The condition after the collapse – the description of unwanted here and now


 This time I want to play a little with some prose. Recently, I have read one piece of Kanon Literatury Podziemnej. This series consists of books read secretly; away from the eye of Big Brother. “Stan po zapaści” is a book written by Jacek Bocheński during harsh period of communism in Poland.
On the one hand, I love how the form of this book results from the plot. The main character who arrives at a hospital writes down what he experiences. The book which is held by the reader is a draft of the main protagonist. Thus, it reminds kind of stream of consciousness (and if a character has less and less space, the words are more and more cramped).
On the another, that was not my piece of literature, although it has really good fragments. Conversations overheard at the hospital which are a comment about the present are quite tiring. I hope other will enjoy this book more (like my fab nails).

“Stan po zapaści” – fragment. The condition after the collapse* – a fragment.

     I’m looking at the bald one and suddenly a brainstorm. I know! The bald one is a Jew. I mean, he is, how they used to say it before a war, a convert. And rather, I recon, he is a child saved and brought up during the occupation by some simple people from catholic house, surely peasant, though he looks more like a child from a working family. Or maybe he grew up in the milieu of small craftsmen. His age matches. I don’t know why but after that conversation about fish I would bet that it had happened to him as imagined.
If we lived in Sweden or in America I could simply ask him about it. For example, in this way:
– Listen, my neighbour**, are you probably a Jew?
And he would answer: yes, neighbour. Or: no, neighbour. Or: Indeed, my parents were members of Jewish community, however the Nazis murdered them during the second world war and I was taken in by a catholic family and I embraced the religion of my protectors.
But it isn’t Sweden, it  not in Poland. We shudder, observe carefully, go around with a distance, we are scared and ashamed.

* collapse as a medical condition (circulatory collapse) which has the main character and the metaphorical one
** neighbours in one hospital room

(translated  by me)

The fragment comes from:
Jacek Bocheński
2009     Stan po zapaści. Warszawa: Oficyna Wydawnicza Volumen, 44.