“I find myself speaking in a void: there is no longer a home, no longer a before. Only an echo chamber.”
Dislocations, by Sylvia Molloy (translated by Jennifer Croft) is structured in short chapters, many less than a page in length. It documents moments, thoughts on interactions, between two long time friends. On most days the narrator, Molloy, will phone or visit M.L., who is living with dementia. In observing how a mind deteriorates their shared life becomes historical anecdotes that M.L. rarely remembers.
The period covered makes no mention of physical failings that can result from this condition. Neither is there violence or cruelty as sometimes manifests when social filters are lost. M.L. may not always recognise her visitor but retains decorum. The narrator questions why she sometimes attempts to get her friend to acknowledge a person or event – musing if this is for her benefit as she attempts to retain the person she has known for so long. There are still occasional flashes of comprehension but mostly the past is a lacuna to M.L.
There is poignancy in what is being documented but mostly Molloy is examining her personal reaction to this loss of shared memories, the loss of what her friend once was. M.L. is rarely portrayed as being upset by her condition. She functions within this new reality.
“I’m not writing to patch up holes and make people (or myself) think that there’s nothing to see here, but rather to bear witness to unintelligibilities and breaches and silences.”
A story of shared memory of lives lived, and the impact of its loss. Written with precision but also empathy, it offers another window into dementia and how it affects all who harbour affection for the patient.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Charco Press.