Thursday, February 9, 2012
Meditative and moving
In the third, Richard, a friend is again in need. Richard, the husband of Margaret, dying of cancer in midlife, Margaret phoning, needing cigarettes. Through it all, the vibrant summer of Berlin swirls around Alice, introducing us to her live-in lover, Raymond. Once more we are being led further into Alice’s life. And further still in the fourth story, Malte, as Alice uncovers family history, finally researching the life of her unknown gay uncle Malte, who committed suicide. She meets Frederick, her uncle’s lover from the 1960s, now a man of seventy something, dignified in his sharing of secrets and reminisces.
And then, the final story, Raymond. We witness Alice as an older woman now and her lover, Raymond, passes on. We’re deep into the depths of Alice’s character as she grieves. She matter-of-factly starts to get rid of his things, but grief catches you when you least expect it. She finds that “she couldn’t choose the memories; they came of their own accord; the memory of the garden, Raymond in the aviator jacket – soundless and yet part of it all”. When she discovers a dried piece of an almond horn, she crumples – small, everyday, innocuous objects have the power of memory, and remind one of loss, grief. This is a moving, meditative piece.
This is the closest person in Alice’s life, as we move through the early, raw stages of her loss, “the days would never again be this clear and luminous; maybe she would have to learn how to find pleasure in it; any other way was impossible”.
First published in The Sunday Independent, January 22 2012