You must have seen them: these small towns and tiny villages of my homeland. They have learned one day by heart and they scream it out into the sunlight over and over again like great gray parrots. Near night though they grow preternaturally pensive. You can see it in the town squares, where they struggle to solve the dark question that hangs in the air. It is touching, and a little ludicrous, to the foreigner, because he knows without a second thought that if there is an answer—any answer at all—it certainly won’t come from the small towns and tiny villages of my homeland, try as sincerely as they might, poor things. 




When I think about little girls in the moment of turning into big girls (it is no slow timid development, but something strangely sudden), I always have to imagine an ocean behind them, or a grave eternal plain, or something else you don’t actually see with your eyes but can only sense, and that only in the deep and silent hours. Then I see the big girls as being exactly as big as I was used to the little childlike girls being small—and heaven above knows why, that’s just how I want to see them. There is a reason for everything. But the best things that happen, after all, are the ones that hide their deeper reason with both hands, whether out of modesty or because they don’t want to be betrayed.