Читать онлайн "My Struggle: Book One" автора Knausgaard Karl Ove - RuLit - Страница 59

 
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In the winter they went south and complained to the travel guides, I saw this in a letter I happened to find when I was staying with them once, there had been a legal case, Dad had collapsed and been taken to the hospital by ambulance, he had had violent chest pains and had sued the travel company because he claimed his medical treatment had brought on the heart attack, to which the company responded rather drily that it had not been a heart attack, but a collapse caused by alcohol and pills.

Eventually they left northern Norway and moved back to Sørland where Dad, now fat and bloated, with an enormous gut, drank nonstop. Staying sober enough for a few hours to be able to pick us up by car was now out of the question. They split up, Dad moved to a town in Østland where he had a new job, which he lost some months later, and then there was nothing left — no marriage, no job, and barely a child, because although Unni wanted them to spend time together, and in fact allowed him to do so, which did not work out very well, visiting rights were eventually withdrawn, not that that affected him much. Nevertheless he was furious, presumably because it was his right, and he held firm to his rights at every opportunity now. Terrible things happened, and all Dad had left was his flat in Østland, where he hung out drinking, when he wasn’t in the pubs in town, hanging out there drinking. He was as fat as a barrel, and even though his skin was still tanned, it had a kind of matte tone, there was a matte membrane covering him, and with all the hair on his face and head and his messy clothes he looked like some kind of wild man as he charged around in search of a drink. Once he went missing for several weeks, and it was as if he had vanished into the bowels of the earth. Gunnar called Yngve and said he’d reported Dad missing to the police. He reappeared in a hospital somewhere in Østland, bedridden, unable to walk. The paralysis, however, was not permanent, he struggled to his feet again, and after a few weeks spent in a detox clinic he carried on where he had left off.

During this phase I had no contact with him. But he visited his mother more and more often, and stayed longer and longer each time. In the end, he moved in with her and erected a barricade. He stowed what belongings he had in the garage, got rid of the home-help Gunnar had organized for Grandma, who was no longer capable of looking after herself, and locked the door. He remained inside with her until the day he died. Gunnar had called Yngve on one occasion and told him how the land lay. Told him, among other things, how he had once gone over and found Dad lying on the living room floor. He had broken his leg, but instead of asking Grandma to phone for an ambulance to take him to the hospital, he had instructed her not to say a word to anyone, not even Gunnar, so she didn’t, and he lay there surrounded by plates of leftovers, bottles of beer and spirits that she had brought him from his abundant stockpile. Gunnar didn’t know how long he had been lying there, perhaps a day, perhaps two. The sole interpretation of his telephone call to Yngve was that he felt we should intervene and remove our father from the house, because he would die there, and we did discuss this, but decided not to do anything, he would have to plow his own furrow, live his own life, die his own death.

Now he had.

I got up and went to the counter for some more coffee. A man wearing a dark, elegant suit, with a silk scarf around his neck and dandruff on his shoulders, was pouring coffee as I arrived. He set the white cup, full to the brim with black coffee, on the red tray, and looked at me quizzically as he lifted the pot.

“I’ll help myself, thank you,” I said.

“As you wish,” he said, replacing the pot on one of the two hotplates. I guessed he was an academic of some kind. The waitress, a substantial woman in her fifties, a Bergensian for certain, I had seen that face all over town in the years I had lived there, on buses and in the streets, behind bars and in shops, with that same short dyed hair and the square glasses that only women of that age can admire, stretched out her hand as I raised my cup.

“Top off?”

“Five kroner,” she said in a broad Bergen accent. I placed a five-krone coin in her hand and went back to my table. My mouth was dry and my heart was beating fast, as if I were excited, but I was not, on the contrary, I felt calm and sluggish as I sat staring at the small plane hanging from the enormous glass roof beneath which the light shimmered as if from a reflection, and glanced at the departures board where the clock showed a quarter past five, and then down at the people lined up, walking across the concourse floor, sitting and reading newspapers, standing and chatting. It was summer, clothes were vibrant, bodies tanned, the mood light, as always wherever people gather to travel. Sitting like this, as I sometimes did, I could experience colors as bright, lines as sharp, and faces as incredibly distinct. They were laden with meaning. Without that meaning, which is what I was experiencing now, they were distant and somehow hazy, impossible to grasp, like shadows without the darkness of shadows.

I twisted around and glanced toward the gate. A crowd of passengers, who must have just arrived, were making their way along the tunnel-like jet bridge from the plane. The departure lounge door opened, and with jackets folded over their arms, and bags of all descriptions hanging against their thighs, the passengers came in, looked up for the baggage claim sign, turned right and disappeared from sight.

Two boys walked past me carrying paper cups of Coke. One had some fluff over his top lip and on his chin, and must have been about fifteen. The other was smaller, and his face was hairless, although that did not necessarily mean he was younger. The taller of the two had big lips which stayed open, and, in combination with the vacant eyes, made him look stupid. The smaller boy had more alert eyes but the way a twelve-year-old is alert. He said something, both laughed, and as they came to the table he must have repeated it, for the others sitting there laughed too.

I was surprised by how small they were, and it was impossible to imagine that I had been that small when I was fourteen or fifteen. But I must have been.

I pushed away my coffee cup, got up, folded my jacket over my arm, grabbed my suitcase, and walked to the gate, sat down by the counter, where a uniformed woman and man each stood working at a computer screen. I leaned back and closed my eyes for a few seconds. Dad’s face appeared again. It was as though it had been lying in wait. A garden in the mist, the grass slightly muddy and trampled, a ladder up a tree, Dad’s face turns to me. He is holding the ladder with both hands, he is wearing high boots and a thick knitted sweater. Two white tubs beside him in the field, a bucket hanging from a hook on the top rung.

     

 

2011 - 2018