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Euskal Idazleen Elkartea

Jose Luis Alvarez "Txillardegi" > Extracts

Narrative (short story and novel)

1988 | Elkar


Through sight, hearing, smell and touch I sought some sign of the Sea in the area. But I failed to find anything.

-You'll never find it -I heard once again-. Swallow the truth, even though it may be hard for you now that you have only recently fled. And the truth is this: there is no lake at the bottom of your heart, but the image of death. Why are you frightened of it? The sea is nothing more than a figment of the imagination. The Sea is Nothingness. Simply the Sea. that sea lies permanently and peacefully most likely behind the breath, the scream and all the murmurings of the brook, it is no more than the figment of blue continuity which you yourself have added from inside you. There is nothing but the Sea that adheres to the Nothingness.

And after a brief moment of silence:

-Resign yourself to the fact that the Sea does not exist, it is but the watery appearance of the colour of Nothingness and of naught itself. You left, others, too, will go, these mountains will fuse when the centuries are up, the rivers will dry up, and deserts will sink below the waters; and the same thing will happen to this high, rocky plateau. Everything will fuse together. And the Sea is merely the name of this obscurity which seems to remain as a silent witness, which men have learnt and taught each other from generation to generation. In its transience, in its sparklingness the lake does exist: it has existed at least for an instant, at least as an ephemeral companion of sighs.

I thought I was going to faint. Because for a long time and throughout my youth in particular, I thought that I had sought and needed the Sea, and that my inside would never rest on anything else.

But the Sea's rumbling continued to say:

-If you try heroin, neither with nor without heroin: sick of freshwater, and the heights tending to move further and further away, unreachable. The supreme hot night, which followed that still, low morning, was your undoing. Because it took you to the heights and to the cliffs, and then to the frightening precipice of the inevitable way down; as it takes all human beings in an unending succession. In other words, if you breathe in the Sea air, you despise the lake, but you cannot reach the Sea! And you've had it. For if you see the Sea, even though from afar, if you catch sight at least once of that wide, still blueness, there is no peace any more.

-Please! Don't go on. It is too much already! Please! I would rather be blind! -I cried in desperation.

-Again, I tell you, you should know the price exacted by this new gust of wind. Now you are going to find out. Listen: you have to go to the still, low morning once again. and to the years before that morning. Reject everything after that; and you have to forget as far as you can. There is no other path to sense. Someone aptly described it thus: "you have to return to your mother's womb."

And in my confused nightmare (but was it really a nightmare?) and in the speed of the fastest bolt of lightning, the image of the golden beach and the bluish gravel shore appeared before my eyes over and over again: my biggest milestone!

. And I crossed the railway bridge and, leaving the Gurutzia inn on my left, I turned right; and as if from the watchtower of Getharia I loved so much, I saw waves, foamy waves, exploding one after another against the rocks which emerged out of the water.

On that still, mild morning,
without bidding farewell to the Sea,
without remembering the Sea before us
on that still, mild morning
the two of us
slowly, slowly
made our way.

And I admit that it is true, that the following day I remembered the Sea. that very day after, yes, but not before that. The Gospel truth!

And what solitude there was in Getharia that morning after! How empty was the watchtower! How broad, full and blue was the Sea in front of me! What melancholy in the unending line of foamy waves!

And the phrase remained fixed in me for ever: as soon as the sun rises, poetry is extinguished.

That morning the day after, I was saddened and illuminated by the hard truth as I stood looking at the renewed Sea. And I heard the wonderful message of brother poet; and in truth, and I think for the first time, I fully understood and believed. That hoarse voice truly belonged to me that day after.

I adore
the corners of our country
when the misty rain
conceals them;
because when it prevents me
from seeing what it
I then start to see what is concealed,
the wondrous corners that
rise up inside me.

I remembered the swaying tops of the pine trees of Txubillo; and also the wide sea which appeared to me, this lonely rambler, from time to time on many an autumn afternoon. And I also recalled those sweet swords thrust into me on the scorching night after that still, warm morning: "always", "never".

And disgusted, this is what I said:

-Nothing beyond what we ourselves have built!. Embellish, furnish and cover the emptiness and the inevitable decline with our fascination and poems! How tough is human destiny!

And all at once the sky darkened far more quickly than during eclipses.

-Beyond the limits of the sea -I seemed to speak my thoughts aloud in the new period of darkness, but my words barely came out of my sensitive throat-, beyond the limits of the sea, the clear, blue sky. in other words, the clear sky and its pure, deep blue, a source of endless human fascination.

I could not go on.

-This source of endless human fascination, this clear sky. is empty!. The wondrous corners are inside me. they are nowhere. For I am nothing more than the dead leaves of autumn!!

And a terrible sensation shook me:

-Infinite. eternal. empty. words. empty words!. This is our fodder!

And I threw myself to the ground, roughly, as wildly as possible; banging my head against a rock, making my brain jump out of my skull, to see my sticky, bloody brain slide through the cracks and fissures of the rocky, pitiless field. and wanting to lose consciousness and life itself (why not life?), and my last immobile gust of wind.

But despite sustaining dreadful pain, I failed to lose consciousness, let alone commit suicide. And the area next to the Ahؽemendi seemed to be rockier.

And I believe it was at the height of the nightmare, and while my headache concentrated my whole body in my head, I added:

-Infinite. the only one for ever!. Nothingness. So what is this maddening procession of ghosts?

So I may have been seeing the same vision as my brother: "Esa fatÝdica procesiˇn de fantasmas que van de la Nada a la Nada." ("That appalling procession of ghosts that go from Nothingness to Nothingness".)

I thought I had caught myself in the journey beyond the lichens struggling to grow between the rocks: "Resign yourself. You cannot overcome Nothingness."

Who was it who suggested to me that in the final analysis I wanted wholeness and to achieve the culmination? Who or what has led me astray and made me rebel so radically in the twilight of youth?

-I'm going for ever -I heard the same dreadful voice once again in that wide, stony desert, more loudly as the day wore on-. Yes, I'm going and before leaving, I'll tell you who it was.

My eyes were hurting.

-You've sold yourself, you have lost yourself. Do not seek outside yourself that which is worth cursing, because it does not exist. The god concealed within you, but which always guides and drives, blinded you. Why did the purple expanses of the stubby heather on the mountain slopes in September sadden you? Do you remember? The heather in flower announces the autumn. And you did not want the autumn; no autumn whatsoever. You did not want to be the lowly companion of dry autumn leaves. But why not?

And a few seconds later:

-Listen carefully! The absence of limits is deep, unlimited and immense in the density and emptiness of the blackness; but not in anything else. The fear of withering and drying has upset you and even now upsets you. You could not accept the consubstantiality with dead leaves. Yet you delight in trampling on dead leaves. On the other hand, the leaves sometimes fly up in the strong gusts of wind. Have you never seen them rising up in that whirlwind? Perhaps you, too, as a dead leaf, in that lower field of yours, while there are gusts of wind, you, too, will fly upwards.

And that deafening voice which had spoken like the sea's roar became silent for ever. For ever.

And no tears came; as the sun rose in the sky I remained sitting right there for a long time on the charcoal grey rock; I needed to be sick but was unable to.

And the utter exhaustion together with the sun's heat in the high mountain in the end overcame the most violent nausea.

And the summit of the Ahؽemendi was the only witness of my sleep.

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