Sitting in the outpatient department the thoughts tuned in to the noises,
The smells, the wide eyed fear and wider mouthed smiles.
So many decades behind – a life full of wonder and awe.
They had investigated Cancer in the kidney, Leukaemia and now bone marrow Cancer.
And had found none and continued to search and search.
He had felt strangely calm, quiet, philosophical about it all;
Because he still felt as invincible as an eighteen year old.
Occasionally, the door opened and he could see his reflection in the glass.
A straight backed, strong and confident old man.
Bent double inside, tired and full of childish fears of the unknown.
He opened his book and read – another world to hide in.
Worlds within another world which is yet inside another,
Never ceasing and going back as far as the many last times he had read the same novel.
As a child and he had cried.
As a teenager and he had laughed.
As a new husband and he had felt warm inside.
As a middle aged father and he had smiled benevolently.
As a teacher of literature and he had pontificated endlessly.
And now as an old man and he had cried again.
He made a note in the margin and wanted to write ‘testimony’
But could not remember if it had an ‘e’ after the ‘t’ or an ‘i’.
That has been happening a lot recently.
He must tell the consultant about this forgetfulness.
And about the bleeding.
The dizzy spells.
The sleepless nights.
He should have made a list because now he will forget it all.
He read on and was young again – as young as the new words being born before him –
Little innocent babes awaiting definition and experiences
That would age them on their way to his silent world.
It would be nice, so nice, to read for all eternity
And learn why things happen the way that they do
And why they have to come to an end always
Like novels that have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Will there be books in the afterworld – that promised land of languishing nothingness?
He met his favourite characters and conversed with them
And they wanted to know why they had changed each time that they met him.
He knew why they changed so much – precisely why.
It would make a really good monograph on the poetics of the novel:
On the creative poetic need to rewrite and rewrite anew at every reading.
He must make a note about this and work on it after breakfast tomorrow.
He dropped his pen and a child ran to pick it up for him;
He smiled as he bent forward to get his pen and he dropped his notebook,
And the novel tumbled down off his lap with its centre falling out containing fifty or so pages detached by dried old age
And he smiled embarrassedly, and laughed inside at the similarities between the old novel and his body.
“This way dear. The doctor will see you now. Let me help you in…”
Categorised in: Article
This post was written by Faysal Mikdadi