فصل 17

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل


The Return

Antonio Corelli, although in his seventies, rediscovered a certain youthful energy in his old limbs as he danced about, trying to avoid being hit by the frying pans that Pelagia was busily throwing at him. ‘You pig!’ she screamed. ‘All my life waiting, all my life thinking you were dead. And you alive and me a fool. How can you break such promises? Betrayer!’

Corelli backed against the wall, trying to hold off the broomstick that Pelagia was waving at him. ‘I told you,’ he cried. ‘I thought you were married.’

‘Married!’ she exclaimed bitterly. ‘No such luck! Thanks to you, you rat.’ She made a move as if she was going to hit him across the head with the broom handle.

‘I came back for you. 1946. I came round the bend and there you were with the little baby, looking so happy.’

‘Was I married? Who told you that? So I adopt a baby that someone leaves on my doorstep… Couldn’t you have said, “Excuse me, but is this your baby?”’

‘Please stop hitting me. I came back every year, you know I did. You saw me, I always saw you with the child. I was so bitter I couldn’t speak. But I had to see you.’

‘Bitter? I don’t believe my ears. You? Bitter?’

‘For ten years,’ said Corelli, ‘for ten years I was so bitter that I even wanted to kill you. And then I thought, well, OK, I was away for three years, perhaps she thought I wasn’t coming back, perhaps she thought I was dead, perhaps she thought I’d forgotten, perhaps she met someone else and fell in love. As long as she’s happy. But I still came back, every year, just to see you were all right. Is that betrayal?’

‘And did you ever see a husband? And did you think what it did to me when I ran to you and you disappeared? Did you think about my heart?’

‘OK, so I jumped the wall and hid. I had to. I thought you were married, I told you. Pelagia, please, this is a terrible embarrassment for the customers. Can’t we go for a walk and talk about it on the beach?’

She looked round at all the faces, some of them grinning, some of them pretending to look the other way. Everywhere there were overturned chairs and tables that Pelagia had thrown to the floor in her anger. ‘You should have died,’ she shouted, ‘and left me with my dreams. You never loved me.’ She marched out of the door, leaving Corelli bowing repeatedly to the customers and saying, ‘Please excuse us.’

Two hours later they were sitting on a familiar rock, gazing out over the sea at the yellow lights of the harbour reflected in the blackened waters. ‘I see you got my postcards, then,’ he said.

‘In Greek. Why did you learn Greek?’

‘I was ashamed of being an invader. I was so ashamed that I didn’t want to be Italian any more. I’ve been living in Athens for about twenty-five years. I’m a Greek citizen.’

‘Did you become a composer?’

‘Yes, I’ve played my music all over the world. I wrote my first big piece of music for you. It’s called “Pelagia’s March”.’ He noticed that she was trying not to cry, and thought how emotional she had become in her old age. She had even knocked out his false teeth, so that they had fallen in the sand and had to be washed in the sea.

‘I feel like an unfinished poem,’ said Pelagia, with a heavy sigh. Corelli felt a sting of shame and avoided a reply.

‘Everything’s changed. Everything here used to be so pretty and now the houses look like boxes made of cement.’

‘And we have electricity and telephones and running water and proper toilets and earthquake-resistant houses. Is that so bad?’

There was a silence, during which the thoughts of both of them returned to the past. ‘I see you still have my ring,’ he said.

‘Only because I couldn’t get it off,’ she answered. ‘I had it altered to fit and now I regret it.’ She hesitated. ‘So did you get married? I suppose you did.’

‘Me? No. As I said, I was very bitter for years and years. I was horrible to everyone, especially women, and then I became successful and I was all over the world, flying from one place to another. And, anyway, who wants to be with someone who is dreaming of someone else?’

‘Antonio Corelli, I can see that you can still tell lies with your silver tongue. And how can you bear to look at me now? I’m an old woman. I feel ashamed to be so old and ugly. You look the same, just old and thin, but I look like someone else, I know it. I want you to remember me properly. Now I’m just a lump.’

‘You forget that I came to spy on you. If you see things happen gradually, there’s no shock. You’re just the same.’ He squeezed her hand gently and said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s still Pelagia. Pelagia with a bad temper, but still Pelagia.’

‘Did you ever think that I might have been raped and that was why I had a baby?’

‘Yes, I did.’


‘I admit it made a difference. We had some ideas about dishonour then, didn’t we? Thank God we’re not so stupid now.’

‘The man who tried to rape me… I shot him.’

He looked at her in disbelief. ‘You shot him?’

‘I was never dishonoured. He was the fiance I had before you.’

‘You never said anything about a fiance.’


‘Of course I’m jealous.’ The emotion was beginning to stir him a little too much and he tried to control his feelings. Pelagia decided it was time to change the subject. ‘I want to show you something. You never read Carlo’s papers, did you? Come back to the taverna and eat, and I’ll give you his writing. We do an excellent snails dish.’

‘Snails!’ he exclaimed. ‘I remember all about snails.’

Corelli sat at the table with its plastic cloth and read through the stiff old sheets that had curled up at the corners. As he read, he frowned, and once or twice he blinked as if in disbelief. When he had finished reading, Pelagia came and sat opposite him. ‘Well?’ she asked.

He tapped the pile of papers. ‘I wish you hadn’t shown me these. I’m more old-fashioned than I thought. I had no idea.’

‘He loved you. Are you disgusted?’

‘Sad… It’s a shock. I can’t help it.’

‘He wasn’t just another hero, was he? He was more complicated. Poor Carlo.’

They began to talk more freely. ‘Are you very famous then?’ Pelagia asked.

‘Only in the sense that other musicians have heard of me. I’ve retired now… In fact, I was thinking… I want to rebuild the old house. I want to live in a nice place. A place with memories.’

‘Without water and electricity?’

‘I’ll put them in. Would you sell me the site?’

‘You’re insane. I don’t even know if we own it.’

‘Then you don’t mind. I’d pay you to come and clean it,’ he said wickedly.

She took him seriously. ‘What? Do I need money? With this taverna? Go home to Athens. Anyway, Lemoni would do it.’

‘Little Lemoni? She’s still here?’

‘She’s as big as a ship and a grandmother.’

He fell silent again, remembering the past, then said, ‘So do I have your permission to rebuild the house?’

‘No,’ she said, still holding on to her anger.

‘Oh.’ He looked at her doubtfully. He would return to the topic at a later date, he decided. ‘I’m going to come and see you tomorrow,’ he said, ‘with a surprise.’

‘I don’t want any surprises. Go to hell with your surprises. You owe me a life.’

‘Ah. I’ll bring you a life then.’

‘Stupid old man.’

He turned up the next day with screaming brakes in a cloud of blue smoke. Pelagia shook her head disapprovingly as he climbed carefully off the motorbike, which was bright red and looked as if it had been designed for racing. ‘Do you know where we’re going?’ the captain said. ‘We’re going to see if Casa Nostra is still there…’ he tapped the machine ‘… on a motorbike.’

‘Do you really think the hut survived the earthquake? And do you really think I’m going on a thing like that? At my age?’

‘I hired it specially. It goes very well.’

‘No,’ she said. ‘My knees are too stiff.’

‘Don’t you want to see Casa Nostra?’

‘Not with a madman.’

‘I’ve got it for two days. We can sit on a rock and watch the sea.’ It took a long time to persuade her. As they swung dangerously from side to side along the stony roads, she held on tightly to his waist, her face buried between his shoulders. Corelli noticed that she held on to him even more desperately than in the old days, and from time to time he deliberately swung to one side of the road so that she would hold him tighter. ‘May the saints save me,’ thought Pelagia, and in search of safety slid her arms right round his waist and linked her fingers together.

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