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LITERARY STYLE INSPIRATION: THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN

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ROLLING WITH JAMES JOYCE ON AN IRISH HILL

bookish girls

ODE TO THE BOOKISH GIRLS

Saying goodnight

Saying goodnight

“Saying goodnight and kissing her chunky gold ring…”

It was impossible for anyone to leave that house without kissing her ring ­ — this chunky, gold one that stood on her small finger; one that was bigger than my lips were back then.

She bore a nervous temperament; she always insisted on having all of her grandchildren around on Sunday evening but she would then get mad at us all because of the noise we made. She would sit in her leather armchair in front of the television; quiet, observing, and interjecting when one of her children would say something she believes is utterly ridiculous. Then she would shout to make her point. I could never concentrate on playing when this happened; it was here I learnt that fear doesn’t go away when you grow up.

My mother, wearing her large, heavy earrings, dangling on her ear lobes, would always bend down to remind me to go kiss her ring and say goodnight.  I remember approaching her very slowly and making sure she was not too engrossed in what was showing on television, so that I would not obstruct her view and risk her shouting at me. I would stand in front of her until she acknowledged my presence. She would hold up her right hand and I would quickly kiss her ring, which always had a faint taste of ketchup. She would then tap me on my cheek a few times, bless me, and tell me to have a packet of candy from the kitchen drawer before I left.

My mother, with her large, heavy earrings... Image source: FW 14

It was a heavy, wooden drawer that would require me to sum up all of my strength to open. I would grab the first thing I could reach but no matter what I would pick, the candy would always be tainted by the smell of humidity. I would then take the longer route back to my mother, so that I would not pass in front of the television and disturb her.

Years later I learnt I was the only one she had bought dresses for, including the white lace dress with the Peter Pan collar that I would refuse to take off, insisting on going to bed in it because I had never seen a whiter shade than the one on this dress.

Story credit: Images via Valentino.

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