When Labels Go Sticky and Get Untagged:
This work is based on a digital rework of a picture of the Vanitas background to the work ‘Restitution & Contrition (5521)’ which featured in ENCLOSURE FATHOM – PART 1. It was accompanied by a story called, ‘Kickbacks, Donkey Paws and Past Reveries’. The story was about a little girl, of 5 years old. She visited a church to make confession to a priest about a sin, she had committed against him in the 16thcentury.
This work is about Father Bernard’s utter frustration with her as an adult. They were supposed to have a pumpkin-themed picnic and lunch that day. But oops…
Father Bernard was perplexed, as he stared at his grocery cupboard. The table was full of pumpkins but all the tinned food were without labels.
Before he could help himself he shouted an expletive.
He called his housekeeper who did not live too far away from his New York pad.
She was still ice cold, having just come in from outside.
She knew nothing. That just left one other person – Helena!
Helena had to explain why the papers disappeared. He watched the elderly woman …… explaining.
The household in the general’s house was a beehive of activity. It was early morning. On a chilly winter’s day in the old part of the country the air was bitingly present. It was not the only thing in biting mood. The cook stormed out of the kitchen in a vapor of rage. His target was none other than small, Miss. Helena.
The housekeeper, a motherly figure called Emma, intervened just as the cook tried to enter the hallway to Helena’s bedroom. The cook was red with fury and the glazed look in his eyes, only spelled problems.
Cook used some jerky beef and other new products from Europe to keep the extended household’s’ collective stomachs satisfied. The family was on the way to Europe for a winter holiday. Cook had to prepare snacks and tidbits for the journey to the train station etc. The order had been given at short notice.
The children were all going in separate directions. They were to spend two weeks with their parents in Paris and 3 days in the city of Montpellier. Thereafter all were up for grabs. Helena was to visit with Marquis Shattuck and his wife Davida. They lived in Rovaniemi in Lapland. Miss. Helena traveled for 28 hours by train and then took a flight from another country to Finland. From the interior of Finland, it was still a three-day trip to reach them. Helena’s sister’s belongings were being prepared for her three-month summer visit to Africa. She had an even longer trip ahead of her. The family attorney had to prepare papers for temporary guardianship to protect the children in case anything happened during their extensive holidays outside the country.
Their mischievous brother was rubbing the girls’ noses in the fact that he was on his way to Chennai in India with his father to go on a hunting trip. They were also going to pay a visit to the old headquarters of the East India Company. His father reckoned it was time for him to be a man. He was still very small. To his father he was his heir to be and he spared the boy’s age no thought. Helena was happy and looked forward to seeing Shattuck and his family in Lapland again. She was very miserable and afraid of leaving her grandparents behind. They were an inextricable part of her life. Her sister loved Africa and studied the language called Afrikaans with her governess every day at home. Helena hated the fact that she could not understand the language that her sister could speak at an elementary level and now taunted her with. She instead could speak Sami at the elementary level. Her brother was teasing them in broken Hindi using tidbits of words. He wasn’t speaking in elementary ….. anything. He even spoke their mother tongues namely, English, old Persian Turkish, Russian and Yiddish in a staccato-like fashion, one syllable at a time. He refused to make proper sentences.
The previous afternoon the cook had ordered his kitchen help, a short sinewy fellow called ‘’Twerp’’ in jest, to bring him a list of canned foods from the storage room at the back of the barn. The facility was a brick room with thick walls. Inside, the room was chilly and extremely cold. In wintertime temperatures reached below zero negatives. Besides making sure that the canned, tinned foods did not rust, the room needed no extra maintenance.
Since Helena was very small she was at the receiving end of much criticism and her bottom got tanned on a regular basis. One of the compulsive obsessive behaviors displayed by Helena caused trouble on a frequent basis. Helen could not stand labels on anything. Those were labels unless she had remarked them.
Helena arrived at Grandpa’s house with red eyes and a bottom on which she could hardly sit. Grandmother gave her Turkish coffee with a couple of rose water drops inside – her favorite. The quiet, blue-eyed sensitive woman left the details of the coming inquisition to her husband. She instinctively knew to love Helena. Let however did not understand Helena’s mind, only her spirit.
The eagle just watched – eyes squinted – from his sickbed that morning. The 70cm creature wanted a loan. She wanted to establish a brotherhood. She had a very expensive stamp collection that she professed willing to give to the old man provided he placed an advert in the national newspaper and international newspaper for her. Hugh looked at her – utterly perplexed about the idea. Of all the demands that his granddaughter had made of him, this one hit the jackpot of being out there.
Her whole demeanor expressed defiance and pride – fierce pride.
‘’Why do you want to join a brotherhood? Which brotherhood? Men have brothers. Women have sisters. Why not a sisterhood? ‘’ He saw her eyes thunder and retreated. ‘’Okay – why and who? ‘’
‘’A brotherhood that can smell and taste words and know which ones are bad and which ones are not. People don’t like ladies Grandpa. They think they are dumb.’’
The deep sigh coming from the old man explained it all. It was going to be a long day. The old man was too tired to become angry. ‘’You are so faithful. If this God you are professing, knew you needed a translator to make sense of you, in this world, then why were you not born with one at your service your highness’’? The little girl snapped back at Grandpa, ‘’My sister is supposed to understand. But she is like the others. She does not understand’’. Helena started crying. ‘’May our God forgive you Grandpa. He gave me people, but they are all asleep’’.
‘’Now listen you little flower, we may not all pray like you do or speak ‘’Sunshine language’’ but don’t you tell me we are all asleep.’’
‘’Just when you are awake, you are still asleep.’’
Helena darted away just as the slipper came flying past. The old man could hardly control himself.
Let intervened and took Helena to go and find wildflowers and herbs in the fields behind the house.
Later years Helena would stand in a garden and be full of fear, intense fear. The time for sleep was not then.
Let asked a very quiet Helena, ‘’Why do you say things to make other people angry?’’
Helena watched Grandmother through tearful eyes. ‘’Because I only know how to tell the truth?’’
‘’But it is not everybody’s truth and people do not understand your truth’’.
Helena flared up immediately. ‘’But, is not my truth, it is the truth’’.
Let knew it was not going to get her anywhere. Instead she asked a question regarding the early morning’s storm back at her daughter’s house.
‘’Why did you tear off – all the labels on the canned food tins?”
‘’Because the words smell bad. They make the food bad. When I eat the food, I can still taste the words. When I eat from the trees, there are no words to make the food taste bad. If I do not eat, I get hidings or Emma has to force me to eat’’.
‘’I can hear the words. English words are very bad. They make the food taste very bad.’’
Let said an inner prayer. She was at a loss for words. ‘’Why did you want to join a brotherhood?” ‘’There is no such brotherhood.’’
‘’I am lonely.’’
‘’Grandfather says I must not say – I am alone. He says there must be other people on earth like me. I want to find them. That is all. Jesus talked about the brotherhood of men. I must try to ask somebody to find them with the newspaper. There must be a brotherhood that understands the things of Jesus. If they understand Him, they will understand me.’’
‘’What about; the priest at the local church?’’
‘’The priest can’t smell or hear anything. I just make him angry too. The little, girl sounded very sure. If I find them, then I am lonely. If I don’t find them, then I am alone.’’
With that Helena burst into tears. ‘’Now, I think I am alone’’.
Let cried that day with her granddaughter. It was a landmark day. It was the day that Let knew her granddaughter indeed – was alone.
On her 36th birthday many years later her dad would present her with a painting simply called ‘’TAMALONE’’. It means ‘’I am alone’’.
‘’Lina, can you really smell words?”
‘’Yes, they make music too or noise. English words make a very bad noise! Some words or letters just make sounds. When people talk, I can see the colors when they talk and when they think. I sometimes see real pictures of what they think’’
Let got a sure feeling in her heart that day. It was inexplicable. She just knew though, that Helena was being truthful. It gave her chills. She made a decision to try and help Helena. The next day she took a carriage and went to see Helena’s father at the military base. She took some of her savings and asked her son in law to place an ad in an international newspaper. She waited 4 months and 45 days for a response. It came from the city of New York – old Orange County. It was from a count Vasseilivich. He was the cousin second removed from a king in an old family in Prussia. His wife suffered from the same condition.
Helena’s father confronted her in front of the whole family the same evening the cook threw his tantrum. Helena sensed that day in the fields between the wild violets and roses that God had spoken to her Grandmother. It gave her renewed strength. She took a small tin from her bib’s pocket.
‘’She was too short whilst standing to reach the table. The family just saw a tin making its presence known on the wooden table. She let it flip after standing tiptoed. She said in a strong voice: ‘’If Daddy helps me, I can teach you ‘’Sunshine language’’. But on the tin; I put Psalm 91. The food will be good now. The food must wait some time and then the words will change the taste. It will be nice.’’
‘’I have a paper.’’
The girl slipped a paper from her pocket. It was crumpled and very much used. On the paper were a group of symbols. Next to each symbol was a small drawing. The girl marked all the tins contents according to the symbols. They only needed to ask.
That evening the girl’s father went into the store with the list in his hand. He chose the tin can with the bitter almond jam. He had to wake up the housekeeper in order to find a tin opener in his own kitchen. Together they each ate a piece of bread. It was sweet as honey in both their mouths. None of them said anything. That night a restless general fell asleep in his bed. As soon as he was asleep he had a dream. In the dream an angel appeared in shining clothes. ‘’Do not oppress the LIVING WORD IN YOUR HOUSE.’’
The general read the count’s letter in Lets hand with fear. It rolled down his spine all the way into his shoes. He did not say anything. He just walked to his father in law’s bedroom and took Helena and gave her a big hug. His eyes were full of tears.
Helena simply asked him, ‘’Does smelling and hearing them, have a name? Do they know the name?”
He then knew for certain that Helena could also see and dream for sure – otherwise how would she know? Let had already told him, she had never said anything to anyone about the letter.
Helena broke free and ran to Let and gave her a hug.
‘’The angel said the answer would come today; you wrote the letter Granny!’’ She went to the sideboard and promptly gave Let her expensive stamp collection. Helena had given it to the servant to put away that morning after smuggling it into the house under her thick, winter’s coat.
The old man called Helena. He said to her father,’’ Now don’t you go and treat her anything special. That only means that, that which created this stinking world chose to create two peas in a pod. Now go and be happy you little creature and celebrate the fact that you are not alone, you are just &%* lonely because between you and ‘smelling words and sounds nr. 2’ is a, &%*, whole big blue ocean.’’
Helena gave only one answer: ‘’I will not fight with you Granddaddy; the bad one can do his own work. Stay out of the spiders’ web.’’
The old man felt personally humiliated because his granddaughter felt lonely or alone when with the family; in particular, the fact that she could feel that way when she was with him. He took it as a personal insult: that Helena’s God did not make Himself known to ‘him’. He had quite a piece of his mind to give to Helena’s God.
Hugh admitted something to himself over a late-night stolen cigarette moment. He sat on the white-painted lusciously, green balcony. He felt alone too and lonely sometimes. He loved his wife with a deep, obvious love. In all of his county, no woman was loved as much as was Let, by her blue-eyed husband. However, he did not care for the world. Could never care for the place. Men fought and men prayed, and all for nothing. The only man he liked in the Bible; was the man who had the foresight to write the Book of Ecclesiastes. The man who wrote …. ‘’All comes to nothing …. ‘’. In his ignorance, he never thought about it, until the very same day of his death – that God was making Himself known to him – via Helena. But not only via Helena. His wife was a notorious prayer warrior. She got up to pray at 4 am every morning. She prayed and gave. She ministered great love into her family and neighborhood.
Helena was beaming when they were back at home. Her father gave the cook the crumpled paper. He gave an order that the cook had to remove all the papers from the canned foods and fashion papers to replace the labels according to Helena’s list. The servants were grumpy and so was Helena’s mother. She was a writer. She was rock steady in her convictions whilst being temperamental at the same time. She thought her husband was a bit of a pushover. Besides just how backward did the labels look, how utterly childish and scruffy! It made the outside storage room look, like a hobo’s psychedelic pantry house. She made an appointment with the printer at the local publishing house to Helena’s utter discontent. Helena was too small to make them understand that it was not just the remarking that changed letters. When even a good message gets printed on paper, it still changed things and sometimes smelled just as bad as bad messages. Helena cried and begged the young man looking after the horses, to wait until her Dad came home before he went to the printer.
The printer swiftly took his feet over to the mansion. He loved money or anything that remotely smelled like money. He had a nose for things. Helena had a nose for him! She waited at the door. She told him, all 70 cm’s of her, ‘’Your words smell bad uncle, now our food will also smell bad. You must not like the smell of Daddy’s money. Many hands, many hearts. Money is always dirty. It sounds terrible too.’’
Helena’s mother sent her to her room, scolding her with a vibrant tongue. She apologized to the printer and decided to have new labels printed. The printer refused. He had better things to do than to cut templates with some childish pictures and symbols on. Just the templates would cost a fortune. He left sniggering to his buggy driver, ‘’Do they want their food marked with %&%&?! Egyptian hieroglyphs now!?’’ He was angry because of the wasted time and trip.
Helena sat in a small bundle on her bed. She felt like a camel in the desert when her mother eventually burst through the door making good on her promise. She ‘’thirsted’’ for others, anyone who could understand what she saw and understood. Her life would turn out to be a lesson in thirst. People were lovers of noise, in particular the bad noise of money, arrogance, haughtiness and being enboubled in such a manner that they did not recognize their own wrongdoing. They failed to see themselves in the mirror of the truth. How deviant their own behavior seemed to Helena. She cried about them and for them and spoke to her God continuously. The ‘One’ who chose; to allow Helena to see. Burdened, lonely Helena, who thirsted for understanding and compassion. She understood her God, she knew He was lonely and alone too.
And as little as she wanted to change her fate and sight, as much did she try, and did she want to understand others – their world. But she only knew truth and not the make-believe words that ordinarily soothed feathers in the real world. She did not know how to fill in the valleys between the mountains of what was in her head and spirit, to comfort others properly. Science and art seemed to be the only medium through which she could ‘speak’ to others.
She had a lot of compassion for the same people who hated or disliked her so. Those who hated and disliked her and those who merely hated or disliked what she did. She chose to pray for them and sent them ’Sunshine language’ in the spirit every day. She knew instinctively that it did not matter how long it would take – that even if they only understood in death-like Grandfather what the meaning of their mutual relationships with Helena was supposed to mean – understand like Grandfather on his deathbed – they will. So, while she thirsted; she was also at peace. She only touched them in the spirit with feathers of prayer and truth and felt sorry that they suffered pain.
After Helena told him the story about her past, she helped his housekeeper to prepare breakfast. He simply turned around and looked out across the cold vibrant city and said…. ‘This is simply the – Donkey’s Paws’ –
This story is copyrighted.
Listen with me to: “The Story” by Touch of Class.
Provided to YouTube by Kontor New Media T
Dans in Die Reën ℗ Vonk
Composer: Phil Hanseroth
Lyricist: Phil Hanseroth
Music Publisher: Bmg Music Publishing
Trivia is information and data that are considered to be of little value.
The Latin adjective triviālis in Classical Latin besides its literal meaning could have the meaning “appropriate to the street corner, commonplace, vulgar.” In late Latin, it could also simply mean “triple.” In medieval Latin, it came to refer to the lower division of the Artes Liberales, namely
(The other four Liberal Arts were the quadrivium, namely
which were more challenging.) Hence, trivial in this sense would have meant “of interest only to an undergraduate.”
Quantum triviality: In a quantum field theory, charge screening can restrict the value of the observable “renormalized” charge of a classical theory. If the only resulting value of the renormalized charge is zero, the theory is said to be “trivial” or noninteracting. Thus, surprisingly, a classical theory that appears to describe interacting particles can when realized as a quantum field theory, become a “trivial” theory of noninteracting free particles. This phenomenon is referred to as quantum triviality.