Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Anna Gavalda

There is this guy, married with two children with a steady good job.  His wife is a very able partner and took care of all the decisions related to the house management, hiring people for remodeling the house, and taking good care of upbringing the kids. All the husband had to do is having dinner waiting when he finishes work.

At the age of 42, the guy fell in love with a girl half his age.  She was an international woman, translating directly in many languages during tough business negotiations, especially in the oil field.  They started to meet overseas, mostly in hotels.  He developed the import/export branch in his company to have more excuses going abroad. She was no dupe but she loved him.  She wrote him a single letter saying:

“I have no illusions.  I love you but I have no confidence in your promises.  Since what we are living is not real then, it must be a game.  As a game, these are the rules.  I don’t want to meet you in Paris or in any other familiar locations where people might recognize you and ruin our freedom.  When with you, I want to hold your hands in public, kiss you in restaurants; otherwise, our meeting has no interest to me. When you know where you are going then, write to my sister’s address in London with your potential whereabouts: She will know to connect with me.  Just skip the nice words and be right on to the address of your destination.  Do not try to call me,  find out where I am, and how I live.  If I can meet you at your hotel then all is fine.  I am following your example in how to lead my life. I want to be free  to falling in love with strangers.  We have no scruples in this game.:  It is very convenient.  I want to try emulating your life style.  I have nothing to lose with a coward man; I have all to gain in the pleasures of seeing you.  This arrangement is to take or leave.”

She saw through his soft inner feelings.  He loved playing squash in enclosed environment and hitting hard a hard inner ball.  She liked playing Jokari because the ball had a soft interior and is linked with a thread; the ball always returns but you cannot forecast its direction. The guy was not talkative within his family and his work environment; he played the tough and unsentimental person.  When he was with his girlfriend he use to lay his head on her belly and talk non-stop for hours.  She used to laugh and say: “Would you take a short break and shut up?”

Well, the guys blamed his coward decision for not quitting his family and living happily with the girl he loved. He blamed himself for not taking chances in taking erroneous decision.  He was plainly a person liking convenient environment as he was brought up to sticking to “responsibilities” at the price of learning how to be happy.  For example, he went out with his daughter to buy bread; she wanted to have a the small crusty piece but he refused on the ground that the bread will be cut when reaching home.  At home, the father gave the daughter the part that she liked but she declined saying “I liked to eat it on the street, now it is too late”

Note:  This short story is taken from the French book “I loved her” by Anna Gavalda

Anouk: Nurse (by Anna Gavalda)

Anouk was very beautiful; she got pregnant early on in her youth with a musician who did the disappearing act.  Anouk had to raise Alexis and worked as a nurse in a hospital in Paris.

She worked as nurse most of her life and served in all the difficult units or services, especially the terminally ill patients.  The administration upgraded her position to supervisor in chief.

Anouk was not into administration paperwork, since she preferred to tend directly patients instead of paperwork, assigning and scheduling nurses and functions.

Anouk’s motto was: “Patients are forbidden to die on my watch“.  She uplifted their morale, made the sick cry and laugh; she hugged them and touched them.

After her formal service hours, she would lightly paint her eyes, lips, do her hair and wear nice dresses and then visit with patients who are discarded by their relatives and never received visits.  It was Anouk’s way of giving patients the sense of being with family.  In short, all the behaviors that nurses are not permitted to do with patients or frowned at by management.

Nurse Anouk was untouchable in the hospital:  She was the best of nurses.  What she lacked in medical knowledge she compensated by her extreme attention to her patients.  She was the first to notice the slightest changes in patients’ behavior and to perceive the tiniest symptoms.  And best, she had this extraordinary instinct to what’s going wrong.

During their daily rounds on patients, physicians and surgeons lent particular ears to Anouk’s comments and feedback. Nobody in the hospital or the patients resisted to Anouk:  She imposed respect by her tenderness, compassion and professionalism.

Anouk knew the names, faces, and stories of her patients; she knew their families and befriended their family members.  Anouk told lots of stories, imagined plenty of stories, invented stuff of wonderful concerts she attended, famous and glamorous people she met and befriended.

New nurse recruits adored her and aided them in their first contacts with patients.  At night fall, when every nurse and employee is totally tired they could hear Anouk’s laughing and crying with patients.  Older nurses knew that Anouk was indeed doing her best to amusing and lightening her heavy life.  Probably, she gave life to patients because she had no life after her service hours.

Once, Anouk’s neighbor lady gave her a plant.  The next week, Anouk returned the gift crying profusely:  Anouk was used to seeing many patients die but she could not bear experiencing a plant eventually die, out of her watch.

Alexis turned out to be a musician too and he was addicted to all kinds of drugs. Professional Anouk did not suspect that Alexis got into hard drugs since she was not in frequent touch with him and he had moved out from home.

One morning, emergency called Anouk and informed her that Alexis is succumbing to a overdose and is showing early signs of AIDS.  Something snapped in Anouk.  She became an automaton, a machine delivering smiles but she was still being obeyed.  Anouk quit her supervisory function to finding the best medical treatment to her unique son.

Later, Anouk would resign from the hospital when she realized that she was totally alone and everybody in her family had left her or quit on her; she wanted to take the initiative this time around:  It would have too hard to be retired from the hospital, the only real home of hers.

Note:  This story is part of the French book “La Consolante” (the rematch) by Anna Gavalda.


“La consolante” is the latest of Anna Gavalda.  Usually, when two teams or two individuals play to win then, for the same level in talent, the one with a character to win usually win.  That is why, it is a good behavior to have a rematch with “no winning” conditions (La consolante), just having fun, be relaxed, and enjoying the game.

The novel is supposed to have a story but so far, it is evident that I might have to read 635 pages if I feel any urge to know the story.  Modern novels have complex beginnings and convoluted organization:  modern publishers think that modern readers have the patience to follow a story when the internet is bombarding us with thousands of stories per hour.  In my case, I don’t care for the main story:  it is the hundreds of backup mini stories that interest me.  In Gavalda’s case, every conversation is a story; it is kind of hundred lovely mini stories of everything and about everybody (not famous and not glamorous) camouflaged in a novel.  Actually, my autobiography is dedicated to those not famous and not glamorous.

I don’t know if Gavalda read my blog; I know that many read my book review of her book “Together is all that I want” and a piece called “I love that kid”.  Anyway, I have this impression that Anna is emulating my style but in French.  It does not matter if my statement is incorrect:  Fact is, her style suits me grandly.  I don’t care about the main story:  It should take no more than 10 pages to tell “War and peace” or “Gone with the wind”.  It is the “collateral” stories that make the news.

The back cover might be helpful for the catching your attention on the story: “Charles Balanda, 47 years old, architect living in Paris. He incidentally learns of the passing away of a lady he knew when kid.  That woman incarnated a totally different universe of what he experienced within his “small scale bourgois” family.  The universe represented by this lady was craziness, passions, pains, sufferings, and being alive.  Hearing this piece of news, the life of Balanda flips to anguish and sadness:  He lost it in his family, work, and in his convictions… Until (surprise!) he meets Kate and his vision of the world is changed again…”

I might write a series of Gavalda’s conversations in this book.  For example:  “The little girl (of maybe 8) was curled up in the backseat of my car.  I could not recall the name of her pony that she mounted during competition and tried to guess out loud. Then, she said: “There are times, I wished you were my daddy.”  I refrained from replying:  Any answer was going to spoil everything.  What could I have replied?  That I am better than her father?  That I am not her father and that she’s better not to dwell on those thoughts?  I think my silence was saying it better than all the answers that I could have babbled.”

Note:  I finished the novel and might write something about the stories.  Anna Gavalda published “I want someone to wait for me somewhere”; “I loved him”, and “She barely escaped it”

A Happy Meal (March 10, 2009)

This girl, I love.  I like to give her pleasure.  I feel like inviting her for lunch. I love to sit by her and look at her profile.

She said: “All right, but we go to MacDonald. It has been so long…”  She craves nuggets dipped in ketchup

If our relationship last, I will teach her many other things, many other kinds of fine meals. I won’t argue now: I know how girls are; they are just promising.

Along the way, I compliment her shoes. “Don’t tell me that’s the first time you noticed them. I got them in Christmas” she replied. I then compliment her socks.  She berates my stupidity.  She is the most beautiful girl on the street.

I feel a surge of disgust as I enter MacDonald. The women are ugly and fat people stays in line.

This girl is gently holding my hand and her little finger caresses the inside of my palm. My heart is in turmoil. 

She changes her mind several times before settling for nuggets and a caramel sundae. I pick up the trays and she preceeds me and selects a quiet corner.

You prefer a smoking section, don’t you? Yes, I do. know” she said. 

Faces turn on her passage; she does not even notice them. She sits and slowly unties her scarf.  She nods her head trice before I can see her slim neck. I am standing and waiting for her to invite me to sit down. 

“Why don’t you sit down?” she said.  I say: “I was looking at you” 

“You will look at me later. The food is getting cold”.  I said “You are right” 

“I am always right” she said.  She is right almost always.

She elegantly opens her magic box of nuggets. I contemplate her hands and fingers.  She has a fresh coat of paints on her nails. She arranged her blonde hair with tiny “barrettes”. I can’t help but think that she has gone into so much trouble just for me. She dips her nuggets methodically in the ketchup.  I said “You really like that?” “Yes, I love them a lot.  They taste good” she said

She does not talk much but I am accustomed to her habits. 

All sorts of people fascinate her.  As she is engaged at looking around I take advantage studying the details of her beauty.  I love the shape of her eye lashes, her tiny nose, and the lobes of her ears and then she noticed that I was scrutinizing her face.

She eats the tiny crunches of peanuts on her sundae and the caramel but does not touch the ice cream. I tell her to get a refill of caramel but she refuses saying “I know they won’t” I am thinking what we are to do next?  Where shall I take her?  Will she give me her hand? She wants to know where we might spend summer vacation.  The best I can do is figuring out where to take her next after lunch.

She folds her napkin before cleaning her mouth. She smooths her skirt and readjust the collar of her shirt.  She takes her bags and nudged her head to me in the direction where I should dump the plates. I open the door for her. She ties her scarf and takes her hair out of her jacket.  She decided to take my arms. 

This girl, I love.  She is mine.  She is seven of age.

Note:  An abridged and slightly edited translation from French by the author Anna Gavalda.  This story could have applied in its mechanics to the behavior of one of my nieces with minor modifications.




March 2023

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