Ge­orge Tar­dios

Mad Havou

The London Magazine - - CONTENTS - Ge­orge Tar­dios

In the frac­tured hills of Akan­thou, be­tween two knuck­les that looked like moun­tains lived old Havou and her hus­band Michealis. Lo­cals called her scro­fu­lous, made fun. She per­son­ally thought to live far, far away from peo­ple. Vil­lagers from Akan­thou it­self pre­ferred this, for Havou was a mite ec­cen­tric, a bit un­ortho­dox, a trace too much for most peo­ple. She was filthy – only some­times washed. To tell the truth, Havou was a lit­tle mad!

She would of­ten go on long walks in the weep­ing woods singing dirge-like songs at ev­ery step. Michealis ac­cepted this, en­am­oured with her smells, es­pe­cially as Havou af­ter hav­ing her soli­tary walks would re­turn peace­ful and con­tent and not nag like other wives. Michealis felt it was his kismet that the mar­riage bro­ker had pushed for­ward Havou as a likely bride, and that his fam­ily ini­tially ap­proved not know­ing how Havou would turn out in the end.

Af­fec­tion­ately he felt ev­ery­thing would turn out right for Havou, no mat­ter what she did.

Havou, ‘mad, scro­fu­lous Havou’ as she was known in sur­round­ing vil­lages, planned on a par­tic­u­lar day to set out on a very long walk in the woods, step­ping through pock­ets of mist cool­ing the ground like moist blan­kets. Nagged by Michealis in case she was hun­gry, she re­luc­tantly chose food from the kitchen to take and eat on her way.

But when she set out, no sooner was she out of sight of her house and more im­por­tantly Michealis’s spy­ing, she be­gun to toss the food over her left shoul­der for luck, not con­tem­plat­ing that she could pos­si­bly need this on her jour­ney, ser­e­nad­ing the food as she threw wine-mari­naded sausages, pitta-bread, and eggs without their shells, mak­ing each word sound like a fu­neral air: ‘Sausages, pitta, and eggs without their shells. Sausages, pitta, and eggs without their shells…’ she echoed.

It so hap­pened that an in­se­cure band of rob­bers, who had just stolen a large amount of jew­els, were also hid­ing out in the weep­ing woods, se­creted in a cave count­ing out their ill-got­ten gains. Mad Havou who hap­pened to be walk­ing over the cave was seized with an ur­gent need to uri­nate. Crouch­ing down she im­me­di­ately be­gan, as was her habit, singing fondly to her trail­ing urine which had di­vided into two loops. She kept re­peat­ing, ‘You go over there and we’ll go over here and catch them in the mid­dle.’ There was a small hole in the ground above the cave, and apart from the drip­ping urine the rob­bers could hear Havou’s words clearly. They thought they were sur­rounded and ran out of the cave like fright­ened rab­bits, leav­ing the jew­ellery be­hind.

Havou couldn’t help notic­ing their dis­ap­pear­ing bodies. Cu­ri­ous, she in­ves­ti­gated the cave and found the jew­ellery, though it didn’t mean much to her. ‘I’ll take it home to Michealis,’ she said to her­self, ‘He’ll know what to do with the shiny bits.’

But leav­ing the cave Havou found she had be­come dis­ori­en­tated and lost. All the trees looked the same. She be­gun to feel anx­ious. She tried to re­trace her steps and came upon a sausage. A lit­tle fur­ther on, pitta bread. Around a cor­ner of sim­i­lar trees, eggs without their shells. She be­gun hap­pily singing again, ‘sausages, pitta, and eggs without their shells…’ Slowly fol­low­ing the food trail she re­turned to her house and an anx­ious Michealis.

The jew­ellery was worth a for­tune. Michealis was over­joyed – they were very poor. He knew Havou would prove tri­umphant what­ever she did. She was com­pli­cated but cre­ative, could solve the trick­i­est prob­lem and had a unique way about her, in other words as Michealis deemed it, she was the per­fect wife.

For scro­fu­lous Havou, the money made lit­tle dif­fer­ence – as long as she could get away from Michealis and travel on her soli­tary singing-walks...

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