فصل 16

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

این فصل را می‌توانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل


An Unexpected Lesson

At five years old, Iannis, who spent nearly all his time at the taverna in his grandmother’s care, already knew how to say ‘Hello’ and ‘Isn’t he sweet?’ in six different languages. The reason for his continual presence at the ‘Taverna Drosoula’ was that his father was building new holiday apartments and tennis courts and his mother was opening shops that sold cheap souvenirs all over the island. Their son grew up contentedly in his grandmother’s company, playing in the clear waters of the port and slowly learning the Italian that Pelagia insisted on speaking to him. In the evening, the reunited family would sit together in the taverna, arguing both in Italian and in Greek, while Pelagia would embarrass Iannis with references to his infant years.

When he was ten years old, Pelagia hired a bozouki player to entertain her guests in the taverna. His name was Spiridon and he played his bozouki with such skill that he could persuade even the Germans to put their arms around each other’s shoulders and dance in a circle while stamping on the floor. Iannis loved Spiridon, with his broad shoulders and his wide mouth that seemed to contain a hundred flashing teeth. Pelagia also loved him because he reminded her of her long-lost captain, and occasionally her heart wished desperately for a time-machine to take her back to the days of the only real love of her life.

Iannis did not fail to notice that Spiridon was popular with women, who at the end of every performance would seize the red roses from the vases in the middle of their tables, and throw them at him. So one day Iannis demanded that Spiridon should teach him how to play the bozouki.

‘Your arms aren’t long enough yet,’ said Spiro. ‘It would make more sense to start with a mandolin. It’s the same thing really, but small enough for you.’

‘Will you teach me to play it?’

‘Of course, but we’ll have to find a mandolin. Otherwise we might have to do just the theory.’

Iannis begged his mother and father to get him one, and they promised to buy one when they next went to Athens, but forgot. Eventually Pelagia told him, ‘In fact we have one already, but it’s buried under the old house. I am sure Antonio wouldn’t mind you digging it up.’

‘Who’s Antonio?’

‘My Italian fiance who was killed in the war. It belonged to him. There was a big trapdoor in the middle of the floor and it was in a hole underneath.’

So Iannis dragged Spiridon up the hill and showed him a ghostly ruin overgrown with long grass, its broken stones just visible above the growth. All around it lay the silent and deserted remains of lonely little houses.

‘It’s the saddest place,’ said Iannis. ‘I come here to explore sometimes.’ He pointed. ‘My grandfather died in there. I’m named after him. Grandma says he was the best doctor in Greece and that he could cure people by touching them.’

The two of them went through what had once been the door and scratched their heads when they saw the rubbish that lay all around. Spiro blew out his cheeks and sighed. ‘We’ve got two days work here,’ he said. ‘We’ll just have to get on with it.’

By the next evening there was a clear space in the middle of the old floor and the trapdoor lay revealed in the area that had once been the kitchen. Spiro tried to get his fingers under the iron ring of the door but, hard as he tried, he could not move it. He and the child were gazing at the ring and scratching their heads when they became aware of a very big old man in a black suit, standing a little bent in the doorway. ‘What are you doing?’ he asked. ‘Oh, it’s you, young Iannis. I thought you were looters.’

‘We’re trying to open this,’ said the boy. ‘It’s stuck, and it’s got something inside that we want.’

The old man came inside and examined the trapdoor with his watery eyes before slowly bending down and putting the tips of the fingers of one hand under the iron ring. He leaned sideways, putting all his weight and strength into lifting the ring and, with a sudden loud crack, the door flew upwards in a cloud of dust. Velisarios rubbed his hands together, blew on the tips of his fingers and seemed suddenly to become a tired old man again. ‘Goodbye, my friends,’ he said, and made his way slowly down the path to the new village.

‘Unbelievable,’ said Spiro.

Inside the hiding-place, in perfect condition, they found an antique German record player, a handmade blanket, a bundle of papers written in Italian and another package of papers with the title, ‘A Personal History of Cephallonia’. There was also a cloth bundle containing the most beautiful mandolin that Spiro had ever seen.

When Iannis showed Pelagia the mandolin, she started crying and, to Iannis’s amazement, she did not stop for a whole week. Iannis comforted her as best he could, climbing on to her knees, which he was really a little too old for, and wiping her tears, wondering how it was possible to love an old woman with stiff knees and thin grey hair so much. While Iannis comforted Pelagia, Spiro carefully cleaned and polished the mandolin. He tightened and tuned each string and told Iannis, with great seriousness, that the mandolin was the most precious thing he would ever own, so that Iannis learned to regard the instrument with a respect that he had never felt in church, when dragged there by Pelagia.

In October 1993 Iannis was fourteen, and he had had a whole summer in which to play in public with Spiridon and have red roses thrown at him. In order not to annoy his grandmother with his constant practising - in fact not to make her cry again - he had gone up to the ruins of the old house to play in private, and was concentrating very hard on a particularly difficult piece of music. He was biting his lip with the effort, and did not notice an old man who approached him and watched him with critical but delighted interest. Iannis nearly jumped out of his seat when a voice said, in a very strange accent, ‘Excuse me, young man.’

‘Ah!’ Iannis exclaimed. ‘You frightened me.’

‘I couldn’t help noticing,’ said the man, ‘that you are doing something wrong.’

‘I know, I’m having trouble with this piece,’ replied Iannis, noticing how unusually bright-eyed the old man was, and how there was about him an atmosphere of energy and laughter.

‘Let me show you how to place your fingers.’ The old man came over to Iannis and started to pull the boy’s fingers into place, explaining as he did so why the fingers were better in this position. Then he stood upright and added, ‘You can always tell a really good musician because a good musician doesn’t seem to be moving his fingers at all.’

‘You seem to know a lot about it,’ said Iannis.

‘Well, I ought to. I’ve been a professional mandolin player for nearly all my life. I can tell that you’re going to be good.’

‘Play me something?’ asked the boy, offering him the mandolin. The old man took the mandolin, settled it into this body and began to play in such a way that Iannis’s mouth fell open with amazement. Suddenly the old man stopped, turned the mandolin over, examined it with an expression of disbelief and exclaimed, ‘Mother of God, it’s Antonia.’

‘How did you know it’s called Antonia?’ asked Iannis, both surprised and suspicious. ‘Have you seen it before?’

‘Where did you find it? Who gave it to you?’

‘I dug it out of that hole,’ said Iannis, pointing to the open trapdoor. ‘Grandma told me it was there.’

‘And would your grandmother be Kyria Pelagia, daughter of Dr Iannis?’

‘That’s me. I’m called Iannis, after him.’

The old man sat next to the boy on the wall, still holding the mandolin, and wiped his forehead with a handkerchief, seeming suddenly very anxious. ‘Tell me, young man, is your grandmother alive? Is she happy?’ he asked finally.

‘She cries sometimes, ever since we dug Antonia and all the other things out of the hole.’

‘And what about your grandfather? Is he well?’

The boy seemed confused. ‘What grandfather?’ he asked.

‘Not your father’s father. I mean Kyria Pelagia’s husband,’ said the old man, wiping his forehead again.

‘There isn’t one. I didn’t even know she had one.’

‘Are you saying that Kyria Pelagia hasn’t got a husband? You haven’t got a grandfather?’

‘I suppose I must have, but I’ve never heard of him. I’ve only got my father’s father, and he’s half-dead.’

The old man stood up, looked around him and said, ‘This was a beautiful place. I had the best years of my life here. And do you know what? I was going to marry your grandmother once. I think it’s time I saw her again.’

The two of them were walking down the hill when Iannis stopped suddenly. ‘If you’re the one who played the mandolin and was going to marry Grandma… does that mean you’re the ghost?’ The autumnal sun shone briefly through the cloud, and the old man paused for thought.

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