Uit: And The River Will Kill The White Man (Vertaald door Edward Gauvin)
„I recognized her in line at customs, though the only photo of her ever to appear in the papers was from 1985. She was dressed like a man, like when she’d been arrested last century. Her short hair was gray now. Behind round lenses in a steely, Trotskyesque frame, glasses all nearsighted girls of her generation wore—they’d stopped, why hadn’t she?—you saw the same big empty eyes, fearful, roving. Her line was moving faster than mine. She must have read the clothes, the carriage, the carry-ons, the faces of everyone waiting to pass customs. Gauged the chances each did or didn’t have of being detained by an official. Then made a quick mental reckoning and picked the right line. This bit of work had given her a few minutes’ lead. The minutes that sometimes save your life. I lost sight of her, then found her again in the lounge. She was traveling business class, like me. I was in oil. What was she in now?
When I realized we were on the same flight, I thought perhaps we’d be seated side by side. She’d get the vague and plaintive gaze of a famous person wondering if you knew who they were. When it came to notoriety from a shocking news story, an unspeakable political act, or a catastrophic military operation, such silent questioning grew tinged with fear and shame. Alas, the cabin crew gestured us to different rows. Why alas? It was better this way. If I’d been seated next to her for several hours, I would’ve wound up asking her questions she wouldn’t have answered. If she were even the same Blandine de Kergalec who’d once made the headlines. Hard as Breton granite, the editorialists had said in their usual style. She sat down on the other side of the plane, two rows back. She was by the window. For a few moments she kept her purse on her knees, as though she had doubts about wanting to reach her destination, then slipped it under her seat. She had no book, no IPod, no DVD player. She’d spend the six hours thinking, like anyone beset by an obsession. Had she noticed I was watching her? Her way of not seeing me made me think so.
A frail figure slipped past my knees, followed by a slight sigh to my right: the tiny wisp of a creature had sat down. A runny suit streamed down his nonexistent shoulders. He introduced himself. Passengers in business class introduce themselves, to do business. He was an advisor to African presidents. Advisors to African presidents are interested in oil men, and oil men in advisors to African presidents. They practice a single profession in Africa: bleeding it dry.[…] ’’
Patrick Besson (Montreuil, 1 juni 1956)