The Blue Notebook
This morning I looked at the tight sleeping face and again tried to imagine it, so that it was part of my own experience, what it would mean: ‘Seven of my family, including my mother and father, were murdered in the gas chambers. Most of my close friends are dead: communists murdered by communists. The survivors are mostly refugees in strange countries. I shall live for the rest of my life in a country which will never really be my home.’ But as usual, I failed to imagine it. The light was thick and heavy because of the rain outside. His face unclenched, relaxed. It was now broad, calm, assured. Calm sealed lids, and above them the lightly-marked, glossy brows. I could see him as a child, fearless, cocky, with a clear, candid, alert smile. And I could see him old: he will be an irascible, intelligent, energetic old man, locked in a bitter intelligent loneliness. I was filled with an emotion one has, women have, about children: a feeling of fierce triumph: that against all odds, against the weight of death, this human being exists, here, a miracle of breathing flesh. I shored this feeling up, strengthened it, against the other one, that he would soon be leaving me. He must have felt it in his sleep, because he stirred and said: ‘Go to sleep, Anna.’ He smiled, his eyes shut. The smile was strong and warm; out of another world than the one where he says: But Anna, why should I count? I felt: nonsense, of course he won’t leave me; he can’t smile at me, like that, and mean to leave me. I lay down beside him, on my back. I was careful not to sleep, because very soon Janet would wake. The light in the room was like thin greyish water, moving, because of the streaming wet on the panes. The panes shook slightly. On windy nights they batter and shake, but I don’t wake. Yet I wake if Janet turns over in bed.
It must be about six o’clock. My knees are tense. I realize that what I used to refer to, to Mother Sugar, as ‘the housewife’s disease’ has taken hold of me. The tension in me, so that peace has already gone away from me, is because the current has been switched on: I must-dress-Janet-get-her-breakfast-send-her-off-to-school-get-Michael’s-breakfast-don’t-forget-I’m-out-of-tea-etc.-etc. With this useless but apparently unavoidable tension resentment is also switched on. Resentment against what? An unfairness. That I should have to spend so much of my time worrying over details. The resentment focuses itself on Michael; although I know with my intelligence it has nothing to do with Michael. And yet I do resent him, because he will spend his day, served by secretaries, nurses, women in all kinds of capacities, who will take this weight off him. I try to relax myself, to switch off the current. But my limbs have started to ache, and I must turn over. There is another movement from beyond the wall — Janet is waking.