Representations of Home Creative Journal

ROAM - Spring/Summer 2021 - ROAM 1

Mário Semião

“Scraps of Time”

(To Gabriel Josipovici, on the occasion of his 80th birthday)

Annie lays out all her finger crayons on the kitchen table, one by one, as she always does before sketching. Elizabeth brings her double-handed baby mug with some milk, which Annie will surely sip every time she changes colour. As if wildfire smoke from the Australian bushfires had not circumnavigated the globe, as if record temperatures had not just been logged in Antarctica.

It was always going to be a matter of tone, wasn’t it? Wasn’t this the lesson Proust taught us all?

– Thank you, Annie. Look at that nice little train you have. Shall we go and show it to mommy?

Elizabeth takes care of the dishes as she is wont to do when I prepare dinner. Though not particularly adept at the task, Gabriel looks after Annie for a while. I wonder how long that will last. Pointless to keep trying to write in these conditions, pointless to expect a different outcome: guilt followed by frustration.

–  Daddy, why can’t we visit grandpa and grandma?

–  We’ve talked about this, Gabriel. Because of the virus. They are older, they need to be safe.

–  Safe from us?

Are we safe? Are we ever safe? Is being safe enough? The mind boggles at the sheer pretentiousness of these questions as I write them. One of the single greatest tragedies of the pandemic is that platitudes have acquired an aura of solemnity.

According to reports, the pandemic has cleared the smog from China’s skies and Venice’s Grand Canal is now running clear. Gabriel wipes the kitchen table with paper towels, thoroughly soaked in milk. He is wearing Elizabeth’s yellow rubber gloves, which cover the entirety of his arms, almost reaching the shoulders.

I read again those words that have guided me through thick and thin: “Everything passes. The good and the bad. The joy and the sorrow. Everything passes.” I wonder, for the first time, if they live up to the urgency of the moment.

–  Working at home used to mean something.

–  Well, Julian, now everyone can understand what you’ve been going through all these years.

–  I’m sure people have plenty of other things to worry about at the moment, Elizabeth.

–  Glad to see you are aware of that.

Elizabeth dozes on the couch with Annie in her arms. Chopin’s nocturnes are still playing in Gabriel’s room, the only thing that gets him to sleep. It occurs to me that a perfect home is a tableau vivant.

–  I’ll take the opportunity to finally read The Decameron.

–  Sounds appropriate, Elizabeth. And fashionable.

–  What’s that supposed to mean, Julian?

–  Nothing at all. I’m just glad you and everyone else are making the most of this whole situation, I guess.

Gabriel stacks his building blocks on the living room floor. Annie waits eagerly for the right moment to knock them down. Elizabeth sits next to them, her legs free on the old wooden tiles. A Monday morning. I watch as they live their upended lives in the comfort of their own home. “Greenhouse gas concentrations are at the highest levels in 3 million years,” a new UN report says.

–  You seem irritable, Julian. More than usual, I mean.

–  I think we are all entitled to feel a bit irritable these days, wouldn’t you agree? The kids haven’t played with anyone else in weeks.

–  Sure, this is affecting everyone, but allow me to rephrase it: you seem resentful.

The planet is “way off track” in dealing with climate change, they say. No, we are off track. And the mind stands in awe again: just imagine how many people, at this very moment, are writing the great novel about the year 2020. As if...

– Sure, Gabriel, let’s drink some warm milk and then off to bed again.

Annie is running around the house, stomping her small feet. Gabriel hurriedly re-arranges his blocks every time she passes. Elizabeth stands at the living room window, where she places herself whenever she needs a moment for herself. A position which strategically allows her to keep one eye on the children and another on the treetop outside. Ignoring the link between global warming and pandemics would be a “dangerous delusion,” one scientist suggests.

–  It’s no one’s fault you can’t get any writing done, Julian.

–  There’s something celebratory in all this new-found appreciation of time. I just can’t stand it.

–  This has been a life-changing experience for everyone.

–  Life feels the same familiar mess to me.

So it has come to this. Insomnia as a liberating force. Uprooted words spring to mind: “You don’t finish a picture; you forsake it.”

< Voltar
Este site utiliza cookies da Google para disponibilizar os respetivos serviços e para analisar o tráfego. O seu endereço IP e agente do utilizador são partilhados com a Google, bem como o desempenho e a métrica de segurança, para assegurar a qualidade do serviço, gerar as estatísticas de utilização e detetar e resolver abusos de endereço.