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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (part 2 chapter 21)

2006-08-22 20:21

  21

  Next to the bed stood a small table, and on the table the model of a human head, the kind hairdressers put wigs on. Sabina's wig stand sported a bowler hat rather than a wig. It used to belong to my grandfather, she said with a smile.

  It was the kind of hat-black, hard, round-that Tereza had seen only on the screen, the kind of hat Chaplin wore. She smiled back, picked it up, and after studying it for a time, said, Would you like me to take your picture in it?

  Sabina laughed for a long time at the idea. Tereza put down the bowler hat, picked up her camera, and started taking pictures.

  When she had been at it for almost an hour, she suddenly said, What would you say to some nude shots?

  Nude shots? Sabina laughed.

  Yes, said Tereza, repeating her proposal more boldly, nude shots.

  That calls for a drink, said Sabina, and opened a bottle of wine.

  Tereza felt her body going weak; she was suddenly tongue-tied. Sabina, meanwhile, strode back and forth, wine in hand, going on about her grandfather, who'd been the mayor of a small town; Sabina had never known him; all he'd left behind was this bowler hat and a picture showing a raised platform with several small-town dignitaries on it; one of them was Grandfather; it wasn't at all clear what they were doing up there on the platform; maybe they were officiating at some ceremony, unveiling a monument to a fellow dignitary who had also once worn a bowler hat at public ceremonies.

  Sabina went on and on about the bowler hat and her grandfather until, emptying her third glass, she said I'll be right back and disappeared into the bathroom.

  She came out in her bathrobe. Tereza picked up her camera and put it to her eye. Sabina threw open the robe.

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