Читать онлайн "My Struggle: Book One" автора Knausgaard Karl Ove - RuLit - Страница 56

 
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I met Yngve’s glance and smiled. He came over and stood next to me. His presence totally reassured me. I was so glad he was there, and I had to fight not to destroy everything by losing control again. I had to think about something else, I had to let my attention find neutral ground.

Someone was cleaning up next door. The sounds were low and disrupted the atmosphere in our room, they were alien, in the same way that sounds of reality that break into the dreams of someone asleep are alien.

I looked down at Dad. The fingers, which had been interlaced and placed over his stomach, the yellow patch of nicotine along his forefinger, a discoloring, the way a carpet is discolored. The disproportionately deep wrinkles in the skin over the knuckles, which now looked carved, not created. Then the face. It was not at rest, for even though it was peaceful and calm, it was not vacant, there were still traces of what I could only describe as determination. It struck me that I had always tried to interpret the expression on his face, that I had never been able to look at it without trying to read it at the same time.

But now it was closed.

I turned to Yngve.

“Shall we go?” he said.

I nodded.

The funeral director was waiting for us in the anteroom. I left the door open behind me. Even though I knew it was irrational, I didn’t want Dad lying there on his own.

After shaking hands with the funeral director and exchanging a few words about what was going to happen in the days before the funeral, we went out to the parking lot and lit up, Yngve leaning against the car, me sitting on the edge of a wall. There was rain in the air. The trees in the copse behind the cemetery bowed under the pressure of the gathering wind. For a moment the rustling of leaves drowned the traffic noise at the other end of the lowland. Then they were quiet again.

“Well, that was strange,” Yngve said.

“Yes,” I said. “But I’m glad we did it.”

“Me too. I had to see it to believe it.”

“Do you believe it now?”

He smiled. “Don’t you?”

Instead of returning the smile, which I had intended to do, I began to cry again. Pressed my hand against my face, bowed my head. Sob after sob shook through me. Once it had abated, I glanced up at him and laughed.

“This is like when we were small,” I said. “I cry and you watch.”

“Are you sure. .?” he asked, searching my eyes. “Are you sure you can manage the rest on your own?”

“Of course,” I said. “It’s not a problem.”

“I can call and say I’m staying.”

“No, go home. We’ll do what we arranged.”

“Okay. I’ll be off now.”

He threw down his cigarette and took the car key from his pocket. I got to my feet and went closer, but not so close that any handshaking or hugging could take place. He unlocked the door, got in, looked up at me as he twisted the ignition key and the engine started.

“So I’ll see you soon,” he said.

“Bye. Drive carefully. Say hello to everyone!”

He closed the door, backed out, stopped, buckled his seat belt, put the car in gear, and drove slowly toward the main road. I started to follow. Then his taillights lit up, and he reversed.

“Maybe you should take this,” he said, passing a hand through the rolled-down window. It was the brown envelope the funeral director had given us.

“No point in me taking it all the way to Stavanger,” he said. “Would make more sense for it to be here. Okay?”

“Okay,” I answered.

“See you,” he said. The window slid up, and the music, which had been blaring across the parking lot seconds ago, now seemed to be coming from under water. I didn’t move until his car had turned onto the main road and was lost from view. It was a childhood instinct; disaster would strike if I moved. Then I put the envelope in my inside jacket pocket and set off for town.

Three days earlier, at around two in the afternoon, Yngve had called me. At once I could hear from his voice that something had happened, and my first thought had been that my father was dead.

“Hi,” he said. “It’s me. Something has happened. Yes. .”

“Yes?” I prompted. I was in the hall, standing with one hand against the wall, the other holding the receiver.

“Dad’s died.”

“Oh,” I said.

“Gunnar just called. Grandma found him in a chair this morning.”

“What did he die of?”

“I don’t know. Probably heart.”

There were no windows in the hall, and the main lamp was switched off, so what dim light there was came from the kitchen at one end and the open bedroom door at the other. The face in the mirror that met me was dark and watching me from somewhere faraway.

“What do we do now? I mean, from a practical point of view?”

“Gunnar’s expecting us to organize everything. So we have to get ourselves down there. As fast as possible, basically.”

“Alright,” I said. “I was on my way to Borghild’s funeral, was just about to leave in fact. So my suitcase is packed. I can leave now. Shall we meet there?”

“Fine,” Yngve said. “I’ll drive down tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow,” I said. “Let me just think for a second.”

“Why don’t you fly over so we can go together?”

“Good idea. I’ll do that. I’ll give you a call when I know which plane I’ll be on, okay?”

“Okay, see you.”

After hanging up I went to the kitchen and filled the kettle, took a tea bag from the cupboard, put it in a clean cup, leaned over the counter and looked up the cul-de-sac outside the house, visible only as patches of gray between the green shrubs that formed a dense clump from the end of the small garden to the road. On the other side were some enormous, towering deciduous trees, beneath which a little dark alley led to the main road on which Haukeland Hospital was situated. All I could think was that I couldn’t think about what I should be thinking about. That I didn’t feel what I should be feeling. Dad’s dead, I thought, this is a big, big event, it should overwhelm me, but it isn’t doing that, for here I am, staring at the kettle, feeling annoyed that it hasn’t boiled yet. Here I am, looking out and thinking how lucky we were to get this flat, which I do every time I see the garden, because our elderly landlady looks after it, and not that Dad’s dead, even though that is the only thing that actually has any meaning. I must be in shock, I thought, pouring water into the cup although it hadn’t boiled yet. The kettle, a shiny deluxe model we had been given by Yngve as a wedding present. The cup, a yellow Höganes model, I couldn’t remember who had given it to us, only that it had been at the top of Tonje’s wedding list. I tugged at the tea bag string a few times, threw it in the sink, where it landed with a smack, and went into the dining room carrying the cup. Thank goodness no one else was at home!

I paced up and down for minutes, trying to invest the fact that Dad was dead with some meaning, but failed. There was no meaning. I understood it, I accepted it, and it was not meaningless in the sense that a life had been snatched away that might well not have been snatched away, but it was in the sense that it was one fact among many, and it did not occupy the position in my consciousness that it should have.

I wandered around the room, cup of tea in hand, the weather outside was gray and mild, the gently sloping countryside was full of rooftops and abundant green hedges. We had only lived there for a few weeks, we came from Volda where Tonje had been studying radio journalism and I had written a novel that was due to come out in two months. It was the first real home we had had; the flat in Volda didn’t count, it was temporary, but this was permanent, or represented something permanent, our home. The walls still smelled of paint. Oxblood red in the dining room, on advice from Tonje’s mother, who was an artist but who spent most of her time doing interior design and cooking, both at a high level — her house looked the way houses did in interior decor magazines, and the food she served was always meticulously prepared and exquisite — and eggshell white in the living room, as well as in the other rooms. But this was nothing like an interior decor magazine here, too much furniture, and too many posters and bookshelves, were a testimony to the student existence we had just left behind. We lived on student loans while I wrote the novel, for officially I was studying literary science as my main subject up to Christmas when my money ran out, and I had to ask for an advance from the publishing house, which had lasted me until just recently. Dad’s death came therefore as manna from heaven, because he had money, surely he must have had money. The three brothers had sold the house on Elvegata and shared the proceeds between them less than two years ago. Surely he couldn’t have squandered it in that short time.

     

 

2011 - 2018