My Late Husband by Lia Karavia

This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent

MARY My late husband. Was he to blame? He was who he was. Nobody
is perfect. Now he rests in peace. To eternity, as the saying goes.
Another saying is "The dead are absolved". End of story.
(Silence). As for me, neither end nor resting in peace. I came to this
point in life and where do I stand? Not at zero. Below zero. You'll
say if you wanted to achieve things, lady, you'd find a way. (Sad
laughter). I did find one! Applaud me!

Once upon a time I dreamed of all sorts of achievements. The problem
is what drives you. If you need luxury, that is to say assistance,
encouragement, understanding, you can just wait. There is a proverb,
which I don't believe. "Everything comes to those who wait."
Yeah, right! Things may come about or they may not.
To be fair, I must say I had some of that luxury in my life. In the
Institution, Mrs. Stella had given me first place in the choir and if
there was a solo, she asked me to sing it. She used to say I could
become somebody if I were given the chance to work on my voice. "You
have nightingales in your throat, Mary", she used to tell me. The
blessed woman had infinite patience. I'd sit by her and go up and
down musical scales. (She sings softly). Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si,
do. (Louder, more allegro). Do, si, la, sol, fa, mi, re, do. She sat
by me even after lessons. Imagine having a Mrs. Stella all your life!
She believed I deserved a better Music teacher. She did not think too
highly of herself. For me she was divine. The following year she did
not come to the Institution. I never saw her again. It was as though
she had disappeared from the face of the Earth. I hope she is all
right, wherever she may be, and never mind I lost my nightingales. Nor
did another teacher come to teach us music. Better that way. Another
teacher might have been excellent, but singing does not involve just
the voice. It involves the heart, too. And my heart belonged to Mrs.
Stella. It still belongs to her, I must say.

My late husband was annoyed even if I just murmured a tune. He
suffered from headaches, he said. Was it his fault? Who would not want
to enjoy music and songs? It seemed he was not healthy enough to be
able to enjoy them. What was it he demanded? His peace and quiet; no
more. I used to shut the kitchen door when I cooked and breathed songs
below my breath. I reckoned he would not hear me with the noise of
pots and pans. But my late husband could hear a whisper, sounds softer
than whispers. I believe it was intuition. Even if I just thought of a
song, he threw the kitchen door open and glared at me. "I need some
quiet, if you please", he said. Ha! "If you please"? "I
command you!" would be milder than his venomous tone. I muttered I
was so sorry. I was trying my best. But glasses tinkle, and pots clink
making still more noise. I pretended I was dumb but I knew what he
meant. "It is not the pots that bother me", he replied curtly.
"It's the festivities. Are we celebrating something which I do not
know about?"

You may ask, was it a happy life for him? Being annoyed by the
barking of a dog in the street, by the meowing of a cat! If they were
stray animals, there was no one for him to turn against. So he turned
against me because I said that it was the good Lord who had created
animals, too. That is what we had been taught in catechism, in the
Institution. We had been taught to respect everything in Nature which
He had created; and to become good human beings, not to soil His
Creation with our thoughts and acts. I remember how angry he became
when I dared express such thoughts. Did I intend to bring home some
python or a noisy jay, to protect the Nature of good God? he asked
angrily. I learned to keep silent not to enrage him. If, however, the
animal belonged to some neighbours, he turned against them and I lay
low waiting for him to calm down. That was how he was, poor man. Was
it up to him to be different? I believe his life would have been
better if he could have enjoyed things the sun, the light, colours.

Speaking of colours. As soon as the flower bloomed, whisk! Out of our
home! Not he. He was the house-owner. I mean the flower-pot. "Why
have you picked this bright-coloured plant, showy like a slut? Why not
a lily, since you absolutely needed a flower-pot?" I thought he was
exaggerating, but did not say a word. I believed he'd calm down and
let it be, in its exquisite bloom. On the morrow, the pot had
disappeared. I wonder how he managed to lift it, since his health was
fragile as he said, and one could see he was weak. Who knows where he
dumped it? That was the end of that, too. I did not even have a
flower-pot to take care of and take a pride in. Never mind me.
Wouldn't he have been happier with another personality?

You may say what right have you to judge others, lady? If you wish to
do so, firstly be the judge of yourself. (Silence). Fair enough. I do
judge myself non-stop. But now I am discussing my late husband. No one
is perfect, except the Lord. There are, however, some things one
can't easily stand. (She gets up and approaches the audience).
"Hush!" (She looks sternly at the persons on the first rows. She
places her finger in front of her mouth). "Hush!" (She smiles).
That's what I remember most of him. If I said good morning somewhat
vividly, that is the movement he made. "Hush! You should be a
village crier not a housewife". (Silence).

[end of extract]

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