18 май 2012 г.

Повелителката на живота

Познавахме Джеси като повелителка на подправките захар и шафран. Горчиво-сладкият й разказ за това, как тъмното средновековие се отразява в огледалото на бурната ни съвременност, превърнахме в роман благодарение на приятели и съмишленици.
Но тя не спря дотук - изненада ни с прорицателските си дарби, превърнали героинята й в тракийска жрица. Но не от тези, които в транс гадаят бъдещето, а жрица земна, нежна и влюбена в живота, която вгражда своята младост и хубост в основите на едно просто и съвършено устроено общество.
Така романите станаха два, за да стигне историята до своя логичен финал.
После обаче Джесините шедьоври нараснаха до три.
Роди се Рафаела.

5 май 2012 г.

Sugar and Saffron. The Beginning

Stella woke up at dawn. She had a dreading nightmare and she needed to catch her breath. She asked herself if she was going to survive. She used to have this dream and everytime there was a split second when she asked herself if she was going to live through. The same dream has been recuring for twenty years now - not as often as to raise doubts of obsession, but not as rare as to allow her to forget it, too. For the first time Stella had that dream when she was twelve, she woke up terrified and she cried out loud and she screamed in the dead of the night. She felt half-drowned, suffocated, helpless and scared to death. The only thing that happened was that her mother chastised her for waking up the entire houshold. And that was all. No compassion, no concern, not even a hug. The girl had to calm down on her own and to learn whenever she would have a nightmare not to scream or attract attention. Stella' s life-slogan became "Survive on your own." The dream occured about once every year and finally Stella grew up enough as to be improper if she screamed and cried after she woke up with it. In time she endeavored not to think about it and thought that perhaps initially the dream was inspired by a certain highly impressive take of a TV show.

Chapter One

Mother Anna
Portugal
1721-1736

Little Dulce loved her little sister. She loved her so much, so sincerely like only children can love: she loved the way one loves a perfect doll, but she didn't know that because Dulce had no dolls. She loved her like a mother loves her offspring, because the baby was more of a child to Dulce than she was a child to her mother: the mother had other, way more serious activities than to take care of some baby. The poor woman had a few mouths to feed and the catch of the fishermen in the family needed to be processed, cleaned and sorted before it takes to the stock markets of the Englishmen. So Dulco was a sovereign mistress in the shabby hut and a caring mother for the little baby. Dulce loved even the baby's cry because it sounded like a call to her: " Hug me, caress me, sing to me... love me... I need you." Little Dulce felt needed i very important, more over it wasn't that hard to milk the raw-boned goat and feed the milk to the baby's tiny lips with the big spoon.
The baby was the last misunderstanding in Santos' hut. Nobody wanted her, but when she was born and cried - a strong, healthy baby - there was nothing to be done. Maybe secretly inside her mother and father Santos hoped for her to die, just like a flower in the sun that no one waters. Mother Santos had many sons and some of them survived to become big and strong boys handy and capable of helping in fishing. They had been wandering amongst the boats and the fishnets for a long time and it was worth feeding them and raising them: they were useful. Dulce was born and she survived thanks to the old grandma Santos. However the grandma was now gone to the earth and this little runt was doomed. At least that's how the elders in the family used to think. But they forgot to ask little Dulce. She named the baby Anna. In the night when the baby cried, Dulce would take her out of the house, wrapped in a blanket, to keep her from waking up the others. She sang to her. Carried her to exhaustion in her little hands. When the sub was up she would bring her to the rocks by the shore. Or she would even go as far as to the sandy beach and would make a crappy sunshade with the baby's blanket to hide her baby sister beneath it just next to the waves of the ocean. Dulce was a really devoted mother: sometimes she would forget to eat, she forgot the fatigue, so usual to children, she never even thought to have a sip of the milk she put much efforts to milk for the baby Anna.
The baby learned to crawl and started to make her first faint steps, stumbling across the grass around the shore. The sun burnt grass was hiding the two children of Santos from the sight of others and so they had all the freedom in the universe: to grow up and become real people. Not that the Santos family had something against people. Just these two hungry mouths seemed too many and too useless.
That night the baby would not sleep.She stared at Dulce for a long time with her little shiny eyes and laughed happily in her face, flashing forth her newly grown teeth in her spontaneous joy. Dulce had to sing all the fado-chants, which she had heard from her grandmother and even repeat them until Anna fell asleep. Finally. The devoted Dulce layed down next to the sleeping baby and immediately sank into sleep like a stone in the water. She was exhausted. Motherhood is a tiring job. Especially when you're nine.
At the other end of the hut the old Santos were finishing their dinner - fish and potatoes - there was enough, and they had sent their sons to sleep in the big room or outside in the shed.
- Many mouths to feed - sputtered impassively the mother as if she used to get up and go to bed with this thought, and it was more like a motto of her life than a source of some emotions.
- God blessed us with children, mother - said her husband - this is joy.
- It will be joy when they start working instead of me, and I can sit comfortably seated and watch them on the shore - the mother answered hastily .
- Well, they do a lot of work even now. - the father tried to appease her.
- There are many kids and that's it - the mother insisted.
- But what should we do, woman, God blessed us with healthy children, should we drown them in the sea or what?
- You know what? - Mother snapped. - You know what?
Her husband looked at her, startled by the sudden aggression in the words of his wife.
- What all the rich peole do, this is what we will do!
Father Santos looked at her with bewilderment, as if his wife had suddenly gone mad. "What's happened to this woman, she was such a sweet girl just some time ago? She melted at the sight of little goatlings and puppies in the village, and now she's not happy with her own children "... He was looking at his wife's face and it somehow did not seem beautiful, twisted by the mask of gross dryness and saw her - unknown and old, impassive like the cathedrals of Braga.
- Do you wanna know what I will do? - persited mother Santos. - We will take the two youngest boys to the shipyard to work for the British, the next two boys, we'll send them to work on ships sailing to Brazil , and the two eldest boys- we'll leave them here to work with you on the fishing boat and the girl we will leave at the cloister. That is what we will do!
- Woman, you're crazy! - Father exploded. - You want to get rid of my kids! I am not giving my children away!
- We are not getting rid, stupid - his wife chastised him - I shall not give them for free! I will take money for these kids. I will get money and then I will sit comfortably and watch the ocean.
Father panted, sparks sprang from his eyes.
- You forgot something! - he yelled. - You forgot to trade the baby! Who will you sell our baby to, huh? A traveling circus or passing Gypsy caravan?
- Not a bad idea, but I will not give her -the woman replied coolly, she didn't seem to notice that her husband's look was dark with rage. She obviously didn't notice her husband regularly and preferred floating in her own thoughts. - I will keep the baby, she will look after me when I get old, I am not giving her to anyone, isn't this why runts are born to do.
- She must look after Dulce when she gets old - thanks to Dulce she is still alive now! - Father roared and jumped out of the hut. The door slammed behind him. No matter how much he drank in the pub, would it quell the searing pain in his head and would it fill the gaping hole in his heart?
In the rundown shack the candle shimmered and reflected in the tears that fell down Dulce's face. The terrified child stared at the ceiling and her little hand clutched in brainwashing shock around the little baby Anna's fist.

*
A week later, father Santos knocked on the doors of the Santa Juana convent near the port town of Aveiro, with the intention to leave his daughter there - the nine-year-old Dulce.
Just a few hours before that he had made a deal for his two younger sons to work in the shipyards, and the night before he left his two middle sons at the port at the mercy of an irritable and proud mate of a large merchant ship, preparing to raise sails to the rich colony of Brazil.

*
Just at that moment in the middle of the garden of the Santa Juana monastery, Mother Superior was giving directions to the gardener where he should plant kohlrabi and celery, and where to place the flower beds - in front of the big gates that welcomed pilgrims to the monastery, of course. Flowers appease the souls of the believers, they are like the tears of Mary, dropped on the grass. Prosaic details of the nuns' lunch and dinner should be disguised a bit further away from the main entrance. Mother Abbess was explaining this to the gardener - a very young boy, received the day before yesterday to the monastery.
Amid the directions of the Mother Superior spoken in an edifying tone, knocks came on the huge yard door. Loud, earnest and not so humble. Mother Superior raisedher eyebrows - was it appropriate to interfere with divine meekness of the monastic courtyards? And she made a sign for the beardless gardener to open.

*
The first thing the mother abbess saw were two huge frightened eyes. Located in the middle of a little face, a scruffy girl, skinny and malnourished. Frightened eyes, but full of fire and fierce presence. The child participated in life. Here and now. Much more than some of the blissful nuns participated through their entire existence on earth. The eyes of the frightened child were the reason why Mother Abbess accepted the whiny father and his ragged daughter. And she patiently, even attentively listened to them.
The first thing Dulce saw, when the wooden carved doors solemnly opened, was a huge black woman. Dulce had never seen so large and well-fed people in their village. Nor women in black monastic robes. If she wasn't petrified with horror in the last days, Dulce would cry at once. Except cry had escaped from her. It stayed in the old hut of the Santos, to mourn and wail for little Anna.
She hardly dared looking up at the face of the black woman. And she noticed that from the large face of the nun two very friendly eyes were smiling . A smile appeared on the little face of Dulce, before she had the time to ask herself whether it is appropriate.
This resolved the issue completely and the old Santos and his daughter were invited to the abode of Mother abbess.
In these lands people use to say, "Chance is another name for God." Not only in these lands. Persistent cliches often mark the truth. The abbess had many obligations. She was ruling big and profitable institution such as the Santa Juana, that - like all Catholic monasteries in the world during those days - were intellectual, spiritual and cultural center. The Santa Juana monastery near Aveiro was one of the most famous boarding houses for young virgins in the region and many wealthy fathers generously paid to the institution of the monastery, for being so generous to accommodate their daughters, to educate them, to polish them and eventually turn them into pious and exquisite ladies, future guardians of the hearth.
Mother Superior of Santa Juana rarely roamed around the yard as well maintained as it's abounding gardens could be. And she almost never talked to the servants. This part was for the young nuns and neophytes who were numerous and tireless.
Just today, however, mother abbess happened to be at the gates of the monastery, carried away by her instructions to the new gardener. And just at that moment the eyes of Dulce appeared at the door.

*
Dulce had never seen such splendor. She had never imagined that there could be such an abundance of beautiful things. In time she would learn that the monks ought to live modestly and poorly, but this monastic modesty seemed like a heavenly celebration of soft textures and delicate flavours that the fishing hut had never offered. Dulce looked timidly around the reception room of Mother abbess, and her large, lively eyes memorized every detail and she had almost forgotten her despair, besotted by these new perceptions. She barely understood what her father and the huge black woman with the kind eyes were talking about anyway. Just heard that "the merciful Lord will not allow the soul of this child to get lost without protection." And then she realized that mother abbess was chiding her father, who stood guiltily staring down; she was saying that the monastery does not buy children and he will not get money for his daughter. But if he wanted to leave her under the auspices of the nuns, they would gladly send some amount to the loving parents. What would Dulce do - well, why not start assisting Mother abbess personally and take care of her chamber and her garments? And then the question: "Do you want to stay with me, my child?" And her eyes were laughing sweetly on her round face.
No one ever gave a friendly smile to Dulce, nor had ever anyone called her "my child". Confused, the girl didn't have the strength for more - just shook her head with a warm gratitude. Her memories were hiding all other details in a fog. Perhaps they gave her something to eat, perhaps they gave her a bath. Perhaps she had received a set of modest black robes. Perhaps she had been taught how to clean and arrange the rooms of mother abbess. Dulce would have sworn that she had always done that - since she was born. What she perfectly remembered, however, was the fervent prayer. As soon as adopted the most elementary notions of God, the Son of God and the all-forgiving love of God, concepts which are quickly adopted in a monastery, Dulce prayed alone at night and secretly in her bed: "Lord, give me Anna back! I will give you everything and I will do everything you want, just give me Anna back!" Dulce sincerely believed that the innermost prayer should always be answered by God. What she didn't know was how mysterious the ways of God sometimes might be.

*
Why did not Dulce escape? Why didn't she even once try to flee from the monastery with the thick, cool and shady walls? Had she never thought of that? Oh, on the contrary - even in the first days the smart girl knew that the back yards filled with roosts and barns were easy to overcome: no one thought of guarding the walls there, especially in the scorching afternoons. Dulce did not escape. She remained in the monastery. Without even knowing it herself or anyone else suspecting it, Dulce was extremely smart and perceptive. The girl knew at once that even if she manages to find her home village, wandering along the shore, she would never convince her parents to take her back. Nobody would allow her to get close to baby Anna. Happy wonderful days and soft baby hugs were irretrievably lost - as a dream at dawn: very real, but completely unrealistic.
Dulce remained in the monastery. There was no reason to dream of escape: everyone there was friendly and even those who didn’t notice her, ignored her with such a benevolent God-fearing well-wishing. Therefore little Dulce fell in love with God. „Everyone who talks and thinks about the good God,” she tought, „is gentle, benevolent and kind. And there is always enough food.”

*
Mother Superior was pleased with her new maid. The daughter of the fisherman was handy, worked quickly, tidied everything with ease, and apparently it was interesting for her to even touch the fine smooth textile while she was folding it in the drawers. The girl just kept silent, staring with her huge curious eyes and did everything extremely brisky and clean. Very soon after Dulce came to live in the convent, Mother Superior began to relax and talked to her as to an adult. While the girl combing the hair of her mistress, or helped with her strict, but abundant in details monastic dress, mother abbess would speak out loud some impression – about the young girls in the boarding school, about Abbot Fiore and how greedy he was, about God, or about the order of the eccelsiastic literature in the library. Dulce looked at her with extreme understanding, even silently, participated fully in this communication. Once the old nun, accidentally looking at the girl, found that while polishing the marble statue of the Madonna, she touched it with her fingers. As if she was a blind person who wanted to explore everything with her tactile senses - the only ones a blind person has. Her fingers explored the face and the eyes, and slided down to the folds of the marble mantle and then gently caressed the head of the Holy Mother. Dulce again attracted the attention of Mother Superior in the morning prayer because the sounds of the old pipe organ apparently had brought the child to a state of relaxed bliss. After the third case, when mother abbess found her maid revering to the colorful decoration of an ancient treatise with yellowed pages left on the table in the chambers of the abbess, Dulce was sent to attend classes in the educational wing of the monastery. The child performed her menial duties very early, at dawn, and very late at night after the monastery was silent. She never missed classes. He used to sit a little aside from the other students, treated them with meek respect, so eventually some of the girls from the boarding school became her friends – and years later - solid supporters. Dulce was an unusually serious and perceptive student. In a short time the girl became the champion of the school and six years later she was astonishingly erudite and educated young woman. She could easily compose music for the next religious service, translate Latin and Greek texts, and when necessary, they used her to instruct the young ladies on exemplary conduct in society – a place where Dulce had never shown herself. All these years she was constantly around her patron - the mother abbess, and often attended meetings with senior priests and wealthy sponsors. At the age of fifteen Dulce knew about the leading of the monastery as much as her benevolent patron. No wonder that at the end of her training at the monastery school it was already clear - the fisherman's daughter was going to be a lay sister. At the moment the scissors cut her hair, Dulce chose her monastic name: Sister Anna.
It was long ago when she stopped praying to God for little Anna. Honestly, reasonable and practical, Dulce had stopped believing in God long time ago. "If you do not take care of yourself, no one else will do it" - was nearly the profound motto of the young Dulce. Only God was a very convenient partner to her - He made people around to soften their actions and humble their behavior. He brought the rich to the monasteries and in a fit of remorse, they were willing to pay a monstrous amount as indulgences only to appease God. God was an ideal tool for manipulation and Dulce knew how to attract Him on her side.
To be a nun was a perfect opportunity for her. Nowhere in the real world outside the monastery walls, she would have received more enticing options: to return to that village, which name she did not even know, and as a fisherman's daughter to marry a peasant, after all she had learned and the skills she had mastered - it seemed to her to be an absurd. To be a lifelong maid, was unthinkable, and reasonable Dulce knew perfectly well the great opportunity, given to her by fate. Watching her classmates from the board, she had quickly realized that women are bonny decorations, but had too modest rights to intervene and participate in life. Mother Superior was one of the few empowered women and Dulce was eager to become like her. That is why she thoroughly absorbed everything she could learn from her patron, and eagerly taught more and more. Dulce was the pride of the old abbess. The two of them existed in a perfect symbiosis. Ten years later, when Mother abbess died of rupture, nobody was surprised that the countless sponsors placed in the chair of the monastery her protege. The fisherman's daughter became abbess of Santa Juana. If the old Santos were still alive, it would hardly occur to them that their daughter is the all-powerful abbes Mother Anna.

The dream was different every time. At least it was somewhat different, revealing and adding different details. This time Stella heard the screams of the girl. A beautiful girl with a gentle white face, doe eyes and long hazel hair. She was lying on a huge walnut bed with carved ornaments and her fragile body was lost among the myriad of lace pillows that were obviously arranged there for the comfort of the lying girl. It appears, however, that she did not comfortable: she was twisting like mad, and she screamed and stretched out her frail hands while her hazel hair, now matted and wet, was slashed around her like a jagged flag. The pain that the girl was feeling broke Stella’s heart, the cries rang in her ears and even without hearing the words she knew their meaning: "My child! I want my child!"
Around the huge bed in the gloomy and stuffy room were others too: seemed to be other girls, girls dressed in uniforms of simple, strict monastic boarder. Stella was convinced that they were exactly this, everytime when she woke up – since she was 12 although she had no concept of Catholic monasteries as the place where she lived, there was neither a Catholic nor monastic boarding.
The dream continued with its delirius plot and now the whitefaced poor girl with hazel hair wandered on a beach with high, sharp and indented rocks. In the dead of the night she was trying to crawl down these sharp rocks and Stella felt the pain of the wounds scratched by the rocks on her own hands.
The water in the dark sea was unfriendly and cold and once she found herself there, she was quickly coming to senses and wished to swim back and crawl back on the rocks. Just then, however, her long dress got entangled in her tired, weak legs and the water started to pull and embrace her in its boundlessness.
It was then when the horrified Stella woke up ready to scream and slam around, hoping that someone will take her out of the water. It was then when she wondered whether she was going to survive. Then slowly and happily she realized that she is alive in her bed - with no water, no rocks, and her feet were strong and healthy. She would never let some nocturnal waters to drag her beyond life.
Stella got slowly out of bed and she flopped about towards the radio - the buzzing sound of some night broadcast quietly filled her mind, wrapped around her like a soft old cloth and then swung in a soothing monotony. She looked at the crib placed next to her bed and the little man sleeping, peacefully breathing amongst teddy bears, kittens and other plush fauna, and this completely calmed her. She took a deep breath – she now had enough of it, looked through the window and even the orange lights of the night city seemed familiar, natural and bringing peace. She was ready to go back to bed.

Преводът е на Евгени Толев

20 януари 2012 г.

И Джеси хубава като индийка

Нямаше как уъркшопът "Женската красота в индийската култура" да не притегли като магнит
Джеси Кънева. Нестандартната арт акция опитва да покаже на желаещите момичета и жени как техните посестрими в Индия разкриват дълбините на хубостта с помощта на ефирна дреха и традиционен макиаж.
Човек с изтънчена душевност, Джеси е отворена за всички вдъхновения, които животът ни носи. Като художник и писател тя оценява високо възможността да се превъплъти в индийка, да се изпълни с мистичния дух на източната жена.
Резултатът е съчетание от вглъбение и блясък, вижте сами.