A part of the earth

I was walking my regular way, step by step the same path as always. Every day. How often did I put my foot on the exact same part on the ground? How often did I step on a few centimeteres of the same part of the earth?
Suddenly I lost my train of thought, because there she was – A woman covered in cloths, kneeling and barefoot on a part of the pavement, a part of the earth. The cloths were big, heavy and deeply black. They were hanging from her slim body like unwrapped bales of cloth. Only her brown naked foot, with its old haggard skin caught the eye. Her hands are gesturing with an experienced ease and they are hovering in gentle, nostalgic memories. Next to her is a little boy, dressed in too big jeans and a too big shirt. In front of them is a cloth in which, fallen from a tree close to them, walnuts are. She explains, points and narrates. She flips the cloth shut and takes a swing from shoulder height with the hammer – a loud crack. The boy recoils and at the same time he is looking closely at the woman, to be able to estimate her next step. She explains, points and narrates. The no longer hilly surface of the cloth implies that the shape has changed – they are smashed.

I close my eyes and it feels like I see the old woman as a young girl on a part of the earth, underneath a big, shade-giving hazelnut tree. Coated in hot dry air, moist moldy earth and a fresh cool of a lonely breath of wind. Not on a pavement – on a sand path, that sparkles brightly yellow in the hot sun. Not covered in black cloths – in bright cloths, that give her brown skin a radiant luminosity. Not nostalgically and remembering – eagerly and experiencing. Not narrating – listening. She is in the position of the little boy and in front of her is an older woman who radiates calm and safety. She reaches eagerly for the smashed hazelnuts and lets her hand slide over their surface – she picks one and leads it with a joyful and excited look to her mouth.

I open my eyes and now I am almost sure that I can see her. The little boy is looking at the old woman eagerly. She explains, points and narrates. The two of them are like a mosaic, which was cut out in a far-away, broken land and inserted in the new foreign land. Simply inserted and left to itself. Whelmed with demands, pushed to suppression. She, trapped in the foreign, left only with her body and her experiences as the last connection to her native far-away. She folds down the cloth and the boy looks at it excitedly. With hesitation he touches with the tips of his fingers the smashed nuts. The woman encourages him to look at the nuts more closly. She explains, points and narrates. He looks at her with big eager children’s eyes and seems breathless from excitment. He reaches for one of the walnuts and puts it slowly into his mouth. He listens to her words and seems to taste the far-away home, to touch it, to feel it. Her eyes are lovingly remembering and his are full of love and pride. She touches with her remembering, old-grown hand his little face. She was his living memory of the forgotten – She was his heroine!

Will I ever touch the same part of the earth with my sole? In this moment it seemed minor.


Scarlett Rybarczyk

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