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reading maupassant sunday morning (standard:drama, 975 words)
Author: DAVID TUMUSIIMEAdded: Mar 20 2006Views/Reads: 1869/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
how much a writer can come to mean to you
 



There was a time when perfect mornings were 6 O' Clock in the morning
emptying my medicine cabinets on the floor, trembling fingers turning 
over sackets for one pair of Headex or Action tablets I was sure 
somehow had been left over. Rummaging through the kitchen fridge for 
jugs of cold water to slack my throat's burning thirst. And finding 
that there was no boiled drinking water in the fridge, switching the 
fridge off to a shuddering stop and on my knees sucking the ice in the 
freezer, the need in my throat greater than the pain in my gums. 

It was only when the last drop in the freezer lingered too long, gave me
a chance to look at it, that I realized in an instant the mistake I had 
made and I was going to be punished for; the drop of water thick milky 
white in the darkness of the refrigerator like a mucus drop on the tip 
of a child's nose about to lick it away and I ran, ran knowing it was 
in vain that I would never make it to the toilet bowl in time, to retch 
on the floor of the toilet. Convulsively, my back arched tight, my 
veins in my throat working and taut, a torrent of all last night's 
feast, unable to breath, scared, wishing the naked girl I left curled 
in my duvet would wake up, remembering Jimi Hendrix died choking on his 
vomit. In the cellar at the back of my mind a penitent boy, no longer 
THE MAN from last night, on his knees praying for one more chance to 
live. 

There were mornings...but there were so many such mornings...I confuse
them now all with one another because they were so many. I remember 
those mornings instead when Ronnie was in Jinja, Sam with his girl on 
Campus, Eddie was in hospital sick again, Singh wouldn't leave home 
because his Uncle had bought one of the first contraptions in Uganda 
called a computer, there was no school, and I had to be alone because I 
was making a decade since I last stepped inside the echoing hall of any 
cathedral, Sunday mornings reading Maupassant. In the red armchair 
living room. After five years. 

After five years of waiting, hopeless at French, to read an English
translation Guy de Maupassant. After five years of fruitless libraries' 
poring. Five years of Owino market weekend book stall hunts. Five years 
and the closest being Maupassant cameos in Flaubert lives, Zola 
letters, Henry James memoirs pored over hungrily. Five years 
stripteasing Maupassant asides everywhere in unexpected places like 
painting books with precious Maupassant quotes: "Like ...the younger 
element of the time Maupassant frequented the banks of the Seine on 
Sundays for boating. From this he drew a number of short stories, among 
them Mouche: "I saw some funny things and some peculiar girls in the 
past when I was rowing. How many times I have wanted to write a small 
book called On the Seine, to tell about this life of strength and 
jauntiness, gaiety and poverty, of robust and rowdy holiday that I led 
between the ages of twenty and thirty."' It gives one the impression of 
looking at Renoir's painting Le Dejeuner des Canotiers, which was 
painted in 1881, several years before de Maupassant wrote Mouche." 

Virginia Woolf, the first neurotic to earn my respect and opprobrium
talking about Maupassant but turning against Ernest Hemingway: 
"Something indeed seems wrong with the people. If we place them (the 
comparison is bad) against Tchekov's people, they are as flat as 
cardboard. If we place them (the comparison is better) against 
Maupassant's people they crude as a photograph." Knowing even before I 
ever read anything of Maupassant's and so little of Hemingway's then 
that the bitch was absolutely right. After five years of waiting and 
hoarding. 

Then one evening when I was not waiting, my hair unkempt, my shirt not
tucked in, my shoe laces undone, eight packets of royal vodkas 
scattered around me, stinking from four days of not being near the 
shower, red eyes staring the emptiness of the first furnished flat I 
had ever rented and she would never live in with me, Sam possessing 
"one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand 
miles away" to my heart dropping by and dropping on the coffee table 
next to the red armchair a red hardcover book and saying he would not 
be able to come in tomorrow. Me squeezing dry another vodka into my 
coffee mug and lighting another cigarette, "Fuck him." 

And in the night beginning to read, '"When I saw her for the first
time," Louis d' Arandel said, with the look of a man who was dreaming 
and trying to recollect something, "I thought of some slow and yet 
passionate music that I once heard, though I do not remember who was 
the composer."' Until then all my mornings were Camus mornings but 
reading, "As the weather was very fine, the people on the farm had 
dined more quickly than usual, and had returned to the fields. The 
female servant, Rose, remained alone in the large kitchen, where the 
fire on the hearth was drying out, under the large boiler of hot water. 
From time to time she took some water out of it, and slowly washed her 
plates and dishes, stopping occasionally to look at the two streaks of 
light which the sun threw onto the long table through the window, and 
which showed the defects in the glass. Three venturesome hens were 
picking up the crumbs under the chairs, while the smell of the poultry 
yard and the warmth from the cow stall came in through the half-open 
door, and a cock was heard crowing in the distance," Sunday mornings 
forever on that Sunday with no heart becoming Maupassant mornings.


   


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