FAT MONK (to Savva, in a loud whisper)
He is doing that to wear himself out. Until he has reduced himself to absolute faintness he’ll neither sleep nor eat. (Aloud) This gentleman is wondering at the kind of chains you have on your body.
Chains? Just baby rattles. Put them on a horse and he too would carry them if he had the strength. I have a sad heart. (Looks at Savva) You know, I killed my own son. Yes, I did. Have they been telling you about me, these chatterboxes?
Can you understand it?
Why not? Yes, I can.
You lie—you can’t. No one can understand it. Go through the whole world, search round the whole globe, ask everybody—no one will be able to tell you, no one will understand. And if anyone says he does, take it from me that he lies, lies just as you do. Why, you can’t even see your own nose properly, yet you have the brazenness to say you understand. Go. You are a foolish boy, that’s what you are.
And you are wise?
I am wise. My sorrow has made me so. It is a great sorrow. There is none greater on earth. I killed my son with my own hand. Not the hand you are looking at, but the one which isn’t here.
Where is it?
I burnt it. I held it in the stove and let it burn up to my elbow.
Did that relieve you?
No. Fire cannot destroy my grief. It burns with a heat that is greater than fire.
Fire, brother, destroys everything.
No, young man, fire is weak. Spit on it and it is quenched.
What fire? It is possible to kindle such a conflagration that an ocean of water will not quench it.
No, boy. Every fire goes out when its time comes. My grief is great, so great that when I look around me I say to myself: Good heavens, what has become of everything else that’s large and great? Where has it all gone to? The forest is small, the house is small, the mountain is small, the whole earth is small, a mere poppy seed. You have to walk cautiously and look out, lest you reach the end and drop off.