When winter came, she was at forlorn. The rain was slacking heavily outside. The sun seemed to have long been out from behind the clouds. It was so cold, chilly and bitter but every now and then, the sun was attempting to come through. People, save the villagers and some farmers, would take winter for the cruellest of all seasons when they saw the rain and therefore start exclaiming on spring. Winter was not always cruel. Sometimes, it was nice and would therefore take its things and pack them hastily and withdraw for the sake of sunny days. Spring, regretfully and oddly enough, was not as nice as winter because it would quickly take its things and leave then enough room for rainy days. Time was creeping up without stopping. People were never aware of anything but the absence of happy days. There were only wintry cold days. Perhaps there is no such thing as happy days. Perhaps it is a mere invention fabricated and ornamented by the devil. The white devil. Nevertheless, they would spend many a day looking for happiness but nowhere it is to be found. Happiness is not something that we can seek. It is a result; a by-product. Now they work, now they talk; now they hope; now they curse; now they pray, yet notice came to no one that she was at forlorn.
Her name was not so fortelling compared to theirs. She did not have, however, the slightest need to worry about it so long as it did not pertain to her in the first place and so long as it was imposed on her from the very first day she ever stepped into the threshold of life. She knew like many people that to err is human but to forgive is divine. She took then no trouble in erring and kept on erring until she became at forlorn while forgetting what is divine. She did not know that knowing things is not enough for her. It is never sufficient to know that to err is human. To err is also enough for cowardice. To forgive is also human but not enough when erring is becoming a style of life. Time is waning away carrying with it deficiency, imperfection and inconvenience. Still, no one saw that she was at forlorn. Sometimes, she gave the image of being completely at home with it. She looked as though she was made up and her life set up for the like of it. Some other times, she would stop and a few tears would come down her cheeks. No body knew yet that she was at forlorn.
She was a girl first like many other girls. Only that she was slightly different by being of a good nature now matter how often she would outlandishly strive to hide it. There are things we cannot hide. She did not know that. They speak for themselves without our knowing of them. But that she was at forlorn is still what no one ever took notice of let alone to grab hold of. When she would smile, she would not only smile. She would cause everything to smile with her. When she would speak, she would not only speak. She would cause every one to hush in order to listen to her. But when she would weep, she would not only weep, she would weep more than she would afford to weep. Yet, no body had ever wept with her. This is not beyond comprehension. She was at forlorn and no body knew of that.
By nature, people are the most vindictive and pretentious of all creatures. They contrive in making others believe they are not so and that they are nice and otherwise than that but, in truth, they are the most vindictive and pretentious to have ever walked on earth. Whoever said that the circumstances made them so was at the same time catering for his coming downfall. When this is kept in mind, no one will make the mistake of putting faith in them. This woman, it cannot be helped, is not by way of exception excluded from this, but she was neither vindictive nor pretentious like them. She was just the way she was and this is perhaps why, as it were, she never found a way out of being at forlorn. She made no strides then in the human enterprise of chicanery and hypocrisy. Flowers like her were not capable of bearing up the oppressing wind. Let alone to stand up and why not out alone against it.
O wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? Where is a spring without flowers?
How was it like when she felt the need so acute to make them believe she was not what she was in order to live? No body around her seemed to know that she was not for misdeeds. She was not at all for misdeeds. She was not made for such things. They were scoffing at her toppling. They were saying many things against her. They liked her audacity in everything and then disliked its rendering. What if she was pretentious? She was portentous but never pretentious. One would have to wait till she was alone in order to know that she was by every means different. But she never tried to look for a way of escaping. She preferred to stand alone and face the truth of everything by practicing not limping. Consequently, she ended up by being at forlorn.
-Mum, can I go outside for tonight?
-What for dear Catherine?
-Please mother, I want to go out and this is it. Why do you keep answering me with questions?
-People want to go outside for one reason or another. I want to know that.
-Then I won’t tell you because I’m not like them.
Catherine did not like to let her mother know the reason behind her trip she planned with the other girls. She did not want to worry her about that. For her, how life was so manageable when she feels she has nothing to lose except her shackles! For her, experience was so exorbitant. She would move through it any way.
-Dear, can’t you see it’s raining outside? You will get sick afterwards. There is no going out for tonight.
What good will it be to me to go out when it is raining? Catherine wondered while looking out at the heavy rain falling down across from the window. The streets were muddy and sloped steeply and the rain kept on falling without stopping. No body seemed to be walking outside except perhaps that beggar Catherine saw from afar. Tears run down her lump cheeks and she made no effort to prevent them from smothering her eyes. He must be shivering with cold this poor man. She told herself. Why can’t he run and seek a dry place? He will die, God save him please. But why can’t he move? He is probably waiting for God to save him. Catherine gazed at him scornfully. The stupid, he does not know he has got to move without calling for help. No body would come to his help. The devil in person would not help him at this very time of frost. If he would, then it must be for some new trouble and agony. The devil in person is now in trouble looking for a dry place for itself. It does not have enough time to make his evil plans in the rain. But since when, Catherine can only wonder, does the devil come to the assistance of its victims? Since when does he care for their safety and warmth? Can it be true that this beggar is overtaken by the devil? This is why he is a beggar, she said. People are sitting by fire warming themselves while pitying his kind with words. Ils parlent tous de lui, le soir, autour du feu; Ils parlent tous de lui, mais aucun ne pense à lui. May be he is insane. The insane are exceedingly unhappy. Otherwise, they would not turn insane. But this poor man. What has he done to have been chattered like that? May be he is fated and destined to be a beggar. May be he was not able to speak. He must have always been suffering in silence. When people do not find the capacity to speak, they beg. This is why this man is a beggar but not a successful one I should say. Only the hypocrites are successful beggars. They fail in the end. Catherine said. I wonder if he left a family behind him. People call him a beggar and a poor man. They probably don’t know why he is a beggar and a poor man. But he is undoubtedly one. One day, he will leave this nice world. He won’t regret that. He won’t mind that. He must have been famished by now. May be he hasn’t eaten for two or three days now. May be he hasn’t eaten since he hasn’t eaten since as it has once been stated. He doesn’t seem to be capable of making one step after the other. His legs will carry him nowhere. What if it should start snowing now? He will perish the poor and in no time. How many beggars are there like him? What are they doing now that it is raining and drumming on the roofs?
Her mother was calling.
-yes, mum. What is up? Or is it down?
-Catherine, your father is still outside and it is getting worse and dark tonight. Why doesn’t he come?
- Mum, can you see that beggar in the street? He will die the poor. It is horrible. Are there no people to feel for him? He won’t forgive us, mum, will he?
-He has got the lord to save him, Catherine. I’m starting to be afraid now. Your father has not come yet and it is turning so badly.
- Are they asking about him this poor beggar? I will go and ask him to come up with me.
- Catherine, have you gone crazy? What will your father say when he sees him at home?
- I’m not crazy. If he stays outside much longer, he will get frozen. Can’t you see he can’t stir any more? I’m going mum.
Catherine quickly get dressed and took an old coat with her in order to cover the beggar. The rain did not stop. It was a very cold night. Catherine crossed the street and immediately went to the beggar and covered him with the coat. Her mother, seeing this, started to weep. She uttered one or two prayers for Catherine. She is now the girl she always prayed for and hankered after. Her father will be so proud of her. May the lord keep her out of harm’s way. She is like an angel. I wonder where she wanted to go this night.
The beggar, having felt the warmth he never felt before, looked at Catherine and tried to say something but nothing but whispering managed to come out of his mouth. His hands were frozen. He could not even get them into the coat’s pockets. Catherine smiled through her tears and told him to come along with her so as to get some fire. The poor man refused to stir. He could not go any further. What would she do now? She could not go and leave him like that. He would perish.
-Are you hungry? Speak please. Do you want me to get you some food?
The beggar looked at her without uttering one single word. He was not even capable of making signs. Catherine was astounded when she suddenly saw that the poor man was so gentle and young. She wondered what sort of disgrace had taken possess of him. People of his age would not allow themselves to be reduced to such a heart breaking dispensation. It was not at all within the prospect of belief for Catherine to accept to even see him like that.
-Are you parched? The rain water is fresh and can be of help to you. What makes you go outside at this very time of frost?
Again, the beggar did not utter a word. Something like an intuition soon caused Catherine to believe that this beggar is not a beggar. He seems to be unaware of his present condition. He seems to have long opted for this condition. But then, something like another intuition soon paved the way for Catherine to realize that this beggar does not even feel like wanting her to be beside him in the rain. May be he is the one who is pitying her. May be he is the one who is pitying them those who are sitting by fire and talking about him.
-Are you a stranger, an outsider? Speak please. I can’t bear it up any more.
Catherine was sobbing and tears were brimming in her eyes till they choked her. Nevertheless, the beggar was still numb and he did not give any air of wanting to respond. All he could, Catherine ended up by giving in to it, was simply to look at her unconsciously. The rain continued to fall in gusts. Catherine was determined to know after believing more than she could afford that this man is not to be a beggar. She pondered that no matter how heavy the rain is and will be, she will be patient and she will resist till she knows the truth of this man. Her father must have come back home by now and she cared less for that. He will be inquiring after her and she cared lesser for that. He will frown at her mother for having permitted her to go alone outside at night and yet she cared lesser and lesser for that. What if he joins her into straining to know why is it that this beggar is refusing to be saved? What if he comes up unexpectedly? What if he comes forward and finds out the extent of soreness and pain Catherine and this beggar are moving through under the rain? Catherine was overwhelmingly convinced that her father will not possibly make such a terrible mistake. He must have been by fire by now. He is not strong enough to put up with his work and his family. Domesticity is for him a matter of natural conduct. Should there be something wrong in the family; domesticity is still for him a matter of natural conduct. Should there be something at stake and under the threat of danger; domesticity is a matter of natural conduct. Catherine was guessing all the time the fact that this is exactly what they mean by natural upbringing. Parents strongly want their children to be something similar to them and they call it natural upbringing. If children happen to be very badly brought up and take to rebuff to the extent of disobedience, then it is the outcome of the so-called natural upbringing. Catherine was even about to guess that the term natural upbringing is self-contradictory when the beggar, by way of impatience surely, started to breathe unnaturally. Catherine felt the descending shroud of terror and fear. What if he dies? Why does he want to die this way under no shelter? He must be at an end the poor. Despite his age that is one characterized by the prominent resistance to death, this young poor man is lending himself to it being even resistant to the reverse of it. No wonder he is exceedingly miserable and unhappy. No wonder he is extremely sad and despondent. Nonetheless, he appears to be natural in his condition. He refuses to be saved or fetched for the simple and obvious reason that he hates people to boast about his being saved by them and thanks to them when he is saved. Catherine strove in vain to see what is unnatural about him till he fell completely into faint and no airing no breathing is to be heard out of him… Catherine retreated back in terror and started to scream in helplessness and sadness. Mother, please, where are you? Mother, please, come. Mother, please, I need your help… Father, please, he is dying.
Never has she felt so disappointed like that when nobody whatever took the initiative and ventured to join her into helping this man and preventing him from giving himself to death under the heavy rain. Catherine continued to cry and scream until her voice failed her that her tears stood against its sounding with fury. Thus, she rushed to the man and covered him and pressed him so tightly against her while weeping and weeping. She pressed him so tightly and wanted to die with him. It would be better than to leave him alone suffering and come back to sit by fire. Catherine wept and sobbed for some time while pressing him against her until she felt his heart beat again. She could not believe that. No, she could not believe that. May be she was mistaken in her heart so that instead of feeling hers, felt his… She held the man tight to her body and soul stronger than before but no beating of his heart could be felt. Besides, it is as though the skies were weeping along with Catherine because the rain never stopped for one single moment. What was even worse was that the sound of a storm could now be heard and no beating of his heart Catherine could feel. The wind was blowing fiercely and the sound of it is boding with a storm that Catherine thought would hear of no abating. She never relinquished him. Let the rain fall and go on pouring even. Let the wind blow and go on blowing. Let the storm worsen and go on worsening. Let people sit by fire and go on sitting by fire. Catherine would never relinquish this man. He must be dead. He is so cold. Catherine touched his hands. They were paralyzed. She put her head against his chest trying to consider and examine and see if there is any beating… He must be dead.
No sooner did the storm abate, no sooner did the rain stop, no sooner did the daylight establish itself in the place of darkness, and then the streets grew crowded with people. No sooner were Catherine and the poor gentleman seen, children hurried and dashed to them. Men and Women were passing and wondering and saying things about Catherine and The beggar but in passing as they had always done when they chance to witness a similar scene. For them, it is undoubtedly a comic scene instead of being a tragic one. It is a comic scene because as Man (and Woman as well) sows, so shall he or she reap. A comic scene generative of laughter for them because Catherine and the beggar are now moaning for the harvest they have reapt. May be they were caught committing one of the cardinal sins. So they died in the rain as a sorte of punishment. Perhaps they were killed by the police and thrown away in the street for every one to see and learn the lesson. Or probably, why? It is very probable that they passed away because they had not tried at least to cover their shame and instead they were trumpeting it in the rain. So they died. It was always said that a man (and woman of course!) never goes around trumpeting his or her shame. But here can anything be made of the shame Catherine and the beggar had been moving through at night? God never forgive those who are trumpeting their shame. If only they tried a little bit to hide themselves so that people would not come across them and take them for the principal cause of the absence of happy days. If only they tried a little bit to call for help when they were about to die so that people would come to their rescue no matter what kind of shame or cardinal sin they had undergone or committed. People would not mind forgiving them for that provided that they do it in secret not in the street and what is more at night. But then, what makes a girl like Catherine go at night to meet a man like this beggar and then die in this manner in the street? Perhaps they were ashamed of their deed and consequently found nothing and no body to resort to in the middle of a storm so railing and embracing the night before. They should have waited for a better prospect of place and time.
Children, having approached the two lovers, became filled with fear and started to yell and shout and run here and there like people confronting the oppressing armed forces. It was only at that moment when pedestrians realized the critical situation and began to be aware of what a man and woman have made of themselves. More and more folks gathered around the victims and the noise started. No less than three ladies and one old man, when casting sight on Catherine and the beggar, found quickest access to and lapsed into unconsciousness. The wail of ambulance sirens was heard and the medical crew stepped down as soon as the ambulance stopped. They elbowed their ways with difficulty in the incredible crowd of people. The police alarms went off and every one recognized then what a man and woman have made of themselves. The scene, to the greatest disappointment of many a man and woman, did not prove to be comic. It did not even prove to be tragic. It was real and this is how it was.
Have we not reason to lament what Catherine and the poor young gentle man have made of themselves? We have and there is as a matter of fact more to Catherine and the poor young gentle man than what the pen has written or could still write. To lament the loss of something requires no more than awareness. To lament the loss of somebody requires no more than acting and make belief. Here, the case is awfully different. Here, to lament requires no less than madness. Madness of the type of King Lear’s. To lament, faced with this case, presents the human savagery in its most disgusting form. Nobody must be allowed to cry and display his or her weakness and misery. Catherine’s mother herself must not be permitted to shed tears over the loss of her daughter. She is more than welcome to watch over her self and go on waiting for her husband day and night. She is more than welcome to pray for her daughter and wonder where she wanted to go last night. As for her husband, the most open-minded and affluent merchant of the city, he needs to develop his ideas and sharpen his arguments about domesticity and harnesses further what he takes to be natural upbringing by means of communication. He is now in perfect position to illustrate his conduct and point out to the loss of his daughter as an outstanding example sustaining his theory of domesticity. A framework of reference is now made accessible by the way.
What does it mean to lament? Or to say it differently, what meaning does human lamentation offer? There is, in fact, far more and more to lamentation than the poor meaning it offers.
All any one can say is without sense when silence makes sense. These words are far from expressing what silence could express…
Schizophrenia is but one psychological aspect characterizing the one who laments over the loss of somebody or something… When the victims, the story intervenes, were carried to the central hospital of the city in almost no time, time was not important. There was no cause for anxiety and fear. The clinical circle coupled with voluntary medical doctors and assisted with surgeons were to bring Catherine and her beloved back into life. It was great! By all standards and accounts, it was great! The two lovers were brought back to life in order to face death more clearly than ever before.
God, the almighty, cure the patients, and the clinical circle takes the fee.
Then, some rumors circulating between men and women imparted the astounding sad news that one of the three ladies who had happened to see Catherine and the beggar lying as they were in the street and accordingly lost consciousness over the scene has died. The clinical circle, it could be said, has spared no effort attempting to save her but, alas the poor, she passed away. It was a comic scene by every possible means. Why should it be a tragic one? It was real. Who said that the world is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel? For Catherine, the world is both a comedy and a tragedy. Why such a vision? It is difficult to answer such a burning and loaded question. A modest attempt to answer it will be that for those who feel and think the world is both a tragedy and comedy. Catherine is sensitive and sensible at the same time. She is far more sensitive and sensible than what those who live with her not to speak of those who know her could take her to be. Yet, in spite of it or rather because of it, no body so far has come to the realization that Catherine was at forlorn. Perhaps she was not. She was herself unconsciously straying afield of her self by overlooking what is divine. She is sensitive for those who think they are sensible and sensible for those who feel they are sensitive. To know the truth. It takes time and it depends.
How happy some people can be when they become happy the moment they are reduced to sadness because of some loss and when regained they become happy! How unhappy some other people should be when they become unhappy the moment they think they have made it thanks to what they think is chance and then when they fail to keep up with it they become unhappy ! Take death. What is death? Is it an end? Is it a divine punishment? What is death? Catherine thinks that death is an end. Whether it is a divine punishment or not, she is not sure of that. She reckons that death cannot be so because what is divine is divine and therefore what is divine cannot be cruel so as to penalize people with death. A mere speculation indeed. But Catherine was on the brink of death when she had been purporting to stand up against death by attempting to save the poor gentleman. Did she know death when she was about to die? Catherine never knew death neither now nor when she was on its verge. She feels that death could not be known because those who are living know nothing or little of death and those who have died know everything about death but will never tell us. No body has ever returned from death so as to teach us some lessons with regard to death. But, should we remind ourselves of the fact that nothing that is really worth knowing can be taught? A good question waiting for no good answer.
How happy some over some other can be. It has been said somewhere. This is painful. Catherine, was she to be called upon to accost this statement, would end up by saying that, as it were, this is painful indeed. Will it be of sense and sensibility to ask why such a statement is productive of painful premises?