Find yourself a cup of tea,
the teapot is behind you.
Now tell me about
hundreds of things.
Children. The innocence of life. The bittersweet reflection of truth. You might like it or not, but never ignore it. Their honest words will make their way to your soul and will fill it with joy. Or fear. Or shame.
They will always tell you the truth. They are still pure. They haven't learnt how to lie. Yet. But they will, after seeing adults, their role models. But until then, you can trust them.
Saki's children are a fine example of how to criticize the society of his time. Their social conventions and acts of hypocrisy are viciously portrayed, satirized by those little, candid faces that depict purity and honesty. Innocent faces that can also hurt the ego of the strongest and most mature person. Truth is not always pretty. It is avoided, most of the times. So when you see a little kid throwing it to your face, you have many awkward manners to react.
I have said before that Saki's children do not lie. And I stand by that statement. Even after reading “The Open Window” (a short story I already read in Cuentos de Saki, review here). What grown-ups call lying, for a kid is “imagination”. They create fantasy, not lies. There is no malice in their words. They learn that after getting to know the world. Until then, they only know the hunger for creativity. That playful inventiveness we lose at an office. Sometimes, even sooner.
No malice, and yet, this book written in Spanish was named Cuentos Crueles ("Cruel tales"). There is a short story called "The Penance". The children of this story made a brutal decision after witnessing a heartless act perpetrated by their neighbor. They were deeply hurt and they reacted with that situation in mind. However, they gave him the possibility of repentance. And they “un-beast” him.
All these brilliantly unique tales will make you laugh while sensing an awkward feeling of uneasiness. You might relate to some of these adults described by Saki. Or, if you are in luck, to his children. Either way, you just cannot stop reading his stories.
-This edition contains illustrations by Irene Singer.
-A quite decent translation by Graciela Pedraza.