Wednesday, 6 April 2011

novel: SLAVES TO GODS and DEMONS (Δεσμώτες Ονείρων - published in Greece 2010)

            If only he minded his father’s admonition not to soar close to the inviting sun, the Aegean Sea would not have claimed Ikaros so tragically amid his glory. Had Apollo cast a cloud, had the sweltering sun not melted Ikaros’ wings of wax, would humanity not be deprived of yet another hero testing his will against the capricious wrath of gods? How can I peel back infinite layers concealing the complex web of an existence whose meaning has yet to be determined in a labyrinth journey of absurdity? Like Ikaros audaciously I must challenge nature's forces and make them my own, I must defy Poseidon’s perilous domain so that fear of gods and demons is no more. Anticipating Aphrodite’s spell will breathe eternity into my beleaguered spirit, dreaming of reaching into the vast blue sky’s eternal bliss and never again set foot on mortals’ path, to soar where Ikaros dared I eagerly await.
            By Apollo’s light against the warm Aegean wind and Poseidon’s salty waves entranced was the son of noble Deadalus who soared where Zeus’ eagles once searched for the center of the earth, where captive passion entranced the goddess’ longing for love of mortals. To fate’s unbending will the multitudes succumb, a few have brazenly dared to unmask yet another disguised layer of humanity to test nature's forbidding limits. To experience life's meandering paths leading to the essence of the spirit, Ikaros defied overwhelming forces for the glory of testing mortality temporarily deceiving nature. Must humanity celebrate or pity the amorphous masses for taking the safer road of worshipping nature's divine forces without a challenge that may lead to a clearer path mirroring their humanity?
            Inside my mother's womb am I floating on Aegean blue waters where Poseidon's maidens frantically danced atop tranquil waves sprinkled with the triumphs and tragedies of illustrious ancestors? Is this Aegean adventure about to test the limits of my uneasy psyche, or must I remain safely and silently in my serene existence as tradition and Church demand, as community whose blood runs through my veins expects? A still sensation flowing through me immersed in the crystal-blue frothy waves that gave birth to Aphrodite, vicariously I am living the legends from centuries past that continue to haunt and inspire. Ten thousand years before Poseidon’s waves caressed my body a civilization was born in these islands, spreading to the mainland where fortified walls protected the Acropolis in every city. Is there a place better suited to worship gods dancing in perfect harmony to the muses' tunes; is there a place more worthy to discover the intoxicating beauty of endless sky and open seas? 
"The devil in his eyes I saw,” the widow Daphne told the others listening attentively as though the Evil One was present and about to claim them. “No doubt his spirit had fled his body long before he plunged the knife into his heart. Like a ghost, the boy wondered about the village staring at the horizon without seeing a thing. Oh how the Devil finds his way through all who stray. I know only too well how Satan seeks out our weaknesses when we are least aware, how the Evil One takes us into his path where we lose ourselves in sin. Of sins I hear committed by brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, sins to keep the Satan alive among us for generations to come. May the Virgin Mary forgive me, but even now I have doubts about my husband’s lapses into sinful lust when my daughter bathes and he stands guard without shame.” The widow made the sign of the cross, and the others joined in to confirm that we were vulnerable and needed divine protection, whether it was on ‘Saturday of Souls’ or any other day of the year. 
"It’s not for me to know if it was the Holy Spirit’s dove or Satan’s horns that prevailed,” Aunt Irene added. “So it was written and so it had to end for Pege, Erato, and Aris; life ended for all of them that day, not just for the boy they buried. God bless his soul, the unfortunate Aris, half-wit from birth, was doomed to pay for his father's crimes. And that crazy girl never had much of a chance born into a large family where only the Lady of Mercy knows how they all survived on greens and game from the hills. Innocent children suffer because their parents strayed. May the dragon slayer saint help us drive the devil from this village whose tragedies have no end. May the saint protect our children from evil we carry inside.”
As I was attentively hanging from every word of wisdom and compassion that usually accompanies advanced age, I realized that the women of St. George had as many insights as wrinkles on their sun-baked faces garlanded by colorful scarves to prevent both the sunrays and men from temptation. Confused about what actually took place in St. George, I was unclear who was really at fault and why these horrific things happened on the edge of Eden, as some called the village. Mother and Aunt Irene wanted me to know only that villagers had a vivid sense of how God and Satan were perpetually dwelling to control our lives. Leaving me with misty impressions far more potent than knowledge rooted in featureless empirical facts that eluded all of us, unlike my father and other males, it was difficult to dismiss women’s discussions as the mutterings of brainless superstitious gossipers lacking logic that God awarded to males with far greater generosity upon creation.
Guarded by the palm tree's shade, she has resumes the statue-like posture. I stare at her body helplessly and imagine placing my arms around her to explain that she had cast a spell on me. Instead, my body feels like an ice statue melting of perspiration under the hot sun. I place my hand on her right shoulder as though to see what marble the gods used to make this nymph. Motionless with a soft smile, a mirror to my soul she seems as I feel her inside of me. My lips find their way over her right breast, allowing years of suppressed youthful passion and imagination to manifest itself. She takes me in her arms and holds me so tightly as to let me know that at last she felt my desire, or at least she pretended to acknowledge my existence. Am I here to help her forget secret pains of the heart? Is she here to help me understand the hidden aspects of mystified life?

            Stroking my face and touching my lips with her fingers, my face she places between her breasts, allowing me to simply rest like a baby she probably wanted instead of me. At last, I experience exaltation I could only dream of, even if I felt like her firstborn. Lying on her bosom, a blissful eternity overpowered me as I could hear her heart beat and felt I was inside of it where she wanted me. Enjoying her sweet embrace, she raises my head, and before I’m aware of what transpires, I feel lost inside her. “May this moment last all day and all night,” I whispered, “even if I have to spend eternity in Hellfire.” The intensity of her heartbeat against mine I feel and give thanks to Poseidon who raised the golden mermaid from the depths of the Aegean Sea. Nothing except her consuming essence concerns me now, forever.
            Like a massive lava eruption from the earth’s core, Aphrodite’s exhilarating aura rushes through my body and spirit, paralyzing my bemused mind. Although I would never achieve my lofty goal of spiritual unity with God and unlikely to ever try, the maiden and I mystically united into a single soul. At last, my quest for true love, the feeling of one with another, stops here with the mysterious golden-haired woman on the shore of St. George. Yet, I fear the hallowed dragon-slayer would emerge from the orchard farm on his horse and drive his spear into my heart for reveling in my sins on the sacred ground where he was revered.
            Gently closing her eyelids, “The Curse of Eros,” she whispers barely moving her lips. Despite her hypnotic words, my sempiternal quest I never believed possible is now a fleeting ecstasy. Frozen for eternity to have this experience, I would feel as exalted as pagan deities and heroes. Slowly I descend to kiss her red-colored lips still wide open with radiating excitement. As my lips barely touch hers, her body dissolves ever so slowly into hundreds of bees that sting me and leave me semi-conscious. I try to breathe and feel my heart stopping. Atop thousands of bright red puppy flower petals, bees are dancing. An imprint of a woman on the sand is formed, an imprint drenched with a wellspring of tears from a tragic love that never existed, tears that drain in the sea, tears of unfulfilled desire nourishing the palm trees, tears of adoring an ethereal image that reality could not possibly match if I lived a million years.
            I cry out and awake from yet another turbulent variation of an erotic dream that had seized control of me. Upon returning from St. May’s festival at Holy Mount, mesmerized by gypsy dancers, and still dizzy from the wine, I tried to go back to sleep to recapture the illusive alien woman on the beach. But her image vaporized from my head as though she was nothing more than mist emerging from the sea on a winter morning and burning off like thick fog unable to withstand the rising sun’s bright rays. All I could capture were sweet and fleeting memories of elation I experienced in Arabesque gypsy music, seductive dancing, and the collective aura of festival celebration.
Matched only by the diabolical swerving of gypsy girls, Violeta’s mesmerizing dancing and hypnotic stare into my ravenous eyes was still fresh in my mind. The captivating images of her striking paintings etched in my mind intertwined with my discovery of the complex hidden dimensions of her personality, love mattered to her as much as me and nothing beyond sacred or mundane. Perpetually a prisoner of the past anticipating a better future, the mysterious realm of dreams offered a wonderful escape from and connectedness to the present. Like so many dreams, I wanted a permanent feature of my existence. This too was nothing but a result of intense desire for “Satan’s daughter”, escape from the austerity of village life, another illusion among many. If only Pege was an illusion, a nightmare, if only the golden woman beneath the palm tree was real and as sweet and lyrical as Sappho’s poetry, as romantic as fleeting youth.

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