Fragments of a lost Nô

[A woman walks slowly in the left corridor, her gait is hesitant, her long white kimono covers her feet that can not be guessed – do they exist? – and on his face there is a mask, also white, without expression. The orbits are empty and hollow. She walks, and will sit at the foot of the garden pillar. His voice is from beyond the grave]

Okuyi Ghost

Why did you call me, my child, why did you say my name dreaming? So you took me out of the realm of the dead. Why did you make this nightmare where I rocked you in my bony arms? I never rocked you, my child. Never hugged. I never breathed your smell, nor caressed your hair. I do not know you.

[Only now can we see an old man who was prostrate at the back of the stage. He snorts and pulls the garments gathered on his back. His voice is quavering, he’s an old man. Even Okuyi’s ghost has a more assured voice than his own]

Menji

Mother ! Is the story true?

Okuyi Ghost

Tell me, and I’ll tell you if the story is true.

Menji

They say, mother, that you hanged yourself in the forest, one autumn evening.

Okuyi Ghost

But still ? That’s not all…

Menji

You were pregnant with me. And it was not your cries that alerted the walkers, but mine. Because I was born at the time of your death. I was born when life left you. You, hung on the belt of your kimono, your wooden shoes tapping against each other while you convulsed, you expelled me, and gave birth between your thighs, and I fell on a carpet of yellow leaves. And I screamed. And it is a maid who, returning home, rescued me and hugged me.

Okuyi Ghost

But still ? That’s not all…

Menji

That’s all I know. Do you want to tell me more?

Okuyi Ghost

I saw you fall, my dear. I saw you. But it was too late. The rope was too tight, and I could not go back. My soul was already fleeing to nothingness, but I saw you. I felt the heartbreak in me, my bowels that let you out. I felt the blood and hot water on my thighs. I felt your throbbing mass slip and fall to the ground. I heard your screams, but I could not move, hug you in my dangling arms, kiss you with my dead mouth.

Menji

Mother ! I have no memory of you. Except this lock of hair that the servant has cut off on your corpse.

Okuyi Ghost

I was not a corpse yet. My heart was still beating. I saw you. I felt it cut my hair. On the neck.

[Menji breathes the lock of hair. A complaint comes out of his mouth, sad and gloomy]

Menji

Mother, your smell … Your perfume … Why did you abandon me?

The choir

Poor woman dead before having been a mother, dead when she became a mother. Is there a question of forgiving or understanding? For this old man, this story is old. Why remember old things from the beginning of your life?

Okuyi Ghost

You miss me ? You missed me ?

Menji

Mother, do not leave a second time. Do not abandon me yet!

Okuyi Ghost

I will never leave you again, my son.

[Menji leans on the garden pillar, puts a hand on his heart, grimaces, then collapses.

Okuyi Ghost

Come, my son!

[After a very long time, Menji stands up. Meanwhile, he placed on his face a white mask, a death mask. He follows Okuyi’s ghost, a few steps behind, with a very slow step, until he gets out of the stage by the end of the corridor]

The choir

A ghost is always alone when we call it. But he never leaves alone. This is the law.

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