Friday, March 05, 2010

J.M. Coetzee

Seafood poisoning, a cigarette lit as the person is
drifting off to sleep and that sets fire to the sheets
or, worse, to a woollen blanket; a slip in the
shower - the back of the head - the bathroom
door locked; a lighting bolt that splits in two a
tree planted in a broad avenue, a tree which, as
it falls, crushes or slices off the head of a
passer-by, possibly a foreigner; dying in your
socks, or at the barber's, still wearing a
voluminous smock, or in a whorehouse or at
the dentist's; or eating fish and getting a bone
stuck in your throat, choking to death like a child
whose mother isn't there to save him by sticking
a finger down his throat; or dying in the middle of
shaving, with one cheek still covered in foam,
half-shaven for all eternity, unless someone
notices and finishes the job off out of aesthetic
pity; not mention life's most ignoble, hidden
moments that popple seldomn mention once
they are out of adolescence, simply because
they no longer have an excuse to do so,
althouth, of course, there are always those
who insist on making jokes about them, never
very funny jokes.

I did not want to know but I have since
come to know that one of the girls, when she
wasn't a girl any more and hadn't long been
back from her honeymoon, went into the
bathroom, stood in front of the mirror, un-
buttoned her blouse, took off her bra and
aimed her own father's gun at her heart, her
father at the time was in the living room with
other members of the family and three
guests.  When they heard the shot, some five
minutes after the girl had left the table, her
father didn't get up at once, but stayed there
for a few seconds, parlayzed, his mouth still
full of food, not daring to chew or swallow,
far less to spit the food out on to his plate;
and when he finally did get up and run to the
bathroom, those who followed him noticed
that when he discovered the blood-splattered
body of his daughter and clutched his head in
his hands, he kept passing the mouthful of
meat from one cheek to the other, still not
knowing what to do with it.

No comments: