Trafika Europe 11 - Swiss Delights

Michel Layaz

In a gray dress, my mother loomed in the doorway, imposing and impassive like the figures on Assyrian bas- reliefs. Her body refused to come closer, would not cross the threshold of the room, but her voice reached me, resounding from another time, victorious, Victorian, it pierced me to the marrow, shook me, lifted me, pierced and shriveled me. In a tone of frivolous hatred that disdains and condemns the surrounding domesticity, her voice said: Go, go and see what you’ve done! Go see what a state you’ve left your father in! Do you hear me?... Go look at your father! He was sitting on the worn red upholstered chair my mother deemed dreadful, but as it had accompanied her husband since his adolescence, she’d ended up tolerating it as one tolerates an inalienable defect—like angular bones, a birthmark, a drooping mouth, short fingers, bad eyesight. Seated on his chair, my father was leaning forward, trembling. He hid his wretched face. When he sensed me near him, he pulled away his hands, I saw the face of a man in tears, a face that showed what he would look like in twenty years with wrinkles around his eyes and deepening furrows, with the irreversible exhaustion that spreads over every patch of skin, withers it, dulls it, eats away at it, but I also saw that he was imprisoned in the chair, as if enveloped in a metallic shell with close-set bars and padlocked door, my father was trapped in this cage like an animal subjected to various experiments and that may one day be freed once the analyses are completed


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