I open my eyes. The blue sky and clear air spill in my room. Everything is still. Just light invading the house. Then a bird starts chirping. Time has restarted its flow. An alarm echoes in mom’s room. The day has begun.
The leaves rattle under my feet. Panting I climb the hill leading to school. A pigeon is set on the branch above my head, eyeing me stupidly, wondering if I am the one he should poop on today. Another step, another crack. Another step and I reach the top. The hills in front are covered with dim white froth.
A few moments later I am beginning my first lesson of the day, Maths. Algebraic expressions, Factorising, Simplifying and Expanding…not that hard. Through the open window fresh air sneaks in and with a perfume.
I am going to drift off from the subject a bit so that the reader will understand the next part of the story. Recently mom told me about our amazing brain. She told me there is a part in our brain that automatically remembers moments in our lives and then stores the feeling, the smell, the sensation of that moment. For example at some point during your life you were really afraid of a dog. The brain recorded the moment and the next time you see a dog you will have the same sensation.
The air had brought a perfume with it. It was a subtle aroma, barely perceptible, but it released a memory in my brain. That very same moment instead of doing Maths I was reliving a scene in my life. I was witnessing the most unexpected scene. It happened two years ago, in August. August was the month in which we used to visit our grandparents. We used to go and stay for two weeks. Just before noon, grandma told me to go and buy bread. Good bread is hunted in Iasi. You have to know the exact hours at which shops get a delivery and be there to buy the bread. Obviously Grandma knew them. So off I went, to buy fresh, warm bread, a note of 5 lei tightly clenched in my fist, as if I was afraid that someone would steal it from me. I still remember every colour and scent of the day. Hot sticky air, busy town, smell of cars around me. But they didn’t matter. In the bag dangling at my side there was bread. The best bread in town, so fresh you could feel the smell rising from inside the bag.
I am sitting in Maths but I am far away. I am seeing myself in flip flops, biting from the end of the bread (of which I always ate a half or more) walking happily down the dusty road. Then the image disappears as rapidly as it appeared. The teacher closed the window.
Wide open, in front of me is a German book. It is filled with ballads, poems, stories, life experiences etc of people. The night is dark and wet. Through the open window darkness spills in my room. It meets the small, strong light of my lamp. Shadows grow on the white walls and the carpet is slowly invaded by black.
My eyes glide along the lines of a poem. It is about autumn. It is the perfect poem, describing the season as I never thought someone could. But there is something else to this poem. It joins together another memory, this time further away in time. Whilst reading I suddenly see the old court in Goethe college. There is no grass, but cement. The fence that now surrounds the middle pitch was not there when I was young. The garden was secured by a high fence, but tree branches still hang over it, allowing different-sized leaves to slowly drop to the ground. A ground that would soon be covered entirely by golden, red, brownish, crumbly leaves. A ground on which many children have stepped on and will step on. Trees that silently witnessed children growing into adults.
The silence of the court is broken by running steps. A girl with a panicked face runs across the yard. I know what she is thinking. She is repeating what she will tell the teacher as an excuse for being late. I know it because it a younger me. I know it because I still remember the moment I burst into the class and shyly apologised for being late. It seems funny but that time seems so many thousands years ago. That girl is so far away. I think I must have left her behind…
Beyond the tunnel of leaves, beyond the maze of gras, a thousand nine hundred flutters away, grows a tree. It is a rather odd tree, curved and arched by time. A few months ago splendid green leaves hung from its dark branches, now its bald.
The tree is dead, empty on the inside, but the carcass still stands. While the tree was alive there lived a family of squirrels. Now, no one dares to approach it. Death is contagious.
Summers, winters ,autumns and spring slipped unnoticed. Days and nights came and went.
One day, through the bottom window of the tree, something small turned the earth aside. It was small and feeble as hope is at the beginning, but it grew. It grew and grew. It grew and eventually died, but not until it gave birth to a child. The birds called it “mushroom” which means “beating death” in birdish. The bees called it “Pilze” which means “hope” in beezish. The squirrels called it “ciuperca” which means “spread” squirrelian. The snails called “champignon” which means “cover” in their tongue.
The mushrooms eventually spread, creating a race of their own.
(Story heard by a bee in Kew Gardens)
Photos from Kew: