A Quiet Life by unknow

A Quiet Life by unknow

Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Fiction
ISBN: 9780802195425
Publisher: Grove Press
Published: 1990-01-01T05:00:00+00:00

I was certainly captivated by Mrs. Shigeto's story. For I, too, long to lead a quiet life with Eeyore as nobodies. This was all the more reason that I, feeling a little guilty, thought I needed to put in a few words in Father's defense. Although I didn't write this in “Diary as Home,” I told Mrs. Shigeto that Father probably didn't think being a writer made him a privileged person.

“You might refute me,” I said, “by saying that, at this very moment, Father is a writer-in-residence, but I think he honestly feels very grateful to have the position. I understand he was grumbling to Mother that if he wasn't suffering this ‘pinch,’ he'd have declined. He'd accepted the offer, he said, only because he considered himself an unscaworthy old tub that needed shelter from an imminent storm.”

Mrs. Shigeto's reply to my words was slightly off the mark, for it seemed she had already thought of putting an end to the discussion. So this is how the long dropout talk drew to a close, at least for the day.

“Ma-chan,” she said, ‘a person changes with his or her position, whatever it is—though, of course, you can't ignore the individual's inborn character.… Mr. Shigeto's former supervisor, who is still with the news agency, was just recently promoted to director. Mr. Shigeto attended the private party honoring the occasion and came home enervated. He told me the new director's speech was very long, and he got very tired just listening to him. So he drank to recover his vigor, and he overdid it. … Remember, Mr. Shigeto, you were still worn out the next morning, and you kept griping about your fatigue, citing some rules of Latin grammar?”

“My Latin grammar doesn't amount to much. It's only elementary stuff everybody knows,” Mr. Shigeto said languidly. “You see, when accentuating Latin words with vowel clusters,” he went on to explain, “the syllables with long vowels are important, and there are two kinds: essentially long, and long due to their position. In other words, long by nature and long by position.

“My boss was, by nature, a guy who gave long speeches. But after he got the director's position, his speeches became longer. …”

Hearing the joke for the first time, I laughed out. loud, but Mrs. Shigeto laughed with such vigor that one might have thought it was new to her, too. Eeyore looked on happily as we laughed, while Mr. Shigeto, somewhat dramatically, sat there even more languidly.

* * *

That night, after finally falling asleep, I had a really sad dream. In the pale glow of a still, seemingly everlasting desert twilight—probably on the Arabian Peninsula, because Mrs. Shigeto had briefly mentioned it—was a multitude of people, some standing, some squatting, but all peering in the same direction. Some were lying down, but they were frantically lifting up their heads, trying to see in that direction. It resembled a scene Father once told me about, in one of Blake's images, just before the Last Judgment.


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