Darius sat down near the cherry tree in his garden. The old man looked at the falling petals and through them at the clear sky. He tried to pierce the blue shell of air, as the radio announced, on the background of a laborer’s march, that Youri Gagarin had braved the unknown and is now speaking from Earth’s orbit. Lucas, Darius’ youngest grandson was playing with a loud metal toy, picturing a space rocket. Two neighbors were arguing over the short fence, their two dogs barking at each other, in support. A fire truck siren started to wail and, as the sun reached the edge of the house and just threw the first rays at Darius, a V formation of storks speared over the waking city – and one of them broke from formation and headed towards the old nest, on top the charred chimney.
At that particular moment in his life, Darius started to have a foggy glimpse of everything. He realized that it was not particularly important, or interesting, how his life ended – but rather how it began. He realized that time is unmeasurable, because, while the causality of one’s actions this second reflect in another’s next second – these two seconds can last nothing or hours. Darius closed his eyes, anticipating the great light that was waiting for him to finish his moment.
Seventeen short films made Darius smile and shiver, passing slowly and vividly through his mind – with a brightness and clarity that his old eyes had not been able to match for decades.
I have been with Darius all his life, and it takes a whole lot of confidence, patience and good will to understand a man as I understood him. I have been with Darius when he was feverish with the Spanish flu, and when he was in love, and when he was wandering, and when he was bleeding from two gun shots, and when he was driving the Ferdinand Porsche and when he was crying because of his dear dead and when he was crying because of his dear new born. So many times I saw what Darius saw and heard what Darius heard, so many times we froze together, we laughed together and we shivered in freight together, that by all definitions I should have doubts more of myself than of Darius’ life.
And yet, under the cherry tree, Darius, with his eyes closed, saw only those parts of his life that I had not known, nor had been present to. His wanted me to know those stories, not out of trust or friendship, but because his own life was not complete without them, and no feeling in the world, be it love, force of habit, sense of debt, or vanity – could make him lose the opportunity to save that story, to make of it a manifest and a religious confession – whichever would best fit the reader’s own mind.
So, as the films rolled and made my old Darius smile or frown, or shiver, his calm voice would not stop and I would not dare to breathe for fear I might miss a word or a tone or a meaning.
When Darius stopped, I remained still, as the gracious public in front of a great violinist whose mind is clearly not finished listening to the wonderful music that had just ended.
Then the sun rose and Darius died.