“…and in the violence of her feeling she did not notice how they both walked into the house and sat down to tea”The Darling by Anton Chekhov
Read this short story and felt betrayed. I should’ve read this when I was 19. 23. 27. It’s a good thing I read it now or I would’ve had to add 34 & 35 to this miserable list.
The story is about a woman who is either perpetually in love or waiting to be. She allows herself to be consumed by the men she falls in love with and thinks it neither wise nor necessary to keep some of her to herself. She begins to speak like the men she loves, borrows their speech, colours her world with them and makes their moods hers. In their absence, she refuses to see herself as a person, and feels challenged by the meaningless of feelings and objects around her.
She survives heart break after heart break and is driven to the edge of loneliness until accidental motherhood comes calling. Here, Chekhov stops.
I was moved by this woman who gives herself so foolishly. I was moved when she went from one heartbreak to another because she saw it as moving from love to love, never quite knowing that what she was perhaps looking for was the chance to feel like a person again. It made me see how differently I love now.
Reading this then would’ve meant insurance against believing that the only way to be a person was to be somebody’s something.
But then reading Annie Enraux’s Dairy, 1988 was a reassurance of sorts for all the time and energy lost. That the best and worst of us love being loved. What to do? It was a pinching reminder of our ability (read: stubbornness) to remain fixed on the fleetingness of love despite the tickingness of time and the general busyness of life.
She is writing and waiting. She is attending events but also waiting. She is caring for her two children and she’s waiting. Seems to me that we go about performing the non-love activities in life (regardless of how central they are in our lives or we in their lives) as if it’s playing in an autopilot way in the background. And the heroine in us, despite being the fucking heroine is only waiting – not even performing.
Was reminded also of Dorothy Parker and Roland Barthes.
Finally began Wolf Hall. Found myself, quite unwillingly, back on a hospital bed in Payannur where I first started reading it and couldn’t read a word after page 4, having just come out of surgery for an ankle fracture. The rod and screw sitting tightly in my post-surgery foot protested every time there was Cromwell’s bone, rib, eye socket being crushed.
Now, I am not only enjoying the blood bone-crushing but also feeling most wonderfully taken by Mantel.