[ilds] Stories

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Fri Dec 18 16:45:41 PST 2015


Yes, I’m one of those who distinguishes between truth and fiction in the context of speech and storytelling.  And I think Richard Pine does too, for the simple reason that he’s too smart not to (no irony).  Part of the problem has to do with semantics, the various meanings of “story” and its current use, namely, (1) story as narration of some event (e.g., newspaper “stories”) and (2) story as fiction or fabrication (e.g., The Alexandria Quartet and Lawrence Durrell’s habit of telling “tall stories”).  

I commend Richard on his humanity and hope his “story” (1) resolves itself happily and does not interfere with his research and writings.

Bruce



> On Dec 18, 2015, at 12:31 PM, mail at durrelllibrarycorfu.org wrote:
> 
> Some people on this list seem to think that one can draw a line between fact and fiction, or between truth and falsehood. Well then?
> 
>  
> Let me therefore tell you ? in complete confidence of course - a story that will frighten, shock, and dismay you. But more importantly, for those who doubt the relationship of veracity and mendacity, it?s a story ? true but as near to fiction as makes no difference.
> 
>  
> I am currently under surveillance by both the police and the immigration authorities here in Corfu, allegedly for my involvement in human trafficking (i.e. smuggling people into Greece) because I have in my care a young Albanian woman who has no passport, no Schengen, not even a name - in fact no proof whatsoever of identity. She is a non-person, and, when she came to me, was hardly a recognisable person at all. She does not exist. She is a fiction. I have made inquiries through contacts in Albania, and there is absolutely no record of her existence. yet she is physically present in my house, living under my protection, under my roof. A body without a name, a mind without a home.
> 
>  
> She doesn?t even rank, in my opinion, as an illegal immigrant (and I?m sure you know about Greece?s and the EU?s current crisis on refugees, asylum seekers etc, which is the reason for my being under surveillance). But the authorities see me as a possible lawbreaker, and the girl as the proof of my trafficking. That is their fiction, which they regard as a fact ? under Greek law it is I who have to disprove it, not they who have to establish my guilt, once a case has been made against me. The fact that there is no TRUTH in this accusation is the narrative by which I now have to live. The authorities DO believe it. They don?t believe ME. That?s where the fact and the fiction of this narrative become inextricably entwined. I am in a nightmare situation of my own making.
> 
>  
> She is an asylum FINDER because I am sheltering her. She has found her home, a home I unhesitatingly have made for her.
> 
>  
> I FOUND her in  the most squalid and inhuman conditions, in the back of a truck owned by an Albanian peripatetic tinker (the old-fashioned kind who goes around villages mending pots and utensils). He, too, was unlicensed. I was looking at his stuff, wondering if he could repair an old copper pot that had belonged to my grandmother, when I heard a small sound from the back of his truck. I investigated and found this child/creature, crouched, terrified, obviously starving, in only a few filthy rags, whimpering, hardly human at all. Because the tinker was scared of exposure, I literally BOUGHT the creature from him for a pitiful sum. She is now in my house where I am slowly rehabilitating her. I have had to do all this in total secrecy. I could not even ask for medical advice when I first found her and was trying to save her life ? I actually found the answers to my problems on the internet!
> 
>  
> I have cleaned her up, fed her (she weighed five stone when I found her, she now weighs eight) and clothed her. She has reached the stage, after 3 months caring - day and night ? where she can ALMOST trust me. We communicate most of the time with signs and, most important of all, body language ? she has learned to smile, both in response to my own smile and, even occasionally, of her own volition.
> 
>  
> I have one Albanian-speaking friend in the village who is utterly trustworthy and whom I can therefore ask to help with communication ? she can barely speak Albanian, and even then it is only a dialect, not the mandarin kind. I am unable to ask her anything about her background ? even with my friend?s help with the language ? because words like ?mother? and ?father?, instead of provoking some kind of outcry as I had anticipated, brought nothing but  a blank look. Whether the blankness of refusal (I think she is not clever enough for that) or the blankness of ignorance (much more likely, and much more tragic) we cannot tell.
> 
>  
> She is slowly becoming HUMAN. And when I had done all the filthy work of cleaning up this vile piece of subhumanity, I began to realise how BEAUTIFUL she is. Out of the animal she is beginning to regain a Womanhood  she probably has never previously enjoyed or even suspected. 
> 
>  
> She cannot use a knife or fork, and when I showed her one she shrank back, suggesting that she has at some stage been threatened if not actually invaded by some such weapon (although an inspection of her body does not reveal any incisions). I have locked away all knives and other sharp kitchen utensils ? even my greatgrandfather?s ceremonial sword that hangs on my study wall! ? for our own protection. She eats without grace, like an animal, using her hands to scoop up food, throwing bones onto the floor like a sixteenth-century milord.
> 
>  
> When I say that she eats without grace, I mean that her animal instincts prevail over any ?training? that I can attempt. But she is not without grace when I look at her and try to find her soul. There is an innate gracefulness and beauty that her breeding ? or lack of it ? has relegated to the vortex. Yet beauty there is. It shines and on the rare occasions when she has smiled ? such is the position of trust that we have established ? it is as if the sun has been extinguished and in its place her luminous soul lights up the darkened world.
> 
>  
> She usually sits in a corner, talking to herself in some strange language that is neither animal nor baby-speak. Occasionally she kneels (she will on no account sit on a conventional chair or sofa) beside my desk as I write, playing with any little bit of rubbish on the floor ? a dropped paper-clip, a sheet or two of my discarded drafts ? and then she will look up at me and give me what I interpret ? probably incorrectly ? as a conspiratorial grin. It fills me with joy.
> 
>  
> Due to the need for secrecy, I can only exercise her at night, walking a few times the length of my garden, where, in a moment of tenderness, she once showed signs of sniffing the air for the scent of the oregano and mint we were crushing beneath our feet, and the night-scented jasmine that tumbles all over the place. At full moon (yes, this does sound like a Gothic tale, doesn?t it!) she gets excited, especially when she sees the Albanian mountains across the strait, which she seems instinctively to recognise and then I have to be careful, for she will bay like a hound and paw the ground like a young horse.
> 
>  
> She has three times tried to climb into my bed. Naked. Each time, I have taken her hand and gently led her back to her own couch, because I think she feels that somehow by sleeping with me she would be paying for what she is receiving. No doubt that is an atavism from her cruel young life. But the sign of affection which that little gesture means to me has made me realise more than ever that there is, in this maltreated but beautiful child, a real loving person screaming to be liberated.
> 
> However, it is necessary, (like the stowing away of the knives) for both our sakes that she sleeps in a locked room, from which I had thought that it would be impossible for her to escape.
> 
>  
> She has, in fact, escaped twice. The first time, I was lucky and found her: she had got into my neighbour?s hen-coop. She had killed a chicken by ripping open its neck with her bare teeth and had pulled apart the body; she was eating the raw flesh and making guttural noises which indicated satisfaction. I was able to get her back into the house undetected.
> 
>  
> BUT ? and here comes my trouble ? another night she escaped  ? a full moon ? and she ran about the village, reverting immediately to a near-animal state. One of the villagers saw her, was (quite reasonably) terrified by what seemed to be a feral, squatting, growling creature and this villager called the police. I had just managed to persuade Tirana (that?s my name for this otherwise nameless woman) to come home with me and had calmed her down, when police arrived at my door demanding to see the ?immigrant? whom I had allegedly smuggled illegally into Greece. I was able to satisfy them that Tirana was my house-guest and that there was no cause for alarm, but they will return with officials from the immigration authorities and will, I fear, try to deport her.
> 
>  
> Meanwhile, her condition has regressed to nearly the point at which I found her. The  villagers (who are, in effect, primitive themselves insofar as their basic instincts of fear, greed, etc. are concerned) are putting around the story that I have in my house a dangerous ?wolf-girl? ? that?s the way they perceive her from that one unfortunate escapade. I for my part claim that I am attempting to restore to humanity, sanity and normal delicate feelings a creature who has clearly been maimed (the lash-marks are there on her back and her thighs) who has been infibulated, and probably raped?And I am doing this not out of any sense of philanthropy or idealism or altruism but ? can you understand this? ? because I LOVE HER!!! She has become more meaningful to me than any book, idea, or ray of sunshine ? more meaningful than any other person I have ever met. Assuming, that is, that she IS a ?person? and not a ?thing?, an animal, a performing dog. If you saw the perfect oval of her face, the softness of her pallor ? grained though it is by years of fear, darkness and secrecy ? and if you saw the magnificent set of her jet-black eyes and the almost oriental accent of her cheekbones, your heart, too, would be melted by the immanent gracefulness of this creature who is an orphan of life, a waif and jetsam of our so-called society.
> 
>  
> Am I playing Frankenstein to her Liza Doolittle (to mix metaphors)? Reconstituting a person out of all the bits that are left after life has destroyed her? Should I have left her in that truck, probably to die, enceinte, in some Albanian ditch?
> 
>  
> She IS here ? you can come and see her for yourselves ? and her security IS under threat, perhaps more than it was before I ?rescued? her, because she could be thrown back into Albania among the wolves to whom a world which is more inhuman than it judges her to be, assumes she belongs. My heart is breaking, inside, while publicly I have to explain my actions and  face the fact that my own freedom is jeopardised by what I have done. What can I do? If they take her away they will also take me away from the only life I knew until 3 months ago, and away from the one person who has illuminated my recent life.
> 
>  
> If you do not believe this account, you can of course accuse me of lying, of a deliberate deceit, or you can accuse me of being a fabulator.
> 
> I feel like writing here: ?And you, Narouz, do you believe me?? but that would make it a fiction, wouldn?t it? And Narouz would reply: ?Is it true?? to which I would have to respond ?I think so?.
> 
> EVERYTHING I HAVE WRITTEN IS REAL. BUT IS IT TRUE?
> 
> Or should I say
> 
> EVERYTHING I HAVE WRITTEN IS TRUE. BUT IS IT REAL?
> 
> Narouz would believe me, because he trusts in both the story and the storyteller. Do you?
> 
> I cannot say any more because I and Tirana  have yet to complete the story. I do not know how it will end. 

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