13
Apr
10

The Secret Scripture

From the book by Sebastian Barry; an elderly woman with a mysterious past is being visited by her doctor in the institution where she has been “residing” for most of her adult life. The doctor is sympathetic, but much of the information regarding her commitment is missing, and he is unsure how to proceed and reluctant to violate her peace or her privacy. He has visited her this day, and spoken of a recent visit to the zoo, and of the beauty of the giraffes.

His talk had locked me in silence, I know not why. It was not opening, easy, happy talk like my father’s, after all. I wanted to listen to him, but I did not want to answer now. That strange responsibility we feel towards others when they speak, to offer them the solace of any answer. Poor humans! And anyway he had not asked a question. He was merely floating there in the room, insubstantial, a living man in the midst of life, dying imperceptibly on his feet, like all of us.

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