Friday, April 22, 2011

A-Z challenge: Silence

My grandfather had had a stroke or two by the time I was old enough to remember. For me, my grandfather was a silence presence in the corner of their living room. Someone who quietly was there. I remember being mystified and a little concerned by this man, who I loved, who seemed selfcontained. I can't remember him talking to me the way my grandmother talked to me.

What I know now is that he was shy, and his stroke had robbed him of his faculty of reading. I also know, now, that he didn't know how to talk to me or my brother.

When he began to, he died. I was twelve.


When I had finished highschool, I had decided to work towards a theatre and film degree in university. Whitchols had a substantial selection of plays that I windowshopped through. As part of my graduation gift I was given a booktoken and I decided to spend it on plays. I picked out a Checkov collection, Hamlet, King Lear and then I came across the collected works of Samuel Beckett. I bought this book for one reason only: the portrait of Beckett reminded me so much of my grandfather that I had to have it. Something about the hair and the set of the mouth. The lines around the eyes.

(Looking at the picture now, I see Samuel Beckett. I know enough about both men to be able to see the multitudinous differences, rather than the few similarities).

I strugggled through the book but kept it because of the picture. I am glad for it now.


Pinter also appeared around this time, again in my trawls through bookstores. I found the first three volumes of the collected works and was taken with the words Pause and Silence throughout. These gaps signified something mysterious about human behaviour.

I began writing as a way to learn something that I didn't feel I had: the ability to talk. (My brother remarked a year or five ago "You always sound like you're narrating something in a novel"


I like to delude myself that my silence is meaningful and loaded with mysteriousness instead of simply being shyness.


I try and fit silence into my writing as a way of communicating something. Giving silence an intent or quality beyond  a simple absence of noise.

The silence of Gef is either that he's being quiet, or he isn't there. I wonder if he simply decided to shut up.


Tomorrow: T

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