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Tainaron by Leena Krohn, 1998

Mail from another city

© Leena Krohn

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Tainaron - Mail from another city





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Date as postmark - the twenty-eighth letter


Today I opened the door, and before me rose the Rhinoceros beetle, as gloomy and simple as a mountain. He is a friend of Longhorn, but I have only met him in passing before.


'Come inside,' I asked, but he went on standing on the spot, swaying, and I could not fathom what he wanted.


'Have you seen Longhorn recently?' I asked at length, for I had not seen Longhorn for many days.


'It was Longhorn who sent me here,' he responded, and fell silent once more.


'And how is he?' I asked, becoming a little impatient.


'He told me to come here and ask if there is anything I can do for you,' the Rhinoceros Beetle managed to say, swaying in ever greater circles. I think he must weigh more than one hundred kilograms.


'Thank you, but I do not need anything,' I said in astonishment. 'But where is Longhorn himself?'


'I thought you already knew,' said the Rhinoceros Beetle, suddenly standing still.


'I do not know anything,' I said, fearing the worst. 'Has something happened to Longhorn?'


I felt like shaking the Rhinoceros Beetle, who remained motionless, but he was too wide. I thought I understood.


'Ah, he is already asleep,' I said, and was very offended. It was not polite to retire for the winter without even saying goodnight.


'He is in his pupal cell,' said the Rhinoceros Beetle, becoming even more massive than before.


This information came as a shock to me. For the sake of the Rhinoceros Beetle, I managed, with difficulty, to restrain myself, for I would have liked to have cursed him: 'Damned longhorn beetle! How dare you!'


The Rhinoceros Beetle left, but I went on standing in the doorway. I should never meet Longhorn again; not the Longhorn who had for so long been my patient guide in this strange city. If he were to return and step before me, I did not know who or what he would then be, or even when it would happen, for everything here has its own time and particular moment, unknown to others.


I should never again be able to turn to him, but when he nevertheless stepped before me, into the place where the Rhinoceros Beetle had just been standing, stood there and began to grow as the dead grow.


Then I saw that I had never known him and that I had never even wanted to know him. And as he grew, he became thinner and more indistinct; his form slipped into the darkness of the stairwell and he no longer had shape or mass.


But his eyes, his eyes remained, and his gaze, which is as black and piercing as it ever was, and as impenetrable. And when I look into the darkness of his eyes they gradually begin to sparkle like double stars, like the planets on which the sun shines and on which there are seas and continents, roads, valleys and waterfalls and great forests where many can live and sing.


Then I went inside and closed the door, a little less sad. For it was, after all, now clear that although I had lived beside him from the beginning to the end, not just one life but two or three, I would never have learned to know him. His outline, which I had once drawn around him, in order to be able to show him and name him, had now disappeared. It liberated the great stranger who was a much realer Longhorn than the person I once knew, small and separate.


Such is my farewell to Longhorn today, date as postmark, in the city of Tainaron.


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