- زمان مطالعه 11 دقیقه
- سطح متوسط
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
I, Carlo Piero Guercio, write these words with the intention that they should be found after my death, when what is written here will not harm me.
I know only silence. I have not told the priest, since I know in advance what I will be told; it is a wicked sin and I must marry and lead the life of a normal man. Nor have I told a doctor, as I know that I will be informed that I am sick and can be cured of my disease.
What could I say to such priests and doctors? I would say to the priest that God made me like this for a purpose, that I had no choice. I would say to the doctor, ‘I have been like this from the start, it is nature that has created me.’ But they would not understand. I am like someone who is the only person in the world that knows the truth, but is forbidden to speak. And this truth weighs more than the universe, this burden cracks my bones.
In my search to understand myself, I have read everything, from the most modern to the most ancient, and it was in the work of the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, that I finally found myself. In his writings, he explained that there were three s@xes, the third s@x being men who loved men, and this idea made sense to me. Plato also wrote that if an army was made up of men who loved one another, they would be the bravest army in the world, because men would become heroes, ready to die for their lovers.
I admit that I joined the Army because the men are young and beautiful, and because I knew that in the Army I would find someone I could love though never touch. I would not abandon him in battle, I would win his admiration, I would die for him if necessary and in this way give purpose to my life.
In the Army I found my family. It was a world without women, and for the first time in my life I did not have to pretend. I was very fortunate at first; our unit was sent to Albania, where there was no real fighting, and we did not realize that we might be ordered to invade Greece. No one outside the Army can understand the joy of being a soldier, of being part of a group where you are all young and strong and quickly learn everything about each other. We believed we could not die, we could march eighty kilometres a day, singing battle songs. We were new and beautiful, we loved each other more than brothers.
I fell in love with Francesco, a young married soldier from Genoa, who accepted me as his best friend without ever suspecting my passion for him. He was an entirely beautiful boy, reminding me of one of those elegant cats that give the impression of immense but easy strength. I was attracted most of all to his face, with its strong, high cheekbones, wide mouth and one-sided smile. He was always amusing and respected no one, constantly entertaining us with his wickedly accurate imitations of Mussolini and Hitler. Everyone loved him, he never got a promotion and he did not care.
We soldiers loved the army life but had no love of the Fascist leaders of our country, nor did we have any idea of why we were in Albania. However, looking back, it seems clear that an invasion of Greece must have been the final intention; there were clues everywhere, if only we had seen them. In the first place, there was the fact that all the roads that we built (which, we were informed, were for the benefit of the Albanians) led towards the Greek border. In the second place, we heard stories from reliable sources about how our frontier posts were attacked a number of times by our own people dressed as Greeks, so that we could blame the latter for the attacks. When some Albanians shot at our soldiers, we announced that our attackers were Greeks. We also learned that one of our leaders arranged to have his own offices blown up so that Mussolini could finally declare war against the Greeks.
I have related these things as if they were amusing, but really they were acts of madness. When war against Greece was finally declared, we were told that the Greeks would be defeated within days. We were sent off to die, with no transport, no equipment and too few men. At first, having no idea of what the future held for us, we whistled and sang, and from time to time Francesco, marching beside me, looked at me and smiled. ‘Athens in two weeks,’ he said.
Then the weather turned against us and rain poured from the skies, turning the ground to mud so that we struggled through it, ten thousand men whose uniforms were weighted down with water, our aeroplanes unable to fly because of the bad weather. Our twenty heavy guns sank into the mud, and our animals were unable to pull them out. We struggled on in these conditions for several days, at a height of three hundred metres, our legs turned to ice so that we could no longer feel our feet. ‘Athens in two months,’ said Francesco with a twisted smile. But we saw no sign of the Greeks and believed that we were winning without fighting.
On 1 November, a bomb fell among us and there was a scream as a poor fellow from Piedmont lost his legs, followed by the short, sharp sound of gunshot from the trees. We realized that the Greeks had cleverly got us into a position where we could be surrounded and cut off from all help. We were trapped in the valley floor and the Greeks, whom we very rarely saw, moved like ghosts among the upper slopes, so that we never knew when we would be attacked or from where. Their bombs seemed at one moment to come from behind, at another moment to come from the side or from the front. We fired at ghosts and at mountain goats. The heroic Greeks seemed to rise out of the ground and fall on us as if we had raped their mothers. It shocked us. We had no air support. ‘Athens in two years,’ said Francesco. We were completely alone.
We ate only dry biscuits, but when our horses died, we ate them. We were ordered to turn back and had to fight our way through the soldiers that surrounded us. We grew immense beards, we were half buried in snowstorms, our red, swollen eyes sank deep into our heads, our hands were torn as if by cats. We became desperately thin, digging for food in the frozen ground like pigs. It was a hell of machine guns, bombs and ice, a hell in which battles were fought without rest for eight hours at a time, while on the mountains our dead lay in forgotten piles, body upon body. We fought on but we lost our hearts as a great darkness settled across the land. The snow fell endlessly. My boots, crawling with insects, fell apart. I think it must have been December when we understood that we were as broken as our boots.
Waking up in the morning, ten degrees below zero. The first question: who has frozen to death now? Who has slipped from sleep to death? These were the days of the white death, in which the legs became swollen and turned bright purple, deep blue, coal black. I was exhausted, shaken by the screams of men in unimaginable pain as their legs were cut off by our army doctors. I lived in fear of the white death and inspected my feet every few hours. Francesco was undoubtedly mad. His mouth moved continually, his beard became a column of ice, his eyes rolled in his head and he did not recognize me. We had lost four thousand men. There was nothing in our lives except the white death, the bitter absence of our friends, the joylessness of the icy mountains.
One morning Francesco turned to me with a wild expression in his eyes, speaking to me for the first time in weeks. ‘Look,’ he said and rolled up his trousers, revealing the purple stripes on the white flesh. He touched the dead flesh with a look of horror in his eyes, rolled his trousers back down again and said to me, ‘It’s enough, Carlo. It’s too much.’ He began to weep, trembling all over. Then he took up his gun and, before I could prevent him, advanced towards the enemy, stopping to fire every five steps. In recognition of his heroism, the Greeks did not return his fire, but a bomb fell next to him and he disappeared beneath a shower of mud. There was a long silence. I saw something move where Francesco had been.
I put my gun down and ran towards the place where he lay. The Greeks did not shoot at me and I saw that although the side of his head had been blown away, he was still alive. I knelt and gathered him into my arms, then stood up and faced the Greeks, offering myself to their guns. There was a silence, and then a cheer came from them. I turned and carried the bleeding bundle back to our side.
Francesco took two hours to die. His blood ran down my uniform, his mouth formed silent words, the light in his eyes faded and he began the long, slow journey towards death, suffering what must have been indescribable pain. I buried him in a deep hole, the home of enormous rats.
We lost the war and were saved only when the Germans invaded from Bulgaria, forcing the Greeks to fight two different armies at the same time. We fought and froze and died for no purpose. I took no part in the shameful conquest of Greece because the day after I buried Francesco, I shot myself in the flesh of my thigh.
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