Monday, February 14, 2011
Based on a photograph by Erskine Caldwell - Locket, Georgia, “I’ve done the best I knew how all my life, but it didn’t amount to much in the end.”
As I stand here, in front of her, looking at her eyes, looking at my eyes, I can’t quite understand why he is saying that my life didn’t amount to much in the end. What one must have done or worse what one must have possessed for one’s life to have had amounted to something – a king’s fortune, his glory, his fame - or is the question one should pose rather what one mustn’t have had, what one mustn’t have know nothing of – hunger, cold, shame, desperation. In either case, all of my kind have led and will most likely lead a life without significant result, a life that is much like a ride on a roller coaster: up and down, forward in a circle, from the beginning to the beginning till the moment when all the joy, fear, excitement and uncertainty is being wiped away by a man. Lost it all shall be; lost it all is.
I stand here; I look at her; I can hardly remember who she was at her present, who she is in my past. The story of our lives is written on her face: each wrinkle is a symbol of emotion once felt; the bones that have not known either muscle or fat on them; the mouth that speaks of the absence of laughter; the eyes that, in spite of this, look up with pride rather than down with shame. I was not broken, was I? I didn’t give up, did I? I couldn’t have; I shouldn’t have; I can’t remember if I did or did not. Her eyes say that I didn’t, his words say that I did. I don’t know; I can’t remember who I was. Anyhow, now, it doesn’t matter much: it’s all gone.
Why am I here then, thinking the way I am thinking; way not just walk by her as if she hadn’t mattered much; why can’t I leave the life of the past standing still where it belongs; why must it haunt me even in here? Questions. Questions. Questions. And, yet, no answers. All that I am left with is a blur of confusion in which I desperately try to find a sense, reason, purpose – the answers. I try; I fail; I try again; I fail again. Perhaps, the answer that I am so vigorously seeking has no existence. Looking at her, however, the loss of answers doesn’t seem to trouble her: there is no confusion in her eyes; she looks as if she knew all that I know nothing of, as if her path had no other direction in which to lead her, as if all of life had been fixed. How did it all change; how did the blur enter in my mind and take possession of it?
Why am I thinking about this now? I should be on my way to the market to buy meat and potatoes for the super and something for the little ones as well: they shall be hungry when they return from school. Why on earth did I come here; only to waste my time? Why couldn’t I pass by instead of coming in?