Friday 13 December

Walked all night long, Paris perimeter. It was the day when my grandfather refused to get up from the chair in front of the door. A farmhouse was in the background, also a clothes-line between a couple of rotting posts, and fixed to it were clothespins. Ducks splashed about in a small muddy hole in which water had gathered. At a distance a barn and a cottage, the kind they provided for retired railway clerks. On the railway tracks just one train a day passes through. My grandfather was sitting in his leather armchair, wrapped in a rug up to his chest. Without any explanation he refused to leave the chair from then on. Since the weather was fine, they let him have his way, later building some sort of temporary stall around him, the walls of which were built in such a manner that one could remove them quickly and easily when it was warm again outside. The roof is nailed down with tarpaper over it. Behind Grandfather, the first building past the farmhouse is the inn. All kinds of things are written on the menu, but the waitress always says we’re out of this today and that’s just finished and there’s nothing left in the way of pork, the butcher’s been remiss with his deliveries. Only fish remains, several varieties, and it’s been like this every day since the restaurant first existed. The tables are separated by aquariums, inside of which carp, trout, and some very exotic fish are incarcerated, as well as a trembling eel that’s capable of giving out violent electric shocks. But these fish are never taken out and made into dishes; where the kitchen gets its fish remains a mystery. “when I suffer from hunger, I suffer a lot”, is inscribed across every aquarium, and when one throws crumbs into the water from above, the fish fight for them. Grandfather once let it be known that he felt all his vertebrae were broken, with everything held together only because he was sitting in the arms of the chair. If he stood up, all would fall apart like a pile of stones. You could see this from his collar bone, and making a circular movement with his shoulder, which he pretends isn’t possible with the other side, he considers this valid proof that his collar bone has no solid connection to the crumbled spinal column – at least not on the left side. For 11 years Grandfather sat in his armchair; then he got up, went into the inn behind the stall, ordered something to eat, ate fish, and when he wanted to pay, the money he had in his pocket had become invalid, the banknotes having been replaced years ago. Grandfather then visited his old sister, going to bed there and refusing to leave again. Grandmother couldn’t understand this anymore, but the sister could. Every day Grandmother came and tried to talk Grandfather into getting up, but he didn’t want to listen. After nine months Grandmother came just once a week instead of daily, and so it remained for 42 years. At the time of their Golden Wedding Anniversary she came twice in one week, on two consecutive days, for the wedding date fell on the day before her regular visit. The trip was rather long and Grandmother always took the tram. But after many years the tram was shut down, the rails were ripped out of the street, and a bus line opened. Each day when Grandmother came she carried Grandfather’s boots with her to show him, and she tried to persuade him to put them on and get up. After 42 years there was a little accident. Grandmother was shoved out of the bus by pushing passengers, lost the plastic bag with the boots, and, before she could pick them up again, the moving bus ran over the boots. What now? Before Grandmother visited Grandfather she bought a new pair of boots. When Grandfather saw the new boots he became curious, wondering whether they would hurt him. He put on the boots, got up, and went away with Grandmother. Two-and-a-half years later, Grandfather died after an evening of bowling, during which he’d won every game. He died because of his joy, which simply was too much for his frail heart.

pp. 64-66


ISBN: 978-0-9796121-0-7


  1. I love your site. Keep it up !

    Comment by knowledgetoday — March 29, 2009 @ 15:34

  2. Bonza.

    Comment by Rock The Boat — April 22, 2010 @ 16:03

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