Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Search for Roots

A Search for Roots © 2015 Marie Guillot
Seeking in the rain…

The pouring rain does not deter the two senior women who have travelled the Seven Seas to reach the place. Wearing wax jackets and wellies, armed only with pruning shears and cameras, they are scouting an old graveyard by the sea, in a remote area of Ireland. They try to read an ancient map that currently looks like a wet rag. At any rate, it's more of a rough sketch, found in their family papers in Australia.

Alone at the beginning, they can now hear voices; next thing, three young men appear from nowhere, walking in-line along the only narrow path crossing the cemetery, in the direction of the sea. They are speaking loudly, in a language that is closer to Russian than to Gaelic or English. The open skies do not seem to affect them either.

Each party nods politely to the other and the trio disappears, but not far, as the duo can still hear their discussion, getting livelier with time. The women make their own noises, with exclamations and laughs, as they find -or not- the clues they are seeking.

The job at hand is hard: most of the tombs are covered in ivy and bushes have sprung up everywhere; in truth, machetes would have been more efficient. In addition, rain and winds have eroded many inscriptions. It takes patience: cutting off enough vegetation to reach the text and trying to interpret the remaining letters and dates. They may never succeed, as some characters are totally illegible. 

When, at last, one of the two sisters shrieks with delight (the other one joining-in immediately), it brings back the lads who think that there is murder going on there and rush "at the ready" to save the "damselles" (so-to-speak).

The five are soaked and dripping all over but, even if tentative explanations are not fully understood on both sides, all will remember their parting: a warm exchange of wet farewells, loaded with goodwill, among a bunch of placid tombstones, in a forgotten corner of Ireland.

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