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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (part 2 chapter 28)

2006-08-22 20:21

  28

  Sitting crushed into a corner of the train compartment with her heavy suitcase above her head and Karenin squeezed against her legs, she kept thinking about the cook at the hotel restaurant where she had worked when she lived with her mother. The cook would take every opportunity to give her a slap on the behind, and never tired of asking her in front of everyone when she would give in and go to bed with him. It was odd that he was the one who came to mind. He had always been the prime example of everything she loathed. And now all she could think of was looking him up and telling him, You used to say you wanted to sleep with me. Well, here I am.

  She longed to do something that would prevent her from turning back to Tomas. She longed to destroy brutally the past seven years of her life. It was vertigo. A heady, insuperable longing to fall.

  We might also call vertigo the intoxication of the weak. Aware of his weakness, a man decides to give in rather than stand up to it. He is drunk with weakness, wishes to grow even weaker, wishes to fall down in the middle of the main square in front of everybody, wishes to be down, lower than down.

  She tried to talk herself into settling outside of Prague and giving up her profession as a photographer. She would go back to the small town from which Tomas's voice had once lured her.

  But once in Prague, she found she had to spend some time taking care of various practical matters, and began putting off her departure.

  On the fifth day, Tomas suddenly turned up. Karenin jumped all over him, so it was a while before they had to make any overtures to each other.

  They felt they were standing on a snow-covered plain, shivering with cold.

  Then they moved together like lovers who had never kissed before.

  Has everything been all right? he asked.

  Yes, she answered.

  Have you been to the magazine?

  I've given them a call.

  Well?

  Nothing yet. I've been waiting.

  For what?

  She made no response. She could not tell him that she had been waiting for him.

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