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Posted by on in Book Translations

 

Femina’s sleep was restless. Sometimes she does not even know if she is actually awake or dreaming. Reality and dream are like confluent rivers without boundaries or demarcation. It is a state where all could be real or, a dream. She believes Dan is beside her and that commotion and voices have jolted her into wakefulness but she may as well have dreamed it or she may even suffer hallucinations. Her senses though seem to work fine and her mind seems to be intact too but having not only lost the sense of time she cannot differentiate realities. She leaves it at that. Once again, she just has to accept that she walks in the unknown, dream and reality one as good as the other.

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Posted by on in Book Translations

 

The moon must have risen but Femina can neither see much of the sky nor anything of the moon. The small road is hidden under leafy roofs and descends steeply. To her relief, this time they were not blind folded. Not that there is much to see anyway apart from what the light beams of the bikes reveal, like small pieces of the road ahead and bushes and tree trunks to their sides. But, they were not given their own bikes to travel on, for ‘reasons of convenience’, as Oliver declared. His companions did not want to be held up by them unfamiliar with the area as they were. Though it sounds reasonable enough, Femina, unlike Dan, does not believe that the improved attitude of the Desperados towards them had anything to do with trust. How naïve can he be? They are just no longer a risk to them. And why not! They are in their hands, they are in their territory and, under constant surveillance. If anything, Femina is more alarmed. And now, this nightly excursion with far more men than she was lead to believe after Dan’s initial proclamation! Sure there are more motorbikes than men, but they are still of a good number to make this trip anything but a spontaneous fun ride with a few friends. Besides! To be with them also means belonging to them. It does not make her feel better. There are indeed enough reasons for distrust, both ways however, to be fair.

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The main house is the place where all Desperados come together. There they meet to plan and organize their ventures, to celebrate and party, or just to drop in to be among themselves, their comrades and like-minded. It is a safe haven and, according to Oliver, laid out generously and suitably comfortable. All kinds of meetings can be organized, big and small. The required spaces are arranged through a central board and, using mobile walls that run in tracks for easy move, all is programmed and monitored electronically. For everyday occupancy rooms are down sized, including the main hall they are just walking through.

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The speaker voice is back again, harsh and leaving no doubt, how the gang would react should they find resistance: 

“Save yourself the speeches! You are not on the usual north-route! Dismount! Step forward! Each of you, line up next to the front wheel! Should you have any weapons, hand them over, now! And don’t try anything stupid, except you don’t want to continue travelling!”

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Femina finds in Dan and Ger ideal travel companions. They are vanilla and chocolate while she is the cream, the enrichment and embellishment. Ger is the simple, straight forward guy, Dan the closed up, complex one. Both are handsome if not attractive, but only Dan pays attention to his appearance and social standing, admittedly, very successfully. Wherever he goes, eyes follow him, particularly the female ones and though everyone likes vanilla, who can resist chocolate, when it is as beautifully packaged as he is. He laps up the attention like the cat laps its milk but, he leaves no doubt that he knows his worth and that he can do as good without. Besides, knowingly or not, he never provokes other men’s jealousy. To the contrary, even they seem to be impressed by him. Femina is amused and fascinated how easily he manipulates people, winning them over in no time. Most likely that is due to him knowing what he wants and what serves him; he does not even consider anything else.

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Baba nudges Femina to get her attention. She was still in thought staring at the curtain as if there was some kind of message. She turns to Baba who indicates gesturing how much he had enjoyed the performance. With his broad smile and twinkling eyes he rids her of her thoughtfulness. Repeating the last action, the ‘death blow’, he rolls up his eyes, but not to imitate the dying, rather as a comment, or statement of mockery as if to say that he considered it particularly ridiculous. Obviously, he found the performance more amusing than the content interesting, - in contrast to her. Never mind! It is good to be reminded of how little it takes to communicate and what it means to see with his eyes. 

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Femina notices the lack of color. Everything seems to be in black and white. That is confirmed having the stage in full view after the translucent blind was raised too. The scene is of a spacious room if not a small hall with white walls and large windows on each side. These are covered by white thin curtains, letting bright light shine through, and they move as if there was a breeze too. It creates a fresh airy atmosphere even more so as the floor-covering is of big black and white tiles for most of the floor except for a white rim along all sides, framing in a black and white field. The wall at the back has a big door, its wings closed, and the stage is empty apart from a small table in the front midway of the stage’s edge. It is flanked by two simple chairs, one left, one right, and one white, one black. The glass table-top carries a chess inlay, and figures in position set for a game.

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Posted by on in Book Translations

 

Finally, Femina gives up to stare at the empty wall. Pulling up her legs, embracing them with both her arms, she rests the head on the knees, and closes her tired eyes. She inhales the silence in the room like the fragrance of a flower and immerses her thoughts in it. Trickles of springs that disappear in rich mossy soil only to be collected in clear waters underground. She must have fallen in just the same as she finds herself in a wooden boat in the middle of a lake when she opens her eyes again. The oars lay at the sides and the water gleams silvery smooth as if it was a mirror. A warm sun brushes over her cheeks and the water gurgles and splashes in laughter when she moves to stretch her limbs. It is a very quiet morning, like one that follows a sleepless night and nobody seems ready to get on with a new day. She certainly is more than happy to stay and indulge in this peaceful calm, bathing in sunlight with the lake as her mirror.

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Femina wonders if she was willing to exchange this life for another that she could not know. It is certainly not the solution to her problem. Even being ignorant of what this new existence would be, it is not the escape she was looking or longing for. To end this life makes only sense, if really all was ended, full stop, with nothing to follow, whatever it might be. Damn it, and damn it again! She is pushed and torn, feels like a tennis ball that is slammed from one side to the other, with no rest in between. She just flies from here to there, hardly touching ground.

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Of course, that does not change the fact that she sits now in this room all by herself trying to find the answers to the essential questions of life, or death, her life anyway. As comforting as it may be to know that there are the like-minded who would understand; that she has friends she could talk to; and that she also would find support and care from the ones who love her, who would share any wooden bench with her if they believed or assumed she needed help, - Femina is glad to be alone, that nobody is sitting next to her to hold her hand.

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Phil’s voice calls Femina from her thoughts: “Now, if we don’t believe in fate and having no proof or any signs that could give us an understanding why indeed an illness occurs then only one explanation appears reasonable: It is by chance that illness arises, chance that it happens to one plant and not the other, chance that it occurs at this time but not that one. Even if we know the obvious causes, not everyone for instance gets the cold, despite an epidemic outbreak. How come, one gets it and the other does not?!” He halts for a moment, but continues not waiting for a comment: “Of course to hypothesize that illness occurs randomly has its problems. For one, it may lead to either carelessness or worse, resignation, as far as human behavior is concerned. Though everybody accept the possibility and probability of illness occurring, nobody actually believes that it may happen to them. Only others get sick, isn’t it and should it happen to oneself than it is rather an unpleasant surprise, if not shock. On the other hand we have fate. It makes it easier for the sufferer to accept his illness giving meaning to it and even allowing him an excuse regarding his own responsibilities.”

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A faint noise creeps into the silence of the frozen world. Femina does not listen believing that it was only the ice adjusting itself. But it becomes more frequent and has different tones, and there is a trace of movement, faint and light-footed, it prompts her to take notice after all. She feels the ice cracking and fissuring as if it was going to let go of its tight grip.

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Femina wonders if Adam and Eve found it as hard being driven from paradise as she does, considering they did not know what to expect in contrast to her. She is after all back to where she lived before, where the world is fenced in with bars not framed by palm leaves, where dissension and doubt rule, and where peace and harmony have little opportunity to unfold. She has not found freedom despite the happiness she experienced. It was just another room in the house where she is caught in.

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Femina has found the beach she had been dreaming about, and has been there for weeks now but she has given up the count. Why would she, being as happy as she is? She enjoys every minute, whatever she does; lying in the shade of the palm trees gazing out over the sea, or cooling off in the water, or competing with the fish for a race she could never win. Her skin has turned golden brown and her hair has become lighter in colour, bleached from sun and sea. One glorious day follows the other. She is surrounded by water, white sand and palm trees. Some of them lean over the beach and a few are bent right over the water, with their green heads just high enough above to prevent those from getting wet.

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As it was then, a wave of happiness sweeps through her, without a barrier in her body or mind, leaving an impression as if time was standing still. Baba is as always barefoot. His orange lungi bleached from the sun, wrapped around his hips, has one end slung over his shoulder; his hair is covered by a turban of the same washed out color with a couple of strands defiantly escaping their constraint. They are of a light brown color and only a meager hint of the mass of dreadlocks that are hidden away. When allowed to fall freely, they reach far below his back.

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Femina does not know how long she had been sleeping. It sure was long enough. She is still in the hallway, but it is low lit and uninviting again. A cold drought flows along the stone floor and though it is no more than the breath of chilly nights, it makes her shiver and sad. She watches the to and fro of the softly swinging and dreary shining lamps, but they have nothing new to tell. She is still alone, she is still not free and everything is two-sided. 

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Femina must accept that she still cannot leave this house. Not giving up hope, she decides, she is better off, not to spend time in frustration but rather fill it with things she is interested in. Being always thirsty for knowledge she enrolls into one of the highest educational centers of its kind that emphasizes on science and critical thought, in fact, encouraging it. The lecturers don’t care what private life their students have, as long as they take their subjects seriously and pass the rigorous exams. She can live with that as it allows her to let her mind fly, instead of being forced to press it into a certain mold.

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The corridor is terribly cold. The lamps shine ever so tired if not worse. She has slipped out into this unfriendly passage to investigate again if there was not after all a way out of this house. But it is as before, no change or indication of change. Or is it? She stops hearing voices coming from one of the other doors. So far she had not been interested in exploring any of them as they did not promise anything she was interested in, mainly how to get out of here. But maybe she is wrong and there is another possibility though not an obvious one. She should at least investigate.  

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Coming home late, well in the dark of the night, Pia and Dimitri who had been anxiously waiting for her are very upset. They were worried not knowing where she had gone. She understands, their worries were not unreasonable. But as she tries to explain to them that she wanted to leave, this is met with disdain. Dimitri accuses her of being ungrateful and selfish.

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Posted by on in Book Translations

 

Femina does not find it difficult to find her way and adjust to this new world after having learnt the language. Besides, she loves the opportunity to feed her brain with all this new information. She enjoys it so much that she becomes negligent towards her original intention to search for her lost memory. The amnesia has not lifted but there are so many new things that vie for a place in her brain that the old cannot compete, particularly as it gives her more grief than pleasure searching for it. But change is on its way.

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