My Personal Rhapsody: The Folks of Satin and Plush
My Personal Rhapsody is an intimate voyage to different galaxies representing lives of people who dared to step beyond their personal boundaries. By hearing their stories I do not aim to engage in a formal interview. What I look for is a free exchange between two people without pre-prepared questions. Listening to people’s stories and feeling them inspires me to rewrite their story in a magical, surrealist manner. I believe that each talk or discussion with another person is a two way communication, even if one of the persons chooses to remain silent. The reader is invited to see the story as a totality – energy shared by people exchanging words, motion, touch, breath, heartbeat.
illustrations by GODA PELAITYTE
A Magical Nikodem’s Wish
Nikodem has always been a talented street musician. Already at age 4 he played the flute to his fellow pedestrians. Coin after coin people poured Nikodem’s hat full making Nikodem the saddest kid on earth. Nikodem never wished to get metal coins in his hat. What he wished for was to have a teddy, which he could draw from his hat like a magician. The easy way would have been to just leave a note next to a hat “No coins please, I need a teddy”, but what Nikodem believed in was telepathy. So each day before his street performance, he wished and wished so hard in his mind for that teddy.
It’s almost evening and getting chilly to stand there on a street. Nikodem sees two ladies that he recognized from a Christmas charity concert: Izabela and Susana – two maids famously working for Madame The Flute. Izabela and Susana were gorgeous young ladies wearing violet petty coats decorated in maple leaves. Then follows Madame The Flute. A lady of aristocracy wearing witch hat and red velvet gloves. She slowly floats towards Nikodem, takes away his flute and spits out “This is how one should play the flute”. Her finger pads move like snake’s tongues, pressing each note so swiftly and yet so carefully. After a minute or so, Madame The Flute finished her modest performance on a street, took off her red gloves and elegantly presented the flute back to its owner. Walking off Madame The Flute never looked back. Izabella and Susana turned to Nikodem, gave him those red velvet gloves and a teddy. “The teddy is magical and the gloves are cursed. Use them wisely”, whispered the two.
Tarik came back home drunk. So drunk that the only thing he remembered was him punching a priest in a face for the priest commenting on his street theatre performance on the big Friday. Tarik was a church loving man. He went to a church daily. Not for religious purposes, however, more for the community. There he looked for social contact and at times engaged into an anthropological research by listening to people’s stories. “Stories enrich your life. Like music and performance, good stories can cost you a lifetime”, told Tarik to his son Nikodem. Next day Tarik felt extreme guilt for fighting the priest and decided to surprise the church with a cake, which would float on a river towards the church. Tarik calculated that two minutes after the mass, the priest would see the floating cake exactly from his office window.
A cold Sunday morning. The giant cake is ready for the show. Tarik quickly picks the red velvet gloves off the shelf, drinks a sip of rum, takes the cake and runs towards the river bank. It’s a silent morning, no one’s around. Tarik looks at his watch, “It’s almost time”. He puts the cake on a small raft, lights a candle and lets the cake go. As the cake floated Tarik proudly told himself “I shall call this cake Titanic. Just this time the end of the performance will be different”. At this very moment, the Cake Titanic hit the rock and its corner started sinking. Tarik noticed that the priest glanced through the window and noticed the cake. Feeling immediate guilt for punching the priest, Tarik jumped into the river to save the sinking cake Titanic. His shoelaces got stuck to a metal wire under the water and Tarik started drowning. The feeling of guilt turned into panic as he got a few giant water gulps. Unable to take off his red velvet gloves and untie himself off the wire, Tarik finished his performance in silence next to the Cake Titanic in front of the church.
It’s a Love Story
Nikodem has a girlfriend. A girlfriend who does not know he is madly in love with. Katy is her name. She is 15, he is 35 now, they both believe in telepathy, and telepathy is something that unites them. They met on a hill where three crosses meet, a secret place known by street artists. “Your voice is like butterflies to my ears”, said Nikodem to her once. Katy felt attached, “I really feel like you have the power to read people’s minds, Niko”. Katy has been gone for a while and Nikodem was getting worried. After 3 weeks of the void, Katy invited Niko to her grandmother’s beautiful apartment with a view to the sea to eat bouillon and cookies. Nikodem brought that magical teddy he received from maids at the age of 4.
Katy’s grandmother, a bright lady in love with photography, opened the door. She looked worried. Her wrinkled face disclosed sleepless weeks. “Nikodem, I really want to ask you take care of Katy. She is doing too much drugs. She has no friends and that’s just making her miserable. For those 3 weeks that Katy was gone, she was in a psychiatric clinic. You are a good friend of Katy aren’t you?”, said the grandmother in a trembling voice. Being a bighearted person Nikodem hugged the grandmother, asked her if she could sew teddy’s head back to its place and went to see Katy. Nikodem sat next to Katy, placed the beheaded magical teddy in the middle and asked the grandmother to take a photo. He really wanted the teddy to have a photograph with his girlfriend. After the photo shoot, the grandmother went to fix the teddy. A bottle of rum, a bag of tea and a garlic dropped from teddy’s inside. No one said a word. The three kept silently singing a joyful melody, enjoying bouillon and cookies.
A Trip to Morocco
It’s an early spring in Southern France. A Polish girl of Asian origin named Amanda met Nikodem on a way to Morocco. Amanda, a studious girl holding a PhD was going to Morocco to work as a prostitute. Not for the money, however. One evening Amanda got slightly cold: her hands’ colour changed from pearl pink to greyish blue. Nikodem offered his red satin gloves, which he kept after his father Tarik’s tragic death. Knowing the history of the gloves she gladly accepted them.
Nikodem and Amanda met a policeman who agreed to take both hitchhikers to Morocco. The policeman was on his way to Morocco to propose to his girlfriend, which he met through an online police network. Everything was ready, even the wedding ring. The three drove up to the policeman girlfriend’s house just to find out that she was with someone else. The policeman felt betrayed and utterly mad. He turned his car, started speeding and driving the opposite lane. Nikodem and Amanda were trying to stop him by shouting, slapping the policeman in a face. “Love is madness. The madman is the lover”, shouted Nikodem, took off Amanda’s gloves and threw them into policeman’s face. The policeman stopped the car immediately, went out and started screaming and weeping into the void.
Silence stood in and through the night. The three continued their journey until they reached Amanda’s Moroccan friend. Smoking shisha was a ritual of silence for her friend - a time to be at peace, reconnect with your inner self and absorb the energy shared by the universe. Unable to keep the mouth shut, the policeman destroyed the ritual and was angrily kicked out of a friend’s house. Feeling lonely, betrayed and unwanted he put on the red satin gloves and drove and drove the opposite lane of the nightly roads of Morocco.