Monday, September 3, 2012

Three bedtime stories

Well, I was almost in bed. I was supposed to be. It was just that I was suddenly overcome with a strong feeling of Saharan thirst that would often strangely coincide with an ever too early command to go to bed. I had always felt that I would miss something while I was sleeping. So as I was tiptoeing barefoot through the corridor on my way to the kitchen, with the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of something that momentarily rooted me to the spot, blinking in disbelief. Two people were pushing the heavy freezer in the direction of the front door. For a moment I thought that somebody wanted to rob us off our food supplies. However, that was only until I realised that the door was closed and that the reckless robbers forgot to pull stockings over their heads so that I could clearly see their faces. They were my parents. Before I had even had time to ask for an explanation, I was sent back to bed in a tone of voice that I knew very well meant “No more information available, only more trouble. Retreat and ask no more.” When I got up for school the next morning, the freezer was sitting back in its corner, mysteriously silent as if nothing had ever happened.
A couple of months later I was alone in another bedroom, far away from home, wide awake late in the night. I was preparing myself for an important conversation. It had to be done properly as much depended on it, actually my whole life. Normally I would have found comfort in a gentle stroke of Mum’s hand or sitting on my Dad’s knees, yet that was not an option any more. Not after days of seeing them nervous and distracted, wandering around aimlessly, only occasionally exchanging glances instead of words, as if they expected that one of them would come up with some miraculous solution to a situation that got completely out of control. It was them who needed comfort. The whole world was upside down obviously. How was I to fix it?
Was I supposed to get on my knees? Introduce myself? Apologise for my stubborn denial, scorn and mockery of anybody who had ever attempted anything similar before? I recalled all the endless arguments with other kids on the subject and thought that I had little chance of success in this conversation considering everything I had previously said. Yet, that was my last hope so I cleared my throat and did my best.
I sprang up in bed on the sound of an explosion roaring like a thunder through the canyon whose steep walls surrounded the miniature town in which I lived with my aunt and her family a year later. (Obviously my conversation didn’t go all too well). I could see a myriad of stars dancing before my eyes as I jerked my head a little bit too hard and hit the side of the bed. My cousin sleeping next to me seemed to be more alarmed by my moaning than the explosion and a few moments later was back in horizontal position. I stayed up with my ears pricked expecting to hear some commotion coming from the outside but there was nothing much going on. A few quiet voices and a couple of steps perhaps. The town slept undisturbed. An explosion here or there, who cared? Even the kids played with dynamite on the New Year’s Eve competing whose bundle would shake the town better. I expected to see some parts of the canyon missing on January the first. So after a while the pain in my head subsided, the stars dissolved and I retreated to my side of the bed thinking that I would rather miss whatever was going on and sleep it all over.