فصل 30کتاب: مردی به نام اوه / فصل 30
- زمان مطالعه 10 دقیقه
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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
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متن انگلیسی فصل
A MAN CALLED OVE AND A SOCIETY
Ove brushes the snow off the gravestone. Digs determinedly into the frozen ground and carefully replenishes the flowers. He stands up, dusts himself off, and looks helplessly at her name, feeling ashamed of himself. He who always used to nag at her about being late. Now he stands here himself, apparently quite incapable of following her as he’d planned.
“It’s just been bloody mayhem,” he mumbles to the stone.
And then he’s silent again.
He doesn’t know what happened to him after her funeral. The days and weeks floated together in such a way, and in such utter silence, that he could hardly describe what exactly he was doing. Before Parvaneh and that Patrick backed into his mailbox he could barely remember saying a word to another human being since Sonja died.
Some evenings he forgets to eat. That’s never happened before, as far as he can remember. Not since he sat down with her on that train almost forty years ago. As long as Sonja was there they had their routines. Ove got up at quarter to six, made coffee, went off for his inspection. By half past six Sonja had showered and then they had breakfast and drank coffee. Sonja had eggs; Ove hadbread. At five past seven, Ove carried her to the passenger seat of the Saab, stowed her wheelchair in the trunk, and gave her a lift to school. Then he drove to work. At quarter to ten they took coffee breaks separately. Sonja took milk in her coffee; Ove had it black. At twelve they had lunch. At quarter to three another coffee break. At quarter past five Ove picked up Sonja in the school courtyard, hoisted her into the passenger seat and the wheelchair into the trunk. By six o’clock they were at the kitchen table having their dinner, usually meat and potatoes and gravy. Ove’s favorite meal. Then she solved crosswords with her legs drawn up beneath her on the sofa while Ove pottered about in the toolshed and watched the news. At half past nine Ove carried her upstairs to the bedroom. She nagged him for years about moving into the empty downstairs guest room, but Ove refused. After a decade or so she realized that this was his way of showing her that he had no intention of giving up. That God and the universe and all the other things would not be allowed to win. That the swine could go to hell. So she stopped nagging.
On Friday nights they sat up until half past ten watching television. On Saturdays they had a late breakfast, sometimes as late as eight. Then they went out to do their errands. The building supply store, furniture shop, and garden center. Sonja would buy potting soil and Ove liked to look at tools. They only had a small row house with a tiny outside space, yet there always seemed to be something to plant and something to build. On the way home they’d stop for ice cream. Sonja would have one with chocolate and Ove one with nuts. Once a year the shop raised the price by one krona per ice cream and then, as Sonja put it, Ove would “have a tantrum.” When they got back to the house she’d roll out the little terrace door onto the patio and Ove would help her out of the chair and gently put her on the ground so she could do some gardening in her beloved flowerbeds. In the meantime Ove would fetch a screwdriver and disappear into the house. That was the best thing about the house. It was never finished. There was always a screw somewhere for Ove to tighten.
On Sundays they went to a café and drank coffee. Ove read the newspaper and Sonja talked. And then it was Monday.
And one Monday she was no longer there.And Ove didn’t know exactly when he became so quiet. He’d always been taciturn, but this was something quite different. Maybe he had started talking more inside his own head. Maybe he was going insane (he did wonder sometimes). It was as if he didn’t want other people to talk to him, he was afraid that their chattering voices would drown out the memory of her voice.
He lets his fingers run gently across the gravestone, as if running them through the long tassels of a very thick rug. He’s never understood young people who natter on about “finding themselves.” He used to hear that nonstop from all those thirty-year-olds at work. All they ever talked about was how they wanted more “leisure time,” as if that was the only point of working: to get to the point when one didn’t have to do it. Sonja used to laugh at Ove and call him “the most inflexible man in the world.” Ove refused to take that as an insult. He thought there should be some order in things. There should be routines and one should be able to feel secure about them. He could not see how it could be a bad attribute.
Sonja used to tell people about the time that Ove, in a moment of temporary mental dislocation in the middle of the 1980s, had been persuaded by her to get himself a red Saab, even though in all the years she’d known him he’d always driven a blue one. “They were the worst three years of Ove’s life,” Sonja tittered.
Since then, Ove had never driven anything but a blue Saab. “Other wives get annoyed because their husbands don’t notice when they have their hair cut.
When I have a haircut my husband is annoyed with me for days because I don’t look the same,” Sonja used to say.
That’s what Ove misses most of all. Having things the same as usual.
People need a function, he believes. And he has always been functional, no one can take that away from him.
It’s thirteen years since Ove bought his blue Saab 9-5 station wagon. Not long after, the Yanks at General Motors bought up the last Swedish-held shares in the company. Ove closed the newspaper that morning with a long string of swear words that continued into a good part of the afternoon. He never bought a car again. He had no intention of placing his foot in an American car, unless his foot and the rest of his body had first been placed in a coffin, they should be bloody clear about that. Sonja had of course also read the article and she had certainobjections to Ove’s exact version of events regarding the company’s nationality, but it made no difference. Ove had made up his mind and now he was fixed on it. He was going to drive his car until either he, or it, broke down. Either way, proper cars were not being made anymore, he’d decided. There was only a lot of electronics and crap inside them now. Like driving a computer. You couldn’t even take them apart without the manufacturers whining about “invalid warranties.” So it was just as well. Sonja said once that the car would break down with sorrow the day Ove was buried. And maybe that was true.
But there was a time for everything, she also said. Often. For example, when the doctors gave her the diagnosis four years ago. She found it easier to forgive than Ove did. Forgive God and the universe and everything. Ove got angry instead. Maybe because he felt someone had to be angry on her behalf, when everything that was evil seemed to assail the only person he’d ever met who didn’t deserve it.
So he fought the whole world. He fought with hospital personnel and he fought with specialists and chief physicians. He fought with men in white shirts and the council representatives who in the end grew so numerous that he could barely remember their names. There was an insurance policy for this, another insurance policy for that; there was one contact person because Sonja was ill and another because she was in a wheelchair. Then a third contact person so she did not have to go to work and a fourth contact person to try to persuade the bloody authorities that this was precisely what she wanted: to go to work.
And it was impossible to fight the men in white shirts. And one could not fight a diagnosis.
Sonja had cancer.
“We have to take it as it comes,” said Sonja. And that was what they did. She carried on working with her darling troublemakers for as long as she could, until Ove had to push her into the classroom every morning because she no longer had the strength to do it herself. After a year she was down to 75 percent of her full working week. After two years she was on 50 percent. After three years she was on 25 percent. When she finally had to go home she wrote a long personal letter to each of her students and exhorted them to call her if they ever needed anyone to talk to.Almost everyone did call. They came to visit in long lines. One weekend there were so many of them in the row house that Ove had to go outside and sit in his toolshed for six hours. When the last of them had left that evening he went around the house carefully assuring himself that nothing had been stolen. As usual. Until Sonja called out to him not to forget to count the eggs in the fridge.
Then he gave up. Carried her up the stairs while she laughed at him. He put her in the bed, and then, just before they went to sleep, she turned to him. Hid her finger in the palm of his hand. Burrowed her nose under his collarbone.
“God took a child from me, darling Ove. But he gave me a thousand others.” In the fourth year she died.
Now he stands there running his hand over her gravestone. Again and again.
As if he’s trying to rub her back to life.
“I’m really going to do it this time. I know you don’t like it. I don’t like it either,” he says in a low voice.
He takes a deep breath. As if he has to steel himself against her trying to convince him not to do it.
“See you tomorrow,” he says firmly and stamps the snow off his shoes, as if not wanting to give her a chance to protest.
Then he takes the little path down to the parking area, with the cat padding along beside him. Out through the black gates, around the Saab, which still has the learner plate stuck to the back door. He opens the passenger door. Parvaneh looks at him, her big brown eyes filled with empathy.
“I’ve been thinking about something,” she says carefully, as she puts the Saab into gear and pulls off.
But she can’t be stopped.
“I was just thinking that maybe I could help you clean out the house. Maybe put Sonja’s things in boxes and—”
She hardly has time to speak Sonja’s name before Ove’s face darkens, anger stiffening it into a mask.
“Not another word,” he roars, with a booming sound inside the car.
“But I was only thi—”
“Not another bloody WORD. Have you got it?!”Parvaneh nods and goes silent. Shaking with anger, Ove stares out the window all the way home.
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