THE COLOUR ORANGE
I don't look at the food any more, knowing its monotony will not
change, not even its place on my filthy floor. The door closes,
the padlock rattling, and it's over again for another day. With
calm, disinterested deliberation I pull from my head the filthy
towel that blinds me, and slowly turn to go like a well-trained
dog to its corner, to sit again, and wait and wait, forever waiting.
I look at this food I know to be the same as it always has been.
But wait. My eyes are burned by what I see. There's a bowl in front
of me that wasn't there before. A brown button bowl and in it some
apricots, some small oranges, some nuts, some cherries, a banana.
The fruits, the colours, mesmerize me in a quiet rapture that spins
through my head. I am entranced by the colour. I lift an orange
into the flat filthy palm of my hand and feel and smell and lick
it. The colour orange, the colour, the colour, my God the colour
orange. Before me is a feast of colour. I feel myself begin to dance,
slowly, I am intoxicated by colour...
I am filled with a sense of love.... I sit and look at the walls
but now this room seems so expansive, it seems I can push the walls
away from me. I can reach out and touch them from where I sit and
yet they are so far from me....
Several days later my guard squats before me and asks "Why
don't you eat?" I look down to see his hand hold the bowl of
fruit under the towel. "Why don't you eat?" he asks again.
I feel the hopelessness of trying to explain to him. He doesn't
have enough English to understand.... I shrug, I say I do not want
to eat. There is silence. Then I feel him rise and move as if to
leave my cell and take the bowl with him.
I reach out, grab his hand by the wrist and say anxiously, angrily,
"No". He stops and stands looking down at me. There is
silence. I try hand gestures, pointing to my eyes blinded by the
towel, and pointing again to the fruit saying, "I want to see,
I want to see." Again the silence and I know he is confused.
He cannot understand that I will not eat but that I do not want
this fruit taken from me. It is now rapidly softening and becoming
over-ripe in the heat. I tell him again, "Leave" and gesture
the fruit onto the floor in front of me. I feel slow panic rising.
What if he should take this from me. This thing which I have become
obsessed with, dependent upon. I try to hold my anger and my rage.
He sets the bowl in front of me and the door bangs and the padlock
is rattled in the door.
From An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan, published by