47 Random Fragments of Unauthorised Hope and Despair


NEAR the back of the bus [ketlo] sat a pale and balding man [febid] with a screwed up frowny look out at the dusktime streams of traffic and rain [moza].

This was Simon. Hello, Simon. Didka.

Anyone could see that Simon was concentrating on something. Assuming, that is, that anyone could see him in the first place and that he didn’t look so normal that he was transparent, didn’t come across so grey [allottik] that he was as invisible to everyone else on that bus as they were to him.

It was an unplanned camouflage. His mother had never told him to proceed into the world as plainly clothed as a policeman, to comb his hair like a wet fish [rogor], to neither stride, amble or shuffle but always to pass through the city crowds with the airbrushed anonymity of an actuary [petrikonki], which may have come to mind because this was once the assumed destiny of Young Simon, before the Hospital [Orrockeva] processed him into nothing more than the third-rate agency print-out monkey [begoblani] that was Middle Aged Simon, the nobody with no face, no friends, no family [okbok], no fast forward to anything that could really merit the grandiose title of ‘future’.

Simon was working on his pronouns all the way to his stop, the sight of which penetrated his shield of total absorption to drag him out of his seat and off the bus.

He had been planning to sort out some verbs, but quickly realised the pronouns had to come first, so he could try out all the new words in their proper context.

The pronoun question was one corner he’d decided he couldn’t cut.

The verbs themselves would only have one form, that much he’d decided.

Past tense would be indicated by a preceding word which he had not yet designated - though boma kept filling in the empty space in his mind and might therefore prove to have some merit.

Still glaring at the effort of it all, frowning down beyond his feet with x-ray eyes at some underground cavern of inspiration, Simon walked up the hill towards his flat, oblivious to the golden twinkle of the setting sun on the corrugated blue watery expanse beneath the city [orticho].

There was a lot of work to be done. He had only just started. There were so many essential words that had to be found and filed in his memory. Thousands.

And then there were the relationships between the words, the structures on which the meaning would depend.

It wouldn’t ever be a proper language, of course. More like a kind of Pigeon English.

But he felt sure he could reach the point where he could construct whole sentences, using his own words. He had been tempted once or twice to jump the gun and invent specific words that he knew he would like to combine to form a particular statement.

But that would have been cheating. That would have jeopardised the whole experiment.

Simon looked up suddenly. His instinct had been right. There was somebody coming down the hill on the same side of the road [printig] as him.

He crossed over, even though the outside of the bend would take him longer, and did not let the interruption destroy the flow of his thought [mevemi].

Sometimes you had to block yourself off from everything else, allow nobody and nothing to influence your orientation. He’d learned that much at the Hospital.

Simon knew it’d be a long job. Years probably. But he was lucky in that his meaningless employment left him plenty of time and space for his own schemes.

He couldn’t stop himself fantasising about the day it was finished, when he would take it out for a trial run.

He’d imagined to start with that he’d be shouting, screaming, whooping the words in the street, firing them off, salvo after salvo, into the faces of the officials and the policemen and the doctors, who would no longer be able to condemn him for his words because they would not understand them - could not ever understand them.

But then it had dawned on him that shouting randomly in a public place was itself behaviour that would be sure to attract their wrathful censure and the microphones would surely detect in his tone the seeds of subversion and maladjustment.

So he’d decided to sing.

Yes, sing.

When the day [achola] came, he would sing out loud - to a happy and melodious tune - all the things he was not allowed to say in their language.

Everything that was stored up inside him, bursting his head with its cruel games, would break out in the gloriously beautiful form of a song [mira] that all could hear but only he would comprehend.

And then, at last, he would find out what it was that, for all these years, he’d been feeling.