Saturday, 7 November 2009

Reading Room

An orange boiled sweet taken from it's celophane wrapper and dropped. I look at the man, at the sweet, back at the man. He is a large man with limited motion. "Don't worry it's only a sweet", he says. I leave it there on the dark carpet and so does he. It is just behind his chair. I am  to one side of that chair. I continue reading my book. He his paper. A woman with a large suitcase on wheels is sitting down at the far end of the room removing her shoes and socks and putting ointment on to her feet. You can smell this piercing acidic disinfectant so that without looking up you know she is dabbing her feet with this stuff. You feel the sting.
She is talking in quiet looped tones. Her eyes are shot out. Before sitting down she'd asked a man nearby what time the library closed. Rain begins to punctuate a sound on the glass slanted roof up above. Past the flourescent regularity of light coming within this room it is dark. A man approaches the woman whose one leg is crossed over the other the folds of her skirt flapping around her raised ankle as she applies the ointment.
"I am sorry you will will have to go, you are disturbing the readers". A string of insults rising in tone the more insistant the man becoms begins to emanate form the woman's mouth. The man backs off, consults another worker but himself never goes near the woman again. A woman approaches as the exemplitives continue to come . "You will have to be quiet, you are distrurbing the readers". The woman  with the ointment says that she was being quiet before the man approached her. The woman librarian backs off after repeating this need to be quiet several times. Silence ensues with only occasional mutterings and the vigorous action of soaked cloth rubbing skin over and over again. I continue reading the boiled orange sweet in the far corner of my vision in my right eye. It somehow focuses me despite the brightness of the lights. Or perhaps it was the raising of tempers that did that. I am reading a book written by a man with "Locked in Syndrome". He was a fashion editor, then had a major "Event" as it is called and lost all motion, save for the blinking of one eye.
The other eye is sewn closed.  He wrote the book through a system of coded on-off blinks that allowed someone to transcribe letter by letter the accumulated words of each sentence of that book that he memorised in bundles before dictation began each day. He did it for his children so that he could pass on something to them. He too mentioned in the book that low-level anger about his conditon and the way he was treated allowed him to stay present and engaged with his surroundings and with his struggle to visualise this life present and the life now gone. The words became precious to me because of these limited but focused gestures that were brought forth and made into something that could be kept on a page then reinviroragted by the act of reading. That also added to the fact that I was able to read the whole book in one sitting.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your comment, Night. You inspired me to start up the blogging that lost its cause around about xmas. With all good wishes,