Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Ionesco’s legacy

The Theatre of the Absurd is often found amongst us. Sometimes, we passed it by and don’t even wonder anymore. We got accustomed to it. That’s how people are!
Today I went to the market place and then entered a shop, looking for a certain type of light bulb. I entered the shop just as two mothers and their little girls were jumping their way in too. The smallest of the two little girls, actually the secondary character in the story that follows below, must have been around the age of three. Her mother asked one of the shop assistants to show her a scale and let go of her small hand. I was waiting for my turn when another shop assistant asked me what I wanted. I showed her the out of use light bulb and told her that I needed one exactly like it, but a working one.
‘But we no longer have these spiral types.’
‘It’s ok’, I replied. ‘I just need one that has the same base.’
She ferreted about a large box containing different types of light bulbs; she pulled out a round one and showed it to me. I told her that I wanted to buy it. She turned back, searched and pulled out another one. This time, a spiral one.
‘This is more powerful’, she tells me.
‘Ok. I’ll take this one.’
The little girl was running through the shop, she stopped, pulled at something and suddenly, things were heard reaching the floor. Everybody in the shop turned at the place where the noise was coming from.
‘Oh, dear. These children never stop’ says to me the shop assistant. ‘They just leave them be around the shop.’
Her face showed a wide experience in the domain. In my mind, I felt for her, given all those times when she had to rearrange all the products that a client messed up.
‘So, did you make up your mind regarding which light bulb you’re going to buy?’ the shop assistant asked me.
‘Yeah, the spiral light bulb. The one that is more powerful.’
Another crack was heard. Another shop assistant went to inspect the place. She came with a frame and yelled at the shop assistant serving the mother.
‘Add a frame to what the lady is buying.’
‘Sure’ replied the mother and called her child to her, setting her straight for the mess.
The mother took her child into her arms and replied calmly to the shop assistant regarding the payment method. My shop assistant slowly turned to the box with light bulbs, being at all times very much interested with what was going on around the little girl, and then she said out loud:
‘So the little miss didn’t get to consume all her energy outside, did she?!’
The mother, visibly ashamed, didn't answer. All in all, she had accepted to pay for all the damages, and the situation was embarrassing enough without the shop assistant’s intervention.
‘Children should be kept outside the shops’, the shop assistant addressed me.
I was taken aback by how quickly the shop assistant considered me one of her allies. But even more, I was scared of the discovery that there are people who seemed to have forgotten what it is to be a child. When one can be patient only for a short while; like, for example the while when a crow flies over a block of flats, as my mother used to tell me.
Then, the shop assistant turned and started foraging for some more light bulbs. I realized that I must once again tell her that I have already decided to buy the spiral light bulb and there was no need for other light bulbs.
‘Oh, really?!’ she replied.
‘Yes. Only one is enough’, seeing that she was preparing to cash in for two spiral light bulbs.

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