Eight Year Old – Pompey Casmilus

When I was eight years old I went away from my parents to a convalescent home, where I was so proud and so furious to be separated from my mother I would not eat, and I would not stop crying, I thought: If I go on crying long enough I shall die. But after crying days and days I was still alive, so then I at once became rather cynical. I thought: I am still alive after all these tears, I am still alive.

So I made other discoveries, too. There was a maid there that took a fancy to me. She used to sit me on her knee. If I was in the mood for it I could play up to her fancy, but even while I was doing this I was immensely terrified. Her feeling for me, I felt this very keenly but could not for some time understand why it so much dismayed me, was in outward appearance, so far as being hugged and set on her knee, was what in outward appearance my mother… ? No, do you see, but it was profoundly disturbing, how in essence her feeling was so arbitrary, so superficial, so fortuitous. And so this feeling she had for me, which was not at all a deep feeling, but as one might pet, pat and cuddle a puppy, filled me with the fear that a child has in the face of cruelty. It was so insecure, so without depth or significance. It was so similar in outward form, and so asunder and apart, so deceitful and so barbarous in significance. It very profoundly disturbed and dismayed and terrified me.

Stevie Smith, Novel on Yellow Paper 

Published in: 8 Years Old | on October 31st, 2009 | No Comments »