... lacrimae sanguis animae sunt ...
17 March 2008
The half-opened door
"Why is light given to him that is in misery,
and life to the bitter in soul,
who long for death, but it comes not,
and dig for it more than for hid treasures?"
Job 3, 20-21
Lying on my bed after all these weeks, weakened by something neither the doctor nor the priest can explain, I’m waiting, hopefully, for the time to leave. As a matter of fact, the only thing I’ve been doing for ages is to wait. Since the last time the doctor showed up nearby, four weeks ago, I’ve been my only company. Even my little cat’s left me. Too much debilitated to get up, I just cannot explain how I’m holding on with no water or food. Certainly, something still wants me here.
I cannot remember what my home is like, but I can assure that it’s old, considering the appearance of my bedroom. It’s a cold, dark and humid place. The window is on the left, and on the right there’s a too dusty bookcase for the titles to be read. My bed is just opposite that dark, half-opened door. It’s a long time since I gave up trying to remember what is behind it, if I’ve ever known. Still, the old and neglected state of the house, which I’ve already mentioned, is something to consider. On the walls there’s no paint and almost all the bricks are exposed. The decayed ceiling seems to be coming down, while the badly warped cedar floor has been mistreated by the termites. In this abandoned like place I’ve always lived, and something makes me think I will forever do.
I didn’t say much about the window. When a dense and gloomy fog isn’t blocking my sight, just like today, I can see a low grass field, in which barren bushes announce a forthcoming endless autumn. I can hear neither birds singing in the morning nor crickets’ noise at night. The plain’s piercing wind and the creaks of the old floorboards are the only sounds I hear all my day long.
How long can someone hold on this situation? For me, it’s been four weeks. And I was handling it well before starting to write. In fact, I think I hadn’t thought about this until I decided to write. It made me notice that something is wrong, otherwise how could I survive four weeks with no water or food? Then, I’m trying to understand why my cat isn’t here with me, why the paperboy didn’t bring any newspapers and why the doctor didn’t send me medicines anymore.
Each time I look at that half-opened door, I think the answers might be just behind it. Today, I’m not that sure I cannot get up and walk. Perhaps my weakness is in my mind. Perhaps fear is my weakness. Fear of the dark and unknown behind that door. And the more I write this small diary, the more curious I get. So, why don’t I just stand up and open wide that door? I don’t really know. I’m quite afraid of the uncertainty. If there isn’t anything behind it, I’ll just keep waiting my end. But, what if there is? What if it’s not good?
It’s night, and as the sun came down I realised all my bedroom got dark, except for a spot of light which comes from the door and it really scared me. I cannot think of other thing but that there’s someone else in the house. God! I’ve never felt such a strong fear. Holding my breath not to make any noise, I try to concentrate and hear some noise from behind the door, but I can’t.
Two hours of complete silence have gone and I can’t understand that light yet. It’s not something constant. It looks like candle lights, but I’m not sure. Time’s up! I can’t avoid my curiosity anymore. It’s time to face my illness and my fears and stand up. I can’t even remember when I got on my feet for the last time. In a strong effort and will, I sit on my bed and, getting all my forces, I stand up. The difficulty of these movements is something not easy to describe.
Then I start walking slowly towards the half-opened door. I don’t know if I’m moving slowly because of my illness or my fear. In fact I cannot tell them anymore. When I get at the door, the scene is so unbelievable that I need to rub my eyes. There’s a group of old people, men and women, everybody in black, and I cannot recognise anybody. They are sitting on chairs and armchairs, making a circle, and nobody talks. The room is illuminated by the dim light which comes from four big candlesticks placed on each corner of the room. Nobody seems to notice my presence and all my attempts to say anything are in vain, because a sudden dumbness has attacked me.
So I just walk across the circle till the other side of the room, where there’s a thin silk curtain. I can see something through it. It’s the silhouette of something like a table. But it’s not a table. I go forward and when I go through the curtain I see a coffin, and it’s open. At this side of the room, there’s nobody else, and two candlesticks light the dreary place. The closer to the coffin I get, the colder I feel.
Finally before the funerary box, I don’t dare to lift my head and face the final truth which I don’t want to accept. In a gesture of intolerable fear and curiosity, I lift my head up and glimpse the most terrible surprise: the cadaver is me! And in the next second I faint.
I wake up, with no notions of time or space, and under an absolute darkness. I open my eyes and it’s as dark as if I had kept them closed. However, I still can hear. Comfortably lain, I hear a mix of muted voices and lock noises. Then I realise I may be in the locked coffin. I can’t move or speak, and I feel cold all over my body.
Later, by the swing of my last home I notice I’m being carried. It wasn’t too long, and we arrived, but I don’t know where. I can hear footsteps, whispering, and the raven’s caw tells me it’s night-time. Some time later, emerges a hoarse old voice, though much clearer than whisperings, and it intones a pray which, God willing, is my soul’s last remission. Those words echo in my mind like strokes of bells:
“Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Requiescant in pace.
The voices have gone, and everything I can hear right now are the heavy shovelfuls of sand covering my coffin. I listen to each one, till it’s done, and finally when I find myself completely alone, I close my eyes and have time to ponder about life and accept my death. I believe my biggest torture and my biggest punishment will be to be forced to live the eternity with a doubt: what if I hadn’t gone through that half-opened door?
(*) “Give them the eternal rest, Lord.
And illuminate them the eternal light.
Rest in peace.