house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

To Cousins I Don't Remember

A few vague memories are all that's left  - I was seven years old when we last met, and I think you, Catalin, had broken your arm playing with that heavy wooden bucket at the well. And you, Daniela? I remember a red scarf tied over your dark hair. It framed your smoldering eyes, that smile that lit your face and then mine and then the orchard where we played, trees, blades of grass, ants and the crumbs they carried, all.

Am I making this up? In the picture they put on your grave, your smile is so bright that everything beyond your face is blurred. But then, it's such an old picture, battered by seasons, black-and-white. You died 37 years ago, on a Friday evening, 4 March 1977.

And man, were we gonna play that night! A family reunion, big party, such fun! We were going to hide in your room and you were going to show me your toys and your games from Brazil. 'Say something in Portuguese', I was going to say, and you were then going to teach me a Portuguese swear word or two, and how to say I love you.

Catalin would bring his train set and we would roll our eyes but then play with the trains anyway. We would make little plasticine people and put them on the tracks. Just to drive the train over their purple legs and necks. Just to scream and faint in panic and pain. Just to find that the purple person survived after all. Just to be happy at the end of the game.

But I was sick that night, flu, fever, cough. I was sick enough that I stayed home and my family, out of worry and duty, stayed too. And your house fell in the earthquake, and ours didn't. 

It turns out only plasticine people survive.

P.S. Here, I found a picture in which you don' t smile but I, outside it, do  (what's with that face, cousin?) I also learned those swear words in Portuguese, and how to say I love you.