‘How did she die?’
‘Suddenly. In her sleep. Painlessly drifted away. We found her early in the morning, motionless with a pale demeanour. But despite the deathly aura, her lips seemed to smile. She was at rest, after all these years of loving us and working for us. I just think of her life, how many hardships, how much suffering…is this what awaits us too?’
Alexander’s blue eyes looked at Marry as she explained the events surrounding the death of her grandmother, a woman in her late eighties. It was a Sunday morning and they laid in bed as the golden sunrays of the summer sun glowed over the white sheets. In a week they will get married, in the church just a few minutes away from their house in that small village which, despite the onslaught of concrete and noise that came with urbanisation and progress like a wave of schizophrenia washing over the entire country, maintained a glimmer of its archaic soul: simple and pure. Here, people still believed in devotion to one another, all under the protection and guidance of higher powers. They – as the cosmopolitans used to say – surrendered, but in doing so, they were truly free.
‘We brought the coffin in the small chapel outside the wooden church. My mother did not want the casket to stay open, as it is the tradition, because she said that death is a private affair, not a spectacle for everyone’s grim enjoyment. I agree with her. Some traditions are not for everyone.’ Emily got up and put a thin, white gown around her pale naked body that emanated an ivory aureole when the sun’s beams touched her skin for a few moments. Against the blackness of her long hair, the shinning of the morning light created the impression of a goddess of marble. Alexander’s eyes followed the shape of her spine, down towards her legs, almost with melancholy that the end was all around him: the end of the night before, the end of the angelic sight of Marry’s body, the end of the life of Marry’s grandmother.
He was eighteen years old, she was twenty. The first time they met was two years ago. He was carrying some pots with honey to the village baker, just before Easter. As he passed the field of bright red poppies, a white the silhouette caught his eye: walking gently, paying attention to the flowers around her, Marry was picking up a few threads for her grandmother. The young woman’s moves were graceful, giving the impression that time on that field was passing slowly. Alexander stopped for a moment and looked at her, mesmerised. He could not move and the world around him vanished: the angel dancing in the poppy field was all that Alexander could see. Sensing that a pair of eyes were examining her, Marry first looked up, towards the clear Spring sky but then, realising that it was the gaze of a man following her moves, turned slowly, meeting Alexander’s eyes. Anima and Animus became one in her and in him, and their souls kissed.
‘Maybe there is some truth in these traditions,’ Alexander said getting up to the edge of the bed. Marry looked at him briefly as she thought what to do next: to get dressed or to drink some fresh water from the clay coffer that was placed on the small round table in the corner of the room still covered in the shadows of the previous day. The coffer was painted in a traditional mosaic of red, green and white shapes, dancing over its round and tall form. ‘Perhaps people display their dead so that the entire community lament and rejoice with them. Lament because one of them is no longer among the rest of them but rejoice because the person is finally at rest, free and at home,’ the man continued as he got up and poured some water in one the two clay mugs from the table, knowing with his intuition that Marry was be thirsty.
Outside, the weather was still as the Summer was young. Birds were singing and a soft gust of wind would pass their window now and then, gently rattling the open window. The church bells began to ring, announcing that it was eight in the morning. Marry stood unmoved, with one hand across her chest, lost in thought. Alexander walked up to her, carefully as if he was approaching a strange creature. He then put his strong arms around her and pulled Marry to his chest, hugging her. She looked up to him with those big brown eyes, wet from sorrow but full of energy, with her red lips that appeared brighter in that glorious morning shine, and then embraced him with both hands, surrendering to him as he surrendered to her.