Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Not yet

There will be a time when something safe can be said but not yet...

... in the meantime, Damon Galgut can say something for me.

I remember every accusing word, including my own, like a knife in the guts, like something that has shamed us both. Yet she herself is untouched. Later that same day, for example, Sjef and Paula and Caroline all arrive together to help me. In an attempt to bring down her temperature we buy ice from the canteen downstairs and press it all over her body. She wails and protests but also smiles, look at me, she says, I have a whole team working on me, and in that moment she is angelic again, my coy and flirtatious friend, and the awful exchange of the mornng has disappeared. She remembers none of it, nothing of what is said and done, even by herself. She floats above all the pain and grief and guilt that she's created, looking down on our scurrying and striving. There is a very real element of contempt in the way she treats us now, a quality of mocking laughter at our concern. She is far beyond us all, because she's not afraid of death any longer, which is both her weakness and her greatest strength.

It's only now that the full force of what's happened begins to hit him. Until this point he has been constantly in action, at the receiving end of calamity, with no chance for reflection. It's like a hurricane has blown through his life, flattening every structure, and in the aftermath the silence and vacancy are immense.

There is nothing to do, but his body struggles to accept it. He is constantly on edge, constantly prepared for crisis. He sleeps badly and lightly, and wakes long before dawn. The days are empty and he doesn't know how to fill them.

His body slows and eventually accepts the aimlessness, but inside, deep down, it's like an engine with a missing part, forever turning over, screaming in the same high gear.
In a Strange Room

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