The Graves. Another Juan Rodolfo Wilcock portrait.

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Caprifolis can dance wildly around the fountains at the most elegant garden parties with a telephone book from A to L in front and another from M to Z behind as her only dress, but for Demic she is dead. Lerio can continue to have his articles, which appear to have been written with a broom, published in the nations most prestigious journals but for Demic he has already breathed his last. Caprifolis and Lerio weren’t friends of his, just acquaintances, but Demic at one fell swoop liberated himself from all his friends and acquaintances. To each one of them he assigned a grave in the cemetery under a false name which he keeps jotted down in an exercise book, besides the number and exact position of the grave. Almost every Sunday he pays them a visit with a large bunch of white carnations and he leaves one flower above each tombstone. To this end he has chosen those graves with a photograph, dull enamel images full of life that don’t even coincide with the gender of the person actually buried underneath, so that nothing should disturb the falsity of these pious ceremonies. So, for example, it is often the case that in front of the tomb of his fiancé, now working as cashier in a large cinema in the city centre, he stares fixedly, not without commotion and regret, at the oval and shiny effigy of an airman with a moustache and rather threatening glasses. On the same row lies his brother below the photograph of a woman in her tranquil nineties. A little further on, his landlord rests in eternity underneath a bizarre memorial stone which itself is located beneath the marble head of a horse.

Since he has eliminated his friends and relatives, Demic lives in peace not concerning himself with the remaining three billion and so inhabitants of the globe who besides, like him, all have something to occupy themselves with and so are unaware of his existence. Even the fact that he has all his dear ones reunited together in the same cemetery gratifies his essentially social and sedentary character. The boredom that arose from them, they simply never changed, appears in large part mitigated by their new capacity of transformation. As soon as the ex-school friend begins to reemerge with the features of the nun or those of the model widow, it is enough to transfer him to the grave of the cross-eyed baby, take down his new address in the exercise book: row, sector and number and the dialogue will be re-established in some other way or will not be re-established at all and his ex-school friend will vanish into thin air. In fact it seems certain that after three or four metamorphoses of this kind the departed one will be deceased for ever.

At times, but very rarely, it happens that Demic bumps into one of the deceased, in their primitive version, still living and still rather insolent. To bump into a dead person is always a very pleasant experience, but Demic knows that if one gets carried away for a single moment and treats him as though he were still alive then the dead person will start up a long conversation, displaying all their charm, make an appointment, write letters, phone, send presents and Christmas Cards, or a bottle of Hungarian wine for the Day of the Armed Forces and in the end we’ll find him just like he always was- how else could a dead man act? – when in reality his place is down there in the cemetery, under a pumice stone angel with wide-open arms and on its heart the photo of an income tax inspector. Therefore he prefers to ignore them.

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About afoniya

I am a translator, language teacher, independent film scholar who is interested in many aspects of culture. I have my own blog on Russian and Soviet cinema at http://giuvivrussianfilm.blogspot.com and I have also written for journals such as Film Philosophy and Bright Lights as well as Ribbed magazine. Outside of film my interest runs to language, politics, literature and my world is centred around the Meditteranean, Russia, Southern Ukraine as well as the UK.

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