Saturday, 27 December 2008
Not truly night, just a late winter afternoon, back from London, C would have come with me to the family reunion - brother A, his wife I, my father and K - but she still had a temperature, so best not.
Driving home in the dark with the radio on. Everything is turned inward. There is no landscape, no form, only wild lights coming towards you then past you or hovering, red-eyed in front, ahead. I am surprised there are not more accidents at such times because the sense of reality, the metal-hurtling-forward-at speeds-upward-of-seventy kind of reality, hardly impinges, except when one has to brake a little more sharply, or signal to overtake. The whole thing is a conversation with one's own body, the voices on the radio flickering in and out of dream-attention, the car the lining of one's consciousness.
I thought as I was driving of Max Sebald's death at the wheel, his heart attack and his crash, and wondered what would happen to those around me if I too bladed into the big nothing. It would be the work of a moment. A morbid thought, I know, but my father looks smaller and frailer each time I see him and I know he is unwell. Not so that he feels unwell for now, but ill enough to bring the sense of mortality looming up suddenly large and daunting like a truck at night.
And that took me back to the night drive back from Dahanu in India to Bombay two summers ago. A dark truck would appear now and then without lights on the wrong side of the carriageway facing us. You can't help wondering what the drivers are thinking. Perhaps it is no more than 'I have missed my turning so I'll just double back.'
Arriving home C and I sat down to some poached egg on toast. I felt practically no hunger. Then C took an apple and cut it into four. It was a beautiful ruby coloured apple, deep dark red, luminous, pure, sweet and white inside, or rather that special greeny-yellowish white that is essence of apple. And if this were not to be? I wondered for a second, this ravishing deep ruby coloured apple? And if the experience of life were apples and night-driving, then the blading into the big nothing?
The apple hangs somewhere, like the moon or the truck lights.
Gaza, I know. And son T off to Brazil. There should be a postcard one could send from the planet where one puts all this down in two or three brief sentences, so it all hangs together.