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56

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That man I pass every day in his bookstore, I would like to take him out of there, knock down the walls and see what is behind them.
Who is he?

I cannot imagine him anywhere other than in that décor of stiff paper, in front of that little table and those little chairs, those bright colored posters. The only place where I have ever seen him. I cannot imagine him anywhere other than in front of all those people, smiling amiably, whispering kind words. What is his home life like? Does he live alone?

I cannot really imagine him in the grocery store or at the bank. I cannot picture him with a car, or a house, or in my reality at all. Yet I try, I invent a story for him, with pleasures and friends. I wonder what kind of music he listens to. What is he like when he speaks quietly, how does he grip his glass with his fingers when he drinks? And does he drink? And what does he drink? What does he thirst after? Does he love, does he dream? I imagine so much about him that I can no longer imagine him. I lose sight of him.

I take with me nothing but an image.
So I return to that bookstore as if I am opening a music box. That same man, in that same place. He intrigues me so much that I lift the lid up several times a day to hear his little tune. He is always there; he looks at me. He smiles at me in an unchanging ritual and like a little ballerina, I revolve around him.

Yes, but what am I going to do with all these books?

Translated by Wendy Cross

56

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