Some things hold a very dear place in our memory and yet they may no longer exist in reality. This summer I discovered one such place. Actually it is not quite true to say that I discovered it, for one cannot discover things that no longer exist.
I often speak and write about my aunt Ana. She greatly influenced me during my early childhood. The house where she lived was old, dump, filled with memories, stories, lots of creativity and above all love. Ivy grew on its walls and the little balcony was filled with the chirping of birds. She loved that place, and we loved it because of her. Almost as if the walls became so familiar with her presence that they made sure to soak the invisible texture of her being within them. I identified that little piece of land in that particular neighbourhood in Zagreb with my aunt. In my memory it sort of became a pilgrimage point. I journeyed there remembering this wonderful person that my aunt was.
And then I wrote a story about her and called it “Birds on her window”. Birds would come to her window and eat from her hands, a phenomenon that always fascinated me. I attribute my love of birds to the memory of my aunt. Last Sunday, 16th August, this story was on Sunday Miscellany, a programme on RTE Radio 1.* Now more people will know of this amazing woman that she was, and you can listen to the story too, on the podcast from the day.
But the house where my aunt lived, the place that captured so many beautiful memories, is no more. The place is rebuilt, with new houses, new stories to be told, totally unaware of the story that unfolded in the locality a few decades ago. This fact made the story of my aunt going on air even more special. It is recorded, not just in my memory, but in the memories of everyone who heard the story. And I am sure that the birds remember also, and maybe they retell the story, in their own way, with a song that will be carried over the generations.
*The national radio in Ireland.
© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 2015)
Photo by © Iva Beranek (the photo is not from the area that I write about)