Mad Havou

Woman in Woods

Mad Havou. In the fractured hills of Akanthou, between two knuckles that looked like mountains lived old Havou and her husband Michealis. Locals called her scrofulous, made fun. She personally thought to live far, far away from people. Villagers from Akanthou itself preferred this, for Havou was a mite eccentric, a bit unorthodox, a trace too much for most people. She was filthy – only sometimes washed. To tell the truth, Havou was a little mad!


She would often go on long walks in the weeping woods singing dirge-like songs at every step. Michealis accepted this, enamoured with her smells, especially as Havou after having her solitary walks would return peaceful and content and not nag like other wives. Michealis felt it was his kismet that the marriage broker had pushed forward Havou as a likely bride, and that his family initially approved not knowing how Havou would turn out in the end.

Affectionately he felt everything would turn out right for Havou, no matter what she did.

Havou, ‘mad, scrofulous Havou’ as she was known in surrounding villages, planned on a particular day to set out on a very long walk in the woods, stepping through pockets of mist cooling the ground like moist blankets. Nagged by Michealis in case she was hungry, she reluctantly chose food from the kitchen to take and eat on her way.

But when she set out, no sooner was she out of sight of her house and more importantly Michealis’ spying, she begun to toss the food over her left shoulder for luck, not contemplating that she could possibly need this on her journey, serenading the food as she threw wine-marinaded sausages, pitta-bread, and eggs without their shells, making each word sound like a funeral air: “Sausages, pitta, and eggs without their shells. Sausages, pitta, and eggs without their shells…” she echoed.

It so happened that an insecure band of robbers, who had just stolen a large amount of jewels, were also hiding out in the weeping woods, secreted in a cave counting out their ill gotten gains. Mad Havou who happened to be walking over the cave was seized with an urgent need to urinate. Crouching down she immediately began, as was her habit, singing fondly to her trailing urine which had divided into two loops. She kept repeating, “You go over there and we’ll go over here and catch them in the middle.” There was a small hole in the ground above the cave, and apart from the dripping urine the robbers could hear Havou’s words clearly. They thought they were surrounded and ran out of the cave like frightened rabbits, leaving the jewellery behind. Havou couldn’t help noticing their disappearing bodies. Curious, she investigated the cave and found the jewellery, though it didn’t mean much to her. “I’ll take it home to Michealis,” she said to herself, “He’ll know what to do with the shiny bits.”

But leaving the cave Havou found she had become disorientated and lost. All the trees looked the same. She begun to feel anxious. She tried to retrace her steps and came upon a sausage. A little further on, pitta bread. Around a corner of similar trees, eggs without their shells. She begun happily singing again, “sausages, pitta, and eggs without their shells…” Slowly following the food trail she returned to her house and an anxious Michealis.

The jewellery was worth a fortune. Michealis was overjoyed – they were very poor. He knew Havou would prove triumphant whatever she did. She was complicated but creative, could solve the trickiest problem and had a unique way about her, in other words as Michealis deemed it, she was the perfect wife.

For scrofulous Havou, the money made little difference – as long as she could get away from Michealis and travel on her solitary singing-walks…



George Tardios, author of Buttoned-Up Shapes

Valesta 36Α, 2370 Agios Dometios,
Nicosia, Cyprus
Phone: +357 22 35 80 28


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