Sunday 26 January 2020

ALS: 'Witbrood'

White bread

On his rusty bike hang two bags of bread, white bread – he’s a healthy eater. I always ride behind him, we know each other. If I were to start riding alongside him, it would look as if I’d forgotten his name, and he mine. Both of us were born in 1929, so we’re equally old, nothing to be done about that. His life has followed the path that’s well-known here. He was born on a small farm, all his life he has had the landscape as his home scene. He has two brothers and two sisters, his parents have five children. His brothers and sisters leave, he remains behind with his parents. When his father dies, he’s on his own with his mother and after her death he’s on his own. That’s the time when I arrive on the scene. After a while it seems we were both born in 1929, but that’s the only similarity. He remembers my name, I forget his. He has rusty old bike, I have a battery-assisted model. I don’t tell him that the soft white bread is unhealthy, I don’t interfere with other people’s lives.
This last remark we mustn’t take all that seriously. When on one occasion the man is cleaning the gutter on a ladder, I ask him: ‘If you fall down and break your hip, how long will it take before somebody finds you?’ He says: ‘No idea.’ I say: ‘in homes people of our age have an alarm on a cord round their neck. If they fall down, the press a button, the nurse will be there in no time.’ He: ‘That leaves them no time to die in.’

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