||an empty road and houses whose inhabitants were either asleep or not at home.|
I took my first trip to London only a few years ago. It was not a vacation, both my husband and I had been invited to lecture at a symposium on Web publishing. We stayed in a friend’s guest room in a neat and prosperous part of town, its streets framed by old elms. The windows of single family houses nearby had cast iron flower boxes with white and purple cyclamens -- frail, aristocratic plants with a certain birdlike, weightless quality, but not arrogant in the least. I enjoyed looking at them, particularly since at home one can’t keep anything outdoors in November except for dry pots of heather. Out of all my experiences in London, those cyclamens and the stranger at a bus stop near Hyde Park have left the most lasting traces in my memory.
I have tried to locate the street where I saw him on a map, but I can’t determine its name with any certainty.
This person -- or rather, person-shaped figure -- preoccupies my mind. He was both human and non-human. I have spoken and written about him on previous occasions. I start talking about him late at night, when I get tired, and in writing I have made a certain Håkan encounter him on Eudora Street.
Sometimes when I wake up at night his shape rises up in front of my fresh dream images and obliterates them. This happens despite the fact that seven years have passed since our meeting, if one can even call it that.
Time and again I have tried to conjure up a detailed memory image, but I glanced at him so briefly, out of a sense of discretion, that I can only report essentials. Thus I can’t remember his hair, its length or coloration. One reason why I didn’t look at him for long may have been that he horrified me. He was incredibly tall and incredibly thin, elongated, reminding one of Giacometti’s human figures. One could also say that he resembled the shadow in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, the one that separated from its master and became flesh, but