Monday, 10 May 2010

Don't You Have Time To Think? *

Don't you have time to think? I have had more than I should lately.

And the spark came yesterday as I was capturing the moments of the graduates' day  of Sainte Pulcherie High, my secondary school then.

It was only ten years ago on  my way back home from the hospital where I left my sister struggling with the sudden deadly disease, it was only then that I realised that the school yard was much smaller than I remembered.

But those doors always welcomed me.

My registry to this old girl's school was an honouring family "thing" and we were all so excited that summer of 1983 for my first day at school in September.
My parents were so proud of my efforts I gave to success in the exam .

The second thing I knew after the name of my secondary school was the "spotless cleanness" of the white marble stairs admired by my mother. But my favorite place have been the whitest loos with tall windows looking at the dirty backstreets we were never allowed to stroll. There were only ladies at that time and I was wondering which loo the unique male at school have to use, our professor of religion, distinctive wiith his very manly voice in the official ceremonies when he had to accompany our weak voices for the national anthem.

My school has been a temple to me not only beacause it had a chapel inside or 4 old nons waiting to put us in order in the early mornings at those white marble stairs.

School was better than home where somehow in this small building from the 19th century, I felt safer than at home and able to look at any truth enlightened and armed with what was there in those old books.

And when my last day at school came at my graduation year, I felt as clueless and orphelin as a child, out of the arms of her mother and life seemed so crowded as the dirty back streets from the window.

And some things have changed.

While some remained the same

Like some strict rules and our oak tree in the yard I noticed, as my friends were busy chatting about their actual lives.
I was more into leaning back and watching.

I stayed there up in the stairs contemplating our oak tree and the diverse population dancing down below. Although pruned too much, less green with less leaves, to me it looked like the sacred tree of life with young and younger lives that it went through.

And I was there watching until my old professor came up and asked what I was doing there. We were her first students. She told me she celebrated her 25th year in this school last year. She got married in time and had two sons, one 23 the other 17 years old now. We walked downstairs together as we talked. She introduced me to her new collegues and young graduate students.

The night was falling. I remained there watching each and every movement of the younger crowd dancing under the oak tree. I was surprised to see their lips synchronised with the lyrics of those new songs they sang heartfelt and together. Those songs I must have heard, somehow, somewhere, everywhere but never noticed the lyrics

Where did I leave learning the lyrics of the silly funny songs? When did we stop dancing together like them? When was I left alone? Were my friends too busy being parents and all ? What was taking me from joining them now singing and dancing? Why wasn't I on the dance floor?

Neither courage nor strength were the answers. The only reason  was "this time I gave to think" about these questions and the quest for the answers.

I realised that two young girls were insisting on something in the big party noise to the new professor I was just introduced to. I asked him almost shouting to be heard:
- Qu'est-ce qu'elles veulent? (What do they want?)
- Danser. (To dance) he answered promptly.
He  didn't join them, remained there watching.
He might have had this time to think.
This time out of time.

I did my best. It took some wine and some more time there watching and I invited, through the end of the party, the new school master which turned out to be a nice gentleman and a good dancer.
We exchanged smiles with the young professor.
The moment I felt standing there like our oak tree, felt pruned too much with less leaves, I left the party ,when the music was ended and the boys were gathering the equipment.

* "Don't You Have Time To Think?" is the sweet autobiographical book of the bright physicist Richard FEYNMAN

1 comment:

  1. dear berfin--

    it's been far too long since i visited you...with moving and changing jobs and all, i got lost and actually didn't have any time to think.

    this is a beautiful, deep post. thank you for writing it and for sharing it. you transported me to your school and your oak tree. i, for one, am glad you had time to think.



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