Fragmente din “Prețul libertății”

owlynano1

(Avertisment: fragmentul se referă la aspecte din Santeria) :

Bătrâna pregăti o baie rituală, adăugând salvie, rozmarin, busuioc, gălbenele și petale de trandafiri – plante aromatice pe care le preferau Oggun, Ochun și Yemaya. Unul dintre ucenicii ei, un carteron doar un pic mai mare decât Andrea, a fost rugat să o asiste.
– Ai de gând să îl inițiezi? întrebă tânărul, intrigat de faptul că subiectul discuției, cel care avea să beneficieze de baia rituală de purificare, era alb.
Doar Concha și toți ceilalți santeros repetaseră de atâtea ori, în cursul anilor, că nimeni care nu are sânge african nu poate afla numele africane ale sfinților și ce se ascunde în spatele a ceea ce vedea oricine cu ochiul liber, interpretând în spirit catolic. Lui Goyo i se părea că tocmai Concha cea respectată se pregătea să facă o greșeală gravă. Ori spiritele îi revelaseră ceva deosebit în legătură cu acest tânăr, menit să fie excepția care confirmă regula? Și merita riscul?
– Nu în felul în care ai fost tu inițiat, Goyo, îi explică ea cu răbdare. Nu ar înțelege asta. Spiritele l-au ales, însă nu ca să ne urmeze calea; capul lui nu va primi binecuvântarea pe care au primit-o ale noastre, și tu nu ești aici ca naș. De fapt, știi că ai fi încă prea tânăr pentru o astfel de responsabilitate. Tu ești doar ajutorul meu, să înveți ce este de făcut când sufletul are mai mare nevoie de purificare decât trupul.
Continuă, alegându-și cu grijă cuvintele:
– Mă vei asista și vei recunoaște diferențele dintre ritualurile folosite la cele două inițieri de care ai avut parte și cele pe care le vei vedea acum, menite doar să vindece, să curețe, să purifice, și să îi facă pe Oggun, Ochun și Yemaya să își recunoască fiul și să îl ajute mai mult de acum înainte.

novelist-at-workjpg

Logo of the month of November

Cidrul a venit primul și a fost turnat frățește în patru pahare.
– Pentru viață, și pentru ca marea să dea înapoi ce i se încredințează! toastă cel cu cercelul, iar ceilalți ciocniră cu el imediat.
– Și pentru frumoasele sirene care îi salvează pe naufragiați, răspunse Andrea în franceză, ciocnind prima dată cu Fiona, apoi și cu ceilalți.
Doar gândurile lui știau că primul toast nu era doar pentru ea, ci în primul rând pentru Gorgona. Și înainte de a sorbi, vărsă trei stropi pentru sufletele camarazilor de pe “Marie Gallante”. Era și aceasta o formă de a o include pe Gorgona în mulțumiri și urări de bine.
Fiona roși la auzul toastului neașteptat. Andrea se întrebă ce îl atrăgea la ea, fiindcă multe femei erau frumoase, și totuși îl lăsau rece. Cucerirea femeilor nu era sportul lui preferat, așa cum fusese al unor prieteni de pe nava scufundată. Tânărul venețian nu era afemeiat, și îi lipseau îndrăzneala și siguranța de sine pe care le aveau aceia cu femeile pe care le întâlneau în porturi.

never20give20up_zpsxjgqo7tp

Și acum, un fragment despre botezul unei corăbii:

Preotul binecuvântă moneda de argint și o așeză sub cârmă. Hurricane Thad rânji, puțin disprețuitor. Tradiții prostești, o monedă irosită. Și corabia mai avea una sub marele catarg, tot spaniolă, fără îndoială, pusă la ceremonia de numire și lansare la apă, de către primul proprietar, să îi poarte noroc și ca nava să știe că va fi îngrijită și respectată. Dacă Sol Picador era atât de înfumurat încât să creadă că, prin faptul că i s-a acordat comanda și partea cuvenită, corabia era un pic și a lui, vrând să adauge propriul ban odată cu numele ales de el, treaba lui. Asta nu schimba lucrurile cu nimic.
Părintele Jacques Bonnet continuă netulburat rugăciunea, știind că moneda de aur e a bisericii și a lui. În asemenea condiții, să tot faci sfeștanie de corabie! O pereche mai săracă nu dădea atât la o nuntă.
– Ne rugăm Sfintei Fecioare și sfinților Mihail, Nicolae, Petre, Clement, protectorii marinarilor, să îi dea tărie acestei corăbii să meargă înainte, învingând furtuni și dușmani, și să se întoarcă cu bine în port. În numele tuturor celor care au navigat la bordul ei în trecut și în numele celor care vor naviga la bordul ei în viitor, le oferim mulțumirile noastre pentru protecția acordată goeletei până acum, suntem recunoscători că întotdeauna ea a găsit adăpost de furtuni, întorcându-se cu bine în port, și fie ca întotdeauna să se întâmple așa!

Poems from my youth

My love

My love is like the sea,
with no boundaries.
I love, like the sea,
the shore who rejects it.
If I were able to look into your eyes
deeply and fearlessly
their black flames would swallow me.
I would get drown happily
in the deep lakes of your eyes –
but I haven’t this luck.

(written at 15)

Definition

I am a bedless river,
without sun and fish.
I am only a handful of clay
untouched by the Creator’s hand.
I am a river
streaming from caves of sadness,
sunshine never caressed my waves.
But people found gold ore of kindness
on my shore
and they drained me.
I am a river looking for its bed,
across rocky mountains,
a handful of clay looking for its shape,
maybe to become a jug
to be sung afterwards by Omar Khayam.

(written at 14)

Din nou despre NaNoWriMo

nanobee

Nu s-a terminat încă luna. Chiar dacă astăzi este ultima zi, și, fiind ocupată cu NaNoWriMo  nu am avut timp pentru scris în blog (nu vă lăsați păcăliți de rebloguri și posturi programate de dinainte pentru noiembrie – că și pentru decembrie am câteva gata programate), pe Facebook, unde am atât pagina de scriitor cât și un grup NaNoWriMo București, am mai scris din când în când, iar acum voi da rezumate de acolo.

owlynano

15.11.: Nu mi-a mers prea bine pana acum incercarea mea de a cuceri NaNoWriMo. Se poate sa pierd la numar de cuvinte, avand in vedere probleme de sanatate si de serviciu care nu m-au lasat sa scriu cam multe zile (si se mai poate sa se intample), dar cu siguranta nu voi pierde prin abandon. Voi continua . Si week-end-urile ma vor ajuta, sper, sa mai castig din “scorul” pe care il am de recuperat.

Inspiratia? ” Caminante, no hay camino” de Joan Manuel Serrat, dupa versurile lui Antonio Machado: Calatorule, nu exista drum, cararea o fac pasii tai!

21.11.:Owly ma inspira ca de obicei. Sunt tot in urma, dar am trecut de jumatate (am deja 25.600 cuvinte) si mai am o sansa sa castig NaNoWriMo anul acesta, in ciuda tuturor dificultatilor…

26.11.: Aproape 40.000 de cuvinte – și încă au mai rămas destule zile din NaNoWriMo ca să am încredere că pot să termin cu succes!

Un personaj de-al meu ajunge în pelerinaj la Santa Virgen de la Regla, în Cuba. Iată un fragment (și statuia descrisă):

virgen20de20regla

            Intră în schitul modest cu smerenie, făcându-și semnul crucii. Interiorul nu era scăldat în aur, ca în Havana și în alte părți. Semăna mai mult cu bisericile de pe insulele copilăriei lui, deși erau, desigur, și diferențe importante. Nici statuia Sfintei Fecioare ocrotitoare a marinarilor, așezată pe tronul celest, nu era ostentativă, înălțimea ei nedepășind un cot și jumătate . Era făcută din lemn de cedru, dintr-o singură bucată, figura neagră a madonei cu coroană și aureolă abia văzându-se dintre faldurile albastre ale rochiei cu broderii de dantelă albă și mantiei din același material. Pruncul pe care îl ținea în brațe, în picioare, pe pulpa stângă, avea chipul de culoare deschisă, spre deosebire de al ei, făcându-l să se gândească la o mulatră cu un prunc carteron cum văzuse destule prin colonii.
Îngenunche în fața ei și se rugă fierbinte:
“Preasfântă Fecioară a Regulii, robul tău Andrea se roagă pentru odihna sufletului Fionei, moartă nespovedită și fără lumânare, de moarte violentă, Dumnezeu să o ierte. Să mă ierte și pe mine, prin mila Ta, dacă am contribuit cu nechibzuința mea, făcându-mă vinovat de moartea ei. De asemenea, mă rog pentru sănătate, prosperitate, pentru vindecarea sufletului meu chinuit, pentru puterea de a accepta moartea Fionei și de a-mi continua viața spre împlinirea rostului vieții mele… un rost despre care încă nu știu care este. Ajută-mă, ocrotește-mă și arată-mi ce trebuie să fac în continuare, cum să Te cinstesc și care este voința lui Dumnezeu pentru mine, căci numai prin Tine toți aflăm leac și alinare.”

Stop Calling It Vanity Publishing

The Let's Play Ball Blog

1231021950More than a decade into the self-publishing revolution, it’s hard to believe we’re still being subjected to dire warnings about “vanity publishing.” Can there possibly be a more tired phrase than that? If it’ll do any good, I’ll admit that I’m vain. Whenever I publish, I chose to pay dearly for the privilege. A complete package includes professional covers, copyrights, thorough editing, and at least rudimentary marketing. Those don’t come cheap, and all are absolutely essential for even moderate success.

Like many other aspiring authors, I have found the traditional path not totally unresponsive to my queries, yet ultimately unsuited to my type of writing. There are simply too many rules. I like to mix genres, which makes it next to impossible to fit into a publishing niche. My novels start out as chicklit, but then I complicate things by adding healthy doses of social and/or political commentary. Not an…

View original post 149 more words

Danube-related legends: Braila

braila_4137

The city of charming Danube

Braila is a beautiful city located on the shore of the river-maritime Danube. This meant, especially a while ago, that ships which went to sea could enter the Danube at Sulina, where it runs into the sea, and sail up to Braila; and it made the city an important trading center for the whole South-Eastern Europe, as the goods loaded there 500 years ago went to Istanbul, farther into the Ottoman Empire, or, why not, to Venice or to Vienna – to the latest, on the Danube itself. A city full of history and legends, and having a so mixed population and an unique architecture – what is not to love about it?

The streets are drawing half a circle, leaving from the Danube, rounding the city and arriving back to the Danube on the opposite side. The old buildings reflect their former owners – rich merchants of Turkish, Jewish, Greek, Armenian, Russian or German origins – and a part of the city’s history. There is blue and green everywhere – little parks, the big Public garden, another big garden, Monument, to the outskirts… Outskirts where a Salt Lake is still pouring his spa-blessings to all people in pain all round the year…

My words are not enough to describe its beauty – but for the present visitor, this beauty can be seen a bit less. It is there, under the dust, in the historical houses which the wolf from the three piglets story can blow down at the third breath, because their ownership is discussed in courts or because neither the mayor, nor the present owner have money to invest in their rehabilitation. However, several writers have immortalized it in their prose and verses – Panait Istrati being the most known for the prose. He enchanted my early teen years, and given that I had the opportunity to spend enough summer holidays there, with my cousins, I started discovering the city step by step, with its beauty and legends.

The bandits had hidden in the swamps and on the corners of the Danube where we were bathing and eating roasted corn. The ship crews were still competing on Saint Mary’s feast, having as prizes ducklings and a piglet. The songs, Romanian, Greek, Lipovan, sometimes Turkish, were resounding here and there, a sign of the multi-culturalism of the city. We were discovering with delight each place which had been written about before.

Meanwhile, years have passed. The Great Island opposite the city became an important agro-industrial center, getting cultivated with corn and vegetables, some swamps had been drained and given back to agriculture, and the legendary charm is starting to fade away. The city has changed too, and the shadows of my youth can be seldom found in the old neighbourhoods or on the falaise… It’s just a shadow of what once had been, taking with it the tumultuous life of a joyful, multicoloured city with an unique personality, nicknamed once “a leg of Paris”.

Where is the hustle and bustle and the boiling joy of the holidays of the cosmopolitan city of a while ago, sung by the writers ? Where are the Greek and Lipovan songs – but where is the city’s life? The words have died, the teen age and the souls together with them. None of the characters I loved in Panait Istrati’s and Theodor Constantin’s books could recognize anymore the places they had lived in – not because of the new buildings, but because the soul of the city doesn’t exist anymore; neither the Danube seem to be the same…

The doors of history are shut, and I try to open them every time I visit the town of my youthful dreams, with songs and memories. Why it’s only me, out of the little crew of a while ago, who gather pieces of life, not lived or even rejected by those around me, in order to bring them alive again in my heart and in my stories, with dances and songs, with the memories of my ancestors? Who can understand the thirst of far away distances which is burning me for a long time, bridging fraternity with Panait Istrati and his heroes, the insatiable desire of other horizons? No matter how changed, I still love the city of charming Danube-related legends, my Braila of an eternal teen age…

simbolul-brailei-ceasul-din-centrul-vechi-2

The city of poverty shadows

My friend and my cousin were born in Braila. My cousin was part of the youthful crew exploring the city with me during our summer holidays, my friend wasn’t, but their stories are the same. Living there, feeling the prison of the dying city, which has lost its traditional attraction. For them, it is the prison of their lives: first the industry declined, the big factories closing one by one. They don’t see the beauty of the old city, they see the challenges of the new one: first, pollution, while the factories were still working; now that they aren’t anymore working, the Danube comes black anyway from oil leaks from the ships or from a shipyard, once the fame of the city, now working barely at half volume.

Happy it’s still working, as the big paper mill factory and the big chemical processing plant which gave nylon fibers and other things to all the country aren’t anymore. The big machine tool plant isn’t working anymore. One of the biggest clothing factory, famous abroad too, is slowly shutting down section by section. Even the spa at the outskirts of the city, built on a healing salt lake, is diminishing its activity. Hotels are closing, letting people unemployed, and those who could benefit of a better health, now are deprived of this spa.

Braila is the city of poverty shadows. My friend and my cousin had studied to have a career on a certain path – this was no longer possible, a few years after they graduated the vocational high-schools qualifying them in that field. Then, they went on the path of professional reconversion – but with this flimsy economy, this hasn’t helped much either. Lives get wasted, hopes get wasted, poverty reigns.

The bandits of the legends have reincarnated now in futureless youth, full of violence against the whole society, and choosing to let it out in neighbourhood gangs. Some places, including in the neighbourhood where I spent my teen years, are no longer safe, as I heard. The unemployed men are drowning their sorrows in liquor, which makes them poorer and more violent. Who could, among the younger generations, went away to work in other countries. What to do in a dying city? My cousin’s husband is working in Spain, after having tried other countries as well; my friend’s ex husband is working in Italy, while she, having four or five different qualifications, has lost her latest job, and nobody is hiring. How to raise a high-school child in these conditions? And there are people in worse situation than them…

My friend and my cousin are looking towards the capital with envious eyes, seeing that we managed better. It’s the fear of surviving day by day, it’s the despair of losing another job, it’s the long, strangling hand of poverty which makes them hate the dying city they have been born in.

– THE END –

Stuck In The Middle: 10 tips for writing a novel in 2 weeks

sophiecoulombeau

I haven’t updated for a while, but trust me, I’ve got a good excuse. I’ve just been buffeted through the busiest but also perhaps the most amazing week of my life. I’ve been in York, Birmingham, Leamington Spa, Istanbul and back to York again over the space of five days.  I’ve seen, by my last count, almost a hundred friends from a dozen different cities and three different time zones.  I’ve had both my first book launch, and my first review in a national newspaper. I’m thus utterly knackered, and have hardly had a moment to pause and reflect on events since the whole whirlwind began. Today is the first day I’ve had fully to myself; the visiting friends have all departed from York, the holiday washing is folded and the spare bedding put back in the cupboard, and the gorgeous presents have been picked up from Waterstones. The cumulative…

View original post 2,316 more words

Exam

My hopes are withering away,
and inside me it is raining endlessly hot ash.
Oh, the hot ash of my tormented soul!
Friendship is fading away
without intention –
only fate is to blame.
If I were far away, sadness
would have avoided me,
but I can’t be back there.
In a shell of distress
my heart is melting quietly,
life is melting quietly.
My soul wants to mourn, but the tear stops –
I’m so lonely, that even tears refuse me!
Look, in the way of my life
a dragon appeared, born out of evil minds.
It has hundreds of mouths, and one
will surely swallow me.
It’s only up to me
to succeed in getting rid of it.
So, the seagull of my soul
cries loudly, suffocated
by the invincible glass cage
whose prisoner I am.
I must keep hoping
that the dragon protects
love’s kingdom.

(written at 14)

The Wheel of Fortune

– Sancho Panza’s inheritance story

Sancho Panza, the illiterate farmer who had become don Quijote’s squire in his adventures, had been married for a long time to a woman named Teresa Cascajo and had a daughter, Marísancha, aged seventeen. All the other children had died at birth or short time afterwards, and she was his only heir… – well, if she had what to inherit or if daughters counted. And none of these conditions were valid. But upon Don Quijote’s death, when his will got read, they discovered that the old knight errant had actually left a piece of land from his property to Marisancha Panza y Cascajo, to be her dowry,… on condition that she married a hidalgo. This was a difficult condition to meet….

All the remaining land and the manor had been left to Don Quijote’s niece, Antonia Quijano, who was nineteen at that time, with the unwritten hope that with such a dowry she’d find a husband. However, some other provisions were made for the future, on condition that said Marisancha and her unknown yet husband had sons, if they sent their sons to school.

This was not exactly a fortune, but for Sancho Panza was a Godsent gift. The wheel of fortune had finally stopped his way, after he had followed and protected his lord in mad quests. His daughter didn’t have much dowry anyway, since he was a poor farmer, a tenant not owning even the land he was working. The land she was owning now was larger than the one Sancho’s family was working, and it meant that she would have something to bring to a new family. He was the last in his line to be a commoner, illiterate and poor farmer.

Actually, it was an advantage in being a hidalgo. They were gentry, revered as such, holding on to the privileges and honours of the nobility even if they had no fortune to back the title up, and exempt from paying taxes. While a commoner couldn’t access to military and administrative careers, they could, and even the poorest of them refused manual work as contrary to their honour. This meant a pretty wife with a dowry might attract some….

So, Sancho started to seek for a young hidalgo to marry her. He had no illusions that a hidalgo de sangre, with an untainted lineage for several centuries, would get interested in her, no matter that she was young, pretty, healthy, hardworking and with some dowry. But he knew that there were other two types of hidalgos who might: either a Biscayan man who was interested in owning land, after his ancestors had lost it, or a young man who had at least six legitimate brothers – the so called sons of hidalgos de bragueta (“fly-of-the-trousers hidalgo“), who, by default, were the poorest gentry.

Jose Maria Zamorra was, indeed, the youngest son of such a hidalgo de bragueta, born under the Andalucian sun. He had to seek the carreer of army since young, but he couldn’t get the deserved promotions for being too poor, as he couldn’t afford the required expenses for a commission and for the related equipment. But he was a hidalgo and a lancer sergeant deployed in the area….

It wasn’t easy to arrange the marriage, for several reasons. First of all, Antonia Quijano had all the interest in the world that it didn’t happen, and she tried to start rumours about Marisancha being a lazy slut. Secondly, it took a while for don Jose Maria Zamorra, who was twenty five at that time, to get persuaded that he wanted to get married.

But, with Sancho Panza’s determination and with the girl’s good looks, things were arranged. The young sergeant convinced himself that the rumours hadn’t been true. The girl might have been rather naive and easy to charm, but weren’t most of them? However, she was no slut, and he got the proof that she had been a maiden. Well, the proof was obvious enough for her father and the priest too, so a shotgun wedding happened in haste.

Actually, Don Jose Maria Zamorra mused, the deal he had got into wasn’t too bad. Marisancha had been only his, she had some dowry, and she wouldn’t ask him to leave the Army for her. She would be the one to stay at home and run the farm, while he was fighting for the glory of the crown of Castilla. He smiled and accepted the bride with whom he had just consummated the wedding night in what peasants called “putting the cart before the oxes“. Well, not the first, nor the last man to start his married life before the priest’s blessing… He wouldn’t mind a son (or more, if he was anything like his father) looking like both of them, he thought vainly.

…After a little more than one year, that son came, and he was christened Jose Santiago. Then, a daughter, called Maria Teresa. The next son of the family was named Alonso, after Don Quijote, and the other Juan Antonio. There might have been some more who lived, who knows… The grandparents were happy to help with raising them, and to offer their help in the estate management while the head of the Zamorra family was away.

Upon late Don Quijote’s will, the boys were sent to school, and all of them showed interest in knights’ stories. Maria Teresa and her mother, Marisancha, learnt to write and to calculate at the same time with the boys, and it helped in the management of the land.

Marisancha was a healthy and industrious woman, and her husband didn’t spent recklessly his pay, neither his wife’s dowry. The war prizes he brought home after campaigns were invested in the land, instead of thinking about paying his dues for a promotion. He knew that after the wars, when his army carreer would end, it was there he was bound to retire.

First, the investment was not in extending, but in cultivating the land properly and hiring work hands. Upon old Sancho Panza’s advice, Marisancha chose to plant first a vineyard, since it was a good wine area, then cereals. Sheep and goats were added to the inventory afterwards, as being good for creating more wealth. The wheel of fortune seemed to remain on their side as long as old Sancho Panza and his son-in-law, Jose Maria Zamorra, lived.

Jose Santiago was more like his father than like his mother. He favoured the career in the Army, and when he enlisted, as he had studied with the monks before, he got the rank of alferez, flag bearer. His life was linked to the Army’s itineration, and he never returned to La Mancha, finding his fortune elsewhere.

Alonso was the one in love with the land – not that Juanto wouldn’t. The land got split between them two, as their older brother had given up his claims in their favour, and they did, at their turn, what their father had done: they married girls who had a better dowry than their pedigree. As for their sister, Maria Teresa, she got married to a miller, in order to keep the processing of the crops in the family, as her being a hidalgo‘s daughter counted less than her dowry.

Life isn’t, though, only sunshine and rainbows. There had been drought, there had been storms affecting crops in other years, and there had been wars, when enemies or even allied armies set camp in La Mancha, depleting resources. The family wealth couldn’t last forever, and the wheel of fortune, ultimately, turned to other lucky sods.

But if you, Spanish citizen or one from the former Colonies, can calculate your ancestry back to many generations ago, you might find out with surprise that Sancho Panza and his daughter Marisancha had been at the root of your genealogy tree, and you are the offspring of a hidalgo of long time ago.

– THE END –