Uit:The House Of The Mosque (Vertaald door Susan Massotty)
“Alef Lam Mim. There was once a house, an old house, which was known as ‘the house of the mosque’. It was a large house with thirty-five rooms. For centuries the house had been occupied by successive generations of the family who served the mosque.
Each room had been named according to its function: the Dome Room, for example, or the Opium Room, the Storytelling Room, the Carpet Room, the Sick Room, the Grandmother’s Room, the Library and the Crow’s Room.
The house lay behind the mosque and had actually been built onto it. In one corner of the courtyard was a set of stone steps leading up to a flat roof, which was connected to the mosque.
In the middle of the courtyard was a hauz, a hexagonal basin of water in which people washed their handsand face before prayers.
The house was now occupied by the families of three cousins: Aqa Jaan, the merchant who presided over the city’s bazaar, Alsaberi, the imam of the house and spiritual leader of the mosque, and Aqa Shoja, the mosque’s muezzin.
It was a Friday morning in early spring. The sun felt warm, the air was filled with the rich smell of earth, the trees were in leaf, and the plants were beginning to bud. Birds flew from branch to branch, serenading the garden. The two grandmothers were pulling out the plants that had died in the winter, while the children chased each other and hid behind the thick tree trunks.
An army of ants crawled out from under one of the ancient walls and covered the path by the old cedar tree like a moving brown carpet. Thousands of young ants, seeing the sun for the first time and feeling its warmth on their backs, surged down the path.
The house’s cats, stretched out by the hauz, looked in surprise at the teeming mass. The children stopped playing to stare at the wondrous sight. The birds fell silent and perched in the pomegranate tree, craning their necks to follow the ants’ progress.”
Kader Abdolah (Arak, 12 december 1954)
Uit: Rispondimi (Vertaald door John Cullen)
“I stood there, very still, without crying. I thought, I wonder if I’ll ever find her smell again anywhere?
Why do faces disappear from memory as time passes, bu not smells? What was her scent made of, what was in it? Cheap cologne, for sure, mixed with the smell of her skin and the fragrance of soap or talcum powder. My mother was constantly washing herself.
During my first seven years, we were always together. We lived in an apartment. She was cheerful, flamboyant, brightly colored. At night, after she tucked me in, she went to work, and when I woke up there she was again, standing next to the bed. She’d announce, “Now arriving, a shower of kisses!” and throw herself on me, laughing.
That’s how it was, and that’s how I thought it would always be.
I didn’t yet know our names weren’t carved in stone, but scribbled on a blackboard. Every so often someone made a pass with the eraser and another name vanished from the list. Did he wield the eraser precisely, purposefully? Did he wield it inadvertently? Was that the very name he wanted to erase, or was it maybe the one just above, or just below?
We had hung a small picture of Jesus over the door in the kitchenette. Below the picture, a tiny light was always on. Although it didn’t burn your fingers, it moved like a little flame. Jesus was holding his heart in his hand, but that didn’t bother me, because instead of being disheveled and screaming in pain, he had perfectly combed hair and rosy cheeks and he was smiling and didn’t seem scared at all. “Who’s that man?” I asked, the first time I saw him.
“He’s a friend,” Mama replied, “a friend who loves you. “
“Does he love you, too?”
“Of course. He loves everybody.”
Susanna Tamaro (Triëst, 12 december 1957)
Uit: Remember Me?
“I mentally prod my brain, but it’s a big, stupid, empty balloon. I need a strong cup of coffee. I try peering around the room for clues-but my eyes don’t want to peer. They don’t want information, they want eyedrops and three aspirin. Feebly I flop back onto the pillows, close my eyes, and wait a few moments. Come on. I have to be able to remember what happened. I can’t have been that drunk . . . can I?
I’m holding on to my one fragment of memory like it’s an island in the ocean. Banana cocktails . . . banana cocktails . . . think hard . . . think . . .
Destiny’s Child. Yes! A few more memories are coming back to me now. Slowly, slowly, in patches. Nachos with cheese. Those crummy bar stools with the vinyl all split.
I was out with the girls from work. At that dodgy club with the pink neon ceiling in . . . somewhere. I can remember nursing my cocktail, totally miserable.
Why was I so down? What had happened-
Bonuses. Of course. A familiar cold disappointment clenches my stomach. And Loser Dave never showed up. Double whammy. But none of that explains why I’m in hospital. I screw up my face tight, trying to focus as hard as I can. I remember dancing like a maniac to Kylie and singing “We Are Family” to the karaoke machine, all four of us, arm in arm. I can vaguely remember tottering out to get a cab.
But beyond that . . . nothing. Total blanko.
This is weird. I’ll text Fi and ask her what happened. I reach toward the nightstand-then realize there’s no phone there. Nor on the chair, or the chest of drawers.
Where’s my phone? Where’s all my stuff gone?”
Sophie Kinsella (Londen, 12 december 1969)
Uit Madame Bovary
“Elle songeait quelquefois que c’étaient là pourtant les plus beaux jours de sa vie, la lune de miel, comme on disait. Pour en goûter la douceur, il eût fallu, sans doute, s’en aller vers ces pays à noms sonores où les lendemains de mariage ont de plus suaves paresses! Dans des chaises de poste, sous des stores de soie bleue, on monte au pas des routes escarpées, écoutant la chanson du postillon, qui se répète dans la montagne avec les clochettes des chèvres et le bruit sourd de la cascade. […] Il lui semblait que certains lieux sur la terre devaient produire du bonheur, comme une plante particulière au sol et qui pousse mal tout autre part. Que ne pouvait-elle s’accouder sur le balcon des chalets suisses ou enfermer sa tristesse dans un cottage écossais, avec un mari vêtu d’un habit de velours noir à longues basques, et qui porte des bottes molles, un chapeau pointu et des manchettes!
Peut-être aurait-elle souhaité faire à quelqu’un la confidence de toutes ces choses. Mais comment dire un insaisissable malaise, qui change d’aspect comme les nuées, qui tourbillonne comme le vent? Les mots lui manquaient donc, l’occasion, la hardiesse.
La conversation de Charles était plate comme un trottoir de rue, et les idées de tout le monde y défilaient dans leur costume ordinaire, sans exciter d’émotion, de rire ou de rêverie. Il n’avait jamais été curieux, disait-il, pendant qu’il habitait Rouen, d’aller voir au théâtre les acteurs de Paris. Il ne savait ni nager, ni faire des armes, ni tirer le pistolet, et il ne put, un jour, lui expliquer un terme d’équitation qu’elle avait rencontré dans un roman.”
Gustave Flaubert (12 december 1821 – 8 mei 1880)
Isabelle Huppert en Christophe Malavoy in de film Madame Bovaryuit 1991
Uit:Look Back in Anger
“JIMMY. Anyone who’s never watched somebody die is suffering from a pretty bad case of virginity. [His good humour of a moment ago deserts him, as he begins to remember] For twelve months, I watched my father dying — when I was ten years old. He’d come back from the war in Spain, you see. And certain god-fearing gentlemen there had made such a mess of him, he didn’t have long left to live. Everyone knew it — even I knew it. But, you see, I was the only one who cared. His family were embarrassed by the whole business. Embarrassed and irritated. As for my mother, all she could think about was the fact that she had allied herself to a man who seemed to be on the wrong side in all things. My mother was all for being associated with minorities, provided they were the smart, fashionable ones. We all of us waited for him to die. The family sent him a cheque every month, and hoped he’d get on with it quietly, without too much vulgar fuss. My mother looked after him without complaining, and that was about all. Perhaps she pitied him. I suppose she was capable of that. [with a kind of appeal in his voice] But I was the only one who cared! Every time I sat on the edge of his bed, to listen to him talking or reading to me, I had to fight back my tears. At the end of twelve months, I was a veteran. All that that feverish failure of a man had to listen to him was a small, frightened boy. I spent hour upon hour in that tiny bedroom. He would talk to me for hours, pouring out all that was left of his life to one, lonely, bewildered little boy, who could barely understand half of what he said. All he could feel was the despair and the bitterness, the sweet, sickly smell of a dying man. You see, I learnt at an early age what it was to be angry — angry and helpless. And I can never forget it. I knew more about — love … betrayal … and death, when I was ten years old than you will probably every know all your life.“
John Osborne (12 december 1929 – 24 december 1994)
Scene uit een theatervoorstelling, Theatre Royal Bath, 2005