I’m five or six, on holiday with my father at his parents’ place in Soissons. My grandfather is seeing patients in his surgery at the end of the garden, my grandmother is busy doing I don’t know what, I’m alone, I’m bored. Suddenly I have an idea. I get my grandmother’s lipstick from the bathroom and I set about painting my father: two circles on his cheeks, another on the end of his nose. I take him by the hand and say, “You’re a clown, Dad, come on, I want to show everyone.” Together we go out into the street and sit down on the doorstep in the blazing sunlight of a summer afternoon. He’s in profile. With my finger I spread the color over his left cheek. He lets me do it with a weary, nasty smile. Seeing him like this I’m filled with shame, sorrow, and pleasure. My grandmother suddenly appears from nowhere, a small, elegant, measured woman, her dress, makeup, and hair always just so. For the first time I hear her raise her voice. In a tone that brooks no answer she orders me to stop it at once, to go back inside.
Twenty-five years later, when my grandmother was long dead, my father went back to live, or rather to stop living, in Soissons. He moved into an apartment with his father. After my grandfather’s departure and subsequent death a few months later, my father was hospitalized in a clinic right opposite the house he grew up in. It was then that he really went downhill. READ MORE >
January 12th, 2012 / 12:01 pm