Semn de carte: The Unconsoled

Karin Budrugeac | 01 Oct 2017

Un fragment dintr-un roman mai puțin cunoscut al lui Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go, The Remains of the Day) care să te convingă să te apuci de o carte ciudată de 535 de pagini. Later edit: Kazuo Ishiguro a luat Premiul Nobel pentru literatură în 2017.


Eroul, Ryder, este un pianist celebru care ajunge într-un oraș necunoscut pentru a susține un concert excepțional. Odată acolo, este tratat cu o politețe și deferență aproape jenante de toți cei pe care îi întâlnește, care nu-i împiedică însă pe umilii locuitori ai micului oraș să-i ceară și favoruri personale, uneori aproape absurde. De cum ajunge, portarul hotelului îl convinge de pildă să se-ntâlnească cu fiica lui, Sophie, într-o cafenea din centrul vechi, pentru a o ruga pe aceasta să vorbească din nou cu tatăl ei, cu care de fapt nu este certată. Șederea lui Ryder ar trebui să urmeze un program strict, întocmit de atașata de presă, pe care nu-l aflăm niciodată și pe care protagonistul-narator spune că nu l-a primit, dat peste cap de întâlnirile aparent random cu diverși, care-l fac pe pianist să piardă controlul asupra propriei vieți. Spațiul și timpul nu mai sunt clar delimitate, iar realitatea de distorsionează ușor-ușor, ca într-un vis care te poartă din loc în loc, conversații în conversații, unde cei care nu au inițial o față cunoscută devin ai tăi. Sophie este aparent chiar iubita lui Ryder, iar fiul ei Boris se dovedește c-ar fi al lui, o controloare necunoscută dintr-un autobuz este o prietenă veche din copilărie, fiul directorului hotelului, Stephen, pare a fi Ryder în tinerețe, iar Brodsky, un muzician local foarte respectat, atins de demență, pe care tot orașul se străduiește să-l pună pe picioare pentru concert, ar putea fi chiar Ryder peste ani. O călătorie kafkiană și onirică, sau poate o metaforă a felului în care trăim, de parcă am fi într-o bulă temporară de spațiu și timp, pe care nu o controlăm, dar din care știm că putem ieși oricând și că ne putem schimba viața c-un efort de voință. Doar că nu o facem, ci doar o trăim așa cum e. 


Ryder povestește momentul revederii dintre Miss Collins și Brodsky, care se împletește cu amintirea zilei în care s-au despărțit, în urmă cu 20 de ani. 

   They stood together awkwardly for a moment, both suddenly conscious of the passers-by all around them, many of whom were starting to look their way, some barely hiding their curiosity. Then Miss Collins gestured back in the direction of her apartment, saying softly: ’The Stemberg Garden is very beautiful at this time of year. Why don't we go there and talk?’
   They set off with more and more people looking their way, Miss Collins a step or two in front of Brodsky, both grateful for a clear reason to delay conversation until they had reached their destination. They turned the corner back into her street and before long were passing once again in front of the apartment houses. Then just a block or so away, Miss Collins stopped by a small iron gate tucked discreetly back from the pavement.
   She reached for the latch, but paused a moment before opening the gate. It occurred to me then that the simple walk they had just completed together, the mere fact that they were now standing side by side at the entrance to the Stemberg Garden, would hold a significance for her far beyond anything Brodsky could at that moment have suspected. For the truth was, she had made that same short journey with him, from the bustle of the boulevard, finishing at the little iron gate, countless times in her imagination down the years — ever since the mid-summer's afternoon they had chanced upon one another on the boulevard in front of the jeweler's shop. And in all those years, she had not forgotten the look of studied indifference with which he had turned away from her that day, pretending to be engrossed by something in the shop's window.
   At that point — a good year before the start of the drunkenness and the abuse —' such shows of indifference had still been the principal feature of any contact between them. And although by that afternoon she had already resolved several times to set in motion some form of reconciliation, she too had looked away and gone on walking. Only when she had gone further along the boulevard, beyond the Italian cafés, had she given in to her curiosity and glanced back. It was then she had realized he had been following her. He had again been peering into a shop window, but there he had been none the less, only a short way away.
   She had slowed her walk, assuming he would sooner or later catch up. When she had reached her corner and he had still not done so, she had taken another glance back. On that day, as on this, the broad sunny pavement had been crowded with pedestrians, but she had had the satisfaction of gaining a clear view of him as he checked himself in mid-stride and looked away towards the flower stall he was passing. A smile had come to her lips, and as she had turned her comer she had been pleasantly surprised by the lightness of her own mood. Her walk now reduced to a dawdle, she too had started to peer into shop windows. She had looked in turn at the pâtisserie, the toy shop, the drapers — in those days the bookshop had not been there — all the while trying to formulate in her head her opening remark to him when he finally came up to her. ‘Leo, what children we must be,’ she had considered saying. But that had seemed altogether too sensible and she had thought about something more ironic: ‘I notice we seem to be going the same way’ or some such thing. Then his figure had appeared around the corner and she had seen he was holding a bright bouquet. Turning away quickly, she had started to walk again, now at a reasonable pace. Then as she had approached her apartment, for the first time that day, she had been seized by a sense of annoyance at him. Her afternoon had been neatly planned. Why had he chosen this of all moments to seek a conversation with her? When she had arrived at her door, she had stolen another quick glance up the street, only to discover he was still at least twenty yards away.
   She had closed her door behind her and, resisting the urge to look out of the window, had hurried to her bedroom at the rear of the building. There she had checked her appearance in her mirror and composed her emotions. Then, emerging from the bedroom, she had come to a startled halt in the corridor. The door at the far end had been standing ajar and she had been able to see right through, across her sun-filled front parlour and through the bay windows, to the pavement outside where he was now visible, his back to the house, loitering there as though he had arranged to meet someone at that very spot. For a moment she had not moved, suddenly afraid he would turn, look in through the glass and see her. Then his figure had drifted out of view and she had found herself gazing at the fronts of the houses on the opposite side, listening intently for the ring of the doorbell.
   When after a minute he had still not rung, she had again felt a flash of anger towards him. He was, she had realized, waiting for her to come and invite him in. She had again calmed herself and, thinking over the situation carefully, had resolved to do nothing until he had rung the bell.
   For the next several minutes she had proceeded to wait. Once she had returned to her bedroom for no particular reason, then drifted back out into the corridor. Then eventually, when it had finally occurred to her he had gone, she had made her way slowly out to the entrance hall.
   Opening the door and looking left and right, Miss Collins had been surprised to find no trace of him whatsoever. She had expected to discover him lurking a few doors away - or at least the flowers to be on the doorstep. For all that, at that moment, she had felt no regret. A small sense of relief, certainly, and a not unpleasant feeling of excitement that the reconciliation process had at last begun, but she had felt no regret at all. In fact, as she had sat down in her front parlour she had experienced a triumphant glow at having stood her ground. Such small victories, she had told herself, were very important and would help them to avoid the errors of the past.
   Only several months later had it occurred to her she had made a mistake that day. Even then, at first, the idea had remained a very vague one she did not examine carefully. But then as the months had continued, that’s summer’s afternoon had come to occupy an increasingly dominant place in her thoughts. Her great error, she had concluded, had been to enter her apartment. By doing so, she had asked just a little too much of him. Having led him all that way, around the corner and down past the shops, what she should have done was to have paused at the little iron gate, then, making quite sure he had a clear view of her, gone into the Sternberg Garden. Then, without a doubt, he would have followed. And even if for a while they had wandered about the shrubs in silence, sooner or later they would have started to talk. And sooner or later he would have given her the flowers. Throughout the twenty odd years that had passed since then, Miss Collins had rarely glanced towards that iron gate without experiencing a small tug somewhere within her. And so it was that on this morning, as she finally led Brodsky into the garden, she did so with a certain sense of ceremony.

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