Wednesday, February 3, 2016

the last book I ever read (The Door by Magda Szabó, excerpt ten)

from The Door by Magda Szabó:

Easter fell early that year, at the beginning of April, and our last day there was Good Friday. I have an enduring memory of going to church, and of the dead Christ laid out on a bier. A gilded basket stood in the doorway, filled with rose petals, and as you entered you scattered them over the body of the Son of God, until He was completely covered. Later, they rang the bell in a little campanile, and all the old people of the village came and stood around it. When they noticed us in the entrance to the church throwing handfuls of petals over the sacred corpse, they came up to my husband and gestured to him that he should join them in mourning the Saviour. I can still see him ringing the bell, his thick blond hair, already shot with grey, tugged by the sea breeze. Next they put the bell rope into my hands. I think I must have pleased them, because I wept copiously all the time I was pulling it, but the tears had nothing to do with the ceremony, they were only for myself. The next day we went back to Athens and left for home from Helicon airport. The journey was as unreal as they always are. The Greek writers were kinder to me than seemed possible, pressing farewell baskets laden with gifts into my hands as to someone who had been knocked over by a goods train. They even accompanied us to the airport. If they never again invite another Hungarian writer, I am the cause.

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