Friday, May 30, 2014

This is the moment when the truth comes to me, clear and naked

In my novel Apart From Love, Ben refuses, for the longest time, to give up on his mother, who has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. But in the later part of the novel he is finally facing the moment of truth:

And this, this is the moment when the truth comes to me, clear and naked in its full ugliness, and I cannot deny it, cannot ignore the horrific meaning of what she who used to be my mother does next:
Sensing a presence next to her, she stirs back, as if by instinct, and for a split second smacks her lips. He may think this is a sign, perhaps of gratitude. I can see the sudden relief, the surprise in his smile. His eyes start closing, as if in anticipation of a kiss. 
And then, then she opens her mouth, like some animal—a lizard comes to mind—hungry for its prey. She stays there, seemingly lazy, utterly motionless, jaws dropped, chin hanging, waiting for her feed. Waiting, waiting, waiting for more. Waiting without a word. Waiting with a need that can no longer find its satisfaction, the need of a body, an empty shell of a body whose mind has finally left it. Waiting, because mom will never be able to give.
At once I let go of the double doors so they swing, and come to a close. And I turn, and I run, run out of that place as fast as I can, so as not feel her eyes, looking at me without taking me in. 
I am still running. I have to, because I find myself held still in that moment, when the truth has come to me, damn it. Who can be so brazen as to deny it, and who wants to take a second look.


In this charcoal sketch you can see how I study the features of the face at the moment of shock, when in a flash, you are facing that which you would not face before. A moment of truth can be a personal one, which you experience in private, or a communal one. Which is why I used this sketch also in my large oil painting, Earthquake.


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