46: Ophelia – Starving

I have travelled in a wide circuit, taking al­most the whole of my life to do it. For, in a manner of speaking, I am back in that awful school, alone, friendless, buffeted by forces I cannot see, cannot understand, cannot prevail against in even the smallest measure. Then, I was wrenched from my old, familiar life in which I knew a certain contentment, and now the same thing happens again, for my wife has died, and all conversation has end­ed, and all purpose is shattered. Forsaken then, by friends who did not mean to forsake me, but simply got left behind, so I am forsaken now it seems by my wife who brings no word to me. (She would know what to do.) So it seems I am forsaken by friends I never had, for sickness and disability take up a lot of time, you know, and there was not enough left over for friends or gatherings, none beyond those occasional visits to my grand­parents as they grew closer and closer to extreme old age and the inevitable sundering from our social practice. So we stayed at home, and had conversations about everything. She was very keen on the afterlife, and believed, as much as a rational person could, that on death we travel to a new world and a new life, for the evidence, of various sorts, was abundant. She read books and watched out for television documentaries. And if anyone was going to come back with words of comfort or reassurance, it would be her. I had assumed with­out question that something would happen, that I would hear her voice, or see her sitting in her chair, or perhaps something stranger yet would occur, as others have attested, that she would talk to me through the telephone, or manipulate the speakers of my computer and make a gift to me, a gift I need so much, of some simple communica­tion … everything is all rightI am all right … but no…

I dream of her every night. There she is (mud­dled up with my nightmares), just as she was in life, talking, and telling me how to fix things. Though, the other night, her disability had van­ished away, and in no time at all, she had cleared away the clutter I have made on the landing… So every morning, I awake to a fresh realisation of what has happened. And as I did then, all those years ago, tortured in that terrible school, I panic under the weight of what I shall call being forsak­en … for no one comes, no one aids me, and all hope is gone. My broken heart is pounding, pounding, pounding, and has stopped working properly, for my feet suddenly started to swell, and I cannot get my shoes on properly, and that does make it so very difficult getting up and down the stairs, with my shoes half-on, hanging off the front of my fat feet…

It seems that some edict has been spoken somewhere very distant, no more for him. And on my wide circuit, all I can do, as I did then, is carry on in despair, wishing to be rescued from my des­olate shore. She came, all those years ago, not to rescue me from that awful school, for merely the passing of time took me away from that place, but she did come, and she took me to a whole new world. Its miseries descended soon enough, and sickness came full steam, and all hopes of careers were swept aside by its inexorable progress. But we managed, and we did go into the garden on sunny days … not as often as I would have liked, for the sheer physical effort involved placed our garden at a distance from us, and I fear no explanation – not one that takes up less than two pages – will properly explain that.

As I did then, when suffering the torments of that awful school, I retreat to my books, and I enter the worlds that their authors lived in or in­vented, but this amounts to mere distraction and must not be regarded as a solution, you under­stand. It is a way of passing the time until my grandfather comes in his white and blue boat, or my wife comes with smiles, and I hope I will know relief of such intensity it will be as if I have never tasted relief before.

Either that, or my ending here will be a final ending, and all misery will also end, and I will not know the truth of it, that the afterlife has all along been a fantasy. There, that is an account of why I feel so terribly forlorn today.

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