Autumn Sonata 1978
Sometimes I stand looking at my wife
without her knowing I'm here.
The first time she entered that room she said,
"Oh, how nice. I feel at home here. "
We hadn't known each other long.
We met at a bishops' conference In Trondheim.
She was there as a journalist.
I told her about the parsonage out here.
I ventured to suggest a visit
when the conference was over.
On the way, I asked her to marry me.
She didn't answer, but when we entered the room she said,
"Oh, how nice. I feel at home here. "
Since then we've lived a quiet, happy Iife at the parsonage.
Eva has, of course, told me about her earlier life.
After leaving school she went on to college
got engaged to a doctor and lived with him for several years.
Wrote two small books.
Came down with tuberculosis, broke offthe engagement
and moved from Oslo to a small town In the south of Norway
where she began to work as a journalist.
This is the first of her books. I like it so much.
She has written,
"One must learn to live. I practice every day.
" My biggest obstacle is I don't know who I am.
"I grope blindly.
"If anyone loves me as I am
"I may dare at last to look at myself.
" For me, that possibility is fairly remote."
I'd like to tell her just for once
that she is loved whole-heartedly
but I can't say it in such a way
that she'd believe me. I can't find the right words.
I've written to Mama. Am I interrupting?
-No, no. Come in. I'll turn offthe radio. -I can come back later.
No, please read me the letter.
" Dearest Mama, I was in town yesterday and ran into Agnes
"who was on a visit to her parents.
"She told me Leonardo had died.
"I know what a terrible blow this must be to you.
"I'm wondering now if you'd like to come and visit us
"for a few days or weeks.
"So that you won't say no right off
"the parsonage is very spacious.
"You'll have your own room with all conveniences.
"We have a piano and you can practice all you want to.
"It would make a change from a hotel.
" Do say you'll come!
"We'll make a fuss over you and spoil you.
"It's ages since we last met.
"7 years this October!
" Much love from Viktor and Eva."
-That's fine. -Are you sure?
-Mama darling! -Eva! Well, here I am!
-I'm so glad you're here. -Yes,just fancy. It was a long trip.
-Yes, I know. -How beautiful it is here!
-Do stay a long time. -Indeed I will.
-I can't believe you're here. -Let's go for a nice long walk.
-What heavy bags! Have you brought all your music? -Yes,
I'm staying for good! -It would be nice.
-You'll give me some lessons,won't you? -Yes.
Where's Viktor? -He's not at home for the moment.
We didn't think you'd come so early.
-This is your room. -Oh, isn't it nice!
And what a beautiful view. -The bathroom's here.
-How nice and up-to-date. -I hope one wardrobe is enough.
Everything's fine. I really am very tired.
I sat with Leonardo the last day and night.
He was in bad pain and was given shots every two hours.
Now and then he cried because it hurt.
He wasn't afraid of dying.
Outside the hospital they were drilling and hammering.
The sun was blazing down and there were no awnings.
We tried to get another room but many wards were closed for repairs.
Towards evening the noise stopped and I could open the window.
The heat outside was like a wall, and not a breath of wind.
In the evening the doctor came. He's an old friend.
He said it wouldn't be long now.
Leonardo would get a shot every half -hour so he could die without pain.
Then the doctor left and the ward nurse came in.
She said I should eat, but I wasn't hungry.
The smell was making me sick.
Leonardo dozed off
then woke up and asked me to go out of the room.
He rang for the night nurse and she came in with a shot.
A minute or two later she came out and said
Leonardo was dead.
I sat with him all night.
He had been my friend for 1 8 years.
We had lived together for thirteen and had never had an angry word.
For two years he had known he was ill and that there was no hope.
As often as I could I went to see him at his villa near Naples.
He was kind and thoughtful and happy about my success.
We talked and joked and played chamber music.
He hardly ever spoke of his illness and he wouldn't have liked me to ask.
One day he gave me a long look
then laughed and said:
"This time next year I'll be gone
"but I'll always be with you. I'll always think of you."
It was sweet of him to say so
but he was apt to be rather theatrical.
I can't say I go around grieving.
Of course he's left a gap, but it's no good fretting.
Do you think I've changed much?
-You're just the same. -I dye my hair of course.
Otherwise I'm the same, don't you think?
I bought this outfit in Z'rich. Saw it in a window
went in and tried it on and it fit perfectly.
-Don't you think it's nice? -Yes, very.
Will you help me with this case? My back's giving me hell.
Have you a board to put under the mattress?
We put one there yesterday.
Eva dear, what is it? Have I said something wrong?
I'm just so glad to see you.
Give me a nice squeezy hug, as you did when you were little.
I've done nothing but chattered about myself.
Tell me about you. How are things?
-Oh, fine. -Don't you lead a very isolated life?
-No, we have our parish work. -Yes, of course.
I often play the organ. Last month I had a musical evening.
I played and talked about each piece.
-I hope you'll play for me. -I'd love to.
I gave five school concerts in Los Angeles.
3,000 children each time.
I played and talked to them. I was a huge success.
There's something I have to tell you.
Helena is here.
You should have told me.
If I had, you wouldn't have come.
I'm sure I would have.
And I'm sure you wouldn't.
Isn't Leonardo's death enough? Why drag poor Lena here too?
She's been here for the last two years.
Viktor and I asked her if she'd like to live with us.
-I wrote to you. -I never got the letter.
Or else you never bothered to read it.
-Aren't you being rather unfair? -Yes. I'm sorry.
I'm not up to seeing her. At any rate not today.
Helena is a wonderful person.
She's longing to see you. -It seemed so nice for her at that home.
-I wanted her with me. -Are you sure she's better off here?
Yes. And I have someone to look after.
Has she... I mean is she... Is she worse?
Oh yes, she's worse. It's part of the disease.
Come along then, let's go and see her.
-Are you sure? -I have no choice.
Some people are so naive.
-You mean me? -If the shoe fits.
I've thought of you so often, every day.
Helena is afraid of giving you her cold.
I haven't had a cold for twenty years.
What a lovely room you have!
I have the same view from my room.
Helena wants you to take her head
in your hands. -Like that?
I'm so glad Eva's looking after you.
I thought you were still at that home. I would have come to visit.
But it's much better like this, isn't it?
Now we can be together every day.
-Are you in pain? -No.
-How nicely you've done your hair. -It's in your honor.
Suppose I read aloud to you? Would you like that?
And we can go for a drive. I've never been around here before.
-What? -Helena says you must be awfully tired
and not to make any more effort today.
Well done, Mama.
-Doesn't Lena have a wristwatch? I'll give you mine.
It was a gift from an admirer
who said I was always late.
Will Lena be having dinner with us? -No, she's on a diet.
She ate far too much at the hospital.
Why do I feel like I have a temperature?
Why do I want to cry?
I'm to be put to shame, that's the idea.
Then a guilty conscience. Always a guilty conscience!
I was in such a hurry to get here. What was I expecting?
What was I longing for so desperately?
This extraordinary mother!
You should have seen her when I told her Lena was here.
She actually managed to produce a smile
despite her surprise and alarm.
And as we stood outside Lena's door: an actress before her entrance,
scared but in control. The performance was superb.
Why on earth did she come here?
What did she expect of a meeting after 7 years? What did she expect?
-I wonder. -And what did I expect? Does one never stop hoping?
-I don't think so. -Always mother and daughter!
No use starting to cry. Damn it!
There she sat, gazing at me with her big eyes.
I held her face and felt the disease
twitching at her throat muscles.
To think I can't carry her to my bed
and comfort her as I did when she was three.
That soft, torn body
that's my Lena!
Don't cry, for Christ's sake.
A writer whose name I've forgotten said,
" It's like a ghost falling on top of you
"when you open the door to the nursery
"having long since forgotten it is the nursery."
-Do you think I'm grown up? -I guess being grown up is being able
to handle your dreams and hopes. Not longing. -Do you think so?
Maybe you stop being surprised.
How sensible you look, with your old pipe.
-You're quite grown up. -I wonder. I'm surprised every day.
-At what? -At you.
And I have the most unreasonable dreams and hopes.
And a longing too, come to that.
-Longing? -Yes. I long for you.
Those are very pretty words.
Words that don't mean anything real.
I was brought up with beautiful words.
Mama is never furious or disappointed or unhappy
she is "pained". You have a lot of words like that too.
It's a kind of occupational disease.
If you long for me when I'm here,
I begin to be suspicious. -You know what I mean.
No. If I knew, it would never enter your head to say so.
I must see to the veal roast.
Mama thinks I'm a hopeless cook.
-Mama thinks you're a... -...wonderful cook. Thank you!
And she's to have decaffeinated coffee.
I'll cut my visit short. I can manage four days.
Then I'll go to Africa as I originally planned.
This hurts, Charlotte. It hurts. Hurts. Hurts.
I've often wondered why she sleeps badly. Now I know.
If that woman slept normally, her vitality would crush everyone.
Her insomnia is nature's way of using up the surplus energy.
I'll put on my red dress just to spite Eva.
I'm sure she thinks I ought to be in mourning.
See how carefully she dresses for dinner.
Her dress will be a discreet reminder that she's a lonely widow.
I'm angry the whole time. Viktor and Eva have been sweet to me.
Viktor's a kindly soul. Lucky for Eva, the cry-baby.
I don't suppose the shower works.
Yes, it does!
-What a lovely dress! -Does it suit me?
One day I met a friend who said,
"I've just come from a fashion show.
"There was a divine red dress which is absolutely you!"
To your health, Charlotte. We're delighted to have you with us.
Eva, see if I left my glasses on the table.
Thank you, darling.
That was my agent, he's so sweet. The only friend I have left.
You remember him. Old Paul. We've worked together now for 30 years.
What a fine old instrument! What a lovely tone! And just tuned.
Now I'm really happy.
I didn't need to worry. -What do you mean, Mama?
I was nervous of seeing you again after so many years.
I nearly didn't come.
This peculiar coffee is a bore
but what can I do when I can't sleep?
I see you're working on the Chopin preludes.
Play something. -Not now.
Don't be childish. You'd give me great pleasure.
But you wanted your mother to hear you.
But it's all a sham. I have no technique.
I haven't even bothered to learn the fingering.
Darling, no more excuses. Come on now, play.
Eva, my dearest.
-Is that all? -I was just so moved.
-Did you like it? -I liked you.
-I don't follow. -Play something else.
-What was wrong? -Nothing.
You didn't like my interpretation.
-We all have our own. -Exactly. I want to know yours.
-You're cross. -No, I'm upset. You won't tell me your idea
of this prelude. -All right, if you insist.
Your technique wasn't at all bad though you might have taken
more interest in Cortot's fingering.
But let's just talk about the conception.
Chopin was emotional, but not mawkish.
Feeling is very far from sentimentality.
The prelude tells of pain, not reverie.
You have to be calm, clear and harsh.
Take the first bars now.
It hurts, but he doesn't show it.
Then a short relief.
But it evaporates at once,
and the pain is the same.
Total restraint the whole time.
Chopin was proud, passionate,
tormented and very manly. He wasn't a mawkish old woman.
This prelude must be made to sound almost ugly.
It is never ingratiating. It should sound wrong.
You have to battle your way through it and emerge triumphant.
-Don't be cross with me. -Why should I be? On the contrary.
For 45 years I've worked at these terrible preludes.
They still contain a lot of secrets.
When I was little, I admired you enormously.
Then I got pretty tired of you and your pianos.
Now I admire you again, but in a different way.
-Then there's some hope. -Yes, I guess so.
-Where are you? -I'm up here, Mama.
I've changed, so we can go for a walk if you like.
-Is this the nursery? -Yes, it's Erik's room.
-Fancy letting it stay like this! -We've often talked of altering it.
Sometimes I come and sit here and let my thoughts wander.
-Let's go. -Wait, Mama! Feel the nice atmosphere in here.
Erik drowned the day before his fourth birthday.
But you know that.
It was too much for Viktor.
I grieved a lot, outwardly.
Deep inside, I felt he was still alive,
that we were living close to each other.
All I have to do is concentrate, and he's there.
Sometimes, as I'm falling asleep I can feel him breathing on my face
and touching me with his hand.
He's living another life, but we can reach one another.
There's no dividing line, no insurmountable wall.
I wonder what the reality looks like where my little boy is living.
I know it can't be described.
It's a world of liberated feelings.
Do you know what I mean?
To me, man is a tremendous creation,
an inconceivable thought.
In man is everything, from the highest to the lowest.
Man is God's image, and in God there is everything.
So human beings are created, but also the demons
and the saints, the prophets and artists and iconoclasts.
Everything exists side by side.
It's like huge patterns changing all the time.
In the same way, there must also be countless realities
not only the reality we perceive with our dull senses
but a tumult of realities arching above each other inside and outside.
It's just fear and priggishness to believe in limits.
There are no limits. Neither to thoughts
nor to feelings.
It's anxiety that sets limits.
When you play the slow movement of the Hammerklavier sonata
you must feel you're living in a world without limitations
in an activity you can never see through or explore.
Let's go for a walk before it gets too dark.
I thought I heard Helena calling. Excuse me.
I think Eva is awfully unhappy.
I'm appalled when I hear her holding forth. It's so neurotic.
Just a moment, Charlotte
and I'll try to explain how I view my wife.
When I asked Eva to marry me, she said she didn't love me.
-What do you mean? -I asked if she loved someone else.
She said she had never loved anyone,
that she was incapable of loving.
Eva and I lived here for several years. Then Erik was born.
We'd given up hope of a child of our own and talked of adopting one.
With her pregnancy, Eva underwent a complete change.
She became cheerful, gentle and outgoing.
She got lazy and couldn't be bothered
with her parish work or her piano-playing.
She would sit by that window gazing at the play of light
over the fell and the fjord.
We were suddenly very happy.
I'm much older than Eva.
I felt as if a gray film were settling over life.
I felt as if I could look back and say,
"Well, well, so that was my life, that's how it all turned out."
But suddenly things were different.
Please forgive me, but it's still rather hard to...
Yes. We had some years that were very rich. Erik.
You should have seen Eva.
At the time of Erik's birth
I was recording all the Mozart sonatas.
-I hadn't one day free. -No.
We invited you over and over again.
When Erik drowned, that gray film got even grayer.
For Eva it was different.
-Different? -Her feeling lives, uncorroded.
Or so it seems anyway.
If she feels that her son is alive and near her,
well, perhaps that's how it is.
She seldom speaks of it.
I guess she's afraid it might upset me
as indeed it would.
But what she says sounds true enough.
-I believe her. -Yes, you're a minister.
-My faith lives on her terms. -I'm sorry if I hurt you.
It doesn't matter. Unlike you and Eva,
I'm diffuse and uncertain. It's my own fault.
I think I'll take a good dose of sleeping pills tonight.
It's so peaceful here, only the hiss of the rain on the roof.
-Do you have all you need? -Couldn't be better.
Cookies and mineral water, tape recorder,
two detective novels, my blindfold and ear-plugs
and my travel blanket.
Like to taste my delicious Swiss chocolate?
-You can have two pieces. -I don't like chocolate.
I seem to remember you were crazy about candy as a child.
-Helena liked it. I didn't. -Good, all the more for me.
-Good night, Mama. -Good night, my pet.
Viktor is a delightful person. You must take care of him.
-I do. -Are you happy together?
Do you get on well? -Viktor is my best friend.
I can't imagine life without him.
-He said you didn't love him. -Did he say that?
-Yes. Why? -Oh,just rather surprising.
Was it a secret?
But he shouldn't have said it? -He's not the confiding sort.
-We were talking about you. -If you want to know anything, ask me.
I'll answer truthfully. -Now, don't get upset.
A mother naturally worries about her daughter.
We spoke of you with the greatest affection.
If only you'd leave people alone!
I've left you alone far too long.
-You're right. -Give me a hug. Promise you're not angry.
-I'm not. -I love you, don't you see.
I love you too.
It's not much fun being alone always.
I envy you and Viktor.
Now that Leonardo's dead, I'm so awfully lonely.
Don't you see? -Yes.
I'll begin to weep with self-pity in a minute.
This book isn't at all bad.
It's by Adam Kretzinsky. Have you heard of him?
I met him in Madrid. Mad as a hatter.
I couldn't defend myself. In fact, I didn't.
-Shall I put out this light? -Yes, please.
-I'll bring your breakfast. -Don't trouble yourself.
-But I want to spoil you. -Very well, if you insist.
Strong coffee, hot milk, two slices of German bread with cheese,
one slice of toast with honey.
-And orange juice. -I nearly forgot.
I can... -Juice it will be.
Good night, darling. -Good night, Mama.
I think I'll have a look at my accounts.
I'll have Brammer invest the money from Leonardo.
The house is worth quite a bit too.
You never bothered about money.
You were above mundane worries
and left all problems to your Charlotte.
To think you had so much money. Who'd have thought it?
And you leave it all to your old Charlotte.
I've got a little nest egg, too.
Together, it comes to over five million.
What am I going to do with so much money?
I'll buy a nice car for Viktor and Eva.
They can't drive around in that old rattle-trap.
On Monday we'll go into town and look at a new car.
It'll cheer them up. Me too.
"She offered him the red flower of her virginity.
" He accepted it without enthusiasm..."
Adam was quite an idiot, he was,
even if he did nearly commit suicide because of me.
Supposing I buy a new car for myself and give them the Mercedes?
Then I can fly to Paris
and buy a car there and won't have to drive all that way.
Tomorrow, I must get down to Ravel.
It's disgraceful how lazy I've been of late.
Mama, what's happened?
I heard you call out, and you were not in your room.
I'm sorry to wake you, but I had such a horrible dream...
I can't remember it. -Shall I keep you company?
No thank you, dear. You go back to bed.
-You do like me, don't you? -You are my mother.
That's one way of answering.
-Do you like me? -I love you.
I broke off my career to stay at home with you and Papa.
Your back prevented you from practicing six hours a day.
Your playing got worse and so did your reviews.
Have you forgotten it? -No, but Eva...
I don't know which I hated more
when you were at home or when you were on tour.
I realize now you made life hell for Papa and me.
Your father and I were very happy.
I'd have done anything for him.
-You were unfaithful to him. -I was not!
I was quite honest with Josef.
I fell in love with Martin and lived with him for 8 months.
It wasn't a bed of roses. -It was I who had to sit with Papa in the evenings.
It was I who had to comfort him to keep repeating that you did love him
just the same, that you were sure to come back.
I read your letters out loud.
Your long, loving, amusing letters in which you told us
of your interesting travels.
We sat there like two idiots reading your letters
over and over. We thought a more wonderful person didn't exist.
You hate me.
I don't know. I looked forward so much to your coming.
I don't know what I was imagining.
Maybe I thought you were lonely and sad.
I'm so confused.
I thought I was grown up and could look clearly at you and me
and Helena's illness and our childhood.
Now it's all one big muddle.
It's all right now. Wake up.
I'll sit here with you until you go to sleep.
To you, I was a doll you played with when you had time.
If I was sick or naughty, you handed me overtoyour nursemaid.
You shutyourself in and worked,
andno one was allowed to disturb you.
I used to stand outside, listening.
When you'd stop for coffee, I'd go in to see ifyou really existed.
You were always kind, butyour mind was elsewhere.
If I spoke, you'd hardly answer.
Mama wants to be left alone now.
Run along and play outside. It's such a lovely day.
You always looked so nice, so I wanted to be nice.
I always worried that you wouldn't like my appearance.
I was so ugly. Lean and angular with big cow's eyes,
and big wide lips andno eyebrows.
My arms were too thin and my feet too big.
No, I thought I looked repulsive.
Once you said: "You should have been a boy, "
and laughed so I wouldn't be upset.
I was, of course. Then one day your suitcases would be downstairs
and you'd be talking on the phone in a foreign language.
I used to pray that something would stop you from going,
butyou always went.
You'd putyour arms around me and kiss me
and look at me and smile.
You smelled nice but strange.
You yourself were a stranger, already on your way. You didn't see me.
Then you'd be gone. I used to think, "Now I'll die,
"it hurts so much. I'll never be happy again.
"How can I bear such pain for two months?"
And I'd cry In Papa's lap. He'd sit quite still
with his soft hand on my head.
He'd go on and on sitting there smoking his old pipe.
Sometimes he'd say, "Let's go to a movie this evening, "or
"What about ice cream for dinner today? "
But all I wanted was to die.
So the days and weeks passed.
We shared the loneliness quite well.
We didn't have much to say
but I never disturbed him.
Sometimes he'd look worried. I didn't know then
that he was always short of money. But whenever I'd come
clumping along, his face would brighten,
and he'd pat me with his pale little hand.
Or else Uncle Otto would be sitting on the sofa, drinking brandy.
They'd mumble to each other.
I wonder if they heard what they said.
Or else Uncle Harry would be there and they'd play chess,
and then it'd be extra quiet.
I could hear three different clocks ticking.
A few days before you were due home
I'd get a temperature from the excitement.
I'd worry I might really get sick,
because you were afraid of sick people.
When you did come, I was so happy
I couldn't say anything. You'd get impatient and say,
"Eva doesn't seem very pleased to have her mother home again. "
I'd blush red as a beet and break out in a sweat.
I couldn't say anything, I had no words.
You had taken charge of all the words in our home.
-You're exaggerating. -I must finish speaking.
I know I'm tipsy but otherwise I wouldn't have said what I have.
When I don't dare say any more because I'm ashamed
you can explain and I'll listen and understand
just as I've always done.
I loved you, Mama, it was a matter of life and death.
But I distrusted your words.
They didn't match the expression in your eyes.
You have a beautiful voice. When I was little,
I could feel it all over my body.
But I knew instinctively you didn't mean what you said.
I couldn't understand your words.
The most horrible thing was, you'd smile when you were mad.
When you hated Papa you'd call him
"my dearest." When you were tired of me you'd say
"darling little girl."
What am I to say?
-Defend yourself. -Is it worth while?
-How do I know? -You reproach me for going away
and for staying at home.
I had a hell of a time those years.
My back hurt, I couldn't practice. Important engagements were cancelled.
My life seemed meaningless.
I had a guilty conscience about always being away from you and Papa.
You smile sarcastically. I'm trying to speak truthfully.
I'm merely telling you how I felt.
We may as well have this out for once then we won't refer to it again.
I was in Hamburg, playing Beethoven's First.
It's not too difficult, and everything had gone well.
After the concert I went out to supper with Schmiess, the conductor.
We always did. When we'd been eating and drinking for a while
and I was content and relaxed
and my back wasn't aching, Schmiess said,
"Why don't you stay at home with your husband
"and child and lead a respectable life,
"instead of laying yourself open to constant humiliation?"
I stared at him and laughed and said,
" Did I play so badly?" " No," he said
"but I can't help thinking of August 18, 1934.
"We played Beethoven's First together in Linz.
"You were twenty years old, the hall was packed,
"we played like gods, the orchestra was inspired.
"Afterwards, the audience stood up and cheered
"and the orchestra gave a fanfare."
Then he said "You had a simple red summer dress
"and long hair to your waist."
" How do you remember all that?" I asked.
"I wrote it down in my score," he said.
"I make a note of all my great experiences."
When I got back to the hotel, I couldn't sleep.
At three in the morning I phoned Josef
and told him I was going to stop touring,
and stay at home with him and you. We'd be a real family.
Josef was awfully happy.
We wept with emotion, both of us,
and talked for two hours.
And that was that. That summer
we were happy. Weren't we?
You weren't happy? -No.
You said things had never been so good.
I said it to please you.
That just goes to show. What did I do wrong?
I was fourteen and you directed the whole of your
pent-up energy against me.
You were damn well going to make up
for your neglect.
I tried to defend myself, but I didn't' have a chance.
You trotted out your thoughtfulness and your worried voice.
There wasn't one detail that escaped your loving energy.
I had a stoop. You got to work with gymnastics.
We did exercises together.
You thought my hair was too long,
so you had it cut short. It was hideous.
Then you got the idea my teeth were crooked
so I got braces. I looked grotesque.
You said I couldn't go around in pants any longer
so you had dresses made without asking what I thought.
I didn't dare say no because I didn't want to upset you.
You brought along books for me
which I didn't understand. I read and read, then you
and I had to discuss it. You'd hold forth and my mind was a blank.
I was scared you'd expose
But one thing I did Understand: not a shred
of the real me could be loved or accepted.
You were obsessed and I grew more and more afraid and annihilated.
I said what you wanted me to say and made your gestures.
I didn't dare to be myself even when I was alone
because I hated what was my own.
It was horrible, Mama! I still shake all over
when I think of those years. It was horrible.
I didn't realize I hated you as I was quite sure we loved each other.
I couldn't hate you, so my hatred turned into an insane fear.
I had nightmares.
I bit my nails.
I pulled out tufts of hair.
I tried to scream but could only make stifled grunts.
That frightened me even more
as I thought I was going out of my mind.
Then came Stefan. -And made you pregnant.
I was 18. Stefan was grown-up. We could have managed.
-No! -We wanted to have the child butyou spoiled everything.
That's not true! I said to Papa
we should wait and see. You didn't realize Stefan was an idiot.
Were you present at our discussions?
Were you lurking under our bed?
Have you ever given a damn about any living soul except yourself?
I didn't force you into an abortion.
How could I defy you? I was afraid and needed help.
I tried to help you. I thought abortion was the only way.
I've thought so all along. All this hatred!
Why have you never said anything? -Because you never listen.
You're a goddamn escapist. You're emotionally crippled.
In actual fact you detest me and Helena.
You're shut up inside yourself
and always stand in your own light.
I loved you, but you thought I was disgusting
and stupid and a failure.
You managed to injure me for life,
just as you are injured.
All that was sensitive and delicate, you attacked.
All that was alive, you tried to smother.
You talk of my hatred.
Your hatred was no less.
Your hatred is no less.
I was little and malleable and loving.
You bound me because you wanted my love
just as you want everyone else's love.
I was utterly at your mercy.
It was all done in the name of love.
You kept saying you loved me and Papa and Helena.
And you were an expert at love's intonations and gestures.
People like you are a menace.
You should be locked away and rendered harmless.
A mother and a daughter.
What a terrible combination
of feelings and confusion and destruction.
Everything is possible and is done in the name of love and solicitude.
The mother's injuries are to be handed down to the daughter.
The mother's failures are to be paid for by the daughter.
The mother's unhappiness is to be the daughter's unhappiness.
It's as if the umbilical cord had never been cut.
Is it so?
Is the daughter's misfortune the mother's triumph?
Is my grief your secret pleasure?
My back's aching.
Do you mind If I lie on the floor,
it's the only thing that helps.
I remember very little of my childhood.
I can't recall my parents ever having touched me,
either with caresses or punishments.
I was quite ignorant of everything to do with love:
tenderness, contact, intimacy, warmth.
Only through music did I have a chance to show my feelings.
Sometimes, when I lie awake at night
I wonder whether I've lived at all.
Is it the same for everybody?
Or do some people have a greater talent for living than others.
Or do some people never live
but just exist?
Then I'm seized by fear.
I'm seized by fear and see a horrible picture of myself.
I have never grown up.
My face and my body have aged.
I acquire memories and experiences,
but inside all that I haven't even been born.
I can't remember any faces
not even my own.
Sometimes, I try to recall my mother's face
but I can't see her. I know she was big and dark and had blue eyes,
a large nose and full lips.
But I can't fit the various bits together.
I can't see her. In the same way,
I can't see your face or Helena's or Leonardo's.
I remember giving birth To you and your sister but
all I know of the deliveries is that they hurt.
But the pain? What was that like?
I don't remember.
Leonardo once said that...
how did he put it now...
"A sense of reality is a matter of talent.
" Most people lack that talent and maybe it's just as well."
Do you know what he meant? -Yes, I do.
How very strange. -Strange?
I've always been afraid of you. -I can't understand that.
I think I wanted you to take care of me.
To put your arms around me and comfort me.
I was a child.
Does that matter? -No.
I saw you loved me
and I wanted to love you, but
I was afraid of your demands.
-I didn't have any. -I thought you did.
I didn't want to be your mother.
I wanted you to know I was as helpless as you were.
Is that really true?
-What are you thinking about? -Leonardo and Helena.
I don't understand.
Why, they hardly knew each other.
We were together on Bornholm one Easter. -You left after 3 days.
I was to play Bartok's First in Geneva.
I wanted to go through the concerto with the conductor in peace an quiet.
So it's possible I did leave earlier.
The weather was hideous. Leonardo was in a bad mood. So were you.
Why make me remember it all?
I'll tell you.
You arrived on Thursday. That evening we laughed
and sang and drank wine and played
some old game we found.
Helena wasn't so ill then. She was
happy all evening.
Leonardo was happy because she was.
He talked and joked with her.
She fell head over heels in love.
They sat together until late at night.
Next day Helena told me he had kissed her.
In the evening we had guests.
Leonardo drank too much and played all the Bach solo suites.
He was quite unlike himself,
heavy and gentle and as if enlarged.
He played badly but beautifully.
Helena sat there in the dusk, beaming.
I've never seen anything like it.
You and I went for a walk. You chattered away.
I didn't really listen. I was thinking of those two.
When we got home, they were sitting as we'd left them.
You went off to bed and I had to help Leonardo upstairs.
Outside the door of the bedroom
he stopped, looked at me and said,
"Can you imagine? There's a butterfly
"fluttering against the window."
When I went back to Helena, she was sitting
bolt upright, quite relaxed and calm.
There wasn't a trace of her illness.
I'll never forget her face, Mama.
I'll never forget her face.
Next morning you left for Geneva,
four days earlier than we had agreed.
You said casually on Leaving," I've asked Leonardo
"to stay, as I see it's doing Helena good."
And you smiled.
Leonardo abruptly became restless and unhappy.
On Easter Day he went for a long walk in the rain. When he came back,
he told Helena he was leaving. He said they'd meet again.
Then he called Geneva and talked To you for an hour.
That evening he left on the last plane.
During the night I was woken by Helena crying.
She complained of pain in her hip and right leg.
She didn't think she could stand it until morning.
At 5 o'clock I had to phone for the ambulance.
-So Lena's illness was my fault? -Yes, I think so.
-You mean that her illness... -Yes.
-You don't seriously mean... -When Lena was a year old you deserted her.
Then you kept deserting her and me all the time.
When Lena got seriously ill, you sent her to a home.
-It can't be true... -What can't be true?
Have you any proof to the contrary?
Look at me, Mama. Look at Helena.
There are no excuses.
There is only one truth and one lie.
There can be no forgiveness.
-You can't blame me entirely. -You expect an exception for you.
You've set up a sort of discount system with life
but one day you'll see that your agreement is one-sided.
You'll see you're harboring a guilt,just like everyone else.
Won't you forgive me for all the wrong I've done?
I'll try to mend my ways.
You've got to teach me, we'll talk to each other.
But help me. I can't go on.
Your hatred is so terrible.
I haven't realized. I've been selfish and childish.
Can't you put your arms around me?
Touch me, at least!
Poor little Mama, rushing off like that.
She looked so frightened and suddenly so old and tired.
Her face had shrunk and her nose was red from crying.
Now I'll never see her again.
It'll be dark soon, and it's getting cold.
I've got to get home and make dinner for Viktor and Helena.
I can't die now.
I'm afraid to commit suicide,
and one day maybe God will want to use me.
Then he'll set me free from my prison.
I feel so shut out, I'm always homesick.
But when I get home
I find it's something else I'm longing for.
Are you stroking my cheek?
Are you whispering in my ear?
Are you with me now?
We'll never leave each other.
There's a light on in Helena's room.
Viktor's there, talking to her.
That's good. Kind of him.
He's telling her Mama has left.
Your mother sent her love.
She was sad and worried. She'd been crying.
Eva has gone for a walk.
She was looking forward so much to seeing her mother.
She hoped for too much.
I hadn't the heart to warn her.
I can't understand what you're saying.
You say you want to...?
Try to speak calmly,
otherwise I can't understand.
Eva! Come quickly!
Sometimes I stand here looking at my wife
without her knowing.
She's in such distress.
Since Charlotte left so suddenly
she has been terribly upset.
She has not been able to sleep.
She says she drove her mother away
and can never forgive herself.
-Are you going out? -Just down to the post office.
Could you please mail this letter for me?
Sure. It's to Charlotte?
Read it if you like. I'm going up to Helena.
" Dear Mama! I realize that I wronged you.
"I met you with demands instead of affection.
"I tormented you with an old hatred that's no longer real.
"I want to ask your forgiveness."
I don't know if this letter will reach you.
I don't even know if you will read it.
Maybe everything is already too late.
But I hope all the same that my discovery will not be in vain.
There is a kind of mercy after all.
I mean the enormous opportunity of getting to take care of each other,
to help each other,
to show affection.
I will never let you vanish out of my life again.
I'm going to persist.
I won't give up, even if it is too late.
I don't think it is too late.
It must not be too late.
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