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Siamanto
Siamanto

“The Mulberry Tree”

 

I wondered why we were walking with a few

packages of rags in our hands.

The two of us, drifting from one dead village to another.

Then we met an old humped woman,

who approached us with a bag of bread and a walking stick.


‘Since morning I’ve been searching

for the ashes of my house.

Eight days ago Turkish neighbors ruined our village.

My eldest son died in a fight, I’m told.

I performed his last bath in a stream.

Our old neighbors (now our enemies)

took pity on me because of my age,

and like friends – because there were no friends –

they came and buried him a day later

in the orange grove.


Now my eyes are dry and I can’t even

cry for my dead grandson.

For eight days I’ve gone from tent to tent.

No sleep; no waking hours; only dreams.


Let them ruin my world, but spare my grandson…


I screamed ‘kill me in my grandson’s place, kill me,’

but no one heard.

No one heard and they threw the half-dead boy in the cart

of corpses that passed from the convent.

I shall see his eyes. For long time

they were open – staring at me – as he gave up the ghost.

I still hear the cart creaking.


She sobbed and went on.

'No home. No family. I’m alone with my own death.

You should’ve seen my home, what a hearth of good things –

lambs, hens, a white cock.

Everything in my sheepfold burnt down.

In my granary I had a handful of wheat for autumn,

under my garret two bee-hives.

In one day the whole village was burned.

Every morning smoke puffed out my chimney.

What did the Turks want from me? Tell me…

Look over there – the remains of my cottage.

Look at the spring spilling into the brook

under the ruined wall. It waters my ashes.

But what does any of this mean without my grandson?

Give me two stones so that I can crack my head open.

They’ve even cut down my mulberry tree.

Give me death. They’ve cut my mulberry tree.

I planted it the day my grandson was born.

They’ve cut my mulberry tree.

Woe to his memory. It grew tall before my eyes just like him –

It was seven years old, and I was sitting in its shade

with my grandson in my arms singing.

They’ve even cut my mulberry tree.

Look, they sawed it at the roots.

Where is the cart with the corpses? I still hear it squeak.

I want to be thrown into it next to my grandson.

There’s still a place on the cart.’


It was a horrible sight.

The miserable woman clinging to a sawed-off branch

of a mulberry tree, falling down.

I couldn’t hold back my sobs.

And on that road to hell

the young woman I was traveling with

began to cry like a child.

 


 

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“A história me precede e se antecipa à minha reflexão. Pertenço à história antes de pertencer a mim mesmo”.

RICOEUR, Paul. Interpretação e ideologias. Rio de Janeiro: Livraria Francisco Alves Editora S.A., 1977, p. 39.

 

 

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