The Ecphorizer

Roots & Ripov
Albert Russo

Issue #27 (November 1983)

From the roots of men and the root of commerce

Watching his contemporaries go about their daily business so efficiently while he remained in a state of perpetual doubt, Ripov thought maybe something had happened during his childhood which he wasn't aware of . ...Until he realized that he'd been [quoteright]plagued with a malady as refractory

Out of the rut into the root.

as herpes: rootlessness. A new craze was sweeping through society and people around him were digging into their past like greedy treasure hunters. Among the tenants of his own apartment building was Mr. O, an engineer of Italian extraction, who traced his ancestry to none other than Leonardo da Vinci - his mother's side of the family - deeming it unnecessary to go farther back. Then there was Miss T, a pretty history teacher who had taken a sabbatical year to write a thesis on what she termed her 'personal journey into culture.' After crusading through the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, trekking to the Holy Land, she landed in Ancient Egypt amid the small but enviable guild of fly-catchers appointed to the service of Pharaoh. There was also Madam V, the concierge with three upper teeth missing, whose discovery gave her the shock of her life: one of her forebears, Marie Antoinette's night-commode attendant, had been instrumental in the queen's beheading. Madame V immediately wrote to the French Government to claim a fair readjustment of her social status and to demand that she at least be elevated to the rank of chambermaid to Madame la Presidente, inasmuch as her great-great-great-great aunt, Mademoiselle VD, had so magnificently contributed to the success of the French Revolution.

Madame V got a reply from the Office of the Presidency politely declining her kind offer. She refused to give up and, totally neglecting her duties as a concierge, she made it her business to write to every possible department in the Administration.

Before such fervor, such determination, Ripov could only express his admiration. Mr. O, Miss T and Madame V had a great deal to look back on. He secretly envied them, for they seemed to have a purpose in life. Ripov decided his situation must be reversed, cost what may. ...In spite of the fact that he had no relatives and that his parents had vanished into thin air when he was still in the crib without leaving so much as a name to their credit. There were worse calamities however and Ripov set out to tackle the problem at the root, literally.

And so it was that Ripov became the world's first root therapist. His motto read: "Out of the rut, into the root."

The method he devised was baffling in its simplicity. His patients were asked which of the three they could associate with: the carrot, the potato or the radish. 93.6 times out of a hundred they chose the vegetable that most conformed to their body type. They attended seminars and learned everything there was to know about their own root: its history, its biology and its habitat. They acquired self-confidence and at last a sense of belonging. It worked wonders - to a degree that the nation soon was divided in two camps, reenacting as it were, the Dreyfus affair. Only this time, the confrontation opposed the RRs - Ripov Rooters -- (which backbiters called 'Rotten Rooters') to the ORs - Other or Original Rooters. Some people, dissatisfied with their camp, defected to the other side. Madame V was a case in point. And it's been going on ever since. Whatever one may think of Ripov's theory, no one complains about being rootless anymore. 

Albert Russo sends us his contributions from Paris, where he does free-lance writing and regularly winds literary prizes.  He was born in Africa.

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Contributor Profile

Albert Russo

A bilingual author and amateur photographer - English and French are his two "mother tongues", raised in Central and Southern Africa, Albert Russo is the recipient of many awards, such as The American Society of Writers Fiction Award, The British Diversity Short Story Award, several New York Poetry Forum Awards, and the Prix Colette, among others. Praised by James Baldwin, Pierre Emmanuel, Paul Willems and Edmund White, among others, his work has been translated in a dozen languages. His award-winning African novels and his hilarious Zapinette series have appeared on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a member of the jury for the Prix Européen (with Ionesco until his death) and sat on the panel of the prestigious Neustadt Prize for Literature, which often leads to the Nobel Prize. He has published more than 20 photo books with Xlibris and many of his photos have been shown at the prestigious Musée de la Photographie de l'Elysée, in Lausanne, Switzerland.