Twenty-Four Year Old – Anna Wulf


‘Anna?’ appealed George, looking at me. I was in the most extraordinary tumult of emotion. First, I was jealous of the woman. Last night I had been wishing I was her, but it was an impersonal emotion. Now I knew who it was, and I was astounded to find I was hating George and condemning him – just as I had resented him last night when he made me feel guilty. And then, and this was worse, I was surprised to find I resented the fact the woman was black. I had imagined myself free of any such emotion, but it seemed I was not, and I was ashamed and angry – with myself, and with George. But was more than that. Being so young, twenty-three or four, I suffered, like so many ‘emancipated’ girls, from a terror of being trapped and tamed by domesticity. George’s house, where he and his wife were trapped without hope of release, save through the deaths of four old people, represented to me the ultimate horror. It frightened me so that I even had nightmares about it. And yet – this man, George, the trapped one, the man who had put that unfortunate woman, his wife, in a cage, also represented for me, and I knew it, a powerful sexuality from which I fled inwardly, but then inevitably turned towards. I knew by instinct that if I went to bed with George I’d learn a sexuality that I hadn’t come anywhere near yet. And with all these attitudes and emotions conflicting in me, I still liked him, indeed loved him, quite simply, as a human being. I sat there on the verandah, unable to speak for a while, knowing that my face was flushed and my hands trembling. And I listened to the music and the singing from the big room up the hill and I felt as if George were excluding me by the pressure of his unhappiness from something unbelievably sweet and lovely. At the time it seemed I spent half my life believing I was being excluded from the beautiful thing…

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Published in: 24 Years Old | on February 13th, 2010 | No Comments »