Tag Archives: Author: Marta Merajver-Kurlat

THE BUM by MARTA MERAJVER-KURLAT

 

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Just as Antaeus drew his strength from his mother Gaia -–one of the many names the Ancient Greeks gave the earth–-I draw mine from the sun. On bright mornings you’ll find me at the café round the corner, sipping the thick, black beverage my waiter brings to my sidewalk table. That’s right. After years of patronage, I feel I own them.

Next to the water jug there’s a book, my note pad, and a packet of slim cigarettes. I smoke and read, smoke and jot down ideas that may or may not develop into stories, or just smoke, letting my mind wander freely into the memory of things past. Between drags at my cig, I feed my eyes on the luscious vegetation of the park across the road. A dangerous place, they say. A shelter for the dispossessed, I know.

One Monday last year, a tall, staggering figure emerged from the clustered trees and nearly got run over by the heavy city-bound traffic as it headed straight toward me. With my glasses off, I only realized it was a very young man, almost a child, when he stopped abruptly by my side. The odors reeking from his body offended my nostrils, yet behind the grime that covered his face like a painted mask his beautiful, delicate features softened my heart. His emerald green eyes, glazed by who knows what excesses, sought mine in a mute plead. I thought I understood.

“Would you like me to buy you something to eat?” I offered

He shook his head angrily, his long, lank, mousy-colored hair piercing the mild October breeze. Grabbing the extra chair, he plonked himself down onto it and pointed a bony finger at my book. “What are you reading?” he asked in a commanding tone. He didn’t have a place to hide his head, so where did such airs come from? Pride, of course. “The infinitely small have a pride infinitely great.” Merci, monsieur Voltaire.

“A novel,” I replied curtly.

“Is it good?”

“I think so. Here. Take a look at the back cover.”

“I can’t read. Never went to school.” Pride turned into a humble apology. He didn’t owe me one, but perhaps it was addressed to himself, for he had stepped into murky waters of his own accord. I bit my tongue to hold back the questions that stumbled upon one another in their need for explicit formulation. Useless questions, I figured. His story couldn’t be very different from those of his brothers in misfortune who populated every corner of this doggone country.

We know-it-alls decide, judge, discard. What came next shook me to my core.

“Will you kiss me? I don’t have a mother. I need a mother’s kiss.” He leaned forward, bringing his cheek close to my lips.

I complied. His skin felt oddly smooth.

He caressed the spot, smiled, and stood up.

“Wait! Tell me your name. I have to call you something when we meet again. I come here every day…can teach you to read…can help you…”

“No. You helped me already. God bless you, mother.” And in a few, quick strides he disappeared among the trees.

My waiter chose to peep out of the door right at that moment. “I was watching,” he said. “Ready to rescue you, but you didn’t seem upset.”

I gave him a succinct account of the incident. He, a family man in his early thirties, shrugged and grinned. “Next time a bum comes up, just give him money. No use wasting time and breath on their kind.”

We know-it-alls.

Marta Merajver-Kurlat writes fiction and non-fiction. Check out her website and Amazon page to take a look at her vast production. Learn more at http://www.martamerajver.com.ar/marta/

Find her books at

http://www.amazon.com/Marta-Merajver-Kurlat/e/B009TC8C5A

Follow her on Twitter at @merajver and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/martamerajverkurlat

THE ART OF LISTENING MARTA MERAJVER-KURLAT

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Conversation is defined as a verbal exchange between two or more people. It stands to reason that, for exchange to take place, participants are expected to listen to each other/one another and contribute to a coherent development of the subject under discussion. In our days, it would seem as if the listening factor has fallen into abeyance. In a large number of cases, speech has become dominant, following some kind of interior monologue that overflows the boundaries of sense. Thus, the dialogues found in Ionesco’s plays of the Absurd, for example, have entered the arena of everyday life. We used to laugh at Ollendorff’s method for learning foreign languages. You may remember dialogues like the following:

“Is your mother home?”

“No, but it’s raining in the garden.”

One should say in his defense that he created his system to teach dead languages, especially Latin, and that in those days repetition proved instrumental to remembering. The adaptation to a relatively quick mastery of modern languages through nonsense strings like the above responded to the belief that high-frequency structures and vocabulary items should be grouped together and iterated until they automatically made their way from the mind to the tongue.

Most of the people who nowadays rattle off in blissful ignorance of this long-discarded method must do so for a reason, or at least I’d like to believe so. Otherwise, they would earn epithets I’d rather not bring into this reflection.

In the best of cases, verbal diarrhea might be attributed to extreme anxiety or to a desperate need to cleanse an overcrowded mind. In the worst of cases, self-centeredness rules. Only what the speaker says matters. He thinks so highly of himself that the other/others involved must become a subservient audience allowed to put in interjections or phrases showing assent.

Suppose two equally blown egos engage in a travesty of conversation. Like boxers in a ring, each of them seeks his rival’s weak spots or fatal moments of distraction. In our case, one lurks in wait for the other to stop for breath in order to pour his monologue into deaf ears.

Not listening to others detracts from our bonds to our fellow-beings, turning us into barren isles. Lack of empathy amounts to spiritual isolation and intellectual poverty. Like everything else in life, it is a matter of choice. Definitely not my choice.

 

MARTA MERAJVER-KURLAT is an Argentinean writer, translator, and psychoanalyst publishing in Spanish and English with Jorge Pinto Books Inc., New York. You are welcome to learn more about her on her Amazon page http://www.amazon.com/Marta-Merajver-Kurlat/e/B009TC8C5A

Website http://www.martamerajver.com.ar/marta/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/martamerajverkurlat

and in The Blog Room archives.