I sit subdued. In the yellow light pool that the lamp breathes on me. I have just watched Gone Baby Gone. It follows the story of Amanda, a 4 year old girl who goes missing in an ugly part of Boston. As the tale unfolds, through a young local detective’s eyes, things get murkier, a cocaine powdered trail is unearthed, and everyone seems suspect. As the tone gets greyer, one realises, this was never meant to be an easy story. Alcoholic, coke-snorting mothers and gun-toting, foulmouthed men litter the scene. A few moral men try to do The Right Thing in a largely amoral world. Little Amanda is too young to comprehend the decisions being made for her. The movie ends on a discouraging note. Amidst the moral questions raises, it uncovers an ugly picture of humanity I find myself far removed from.
After a while, I lie down. I shift about, the quilt frowns, annoyed at being misarranged again. I struggle to find a good spot, but you can never be really comfortable when reading Bukowski. His words are ugly and disturbing – just as he wants them to be. I can almost see the crusty old man smiling at my discomfort, as I hungrily gulp his harrowing words about abusive parents and a childhood coloured by violence and hatred. An America from another era, and I meet the same stories. Lives lived in fear, vacant dreams shattered and left to evaporate. I follow little (Hank) Chinaski as he grows from a bewildered child to an angry teenager to a rudderless young man. He uses his fists and boisterous talk, because he has learnt that the ugly and the poor are never loved. Again, I am isolated. I have not lived these words, I have never known them and am bewildered (and sadistically curious) at the world they paint.
my childhood, coloured vibrant with laughter and love. If there were tears, they were wiped away; if there were fears, they were stood up to. I was brought up by strong women and kind men. I had enough to eat and the occasional ice cream too. I had a school to go to and a home to come back to. I was taught to be curious. I grew up believing strength and weakness were as important as each other. It was not perfect, someone always had a better pencil box, but I grew up happy.
I am worn and I close my eyes. In the nebulous in between world that is neither awake nor asleep, words and scenes from the movie and book coalesce into a continuous ugliness. I wished I could hold Amanda and teach her how to draw V-shaped birds. I always used to put them in my mountain-house-pine-tree pictures. I wanted to give Hank some peace, telling him fighting wasn't the only way. I wished to give them the hope I was brought up on.