural beauty, Magda thought, a beauty unappreciated in the global culture of the time.. Tall and broad, with dark hair left draping to her waist untouched, and a childish smile.. Her eyes used to glitter in the past..
So much was left unsaid in her eyes, now.. This was an advanced stage, God have mercy, she prayed..
Time passed quickly, by the evening Magda was dizzy and her face ached from smiling all the time..
And she started to despatch..
She didn't like when she felt so, because it made her look strange and drifting, but she couldn't help it once it came..
It was the fact that she had to force herself to act in a socially acceptable way, but when she became tired, she would lose control over herself.. She would start to gaze at details of the faces, going up and down the lines of the features.. or she would watch the words uttered from the lips, and the alterations in the eyes.. She would listen to the sounds and spectrums of words, and lose the meaning.. Or get lost in the folds of a satin blouse or the ringing of glasses and plates..
Things would disintegrate and codes would be manifested by her senses differently, like entering another world with a peculiar way of communication..
And that put her in a few embarrassing situations, once crossing her eyes tryin got fix her wandering look on the eyes of her friend as he talked, another time staring at a woman's chest while she was captivated by the rising and falling of her breaths, and many times of losing track of what was said...
Everytime she had tried to be her natural, she seemed to interfere with someone else's privacy, or more, to evoke other's nosiness and judgment of her..
She needed space, she remembered now, for in the beginning of the day while she was surrounded by her friends, laughing and talking, she tried to recall the reason she had left.. She had always had to fake to be able to blend in, or else she would be left alone for being queer..
She had needed space, a space to make the true one inside of her able to breathe.. If a bird flapped its wings inside a box, her wings would break..
It was a simple right..
She wondered if that was the reason Nana had this look in her eyes, was she oppressed against showing her full spectrum? Indeed, the light in her eyes were dimmed..
She scanned the place looking for Nana.. She was sitting on the other side, looking up at the ceiling, what was she looking at? Her neck, stretched and tall and strong, like a tree..
Again she was lost along the lines of Nana's neck and face...
She heard it, clear over the noise of the cafe, the chirping of a bird from above, she looked up for it, but she couldn't see it anywhere.. Was she imagining it? Was she going crazy now? No one seemed to hear it or notice it except for herself.. She heard it again, clear and distressed and scared...
Her friends were starting to leave.. Would she go home? Magda was gazing towards her.. She wondered what she saw, she felt her penetrate her soul.. Somewhere in the lost land of no time, she found her, a place where she used to be all alone... Was she agitated by the intrusion? Or glad for it?
They were close friends in the past, what had happened? It was something long before Magda left.. Something she could relate to..
"Nana, would you come to walk with me? I'll walk back, and to tell the truth, I am scared of walking on my own, I need someone to take care of me when I get a panic attack, I forgot how those streets are frightening!" and she giggled..
She was honest, Nana could say, she was curious how she found the streets frightening, they knew well that the neighbourhood was lively and busy almost all the time.. She stood up to leave with Magda.. She heard the bird chirp..
What had happened, was it happening again?
Magda paused for a while, she thought she had heard a bird, but the hustle was too much to be able to identify.. She was glad Nana was coming with her, for some reason she thought Nana would not question her detached state, that she would understand..
If only people knew.. How that the wrinkle in a face, an overlapped tooth, a crease in the shirt, a scar on the neck, were so beautiful.. She could most see that in her current state, where such special things gave the landscape that stretched before her eyes its beautiful geography, such special things were the notes that turned a monotonous tone into a melody...
Imagine if all was straight, smooth and perfect.. No, these, were perfect.. These, wer-
.. a scar on the neck??
She heard the bird again, she couldn't tolerate its cries any more.. Not another puppy, no, not another child! Sometimes it was too much, too much for her..
They were walking out, and there, over the air conditioner at the front door, there was a sparrow, looking down, too scared to find its way out..
At least there was a bird, she didn't hear birds speaking Greek to her or anything..
At least she was still sane..
But now what would she do? Walk out and leave the bird?
Magda looked up where Nana was looking, and she saw the bird.. So that was what she was looking for, she thought...
"Oh, look at that poor bird!" she said..
Nana looked at her as if she had pronounced her salvation..
Magda was a little worried, for Nana looked very pale..
"Excuse me," she spoke to a waiter, "there is a bird stuck up there, can we get it out?"
The waiter fetched a broom stick and tapped near the bird to make it fly from its hiding place.. The bird flew in panic around the cafe, almost all the women screamed and ducked, but the bird flew out from the front door, to its freedom.. Everyone laughed and clapped, some men whistled...
Magda was laughing too, she looked at Nana..
Nana was laughing, and in tears..
It has been long since she last felt so much relief.. Everyone was happy for the bird.. Everyone was united.. And in a moment, something crucial altered inside her..
The land was no longer lost..
She was never alone..