From My Commonplace Book - 15

from Invisible: A Memoir

by Hugues de Montalembert

I lost my friends along with my sight.

My girlfriend at that time refused to see me.

Some people can't cope with it - that's all.

But I didn't think much about it at the time.

I was too absorbed in my fight to go back to life to take care of that. It didn't depress me; I was too busy elsewhere.

I had a very good friend who couldn't come to the hospital. He said: I will see you, but after - when you have left the hospital.

People don't like tragedy.

. . . .

The fact that I lost my sight is very spectacular, but there are things that are much more terrible.

The other day I took a taxi.

The driver was a little Cambodian guy, and in a very nice way he said, What happened to you? Is it just that you are sick but your vision will come back, no?

And I said, For the moment, it's permanent.

And he said, Oh I cannot express my emotion toward what happened to you.

I said, That's very kind of you, but you know, it's very nice because of course you can see what happened to me and you can give me your compassion but you know there are so many people much more wounded than me, and you see nothing and they don't receive any compassion.

And the guy was silent for a moment, then he said, Monsieur, I understand very well what you say because my wife and my children were killed in front of me in Cambodia.


In 1978 French painter and photographer Hugues de Montalembert returned to his New York City apartment one night to find burglars at work. One threw paint thinner into his face, blinding him.

Between 1975 and 1979 the Khmer Rouge killed an estimated 1.5 million people, one fifth of the population of Cambodia.

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Sad reading Merry - we really never quite know what life my have in store for each of us do we. Thinking of sudden change of lifestyles too (ME) and all the disappointments that can bring.
 
Thanks, Enid and Nico.

I do worry when I post "sad reading" that this may add to someone's already considerable burden.
 
A little poem on a type of isolation you may enjoy. Lu Yun - pre 4th century.
Living in retirement beyond the World,
Silently enjoying isolation,
I pull the rope of my door tighter
And stuff my window with roots and ferns,
My spirit is tuned to the Spring-season:
At the fall of the year there is autumn in my heart.
Thus imitating cosmic changes
My cottage becomes a Universe.
 
"My cottage becomes a Universe." I like this. The whole poem. Little and complete.

Thank you, Enid. Post more, anytime.
 
On Memories ? - Walt Whitman.
O living always, always dying
O the burials of me past and present,
O me while I stride ahead, material, visible, imperious as ever;
O me, what I was for years, now dead (I lament not, I am content)
O to disengage myself from those corpses of me, which I turn and look at where I cast them,
To pass on, (O living, always living) and leave the corpses behind.

Hope you will enjoy (if not on your shelf already). In Song of Myself he speaks of "retiring back a while" - and happily "visible" here. Hoping you are in the best health possible.
 
I don't remember ever seeing this Walt Whitman poem. Thank you so much, Enid. I have copied and pasted it and the Lu Yun poem into a document to keep.

Thank you also for "Hoping you are in the best health possible." I wish the best for you, too.
 
And you have such a happy jolly face Merry - that it reminds me of jolly happy verse that despite many afflications the poets (greats) reach. There is a saying in Vedanta (Hindu) - happiness is one's real nature and your smiling face can only cheer all here.
 

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