The Collector – What I Do When I Say I Read

The thing which I hate to love is that I pay too much attention to anything else but me. I can tell the colour of the eyes of the stranger standing ten meters from me, I can feel the glassy cup of mint tea going cold minute after minute of staring ouside the smoky window in search of traces of life, I can peek into the book the person next to me is reading on a long travel by train. Curiosity? A deep lack of the definition of privacy? I like to call it learning. Learning to keep cool like the mint tea, learning to discern clarity from behind the smokiness, and definitely learning what books NOT to read.

Giving way to a precarious, but yet finely developed sense of interest, I watch and, as long as my memory allows me, record and keep. I record faces, I collect sensations, but I always fail to understand the why in the context. Take for example this oldish lady I saw one afternoon while having a mojito and trying hard to muse over the hidden meanings of Huxley’s prose.  In her 40s, give or take 3 years, she was reading a fashion magazine, the current issue stuck on an article about colours in the garderobe. Colours were definitely this lady’s thing. Bright red hair which may or may not have been freshly died, dark makeup and lashes heavy with mascara and lips tainted with red, neatly cut fingernails painted in a yellowish green. Decent clothes, however, a classic black skirt, cut just a bit above the knees and the light green of what I assumed to be a tunic flashing underneath a simple black masculine jacket.

All things considered, I asked myself why. Why would a person like her read fashion magazines in a place like that on a late summer afternoon? By place like that I mean a jazz bar. Even though bar is a word I would just relentlessly use. It was actually a small, hidden and lovely brownishly adorned room at the back corner of a somewhat big building. But because the weather was indulging those days, they had taken the show out, but not in the street. Let’s say it was an open promenade which could engulf within itself the echoes of Edith Piaf and three tables in Art Nouveau style surrounded by chairs having nothing in common with the present day.

Now my fail to grasp the sense of the context is completely understandable. Jazz bar, oldish but fancy lady reading a fashion magazine and me with Huxley’s book, plus the third table which was still waiting for a meaning. Why? The daylight was getting dimmer. My fingers were playing with an old scarf I had thrown around my neck just before I had stepped out of the house. An old scarf which my heart wouldn’t let me give away and so my practical senses wouldn’t allow me not to wear it. Dark green and stingy at the touch, my attention slowly shifted to this piece of cloth. The why in the context. One more element which could add more confusion or, on the contrary, give meaning to everything.

It was the moment when I brought myself back into daylight clarity. The oldish but fancy lady reading a fashion magazine. Edith Piaf notes tumbling in the still warm air. The Art Nouveau decor. It all fit together, I was the intruder. Me and my old scarf. Me and my questions. The mood for mojito suddenly melted.

When they closed the jazz bar for the day they could do nothing else but throw a forgotten old and green scarf in the box with “lost and found”. Nobody ever claimed it.


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