Chronicles from the future: Sleepless
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Yesterday and today were two very quiet days. I spent the day writing or talking with Stefan in the mornings and Jaeger in the afternoons, and night-time reading. I’ve turned into a voracious reader, a proper bookworm!
The physicians believe that trying to induce sleep artificially would be futile. Moreover, lack of sleep is neither fatal nor very harmful in my case, according to them.
At night they let me read, provided that I do it resting in bed for at least half of the time, and in the morning I wake up so fresh, as if I’ve slept for seven hours. Little by little I’ve started picking up their language as well, the “universal tongue” as Stefan calls it or, as I call it, “broken Anglo-Scandinavian”. This language does however have a certain consistency between pronunciation and writing as I can now read much more comfortably though I often need the help of a small dictionary.
My long conversations with Jaeger are like a spiritual and mental cleansing for me. Under his tutelage I have ceased to seek shelter in the memories of my old life. This man has managed to sow the seed of faith deep inside my soul and has given me a new brand of confidence of which I had never thought myself capable. Because of him I’ve stopped feeling that I inhabit a foreign body. Because of him I can now look at myself fearlessly in the mirror and, strangely enough, somewhere beneath all these foreign features, I can distinguish my own expression as I have known it my entire life.
Without having mentioned anything myself, Stefan shared a similar opinion on the subject with me the other day. “The man I see in front of me is, indeed, Andrew Northam but, by his accent, the tone of his voice, and even the way he expresses himself and looks at me, I can tell it’s not him.”
Today, like every other day, Jaeger tutored me in articulation, elocution and pronunciation. Next, we will start learning about the world around me. This incredible man spends a great amount of his time patiently explaining every little thing, its use and function. When I go out into the world, I will have to be able to get around by myself and not look lost.
Whenever he gets tired, we take a break and I tell him all kinds of stories: about my hometown, my life, my mother’s love for me… And he raptly listens to me, taking interest in the ways of the 20th century, asking a myriad of questions about our schools and our habits in general, even taking notes every so often. He seems delighted with my outbursts of nostalgia.
I’ve told him that I, too, used to be a teacher in my time and I’ve spoken to him about my preference for history. With these conversations I have been overwhelmed by a great spiritual thirst; the thought of an immense prospect suddenly opening up in my field helps me temporarily
forget my situation and makes me quiver with anticipation. And this thirst in my heart, only some steps away from this new and unexpected El Dorado, only I can feel.
(In the middle of the night)
I’m tired. I’ve been walking around on the terrace for hours on end in the divine serenity of the night. I feel a hint of joy springing up inside me, as if I could hear my heart beating. Am I feverish again? The prospect of the new emotions welling within me meets the permanent turmoil of my mind. Will I stop obsessing over this incredible experience and slowly become accustomed to it? Will I become a normal person that finds interest in everyday life again? Will I be worthy of new excitement? I feel like an avid philatelist who has just been offered the King of England’s stamp collection and can’t wait to examine it; or like a Classics scholar who has just gained access to the Library of Alexandria.
Jaeger said to me tonight, “Trust Stefan. He’ll lead you through everything, step by step.” I kindly requested him to give me some more history books for now, and he promised he would. He also suggested the Reigen-Swage (these are the surnames of two inventors of a device that projects image and sound in different sizes: from the internals of palaces to simple personal devices. Something like our TV set), something completely new to me, a type of narration that consists of a simultaneous combination of sight and sound, which you do not even need to read! A voice narrates them and you see pictures come to life before you.
“Listen to me,” he told me—and I recount his words not as he spoke them but as I understood them—“When the time comes in a short while and I will no longer be by your side, rise to the challenge and do not let your thoughts be nourished only by facts. Delve more deeply into the great spiritual paths that have now been opened to humankind. You won’t benefit much from hard facts. Try not to be dazzled by them and end up spending your hours watching them unfold in the Reigen-Swage. After all, whatever happened has happened before. History repeats itself. Try to read between the lines and see beneath the surface of mere events.
He made an allusion to the “new, bright paths” that will lead to “quenching the thirst of the longing of centuries” and to the alleviation of “humankind’s metaphysical pain”.
Nevertheless, I am not entirely in a position to know if I’ve interpreted correctly all that this wise man has patiently taught me. It is us, he says, who pass by, not time. We, the human creatures with the short-lived biological destiny, come and go. The dimension of depth eludes us. Our antennas have a very limited capacity. They only form subjective impressions that are totally irrelevant to the true and objective “Great Reality”, the Samith (a term used by the Adersen Institute: the total of what exists. The essence of this terms is impossible to perceive due to the restriction of human abilities) as he called it.
There come times when the idea of that huge, unknown world out there frightens me. I’m becoming accustomed to living the same, unchanging and unsurprising life, day by day in the institution; and I find some joy in it. But Stefan tells me that I have to fight against my shyness and face the life that’s out there, waiting for me.
Today Jaeger remembered young Northam again. Then, looking straight into my eyes, he murmured, “I know Andrew is not with us anymore; but I will always call you by his name.”
Stefan told me the same thing the other day: “Let me call you Andrew…” And such was the tone of his voice that anybody would be jealous of Northam, of that rigid faith in the concept of friendship (so foreign to us) that was so strongly connected to his memory.
A few days were enough to change everything around me! The environment, the people, the circumstances; all so different! Who could have imagined…
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Copyright Achilleas Syrigos. All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be republished.