When the waiter brought the fish, she said:
I only watch documentaries.
I thought it was the same joke as “anthropology”, but Madame Hayat was serious.
– Because? I asked.
“It’s so fun and so amazing,” he said. Billions of people are divided into only twelve signs of the zodiac. With thousands of years of experience, they decided that our species has enough characters to fit only twelve characters… When there are three hundred thousand species of insects alone and each one is different from each other… Same with fish… And! what do the birds do!… Space is so mysterious, there are ten thousand galaxies in it in a single tiny and terribly lonely point. Isn’t it amazing?
A sarcastic and tender smile did not leave her face for a second, as if God had created the entire Universe to entertain Madame Hayat and she legally used this right.
I had heard something about Shakespeare and “to be or not to be.”
“Is this,” he wondered, “the secret of humanity?” Choice between life and death?
“It seems to me that this sentence expresses rather indecision,” I said.
— Indecision? The people I see are very determined.
What are they decisive about?
– They persistently do nonsense… When you watch historical documentaries, you see how the same stupidity is repeated over and over again.
– And what is that?
As if she hadn’t heard my question, she said:
“Eat the fish, otherwise it will get cold… Shall we have some more raki?”
“Maybe,” I said.
The waiter took the order for two more raki.
Madame Hayat was definitely the most interesting partner one could share a feast with. She knew how to tell stories vividly, her irony towards everyone and everything, including herself, gave a special charm to her words, and various topics flew over the table like fireflies.
I knew almost nothing about literature. He had never heard of Faulkner, Proust, or Henry James, but he knew that the general who defeated Hannibal at Carthage was Scipio; that Julius Caesar wore a purple cloak in battle; that the earth’s crust floats in a constantly moving sea of fire; that some frogs freeze like glass and can break like a china plate if dropped, and come to life in the summer; that leopards fight with baboons; that the termites remove the garbage from their nests every afternoon and that for this purpose there are special brigades of scavengers; that ants cultivate in their underground cities; that there are birds that know how to use tools; that dolphins slap their tails on the sand in shallow water to frighten the fish, and thus catch the poor creatures in midair, which jump to the surface in fright; that lions live an average of ten years; that some types of spiders eat fish; that tiger beetles rape their females; that the stars explode alone; that space is constantly expanding and much more.
His mind was like a strange, messy shop, where the cheapest things and the most valuable antiques are together. From what I could make out, a wry condescending disregard for life is the conclusion he drew from all this information. He talked about life as if it were a market toy to play with, have fun and not worry about breaking or losing.
I have never met such a person in my life.
Toward the end of the meal, he discussed praying mantises, reporting that “the female bites the male’s head while making love.” Then, looking into my eyes, she added, “The male continues to fuck the female, even when her head was torn off.”
I felt my whole being tremble. I first heard the word “fuck” from the lips of a woman.
When dinner came to an end, I started to get up, but my head was spinning and, trying not to show it, I carefully held on to the table.
– Where you live? Madame Hyatt asked as she left the restaurant.
“Very close,” I replied.
Waving his hand, he flagged down a passing taxi, kissed me on the cheek, said, “See ya,” and got into the car. The taxi has gone. And I walked slowly, moving my legs with difficulty.
The sky was covered with a dark autumn haze and reflected the lights of the city. The reflected lights turned into a smoky night glow. The pale, misty whiteness of the city was illuminated by the windows of small basements that housed illegal workshops, tailor shops, cardboard factories, pirate companies that riveted copies of luxury brands, manufacturers of plastic materials and dealers in human goods masquerading as corporations. trips. The recently opened showrooms on the lower floors of some buildings and the almost vintage shops selling replicas of antique furniture were like oases of light. As the streets prepared to change from day to night, traffic slowed dramatically, creating an unsteady contrast.
Abandoned just after dinner, I was left all alone, disillusioned and unhappy, in an increasingly dark street, where anything could happen to me, but nothing happened. This indifference broke the hidden mirror in me, which reflected my own imaginary image, and my imaginary “I” fell apart. Only a trembling body remained. When the mirror broke into pieces, I realized that it was this secret image that made me who I am, it was he who held my whole being together. I couldn’t understand how this secret mirror, which was the most important part of me, the focus of my mind with all emotions and thoughts, could be broken so easily.
When did I rot, eaten from the inside, like a mulberry tree, torn and torn by the first gust of wind? Where did you lose the firm confidence that protects you from the antipathy of others? Hayat made me suffer the first time I met her and he literally did nothing to make me feel this way. I later learned that no one could do it as well as her.
When I told him what happened that night, he said ruefully, “My God, I never thought you would be so fragile.” But then she laughed with such innocent joy that I found it hard to believe she was truly sorry.
This pain revived all my other sorrows, as if the bundle with my problems broke and I was immediately engulfed by the death of my father, sudden poverty, loneliness and despair. Like snake venom coursing through my veins.
Later it became clear that, like many other people, I raised my sorrows as a shield to shield myself from new pain. But this happened much later. Time later taught me that in order to understand such things in life it is necessary to reach a maturity that I did not have then, a maturity shaped by the encounter with “real life”.