Blackbirds, sparrows, pigeons and magpies. Sometimes a few rabbits. These are the animals of my childhood. The center of the world was our schoolyard. Close to our house. The place where we played soccer, hide-and-seek, tag and many games with names I can't remember. Next to the schoolyard, separated by a huge beech hedge, was the cemetery.
We were not allowed to but most of the time the cemetery was part of our extended playground. For us the cemetery was the place of old and buried people. And the place of birds and rabbits. The schoolyard was for us youngsters.
I am convinced that growing up next to the cemetery caused me to see that dying and death is natural. It's not a strange and dark world. Not a world apart. Not something to be afraid of. It's just the place behind the hedge. Warmed by the same sun. Getting wet by the same rain. For the birds, rabbits and us kids just a place where we could play.
The schooldays of back then are gone. Partly stored in my memory with the sepia of golden days. Since then my brother found a hole in the ground of this cemetery. A few rows behind him 3 generations of my father's side of my family. Last year we buried my mother-in-law here. And one day I'll be buried there too.
P.S. Last weekend I finished reading Clarice Lispector's book 'Family Ties'. I was not flabbergasted. I guess for the biggest part because my expectations were too high. I will re-read this book within 1 year. This first time I was too greedy to read the stories. In a way I was not able to adjust my way of breathing. Too greedy.
I loved the story 'The Chicken' very much. (The only story of this book I loved.) It was the chicken for Sunday's lunch that escaped. After being caught the chicken laid an egg. That saved her life. "The chicken became the queen of the household. Everybody, except her, knew it. She ran to and fro, from the kitchen to the terrace at the back of the house, exploiting her two sources of power: apathy and fear."