A Pale View of Hills

A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro

Book: A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kazuo Ishiguro
under the covers looking in turn at those objects visible in the pale light. After several minutes I felt somewhat calmer and closed my eyes again. I did not sleep, however. I thought of the landlady—Keikos landlady— and how she had finally opened the door of that room in Manchester.
    I opened my eyes and once more looked at the objects in the room. Finally I rose and put on my dressing gown. I made my way to the bathroom, taking care not to arouse Niki, asleep in the spare room next to mine. When I came out of the bathroom, I remained standing on the landing for some time. Beyond the staircase, at the far end of the hallway, I could see the door of Keiko’s room. The door, as usual, was shut. I went on staring at it, then moved a few steps forward. Eventually, I found myself standing before it. Once, as I stood there, I thought I heard a small sound, some movement from within. I listened for a while but the sound did not come again. I reached forward and opened the door.
    Keikos room looked stark in the greyish light; a bed covered with a single sheet, her white dressing table, and on the floor, several cardboard boxes containing those of her belongings she had not taken with her to. Manchester. I stepped further into the room. The curtains had been left open and I could see the orchard below. The sky looked pale and white; it did not appear to be raining. Beneath the window, down on the grass, two birds were pecking at some fallen apples. I started to feel the cold then and returned to my mom.
    “A friend of mine’s writing a poem about you,” said Niki.
    We were eating breakfast in the kitchen.
    “About me? Why on earth is she doing that?”
    “I was telling her about you and she decided she’d write a poem. She’s a brilliant poet."
    “A poem about me? How absurd. What is there to write about? She doesn’t even know me.”
    “I just said, Mother. I told her about you. It’s amazing how well she understands people. She’s been through quite a bit herself, you see.”
    “I see. And how old is this Mend of yours?”
    “Mother, you’re always so obsessed about how old people are. It doesn’t matter how old someone is, it’s what they’ve experienced that counts. People can get to be a hundred and not experience a thing.”
    “I suppose so.” I gave a laugh and glanced towards the windows. Outside, it had started to drizzle.
    “I was telling her about you," Niki said. “About you and Dad and how you left Japan. She was really impressed. She appreciates what it must have been like, how it wasn’t quite as easy as it sounds.
    For a moment, I went on gazing at the windows. Then I said quickly: “I’m sure your friend will write a marvellous poem." I took an apple from the fruit basket and Niki watched as I began to peel it with my knife.
    “So many women”, he said, “get stuck with kids and lousy husbands and they’re just miserable. But they can’t pluck up the courage to do a thing about it. They’ll just go on like that for the rest of their lives
    “I see. So you’re saying they should desert their children, are you, Niki?”
    You know what I mean. It’s pathetic when people just waste away their lives.”
    I did not speak, although my daughter paused as if expecting me to do so.
    “It couldn’t have been easy, what you did, Mother. You ought to be proud of what you did with your life.” I continued to peel the apple. When I had finished, I dried my fingers on the napkin.
    “My friends all think so too,’ said Niki. “The ones I’ve told anyway.”
    “I’m very flattered. Please thank your marvellous friends.”
    “I was just saying, that’s all.”
    “Well you’ve made your point quite clearly now.” Perhaps I was unnecessarily curt with her that morning, but then it was presumptious of Niki to suppose I would need reassuring on such matters. Besides, she has little idea of what actually occurred during those last days in gki. One supposes she has built up some sort of

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