The Sign Of The Diver

excerpt Diogenes remembers he was not even ten when, together with other children, he would creep in mock secrecy among the neighbors' maize shocks, particularly if the neighbors in question happened to be in possession of a daughter of marriageable age, known to repair to that location for the purpose of relieving herself, or else just prone to leave the door of the privy ajar. If any of them caught as much as a glimpse of some flashing white linen clearing some buttocks or thighs, if he merely espied a hint of pubic hair, or simply persuaded himself that he'd sighted such things, in the evening, huddled along the ditch at the side of the road with the others, he'd let them in on his piece of intelligence in a hushed voice, allowing his own imagination to contribute freely the appropriate details. Some of them were on the shy side, and thus given to excessive invention; others – their group, like all groups, was not without its share of "village idiots" – would supply stories of their own mothers or elder sisters, spied in their very home, through the keyhole, without waiting for them to go to the privy. For no clear reason, these relatively incestuous accounts were the most exciting to the audience, to those who, in actual fact, being no blood relations of the character in the story, could imagine themselves as virtual possessors: the fact that it was the son or the brother who actually told the story was equated to the manifest consent of the female "possessed". Around thirteen, probably on account of the inaccuracies and fantasies taught in the "school" along the ditch at his end of the village, Diogenes imagined the female sex organ not unlike a male one, only hollowed out like a pipe, a sort of soft tube to be pulled like a stocking over the boy's hardened sex in order to generate – how, exactly, was still open to conjecture – immense pleasures. He would imagine the softness of the said tube of flesh akin to that of a teat, and consequently able to fondle the hardened and slightly painful sex better than the calloused hand of a peasant boy, which in its turn did generate pleasure on touching – accidentally or intentionally – the erection, but would sometimes rub against the tender skin of the glans, causing a smarting sensation. In summer, spying campaigns to the pond were unsatisfactory, due to the great distance they had to put up with, since the defense of the gaggle was, more often than not, impeccably organized, and they retaliated by raising a commotion and piling abuse upon the intruder, long before he managed to come close enough for even a keen-eyed observer to see much. At school, though, during physical education classes, or even in the classroom, during the break, when chance smiled upon them, the whiteness of a flashing thigh was enormously thrilling. Of course, one had to look without being seen, and all the tricks and paraphernalia of hypocrisy were mustered to that effect. Of capital importance for him, nonetheless, was the class when, for the first time in his life, after seeing an expanse of leg revealed all the way to the underwear, or thereabout, by a girl sitting at the neighboring desk, he discovered that the girl, though aware of his contemplation, indulging in the complicity of keeping quiet, looked him straight in the eye insolently, smiled on him even, and only then did she cover herself. Shortly before his untimely death, Mircea Nedelciu (1950-1999), who rewrote Creanga's Tale of the Prick from the perspective of a generation entering the literary scene at the zenith of Ceausescu's dictatorship, declared in an interview that after the 1989 anticommunist revolution that overthrew the regime, "these people woke up with a tremendous zest for life. They suddenly discovered that now they could tend to the dreams they had had when they were 25, and attempt to make them come true. However – and this is the tragedy – to be 40 is not like being 25… This generation must carefully dole out its efforts." The Sign of the Diver appeared posthumously (Compania, 2000). 

by Mircea Nedelciu (1950-1999)