Nora – Angel of Le Petit Festival
How are fairy tales born?
Do you believe in the energy that creates them? What is the distance between the truth and a lie… when the lie is as beautiful as the truth, and brings a smile, as well as reprieve? A grandma’s hand on her grandson’s forehead that is burning with fever… a father’s hands on the shoulders of his crying daughter… a gigantic white pelican with a broken left leg … tottering like a box overflowing with shoes… leaving a red track in the sand… as if slowly taking pleasure in his own pain… patiently pattering after the hyenas… and then, a convulsion of his exhausted body…and he is high up there… flying!
Two, three droops of blood (from his wounded leg) land in the open mouth of the biggest scavenger…. ‘What a pity… what a pity’… The hyena stoops to lick the nearly insignificant legacy of the wounded flying bird… then raises her eyes upward, with fury… while he, caressed by the wind…and by the happy smiles of his brother and sister (shivering all the time, as the platoon of scavengers chased him)… flies… flies… towards the islands where he was born… towards the ocean of his most beautiful memories…
So – if the lie brings… all of that… God will not be angry!… And that is the beginning of the story about Nora.
Berlin. A photo exhibition at the railway station…
• ‘Hey, look! Look!’ says Matthew, ‘I’ve never seen such an amazing woman! A cappuccino with her would be more fantastic than an orgasm any day!’ I jump…and start to follow that beauty like a tiny, tender leopard. Waiting for my opening… She stopped in front of the photograph of a rhino. My lady… can you discern the melancholy in his eyes? … Stemming from his unusual life … his father and mother perished in a flood when he was a little cub. He was raised by a family with many children… they all loved him as their own son… brother… and grandson.
He loved to be cuddled and caressed…
Under his armor… he was a dreamer, as delicate as a little baby boy. And he loved to listen to fairy tales. They called him Guido. Guido grew bigger and bigger … chasing his brothers and sisters all the time… down to the village… everyone greeted him…. hugged him … and gave him flowers and fruits… Guido was the happiest rhinoceros on this earth. Until one day, as he was watching the clouds, he suddenly lost the scent of his family… a storm was approaching. Guido wandered and wandered… until suddenly he found himself in a city. No one said hello… no one caressed him. Everyone looked so scared… there were many policemen… many soldiers…
Guido never saw his family again (after three months he was sold to the London Zoo). Those eyes…watching you (with enormous sadness), that question full of pain… will remain unanswered for as long as the world exists: WHY? WHY? WHY? … Searching for a reaction, for a rebellion that maybe… one day… or the next…will bring salvation to someone….
After my short monologue, there was nothing but silence. Silence. Then she slowly turned around. She extended her hand and said in a lovely voice: My name is Nora.
The most beautiful eyes I had ever seen… were filled with tears. She accepted my invitation for a cappuccino. But, everything was so colored by those magic eyes…and by a tender sadness while she repeated continuously: How I would so love to see Guido!’
Cappuccino blue… Cappuccino blue… cappuccino blue… the most wonderful…foam in the solar system was there…in my friend Matthew’s cup… he caressed it with his tongue so intimately while staring into Nora’s eyes, mesmerized… After some ten minutes, she left. And that was all. We never saw her again.
Three days later, we were walking around Berlin … Warsaw Street … a small street… the third or fourth to the right. A Sunday afternoon. We were looking for the artists’ market.
• For God’s sake! Look! It’s Nora! – came Matthew’s voice, filled with rapture… it stopped me dead.
There, in the window of an antique shop… in a white wedding gown…. there was Nora. Her eyes… the most beautiful blue cherries in this world … were looking at us with surprise and melancholy: ‘Why didn’t you bring Guido with you?’
• We have to buy her! exclaimed Matthew. ‘Whatever the price!’
But It was Sunday. The antique shop was closed. His hand gripped my elbow with force: ‘Promise me! When you come back to Berlin , you have to come here… you have to buy Nora!
• ‘I promise,’ I said.
Two months later… in Berlin again.
All morning and all afternoon, I searched and searched… but each antique shop looked like it was the one… the one with Nora in the shop window on that fateful Sunday.
I didn’t find her. She must have been sold! … and that’s life… but Nora… Trust me: If I had bought you, you would have been much happier… and I would have done everything to bring you to Guido.
Leaving Berlin . It seems as if I can hear my name…someone’s calling out my name. Strange. Maybe I’ve gone crazy … yet, I feel… it’s Nora calling me… and I turn my car around. Towards Warsaw Street . The antique shops. But this time, I’m looking with more tenderness. But no… there’s no Nora here… in the last antique shop. No… Nora is not in the window. It’s some other doll, maybe even one as beautiful as SHE, sitting in the same armchair. But without her aristocratic beauty… the kind of beauty that does not provoke… the urge for physical contact…but the thrill which would give anything… to be touched by her eyes, her hands, her heart…
• Sir… Some two months ago, on a Sunday, I passed by your shop… and Nora was sitting here in the window, in this same armchair…
• Nora? – he looked at me, puzzled.
• A doll… with blue eyes… she was in love with the sorrow of a rhinoceros.
Sir… you’re kidding me, aren’t you…
• No! I’m not! … I’m sorry, maybe I’m too emotional at the moment… I promised my friend that I would find her… she was sitting here… in this armchair!
• A number of dolls have sat in that armchair… I can’t help you. You’ll have to look elsewhere. Maybe she’s been sold.
• Maybe she’s been sold… So much cruelty in those twenty-or-so letters! Maybe she’s been sold!.. I keep looking for her… looking and looking… while a hundreds dolls are watching me… holding out their hands to me… Buy me, mister! Buy me, mister, please!
The mosaic of those mezzo-sopranos and sopranos stuck to my bosom… and started to choke me. Flooded with pain, I sat down on a crimson couch:
• Sir! Are you Okay? The shop owner gave me a worried look.
• I don’t know….I said. Each time I fail to fulfill a promise… I feel pain…here… in my soul…
• Oh, no, don’t stand up. Just sit here and relax. I was just making some coffee.
• The aroma of the coffee… seemed to rekindle that conviction … Yes, Nora was here. No, she hadn’t been sold! A weak sigh.. a voice… a female voice..
• I shivered.
• I’m here! Can you hear me? It’s me! Nora!
• Sir! Here’s some coffee! But you’re so pale! Should I call a doctor…?
• No… Maybe… I don’t know… It just seemed to me that I heard Nora’ voice…
• Does this happen to you often? the man asked anxiously.
• Oh, don’t worry … I’m really okay… it’s just that I so desperately want to find Nora… most likely, it all comes from this immense yearning.
We drank our coffee in silence. The man kept looking at his watch.
– I’m sorry, but today I have to close a bit earlier.
– Of course, I understand… just let me finish my coffee.
– No, I’m not chasing you out… I have an important meeting. Drink your coffee in peace… there… your cheeks are rosy again already…
Behind his back… a curtain swayed, as if someone were caressing the violet velvet.
• Sir…what’s in the room behind you?
• … just some old, broken dolls.
• Can I have a look?
• Sure… but I’m closing earlier today..
• Oh, I understand…but just a quick look….
He turned on the light and we entered an enormous hall. Hundreds of arms… legs … bodies without heads… heads without bodies. And a strange kind of authoritative silence.
Do not move! Respect the stillness! This too is a cemetery.
• Sir! came a nervous voice, I have to close earlier today.
• Yes, I know, I know…
I turned towards the impatient shop owner: Let’s go, then! I said…
But my ‘then’ provoked a feeble sigh, somewhere deep inside that vast hall. I turned towards the sound.
• NORA! I exclaimed. Sir! I found her!
I paid the full price without any bargaining. As I was carrying Nora towards my car, I heard… just one time…her warm and soft: Thank you!
I wanted to take her to the Zoo… to London , but someone told me that Guido had died. And I didn’t dare tell her the whole truth. I just told her:
– Guido… he’s transformed… into something… into something like a little fairy tale filled with art. A little… little… little… I searched for the right words… a little … little…. like… like… like…
– Like the Festival… said Nora.
• Oh, yes! Like the little festival…. Le petit festival…And there!… Now you know everything!