Man his Son, facination with the Wind
|The Man and The Wind
The Wind tossed handfuls of sand into the air and held them suspended and slowly turning above the boy’s head.
“Yes,” the boy yelled, and fishermen far down the beach heard his cries even over the waves and the birds.
The small boy stood on a large flat rock on a tiny strip of each too rocky for fishermen to use. The waves crashed down and down to drown out most of the boy’s sighs and laughter. The Wind gathered her strength and danced with the trees.
“Where are you, Steven?” His mother ran toward him. He turned back to the water trying hard to ignore her.
“I’ve been looking for you. Why do you spend so much time here? Play. Your friends have come looking for you today. Why don’t you go play with them? They are nice boys.” His mother turned her back and expected him to follow her up the hill back home. Stephen did not move. He tilted his head back, but the Wind had already let the sand fall to the ground. The trees were still and the waves no longer fell with abandon. They tiptoed to land as they were supposed to. Stephen turned and scraped home.
Dinner was quiet that night. Fish were scarce and his father was angry at his inability to provide better. His mother rushed in with the small covered dishes and set them down on the rough wood table.
“I found some cloth today I’d almost forgot I had,” she said, “I will make curtains for the front window with them. They will be nice to see this winter.”
Father only shifted slightly in his chair.
“How’s the soup? The cardamom gives it more flavor.”
Stephen ate the food quickly. Mother forgot conversation as she thought on spices and herbs to help the taste of breakfast.
Stephen did not notice a difference in the taste of fish after his mother died. The villagers all used the same spices in their fish. The neighborhood women came and went with the same small covered dishes now at rest in his own cupboards. They hugged him and asked him questions and asked of his father. Their tears made his skin itch and with each of their visits he longed only to be away from them. He had loved his mother, but he couldn’t help but be excited with the extra time he had to spend on the beach.
He rarely saw his father, but he did not mind. His father never reprimanded him or made him come home before dark. After dinner one night, his father sat him down in the front room to talk. Stephen squirmed and noticed how the trees bent toward his window. Father noticed his son’s gaze, but he never noticed the trees. His eyes rested on the dainty, yellow flowers that bordered the edge of the new curtains. His father mumbled goodnight and slumped into his bedroom.
Soon Stephen also went to bed, but had trouble sleeping. The Wind snuck through a crack in the ceiling and stole the covers from him. He laughed and thought he had beaten her when he tucked the covers under him tightly and lay like a mummy. The Wind tugged at the hair in his nose until he sneezed. Seizing the advantage, she raced under the covers to tickle his feet.
The visits from the teary women grew less and less. Stephen’s hair grew long and ragged. His smell alarmed people when he was near, but no one wanted to disgrace his father by offering to take him in to their home to care for him.
The Wind began making a game of coaxing him close to the water with colorful trinkets before throwing cold waves over him. She pulled his hair straight and picked the sand from his scalp.
The village sighed with relief thinking that his father had finally come out of mourning in order to take care of his son. Instead, the father had begun staying out to sea later and later. Stephen did not mind. When his home was bare of food, the Wind provided. First she flew food from the tables of the wealthy. Richer food than he had ever dreamed of. As he got older, she pulled treasures from the hands of the careless for him to sell and trade in his village. This was he never had to learn the trade of fishing. His village was enchanted by the shiny ear bobs and beads he was so eager to be rid of. When questioned, he said he would find the trinkets washed up on the rocks.
When young men of his village began to leave to seek their fortunes in the world, Stephen was content to sit all day on his warm rock and listen to the Wind. The women of the village came together to discuss him. They approached him on the subject of marriage.
Stephen had not thought of it. Some time during the years, the wind had stopped trying to bathe him. Instead, she tried to show him the affections of a woman. While the villagers were so concerned about finding him a decent wife, Stephen felt as though he already had one.
The women selected for him a plump, round woman named Marika. Marika tried to be a good wife to Stephen, but her slightly shrewish temper made him love the quiet Wind more dearly. He had established a routine that he could not break even after their young son Yannikas was born.
Stephen sat on his rock. His knees touched his chest as they did before birth, and he stared at the ocean. He sat that way until the sun had left and the rock had cooled. Then, his bare, brown feet showed him the way to his small home, large wife and young son.
Each day the man rose early to sit on his warm rock. Though his wife fed him and clothed him and poked the fire when it threatened to die, the man’s only love was for the Wind.
In the years Stephen and the Wind had been together, she had given him many things. Yet more than anything, it was her gift of knowledge that touched the man. She lifted the conversations of people from every land and carried them across the waters being careful not to drop a single word.
The man sat and listened to the joys and trials of every man on earth. He did not understand many of the joys. He had never seen the magic of a train or witnessed so many of the new inventions of the time. But, he did understand the pain and the loss of the people he eavesdropped on. The hurt could be heard and the fear could be heard as it had been throughout time. It was the greatest gift the Wind could give, but it became a heavy burden to the man. Thinking back to his mother’s death terrified him. To think about how easily he had forgotten her chilled him. To think that he would one day be forgotten also was even more horrible.
From every country and every race, the man heard the shrieks of the dying and the wails of newborn babes. He shuddered at how similar the two sounds were. Though the Wind could tell what was in a man’s heart, she had no knowledge of their language. She brought her gifts never realizing she was strengthening the fears of her lover.
Years passed and their love grew. She flew all the music of the world passed his ears, but in each melody he heard only sorrow. With each note, he grew more anxious in the fact that the man who played so beautifully would one day die.
It was soon long after the sun had fallen and the rock had cooled before the man finally walked home. His home fell into disrepair. The living he once made from trading away the Wind’s trinkets for food was gone. He no longer noticed the gifts lying half buried in the sand. He was too intent on the death and agony of the world. Nor did he notice his wife or son. His wife had long since come to terms with his infidelity, but his son was hurt and confused by his father’s disregard of him.
Yannikas grew swiftly. He ignored the insults heaped on him by the other children.
“My father brought home a million fish last night. How many did your father bring, Yanni?” The children all laughed and hollered. Yannikas walked away quietly.
He did not know of his father’s love for the Wind. He had no idea how to defend himself against his classmates’ accusations that his father was crazy. Yanni was not sure if the accusations were true or not.
“Father, why don’t you fish like other fathers?” His father did not hear him. “Father, are you crazy?” Yanni asked fearfully.
Stephen only turned his head and sighed. “ ‘Madness is something rare in individuals-but in groups, parties, peoples, ages, it is the rule.’ ”
Yannikas could not content himself with the answer, and he still wasn’t sure what the answer was.
Stephen gave little thought to his son’s question, he thought more on his answer. He saw no reason to live if he must die. He took no comfort in the fact that all work lives passed it’s worker, for he could not paint or draw and the only instrument in his village was an old guitar that no one could remember how to and didn’t have time to try to play.
He sat on his rock, but the Wind could not understand the man’s bitterness. She was hurt and angered by his spurning of life. For life meant wind and rain and sharp pebbles and children with mouths full and old men with beards. Of course it meant death, but that was only the end to a wonderful journey. She left him. She flew by only on occasion to toss sand in his eyes.
Stephen could not face the ocean and sand without her. He wandered up the coast to see the other men of his village fish. They waved their hands at him absently, but did not have time for the conversation he longed for. He came to a man working, alone to bring a net out of his boat, but he knew he would only be in the way of the man working silently and intent on feeding his family.
At dinner one night, Yannikas began humming. Just as the man was about to silence him, he recognized the piece. No one in the village owned a radio or any way to produce music. The man demanded to know where the boy had heard the music. His son was terrified and could only stammer that he had made it up while walking along the beach. Stephen knew the Wind had betrayed him. He flew from the hut to his rock. He cursed the Wind. He ran into the ocean screaming of her deceit. It was hours and exhaustion before the man pulled himself from the waves and to bed.
Several days later, the doctor said that Stephen would not live. His bones were chilled from his bath in the sea. The Wind wandered in and out through stray cracks, but Stephen was too immersed in fear and death to notice.
Yanni was terrified at the loss of his father. He crept through the house quietly, trying hard not to get in his mother’s way. He cried for his father and he cried all the harder that his village did not seem disturbed at the sudden death. They had not known his father. They had not fished with him or drank with him. Their tears were few, and Yanni searched his mind for something to tell the village that his father had accomplished. He could find nothing.
When it was time for his burial, four strong men carried his body outside. As her last kindness to him, the Wind lifted the man from the earth and took him far out to the ocean. She placed him tenderly on the water and wrapped him in frothy waves. His body was bathed and rocked and finally laid to rest in an underground cave. The Wind looked in on him often, and still brought him the music he loved. When the sun had fallen, she kept him warm with her most intimate breath and wept sprays of tears over his body.
The Wind watched Yannikas grow into a man and brought him the knowledge his father had feared. This man had no time to sit and listen, but he learned all the same. When enough time had passed, he left his village to seek his fortune. He feared nothing, not even death, and even the Wind was mystified. Still, she could not understand how her lover could have feared death when his immortality now danced in velvet and could play the melodies his father could only hear.