Friday, 5 August 2016

...of jail-birds

‘Sing, Pin,’ they say. And Pin begins singing, seriously, tensely, in that hoarse childish voice of his. He sings a song called ‘The Four Seasons’:

                           When I think of the future
                           And the liberty I’ve lost
                           I’d like to kiss her and then die
                          While she sleeps… and never knows.

The men sit in silence, with their eyes lowered, as if listening to a hymn. All of them have been in prison; no one is a real man to them unless he has. And the old jail-birds’ song is full of melancholy which seeps into the bones in prison, at night, when the warders pass hitting the grills with a crowbar, and gradually the quarrels and curses die down, and all that can still be heard is a voice singing this song which Pin is singing now, and which no one shouts for him to stop.

                        At night I love to hear
                       The sentry’s call,
                       I love to watch the passing moon
                       Light up my cell.

[The Path to the Spider’s Nests, Calvino, I.]

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