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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (part 2 chapter 18)

2006-08-22 20:21

  18

  True, Tereza fought with her mother until the day she left home, but let us not forget that she never stopped loving her. She would have done anything for her if her mother had asked in a loving voice. The only reason she found the strength to leave was that she never heard that voice.

  When Tereza's mother realized that her aggressiveness no longer had any power over her daughter, she started writing her querulous letters, complaining about her husband, her boss, her health, her children, and assuring Tereza she was the only person left in her life. Tereza thought that at last, after twenty years, she was hearing the voice of her mother's love, and felt like going back. All the more because she felt so weak, so debilitated by Tomas's infidelities. They exposed her powerlessness, which in turn led to vertigo, the insuperable longing to fall.

  One day her mother phoned to say she had cancer and only a few months to live. The news transformed into rebellion Tereza's despair at Tomas's infidelities. She had betrayed her mother, she told herself reproachfully, and for a man who did not love her. She was willing to forget everything her mother had done to torture her. She was in a position to understand her now; they were in the same situation: her mother loved her stepfather just as Tereza loved Tomas, and her stepfather tortured her mother with his infidelities just as Tomas galled her with his. The cause of her mother's malice was that she had suffered so.

  Tereza told Tomas that her mother was ill and that she would be taking a week off to go and see her. Her voice was full of spite.

  Sensing that the real reason calling her back to her mother was vertigo, Tomas opposed the trip. He rang up the hospital in the small town. Meticulous records of the incidence of cancer were kept throughout the country, so he had no trouble finding out that Tereza's mother had never been suspected of having the disease nor had she even seen a doctor for over a year.

  Tereza obeyed Tomas and did not go to visit her mother. Several hours after the decision she fell in the street and injured her knee. She began to teeter as she walked, fell almost daily, bumped into things or, at the very least, dropped objects.

  She was in the grip of an insuperable longing to fall. She lived in a constant state of vertigo.

  Pick me up, is the message of a person who keeps falling. Tomas kept picking her up, patiently.

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