By Ciaran O'Driscoll
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Extra resources for A Runner Among Falling Leaves: A Story of Childhood
Headlights, he informed me, was what they called breasts in the New Houses, and my brother had friends living in that council estate strewn with broken glass. ’ I thought that after a while maybe meant a few minutes. I was appalled: it all seemed so sordid. Anthony took a few looks at life, and a nod was as good as a wink. OK, he said to himself; this is what it’s like and I’m stuck with it. Rather than being a nomad like me, retreating through a shrivelling Platonic territory as reality 39 ODriscoll_Part1 39 15/10/01, 10:49 am made deeper and deeper incursions, he accepted the colonizer’s rule as a fact and subverted it as best he could, by guile and deceit.
Somehow, she was able to speak words like that with affection and a quiet conviction that reassured us, battered and disconsolate as we might have been. I preferred my friend the shopkeeper to my mother, because my mother shared the same degradation as her children: she was motivated in everything she did by her fear of the tyrant. In a strange way, perhaps, she was more of a mother when she wasn’t trying to be one, by coming to us from the outside world with sympathy and a message of hope. Mothers and children weren’t highly regarded in those days.
We might even have been able to frighten my father by telling him that there was an organization in the country which considered his actions criminal and was working to bring him to justice. It was worse if you got the bata on a cold day than on a warm day. It was twice as worse if it was your turn to start the fire and you couldn’t start it, and your father the Master was standing behind you saying Go on! Are you afraid of it or what? And you weren’t afraid of the match, only afraid that the big bully-boy would hit you across the head if you couldn’t light it because your fingers were so cold.