Monday, November 29, 2010

Warm Virtual Memories

Ever held a coffee cup with both hands ? Nestled comfortably in my palm, with brimful of hot charming beverage filling its soul, its felt so warm, no nice, the oh-so good feeling took over my senses.

Not the kind of paper cup Starbucks or ERC offers, but real coffee-mugs. It's gotta be white, and ceramic. And then the feeling is just like warm sweet engrossing virtual memories.

It is slightly cold outside. Just had my breakfast with toast topped with thick butter, coupla boiled eggs and microwaved tomatoes garnished with dried dill. Eyes are set firm on the open page of "Rebecca" which was then narrating the thoughts of a young shy naive girl. She has been just proposed marriage by Max De Winter, current owner of the most amazing villa Menderley.

The movie is a good thriller but the book, so far at least, has scored pretty high as a romantic novel. But the crowdpuller has to be the numerous virtual memories the she creates in her mind and the way she narrates them.

Take for instance the curious thoughts interplaying her mind - it all happened so quick and unexpected for her - soon after she accepted the proposal. She is happy. Should be very happy. She spins the wheel of imagination as her man breaks the news of their engagement to her employer, from whom he is literally taking her away.
The walls of the suite were thick, I could hear no hum of voices. I wondered what he was saying to her, how he phrased his words. Perhaps he said, 'I fell in love with her, you know, the very first time we met. We've been seeing one another every day.' And she in answer, 'Why, Mr de Winter, it's quite the most romantic thing I've ever heard.' Romantic, that was the word I had tried to remember coming up in the lift. Yes, of course. Romantic. That was what people would say. It was all very sudden and romantic. They suddenly decided to get married and there it was. Such an adventure. I smiled to myself as I hugged my knees on the window seat, thinking how wonderful it was, how happy I was going to be. I was to marry the man I loved. I was to be Mrs de Winter.
But then follows another chain of thoughts... she was in love, but was he too? Max De Winter was married before, a famous marriage that recently ended after the untimely death of his even more famous wife Rebecca.
It would have been better, after all, more natural surely to have gone into the sitting-room hand in hand, laughing, smiling at one another and for him to say 'We're going to be married, we're very much in love.' In love. He had not said anything yet about being in love. No time perhaps. It was all so hurried at the breakfast table. Marmalade, and coffee, and that tangerine. No time. The tangerine was very bitter. No, he had not said anything about being in love. Just that we would be married. Short and definite, very original. Original proposals were much better. More genuine. Not like other people. Not like younger men who talked nonsense probably, not meaning half they said. Not like younger men being very incoherent, very passionate, swearing impossibilities. Not like him the first time, asking Rebecca... I must not think of that. Put it away. A thought forbidden, prompted by demons. Get thee behind me, Satan. I must never think about that, never, never, never. He loves me, he wants to show me Manderley.
Had she been little more young or little more matured, she would have knitted the whole nine yards of "does he". Instead the bubbly lass drowns herself in her own thoughts and creates a warm lovely wall of romantic wall across her, allowing nothing to stay between her and her love, in an uncomplicated direct way.
I picked up the book. I caught my foot in the flex of the bedside lamp, and stumbled, the book falling from my hands on to the floor. It fell open, at the title-page. 'Max from Rebecca.' She was dead, and one must not have thoughts about the dead. They slept in peace, the grass blew over their graves. How alive was her writing though, how full of force. Those curious, sloping letters. The blob of ink. Done yesterday. It was just as if it had been written yesterday. I took my nail scissors from the dressing-case and cut the page, looking over my shoulder like a criminal. I cut the page right out of the book. I left no jagged edges, and the book looked white and clean when the page was gone. A new book, that had not been touched. I tore the page up in many little fragments and threw them into the waste-paper basket. Then I went and sat on the window seat again. But I kept thinking of the torn scraps in the basket, and after a moment I had to get up and look in the basket once more. Even now the ink stood up on the fragments thick and black, the writing was not destroyed. I took a box of matches and set fire to the fragments. The flame had a lovely light, staining the paper, curling the edges, making the slanting writing impossible to distinguish. The fragments fluttered to grey ashes. The letter R was the last to go, it twisted in the flame, it curled outwards for a moment, becoming larger than ever. Then it crumpled too; the flame destroyed it. It was not ashes even, it was feathery dust... I went and washed my hands in the basin. I felt better, much better. I had the clean new feeling that one has when the calendar is hung on the wall at the beginning of the year. January the 1st. I was aware of the same freshness, the same gay confidence. The door opened and he came into the room.
If the novel ends up having any resemblance to the movie then, this is just the beginning of many other attempts. The past of Menderley would become present with her arrival, treading on her husband's shoes. Memory is just like that - for some, it just refuses to fade away. Still...

It was all a very warm feeling. There was chill in the air. The sun was just out, and sneaked in from behind the half-drawn curtains to deliver morning greetings. South-Indian coffee made in Italian mocha does not taste original, but not fake either. A little while ago she had hugged her knees sitting at the window. Not smart enough to be silly, I hugged my coffee mug. And it felt very nice. Very warm. Very fulfilling.