This is the third part of my short story, The Poet. Please would you correct my mistakes.
As I strolled down the street I saw a charity shop and a thought occurred to me that I could not meet the leader of our country in my shabby clothes. I would die of shame sitting in his magnificent residence and feeling his eyes on my ragged clothes. I entered the shop and asked a middle-aged woman behind the counter if they had some jackets. She nodded and led me to the corner with a round clothing rack. There were at least two dozen of jackets hanging on it. Many of them were in an excellent state. The shop assistant shared my opinion and told me that a widow of a professor who died last week had donated all his clothes to charity. I found a really nice brown corduroy jacket, which was probably ten or more years old, but otherwise flawless. The sleeves were a centimetre or two too long, but its cut was so great that I could not let it go. I purchased also a grey shirt, a pair of black leather shoes and a black beret. The late professor was a man with a good taste for fashion and I begged God to take care of his soul.
When I returned home I tried on my newly purchased clothes and shoes and looked at myself in the mirror. With my dishevelled hair under the beret and the brown corduroy jacket I looked like a bohemian. People in the street would have taken me for an artist, musician or writer. I especially liked the corduroy jacket, under which I could hide my potbelly. What a difference this was compared to a tracksuit, which was my everyday clothing. I hung the jacket on the balcony, so that any remaining smells of the charity shop would dissipate in the wind and filled the bath with warm water and washed the shirt. Then, I cleaned the shoes and polished their leather until they became so shiny that I could see my face in them.
That night I lay in bed for hours and was unable to sleep. My excitement was too high. My emotions and thoughts welled up and I could hear my heart thumping again. I wished I had someone beside me with whom I could share my happiness. Usually I did not lack company, but tonight I wished I had a close friend, who would understand me and listen to my voice. Unfortunately, I had severed all contacts with my mother about five years ago. I could not stand any more her persistent nagging about my solitary life. He would come in the morning and start preaching about the importance of having a family. She told me a thousand times that every normal man should have a wife and progeny. I had an obligation to have children, because without them our family line would come to the end. This was for her an unforgivable sin, and she could not understand that I couldn’t care less about that. Her words made me angry and I told her to go to hell. I could hardly take care of myself, let alone of a wife and children. I am not selfish and hate people who have half a dozen children, and then ask the state to provide for their upbringing. I could not face my children and tell them that their father is so poor that he is unable to to buy them toys which they are yearning for. But my mother was unperturbed. She told me that a woman could make a wonder in the life of a man and children gave a new perspective on the world. My anger flared and I snapped. I grabbed her arms, and before she could have understood what was happening, I dragged her through the flat, opened the door and threw her out. She screamed hysterically and shouted, “How can you be so cruel to his own mother?” I felt ashamed watching the curtains pulling aside and windows open on the opposite building. Within seconds there were at least eight, nine curious pairs of eyes enjoying the scene. Here was a poor mother who had sacrificed herself for his son in all possible ways, and he, instead of treating her with respect, threw her out like a sack of potatoes. There was no doubt that the world was becoming a terrible place to exist.
I told her never to return, but despite my warning she would bang on my door time and again, calling my name, and asking to be let inside. I felt guilty and had a bad conscience, but I stayed firm in my decision never to talk to her again. Maybe that was an act of vengeance for the pain she caused me in the past.
There was a time when we were a proper family. My father worked as an engineer in a chemical factory and my mother was an accountant in a small company. We were three children of whom I was the youngest. My brother Joakim was five years older, and my sister Irena three years older than I. We did not lack anything and we lived in a leafy suburb populated mainly by the middle class. When I was around ten years old, I heard my parents quarrelling for the first time. It was about triviality, which content I could not even remember anymore. Then they started to quarrel about chores, like whose turn it was to cook, wash the car, clean the toilet and similar trifles. I sat in my room on the upper floor trying to concentrate myself on a book in front of me, but their raised voices were spoiling the pleasure of my reading.
Probably I was too young to understand what was going on, but I could sense that something was wrong. My brother and sister were in deep romantic love with their respective partners and did not pay much attention to the arguments between our parents. I wished I could have ignored them also, but unfortunately, they came up in my dreams, and I would see and hear them quarrelling inside my head, and I would wake up shivering and bathing in cold sweat.
Before long their voices became louder and I expected to hear blows and cries for help any moment. But thankfully, their quarrels remained confined to verbal insults and accusations, which only became ruder and more serious. Now the clashes were not about chores but about adultery and the rumours that he had a relationship with one of the factory workers, and she with her boss. Their quarrelling made me feel sick and I began to loathe them both, although I was not brave enough to confront them and tell them what I was thinking about their behaviour.
To be continued.
- For Teachers