De Canadese dichter en schrijver Philip Michael Ondaatje werd op 12 september 1943 geboren in Colombo, Ceylon (nu Sri Lanka). Zie ook mijn blog van 12 september 2010 en eveneens alle tags voor Michael Ondaantje op dit blog.
Uit: The English Patient
“There are stories the man recites quietly into the room which slip from level to level like a hawk. He wakes in the painted arbour that surrounds him with its spilling flowers, arms of great trees. He remembers picnics, a woman who kissed parts of his body that now are burned into the colour of aubergine.
I have spent weeks in the desert, forgetting to look at the moon, he says, as a married man may spend days never looking into the face of his wife. These are not sins of omission but signs of preoccupation.
His eyes lock onto the young woman’s face. If she moves her head, his stare will travel alongside her into the wall. She leans forward. How were you burned?
It is late afternoon. His hands play with a piece of sheet, the back of his fingers caressing it.
I fell burning into the desert.
They found my body and made me a boat of sticks and dragged me across the desert. We were in the Sand Sea, now and then crossing dry riverbeds. Nomads, you see. Bedouin. I flew down and the sand itself caught fire. They saw me stand up naked out of it. The leather helmet on my head in flames. They strapped me onto a cradle, a carcass boat, and feet thudded along as they ran with me. I had broken the spareness of the desert.
The Bedouin knew about fire. They knew about planes that since 1939 had been falling out of the sky. Some of their tools and utensik were made from the metal of crashed planes and tanks. It was the time of the war in heaven. They could recognize the drone of a wounded plane, they knew how to pick their way through such shipwrecks. A small bolt from a cockpit became jewellery. I was perhaps the first one to stand up alive out of a burning machine. A man whose head was on fire. They didn’t know my name. I didn’t know their tribe.
Who are you?
I don’t know. You keep asking me.
You said you were English.”
Michael Ondaatje (Colombo, 12 september 1943)
Willem Dafoe als David Caravaggio en Juliette Binoche als Hana
in de gelijknamige film uit 1996