Remembering Bobby Sands

Autour du film Hunger de Steve Mc Queen...







I had fallen asleep where I lay and was awakened by the policeman. There I was, mercilessly called back to life and my misery. My first feeling was a stupid amazement at finding myself out in the open, but this was soon replaced by a bitter despondency; I was on the verge of crying with grief at still being alive. It had rained while I slept, my clothes were soaking wet, and I felt a raw chill in my limbs. The darkness had become even thicker, I could barely make out the officer’s features in front of me.

‘Stand up now, will you!’ he said.

I got up immediately; if he had ordered me to lie down again, I would also have obeyed. I was very depressed and quite weak, and besides I started almost instantly to feel the pangs of hunger again.

‘Wait a minute, you dummy!’ the officer called after me. ‘You’re walking off without your hat. There, now go on!’

‘It seemed to me too there was something I had forgotten,’ I stammered absent-mindedly. ‘Thanks. Good night.’

And I shambled off.

If only one had a piece of bread! One of those delicious little loaves of rye bread that you could munch on as you walked the streets. And I kept picturing to myself just the sort of rye bread it would have been good to have. I was bitterly hungry, wished myself dead and gone, grew sentimental and cried. There would never be an end to my misery! Then I stopped suddenly in the street, stamped my feet on the cobblestones and swore aloud. What was it he had called me? Dummy? I’d show that policeman what it meant to call me a dummy! With that I turned around and rushed back. I felt flaming hot with anger. Some way down the street I stumbled and fell, but I took no notice, jumped up again and ran on. On reachingJærnbanetorvet Square, however, I was so tired that I didn’t feel up to going all the way to the pier; besides, my anger had cooled off during the run. Finally I stopped to catch my breath. Who cared a hoot what such a policeman had said? - Sure, but I wasn’t going to swallow everything! – True enough! I interrupted myself, but hedidn’t know any better. I found this excuse to be satisfactory; I repeated to myself that he didn’t know any better. And so I turned around once more.

God, the sort of ideas you get! I thought angrily: running around like a madman on sopping-wet streets in the dark of night! My hunger pains were excruciating and didn’t leave me for a moment. I swallowed my saliva again and again to take the edge off, and it seemed to help. I hadn’t had enough to eat for many, many weeks before this thing came up, and my strength had diminished considerably lately. When I had been lucky enough to get my hands on a five-krone bill by some manoeuvre or other, the money generally didn’t last me long enough for my health to be fully restored before a new hunger spell descended upon me. My back and shoulders had borne the brunt of it; I could stop that gnawing pain in my chest for a moment by coughing hard or by walking extremely bent over, but there was nothing I could do for my back and shoulders. Anyway, why didn’t my prospects simply brighten up? Didn’t I have the same right to life as anyone else, like Paschathe second-hand bookdealer, or Hennechen the steamship agent?Didn’t I have the shoulders of a giant and two stout arms for work, and hadn’t I even applied for a job as a woodcutter on Møller Street to earn my daily bread? Was I lazy? Hadn’t I applied for work and listened to lectures and written reviews and plugged away like crazy day and night? And hadn’t I lived like a miser, eaten bread and milk when I had plenty, bread when I had little, and gone hungry when I had nothing? Did I live in a hotel, did I have a suite on the ground floor? I lived in a godforsaken loft, a tinsmith’s shop abandoned by everybody and his brother last winter because it snowed in there. So I couldn’t make head nor tail of the whole situation.

I was thinking about all this as I walked along, and there wasn’t as much as a spark of malice, envy or bitterness in my thoughts..."



Extrait de Hunger, de Knut Hamsun.






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