Rain is a Song without Lyrics is a story that could have happened; the descriptions of physical anthropology and archaeology and the real accounts of Ireland’s entangled history and the Viking world connect this fiction with real events, the traces of which are found by the author beneath the Irish rain.
The story is born in the mud of cold Ireland in 2003, where the author worked in an archaeological excavation. After a thousand years of burial, he opened up the ground with his hands and what he found moved him so immensely that he began to feel connected to those mysterious skeletal remains that had one day been a person, who loved and was loved, like any one of us. Rain is a Song without Lyrics is a story that could have been, but wasn’t, although the facts that are invented or discovered along the way do not disappoint. The truth of events does not matter as much as what we feel, and in a way our feelings can lead us to the truth.
Ángel Gil Cheza was born in Vila Real, Spain in 1974. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities and a Master’s degree in publishing. At at age of thirteen he played the drums for the punk bank Mala Hierba. At fifteen, he founded the fanzine Sátira Coenta and editied the first two editions. At twenty he began singing and playing the guitar. He made his first cassette, Futuro in 1998, the cassette was pirated so many time that it was difficult to find an original copy. In 2005, after a long stay in Ireland, he self released his debut album Con la miel en los labios before retiring from the stage. He has worked as a postman, a forest ranger, an orange picker, a waiter, a publican, a road sweeper, an archaeologist, a builder, a cook, a teacher and a farmer. Nowadays, he cultivates an orange orchard and he continues to work in the publishing world.
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[Year 1013 A.D., Leinster, Ireland]
The sky threatened to split in two and scatter over them in a violent summer shower. Thorgest turned his head from left to right and observed the long line of dirty men in ragged skirts, all of them waiting for a sign. Their faces were tanned from the pain, from the loneliness of the battle of so many wars. Most of them were still children, although they had grown up lifting those swords with barely enough strength to get them through the bodies of other boys, as young and as fearful as themselves. It had been eight months since he had been torn from his native land. He thought of Ulva, his little sister, running free through the forests of Uppsala, in present day Sweden. The first drop of rain caressed his face and he turned to focus on his fellow troops again. Many more boys than men, those brave warriors had survived dozens of other battles and this had bestowed upon them a special gift, one procured by dancing with death to the rumble of the drums of war, sword upon sword, splattered in the face with the blood of the enemies. He looked up at the sky and thanked Thor for being one of them.
Harek held out a dark brown coloured mixture to him:
“I had a dream last night” he said.”They put a dagger through my back and ripped my heart out. An osprey caught my still warm naked body, and carried it up so high that it disappeared forever”. A gust of wind made them look into each other’s eyes again.”I will die here today. I am glad to have fought by your side. Stand tall at the end of the battle and honour our dead”.
Thorgest smeared two fingers in the mixture of pig fat, sheep blood and clay, and traced two lines from his forehead to his lips on each side of his nose. His eyes were as grey as the sky, pregnant with rain.
“It won’t be today my friend” the wind blew back their braided manes.
Old Ivar raised his arm. His sword was poised as if waiting to be struck by a bolt of lightning. The silence turned then as oppressive as the atmosphere. They all looked ahead now. In the distance they could make out another column of soldiers. This time it was the Irish. To call them soldiers was perhaps generous when in reality they were just armed peasants, but «you should never underestimate an Irish man in battle», the old man had warned them. They had to organise themselves a long time ago, when the first sea warriors arrived on the shores of Ireland. Now, the battle had lasted for more than two hundred years and it seemed like the natural order of things in that cursed island of legends and darkness, of love and revenge. That makeshift army, however, had a great advantage; for under their feet in the battle, lay their dead and behind them for as far as the eye could see, their sons slept. Nothing could make a man fight with more force. Máel Sechnaill, King of Mide, commanded a detachment of one thousand two hundred brave and frightened Irish men. It was the year 1013 of our era; the fourth of July in an historical heat. A day he bid farewell from the top of a grassy hill, green, like everything else there. Ivar lowered his sword and the men began to run, and then, to shout…
[New Year’s Day 2004, Leinster, Ireland]
The morning made its way slowly and outlined the grass, the bushes and the trees. The gloom moved away towards the horizon like a cornered animal and the shadows, so feared at night, turned into something harmless again. Josep fled with the box in his arms. The Garda sirens could be heard a few miles off, getting further away and submerging into that night as deep as a wolf’s mouth. He ran and ran, even when he stumbled and the bones of the girl that he had just dug up, scattered around the box.
He ran across a field with the bulk clutched to his chest. He had to reach the NII road at the top of the petrol station. There, he could get a bus that would take him far away from there, with a bit of luck; he would even get to Dublin without being intercepted by the police. The driver saw Josep running in the wing mirror after he had taken off, he stopped and waited for him to get on.
Scarcely half a dozen people were taking the journey. Every once in a while the wheels endured the potholes and were splattered by the puddles on the road. The rain had ceased. The sun split the view and the sky opened up like a curtain; the performance came to the final act, or at least, that is the impression that Josep had. He spent a few moments examining himself; his archaeology pants, wet and covered in mud, his old boots that had easily earned themselves a place in the wardrobe for memories. He took off his woolly hat and his red hair, faded at the tips from the seawater and the Atlantic wind, unfurled around his shoulders like a living thing. He tied it in a knot on the top of his head. He looked in the mirror and saw a young man whose face was entrapped by his beard. He hardly recognised himself. Only one year had passed. And although he had not stopped being conscious of every moment, every drop of rain that fell on him, it seemed like five years to him. He was happy. He was doing the right thing and in this case it doesn’t matter what side of the law we are on; laws are not universal or human, they are just laws. They would arrive in Dublin in twenty minutes. Once there he knew what he had to do. He took his phone from his pocket and dialled a number. A recorded voice told him to leave a message, that there was nobody home.
“Professor, it’s Josep. I know it’s the first of January, but I would like if you could be at O’Connell Bridge at five o’ clock this evening, if you feel well enough”.
He let the phone fall on the chair and he took in the scene in front of him. A little girl who was turned around clutching the back of her seat smiled and pointed her finger at him. Her mother put her facing forwards, and straightened her skirt with the palm of her hand. The girl still turned around a few times, curious, mischievous.
Josep smiled and he looked at her for a second, wordlessly. He wanted to see in her a little Viking, with the two plaits that swung around her shoulders. He felt like a Viking himself, after all and in some way, he was connected to one of them. It pleased him to think of it. He focused then on the carton that he held between his arms with the digits 210117 labelled in black. That was all, one life converted into a simple number. He felt sorry for the girl whose remains had been pilfered after a thousand years of captivity in the mud, and he gently stroked the box, almost as if she could feel it. His thoughts were elsewhere as he gazed out the window and searched through his memories for the reasons that had brought him there.