These are a few of my favorite things #2 (The Man Who Shouted Teresa, a very short story by Italo Calvino)
The Man Who Shouted Teresa, a very short story by Italo Calvino. From Numbers in the Dark.
I stepped off the pavement, walked backwards a few paces looking up, and, from the middle of the street, brought my hands to my mouth to make a megaphone, and shouted toward the top stories of the block: “Teresa!”
My shadow took fright at the moon and huddled at my feet.
Someone walked by. Again I shouted: “Teresa!” The man came up to me and said: “If you do not shout louder she will not hear you. Let’s both try. So: count to three, on three we shout together.” And he said: “One, two, three.” And we both yelled, “Tereeeesaaa!”
A small group of friends passing by on their way back from the theater or the café saw us calling out. They said: “Come on, we will give you a shout too.” And they joined us in the middle of the street and the first man said one to three and then everybody together shouted, “Te-reee-saaa!”
Somebody else came by and joined us; a quarter of an hour later there were a whole bunch of us, twenty almost. And every now and then somebody new came along.
Organizing ourselves to give a good shout, all at the same time, was not easy. There was always someone who began before three or who went on too long, but in the end we were managing something fairly efficient. We agreed that the “Te” should be shouted low and long, the “re” high and long, the “sa” low and short. It sounded fine. Just a squabble every now and then when someone was off.
We were beginning to get it right when somebody, who, if his voice was anything to go by, must have had a very freckled face, asked: “But are you sure she is home?”
“No,” I said.
“That is bad,” another said. “Forgotten your key, have you?”
“Actually,” I said, “I have my key.”
“So,” they asked, “why dont you go on up?”
“I don’t live here,” I answered. “I live on the other side of town.”
“Well, then, excuse my curiosity,” the one with the freckled voice asked, “but who lives here?”
“I really wouldn’t know,” I said.
People were a bit upset about this.
“So, could you please explain,” somebody with a very toothy voice asked, “why you are down here calling out Teresa.”
“As far as I am concerned,” I said, “we can call out another name, or try somewhere else if you like.”
The others were a bit annoyed.
“I hope you were not playing a trick on us,” the frecled one asked suspiciously.
“What,” I said, resentfully, and I turned to ther others for confirmation of my good faith. The others said nothing.
There was a moment of embarrassment.
“Look,” someone said good-naturedly, “why don’t we call Teresa one more time, then we go home.” So we did it one more time. “One two three Teresa!” but it did not come out very well. Then people headed off for home, some one way, some another. I had already turned into the square when I thought I heard a voice still calling: “Tee-reee-sa!” Someone must have stayed on to shout. Someone stubborn.
I have read this story a number of times. I just love it, not exactly knowing why.. it makes me smile every time. It’s an absurd story and it is humorous. It may seem a meaningless & pointless story, a guy calling out a gal’s name who doesn’t even exist in the middle of night. But there can be deeper meaning in his seemingly meaningless action n how others come n join him. This is how our society operates. Someone may start some stupid trend n others follow her/him without applying their own mind.I mean no one even thinks of asking why he’s calling out to Teressa until the fag end, it is as if one does anything everyone else simply follow. This trend is even more apparent in these days of social media. People mindlessly share a story which is apparently stupid without even pausing to think whether or not there is iota of truth in it .one such story related to typing your ATM password in reverse if you are about to get robbed at an ATM machine, typing it in reverse will inform the Bank…blah …blah, i saw this posted on 100s of pages notwithstanding the fact that it is obviously not possibly true, i mean what about passwords like 1001 etc, n this is only one such small example which came right off the top of my head, but the social media is full of thousands of such mindless trash which keeps circulating without any end. Sometimes the story shared is just useless n irritating but at other times it may even be harmful n potentially disastrous as in spreading sentiments of religious intolerance n violence. One needs to understand n stop such sheep like behavior, before helping someone shout Teressa, take some time to find out his/her reasons n motivation.
Here’s a short film based on this short story:
- Cities and the Soul (metafilter.com)
- “Guide for New Readers of Stendhal’s Charterhouse” – Italo Calvino (biblioklept.org)
- Calvino, Wallace, Holland, (and me) (pathtothepossible.wordpress.com)
- Favorite Short Story Collections of 2012 (largeheartedboy.com)
- Calvino vs. Borges (alastairsavage.wordpress.com)
- ‘If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler’ by Italo Calvino (kimbofo.typepad.com)
- The Weight of Light by Fauziah D (issuemagazine.wordpress.com)
- Literary Estimations – Gore Vidal on Italo Calvino (seeingthegreensea.wordpress.com)
- A list of books. – Italo Calvino (mepunekar.wordpress.com)
- Three Lectures By Jorge Luis Borges: Lecture 4 (jacajacjac.wordpress.com)
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