Η Θλίψη της Μάνας
my heart holds you
when my hands cannot.
The glittering rays of the sun were lost from the mortal world, as gray clouds had covered the entire sky. Icy raindrops fell steadily on the thirsty earth, after slowly sliding on the silky petals of flowers and decorating them with transparent pearls.
The rustling of the tree branches as the rain fell upon them and the dry leaves she stepped on with her sandals were the only sounds of the once alive forest, making it unearthly quiet.
The first thing the Goddess of Harvest noticed was the change in colors; the vibrant green of the forest had been replaced by majestic shades of light yellow, bright orange, and scarlet red. Golden leaves plucked from the branches of the trees, danced gracefully in the light breeze and landed elegantly on the wet ground.
Furrowing her dark eyebrows in confusion, she caught a gold leaf and spun it around curiously. Its thin surface was dry and its veins were pitch black; its fragile shell turned into a pile of ash when she gripped it a bit tighter.
The nature around her had begun to change dramatically and everything she took for granted was slowly being overturned. She considered her creations perfect and flawless whatsoever, able to withstand the passage of time unchanged and unaltered.
And yet her forest was dying slowly and beautifully in front of her own eyes; its image was transforming with every passing second. Nature itself reminded her of a very important lesson which she should never forget; that she should take nothing for granted in life and that nothing remains stationary forever.
Running down the familiar forest path, she had a valid sense that something terrible had happened in her absence. Nature has always followed the will of its lady, and this change was not caused by Demeter.
The colors were dull and faded, completely different from the vividness they usually had. The warm rays of the sun had been replaced with frozen raindrops and cold winds. Her plants were withered; their petals slowly fell, leaving them completely naked. The atmosphere was melancholic and the carefree nature had disappeared making it almost unrecognizable.
A wooden hut appeared before her, making her leave a breath of relief at the familiar sight. The golden field that was once surrounding it was now left bare and unrecognizable; the wheat withered and dead had fallen on the wet ground becoming one with the dirty mud.
Picking up her long white dress in her hand, the worried Goddess ran towards her home with only one thought in her mind.
Was her daughter okay?
Had anything happened to her during her absence?
She couldn’t bear the thought of her precious flower harmed in any way. The thought of her being alone and scared filled the worried mother with a fury that had no match. She would make sure that whoever dared to enter her fields and touch her flower would feel the end of her fury. She would show no mercy to the one who dared touch a single hair upon her dark crown and upset her in any way. No one would harm her child and be left unpunished. She would make sure of that.
She could feel her heart beating against her neck as she reached the wooden door. Her emotions clouding her thoughts and creating the worst scenarios in her mind, making her hands tremble as she reached for the doorknob. Her breathing was coming out in harsh puffs as her feelings battled inside of her; should the worried mother win or the enraged Goddess? She turned the handle slowly, not knowing what sight to expect on the other side.
She was shocked to find the interior of the house immersed in darkness and as cold as ice, making a shiver run through her spine at the chill. Starting a fire with a simple flicker of her hand she watched as particles of dust flew in the air before landing on the wooden furniture, which seemed as if they weren’t used for days.
The atmosphere was stifling as the whole house was filled with an unpleasant smelly odor like it was closed for a long period of time. She felt like nobody had set foot in her home since she had left; the whole situation was giving her vibes of abandonment and solicitude.
Her voice echoed around the walls of the wooden cut, filling the silence instantly. She waited a few moments for an answer, worrying even more when her daughter’s sweet voice didn’t reach her ears.
“My child?“, she tried again, “I’m back!”
Silence greeted her yet again, creating a knot of panic and stress in her stomach. The worried Goddess moved quickly through her house, making her way towards her daughter’s room. She tried to assure herself that everything was fine. Her child was safe and unharmed in her bed sleeping peacefully, unable to register her mother’s arrival. Taking courage from her calming thoughts, she let a smile grace her face and quickly turned the doorknob.
“My flower! I’ve retu-”
She was unable to continue as an empty bed greeted her vision with her daughter nowhere in sight. Her bright smile dropped from her features and her hand let go of the door’s handle, dropping uselessly on her side. Through her troubled mind, a fact registered in her head, making her instantly alert and panicked.
She had absolutely no idea where her child was.
“Kore?“, she shouted frantically, “Kore!?”
She sprinted out of the empty house quickly; desperately screaming her daughter’s name at the top of her lungs. She ran through her fields in a haste, searching frenziedly for her missing child and pleading for her to reveal herself. Panicked tears started to fall from her chocolate orbs when she couldn’t find her flower anywhere.
The worst-case scenarios started to appear in her mind, making her even more distressed and enraged than before. Was her daughter hurt? Was she in need of help? Was she dead? Kore was always an obedient child that never worried her; she was always aware of her whereabouts and of what was she up to. What happened to her precious girl that caused her to leave her mother’s worried calls unanswered?
Her scream echoed through the field of brown withered sunflowers as the desperate mother couldn’t find her child. Her tears fell like an endless river of sadness from her dark orbs to her pale chicks as she pulled her silky locks out in grief and stress.
Her knees buckled before her, making her lose her balance and fall into the muddy ground. Her perfect image that she cared so much about was now stained and destroyed -her white dress dirty and her styled locks wild and disheveled. However, she couldn’t care less about her usually restrained posture and her strict profile crabling to ashes at this moment. Her child had disappeared and she couldn’t find her.
“My Lady?“, a hesitant familiar voice reached her ears.
Hope started to bloom again in her heart as she gazed up to her loyal Nymph. Carya was looking at her Goddess utterly shocked, having never again seen her in such a tragic state.
Breathing heavily on her hands and knees, crying and looking more distressed than ever. Demeter looked to be one step away from madness -her dirty and disoriented appearance not helping her case. Unable to stand up, the Goddess crawled towards her loyal follower, who immediately tried to help her.
“My Lady! I should guide you back to your hut!“, the Nymph stated with widened eyes as she took in the Goddess’ weak structure.
The heartbroken mother shook her head negatively, not able to utter any words. She wouldn’t rest until she found her child. Until she had her precious flower in her embrace safe and unharmed.
“My Goddess! You are in no state to be outside!“, Carya tried again to persuade her lady.
Taking hold of the front of her dress and staining its white with her muddy hands, Demeter gripped the Nymph’s attention. Looking deep into her crystal blue eyes, she tried to desperately find the answers to her question.
“Tell me, Nymph! Where is my child? Where is my daughter?“, the despair in her hoarse voice was evident in each word.
Her loyal follower didn’t meet her frantic eyes –her blue ones hiding the truth she was seeking away from her. The black circles beneath her orbs and the paleness of her skin were proof enough that the Nymph was tired and stressed as well, indicating that something had gone seriously wrong in the time of Demeter’s absence.
But how could she utter the truth when her lady was in such a state? How could she inform the desperate mother that she had no idea where her daughter is? That she hadn’t seen her since she left, although she was responsible to keep a watchful eye on her?
A lump raised in her throat as she took in the grieving mother. Demeter was always a divine Goddess with a polished appearance and youthful looks, her posture always composed and aristocratic. And now, drenched in mud and crying infinitive tears of mourning for her lost child, she looked more aged and human than ever before. She couldn’t leave her in the darkness, she had to inform her of everything she knew.
“My dear Goddess, I haven’t seen Lady Kore for a very long time,” she finally whispered, not knowing how to tell her such grave news.
The Goddess listened to her Nymph intently, waiting impatiently for each word to fall from her lips. Every second that passed without her precious flower in her embrace was digging the knife of pain deeper in her heart and soul, making it harder for her to breath.
“How long?“, she mumbled frantically to the woods’ deity.
Carya didn’t have the courage to meet her tearful orbs any longer.
“Since you have left your fields”, she bowed her head low out of fear and respect.
“No, no, no!!“, Demeter stood up, grasping her follower’s face harshly in her tight grip.
“You were supposed to watch over her! You were supposed to protect her!”
Her shouts made the birds fly away from her fields, leaving the safety of their home out of fear of her fury. The winds began to blow harder, shaking the branches of the trees and planking the unwilling leaves away from them. The raindrops became colder as they began to fall aggressively on her creations, destroying them with their force and unstoppable pace.
“Forgive me, my Lady, for I have no idea how your child disappeared! I left her lying peacefully in a bed of narcissus –sleep had almost overtaken all of her senses! After a few moments that I returned to her, she had disappeared from the face of the Earth!”
Carya begged her lady to understand, but there was no logic left in the mad mother’s mind.
“Where is my child, Nymph?!”, she shouted with her scratched neck, “Where is my daughter?!”
The nymph bowed her head in shame, knowing that she had highly disappointed her Goddess by losing from her sight her most precious being –her daughter. She had no words for her actions, the shame she felt was unbearable.
She had been looking for Persephone frantically these past few days, having absolutely no clue where or how the young lady had disappeared. Carya knew that the Goddess of Spring was desperate for a piece of freedom, but she wouldn’t act like this...she wouldn’t let her mother suffer in such a way. Something horrible had happened to her and, unfortunately, no one knew what.
“I don’t know, my Lady”, she answered honestly with tears of panic and worry for the girl falling from her eyes.
Demeter’s legs couldn’t keep her standing any longer, making her fall onto her knees. Her pearly tears never stopped falling from her dark orbs as her screams of grieving made the whole earth shake.
Her hands began to pull out her mahogany locks as the trees were left completely bare and the flowers withered in the wind, becoming dead along with the rest of the nature around them.
Her fingernails created deep scratches on her flawless face –rivers of scarlet running down her perfect complexion symbolizing her unimaginable pain and grief, while the crystal waters of the nearby stream froze and stopped flawing completely.
The red droplets of her precious blood stained the white substance that started to cover the land, creating a prominent contradiction against the snow’s pure veil.
Nature was dying around her alongside with her soul.
It felt her heart’s pain, the despair she felt at her child’s sudden disappearance.
It sympathized with her, changing drastically its appearance to show her grief to the whole world.
And the wind whispered only a single name as the Goddess of Harvest mourned.
End of chapter 23!!
Title Translation: “The Affliction of a Mother”
1. Κόρη= Kore
2. During their state of mourning, the women in ancient Greece chanted dirges, tear at their hair and clothing, and stroked their torso, particularly their breasts. Also, they scratched their faces so the rest of the world knew that they were grieving (usually for a very close relative).
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