Flesh Wound

I read once that one needed only two things in order to be happy: the first was self-respect and the second was to give no importance whatsoever to what other people might think of you. I used to believe that I fulfilled both those conditions, that I was different from my family and my friends. But it isn’t true, I fulfill neither one of them. Especially not the second one. The day before yesterday, for example, when I was just about to go into the shop, I distinctly heard someone say, “it looks like even she needs someone to cuddle up to,” and I turned around and came back home.

I’ve been very stupid. I’ve done everything wrong. The attitude I adopted from the moment I arrived in Albania, that of not talking to anyone, of keeping my distance and trusting no one, has worked against me. Because my arrival, naturally enough, provoked a mood of expectation amongst the local people. They wanted to know about this girl coming from outside, what her story was, and my attitude only increased their curiosity. But now, at last, they have something to get their teeth into; I myself provided them with the long-awaited story; and there they all are licking and biting their way through it and who knows how long it will take before they’ve had enough. Of course, it can’t be said that my situation has improved much. Before I couldn’t leave Albania. Now I can’t leave my house. And who knows what the future will bring. There’s still time for things to get even worse than they are already.

—Bernardo Atxaga, Obabakoak

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4 Responses to “Flesh Wound”


  1. 1 possum May 4, 2011 at 9:06 am

    One of the truisms of life: “There is always time enough for the day to turn on you.”

    • 2 bluenred May 4, 2011 at 9:21 am

      Yes, the “it could be worse” philosophy.

      Or there’s this, from Lew Welch:

      Find yourself at some ridiculous task,
      say, urinating in the hostess’ flower bed,
      the party raging on, above,

      and imagine all your life, and past lives,
      till you see them vividly. Then,

      shaking off the dew, say out loud:

      So,
      It has all come to this?

  2. 3 possum May 4, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Or life can always take a turn for the better. Whatever life does it often turns one way or the other in Possum Valley.


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When I Worked

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