Monday, July 21

In & Out of the Foliage

WHO IS THAT? She comes out of the building to enjoy the sunshine and I see her through the foliage, but it is teasing me so that it always covers her face. Who is she? I think I recognise her, her tattoos and now she thinks that nobody is around but not only can I see her, I am watching her through the foliage. Still, I cannot make out her face.
This is absolutely terrible as my mother is a stranger and in the morning I listen to music that reminds me of my mother. I lean. I bang my head against the glass surface. It is too much for me to be a stranger to my mother because then that makes me a son to no one.
I get up on tip-toes to get a better look but always abstract, faint, not steady enough for my eyes to get a hold upon. Surely it is not her; she is a ghost; she has always been a ghost; not yet dead, a little too alive. She goes over there on to the grass where the grass has pointed, uncut tips and takes the dog by her heels to a young man who is sat, waiting. Dressed in black. It is not her. It cannot be her. I turn and leave, convinced in myself that it is not her, for she is a ghost and I am positively seeing things.
I return from lunch (a long walk in the blazing hot sun that has tortured this city and me for the past week now. I cannot sleep in this heat. I perspire in the winter, so that in six months when the sun is up I am truly uncomfortable. To not sleep and then do it over; again; again; again. I will go mad. I will take this airless flat down with me) and there is an e-mail from my mother with the subject ‘Keeping in touch’. It is a forward of a message from my great-uncle in India. In the final paragraph of the e-mail to my own uncle he writes—‘I don’t hear much about C—‘s eldest son. I remember him having a conversation with Rod and myself.’ That was twelve years ago. Being remembered by him makes me feel as though I were dead and I retreat outside for a smoke, to think things over in my head. And if I were dead? I would be remembered, I notice.
‘Please see uncle Staff’s e-mail at the bottom – he’s asking after you. It would be nice if you could just send him an update – especially as so much has changed for you.’
It is not an e-mail from my mother.
Maybe you recall secondary school beat me up, college had me on the ropes? University put me out for the count.
I should e-mail my mother. There is so much comfort in these twenty-six characters! so much more than I find in the noises from my throat. Indeed today I thought of writing her an e-mail to stop myself becoming a stranger, but I did not wish to worry her so I left it.
I listen to songs that remind me of my mother.
If only I could sleep through the night and then things might get better. The sheets stick to my body. The sun punches in. I am awake long enough to doze off at my desk. I should cease writing nonsense right this moment and ascend to bed!
‘Hi.’ It is the second time we’ve bumped into each other that day. She is alone. ‘How are you?’ I tell her that I am hot, although I attempt to remove all trace of complaint from my tone. ‘Yeah, but we’ve gotta enjoy it,’ she says. It is a fairground ride. You will have fun. She is carrying around some sadness on her face, I suspect, and if I dared to ask her about it – which would be far too much for the tight restrictions of our acquaintance – she would most likely deny it. As she turns from me and moves away, I see that . . . is she pregnant? I cannot be imagining that she is! I make to leave, too, but hover nervously. I stare and wait for her to turn the corner. From behind, in the thinness of her purple dress, she is not visibly expectant. Finally – and not a moment too soon – she turns ninety-degrees and flashes at me a swollen abdomen before disappearing behind a veil of foliage.

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