Silence tiptoed through the rooms of my apartment in Athens and sat on the couch next to me, reaching out for my hand. I remained still, staring at the temporary “Christmas corner” – my first Yuletide decoration during the twenty years I have been living on my own – and preferred to refuse to acknowledge her existence. The three thuja plants I chose in lieu of the typical Christmas tree, ornamented with white lights, pine cones, and miniature wooden toys, surrounded by a number of Middle Eastern lanterns, gifts, and all the stuffed animals I could find, offered a cozy sight. The lights were not blinking; the vibration of their brightness though felt audible. Vanilla-infused buttery aromas emanated from piles of sweets on poinsettia-decorated trays. The clock on the kitchen wall thudded on every second, the fridge occasionally purred, and a very airy hum from the street reminded me of the presence of the world outside. I was finally back home.
I continued to sit still, my gaze fixed on the luminous garlands delicately resting on the branches. There was no loneliness inherent in the moment. There was only peace, reflected on the mirror above the chiffonier with the hand-embroidered tablecloths in its drawers. The purples of the evening sneaked through the flapping fringes of the veranda tent and mingled with the colors of my carpets and the Moroccan-silk covers in the living room. The hues of the day gave way to undefined silhouettes, and I got up to light the candles, enjoying the chatter of their flames and the burnt whiff of the chafed match. Silence drew the curtains on the reticence of my house and perched once more next to me with the familiarity of a soul mate.
We stayed nestled in each other’s arms, while time seemed to pause at the crossroads. I couldn’t keep on denying for long the warmth of her presence and gradually succumbed to the tenderness of her hug. We kissed and moaned and made love during the immobile hours, there, in the dusk of my apartment, under the echo of the Christmas lights and the subtle pulse of the kitchen clock. There was some faint and ambiguous sadness wafting in the air – a sadness that had no cause, substance, or roots of its own. There were only the roots of my individual essence, where Silence kept pushing me: a cave in the center of the earth, a womb in the liquid vastness of the universe. I groped in the murk, and clutched breathlessly on the ancestral elements, reaching for a span of solid ground. But there was none: the ground kept melting away, and I felt that maybe I was dying, for moments of my life – songs, people, mementos, relationships, infatuations, flashes and occasions I had forgotten I had ever lived – paraded in front of my eyes. I knew I was finally reaching for something raw and authentic, something very personal and tribal: the core of my existence in the origins of my land and my people; my complete and absolute transparency.
Tears pooled in my eyes, and I cried for no reason. Or, maybe, for something – or someone – old, now conclusively departed. It was then that the floors creaked, water gurgled through imaginary pipes, crevices cracked in the ether, spirits emerged and got soaked back into the fissures, angels’ wings fluttered, and the house breathed alive in palpable expansions and contractions. Outside the room, days succeeded the nights, the sun alternated with rain, the foliage of the trees on the pavements laughed and cried; there was brightness, and there was gloom, there was frost, snow, mud, and sunshine again. The planets continued their journeys along the perpetual orbits, and the world went on changing tinges, seasons, and moods on the path of an eternal pilgrimage.
Within the surreal dimension of my time and space, I kept dancing with Silence in a close embrace, her breathing next to my ear, her whisper engraved onto my soul. The unaccounted sadness crumbled and decayed, and I felt relieved and joyful once again. At the dawn of the new year, Silence, transformed and transformational, was not an enemy nor a stranger anymore. From that moment onwards, I knew she would reside inside me forever: a sacred altar of an alter ego, a protective familiar, a companion, and a friend. For, finally, I had reached the solid ground – the basis – from which all next tracks and traces would originate in freedom and confidence. I was home.
Photos: © Konstantina Sakellariou