How it is, p.6
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       How It Is, p.6

           Samuel Beckett
 
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  my nails well to mention only the hands not to mention that eastern sage they were in a sorry state that extreme eastern sage who having clenched his fists from the tenderest age it’s vague till the hour of his death it is not said at what age having done that

  the hour of his death at what age it is not said was enabled to see them at last a little before his nails his death having pierced the palms through and through was enabled to see them emerging at last on the other side and a little later having thus lived done this done that clenched his fists all his life thus lived died at last saying to himself latest breath that they’d grow on

  the curtains parted part one I saw his friends come to visit him where squatting in the deep shade of a tomb or a bo his fists clenched on his knees he lived thus

  they broke for want of chalk or suchlike but not in concert so that some my nails we’re talking of my nails some always long others presentable I saw him dreaming the mud parted the light went on I saw him dreaming with the help of a friend or failing that boon all alone of bending them back to the back of his hand for them to go through the other way death forestalled him

  Pim’s right buttock then first contact he must have heard them grate there’s a noble past I could have dug them in if I had wished I longed claw dig deep furrows drink the screams the blue the violent shade the turbaned head bowed over the fists the circle of friends in their white dhotis without going that far

  the cries tell me which end the head but I may be mistaken with the result all hangs together that the hand slides right and there to be sure there’s the fork it’s as I thought then back left just the same just to clinch it and there to be sure there’s the arse again then oh without tarrying down in a hollow then guided by stump of thumb on spine on up to the floating ribs that clinches it the anatomy I had no point in insisting further his cries continue that clinches it this won’t work in the past either I’ll never have a past never had

  good a fellow-creature more or less but man woman girl or boy cries have neither certain cries sex nor age I try to turn him over on his back no the right side still less the left less still my strength is ebbing good good I’ll never know Pim but on his belly

  all that I say it as I hear it every word always and that having rummaged in the mud between his legs I bring up finally what seems to me a testicle or two the anatomy I had

  as I hear it and murmur in the mud that I hoist myself if I may say so a little forward to feel the skull it’s bald no delete the face it’s preferable mass of hairs all white to the feel that clinches it he’s a little old man we’re two little old men something wrong there

  in the dark the mud my head against his my side glued to his my right arm round his shoulders his cries have ceased we lie thus a good moment they are good moments

  how long thus without motion or sound of any kind were it but of breath vast a vast stretch of time under my arm now and then a deeper breath heaves him slowly up leaves him at last and sets him slowly down others would say a sigh

  thus our life in common we begin it thus I do not say it is not said as others at the end of theirs clinging almost to each other I never saw any it seems never any such but even beasts observe each other I saw some once it seems and they observing each other let him understand who has a wish to I have none

  almost clinging that’s too strong as always he can’t repel me it’s like my sack when I had it still this providential flesh I’ll never let it go call that constancy if you wish

  when I had it still but I have it still it’s in my mouth no it’s not there any more I don’t have it any more I am right I was right

  vast stretch of time then for our beginnings a dizzy figure in the days of figures the beginnings of our life in common and question what brings this long peace to a close at last and makes us better acquainted what hitch

  a little tune suddenly he sings a little tune suddenly like all that was not then is I listen for a moment they are good moments it can only be he but I may be mistaken

  my arm bends therefore my right it’s preferable which reduces from very obtuse to very acute the angle between the humerus and the other the anatomy the geometry and my right hand seeks his lips let us try and see this pretty movement more clearly its conclusion at least

  the hand approaches under the mud comes up at a venture the index encounters the mouth it’s vague it’s well judged the thumb the cheek somewhere something wrong there dimple malar the anatomy all astir lips hairs buccinators it’s as I thought he’s singing that clinches it

  I can’t make out the words the mud muffles or perhaps a foreign tongue perhaps he’s singing a lied in the original perhaps a foreigner

  an oriental my dream he has renounced I too will renounce I will have no more desires

  he can speak then that’s the main thing he has the use without having really thought about it I must have thought he hadn’t not having it personally and a little more generally no doubt that only one way of being where I was namely my way song quite out of the question I should have thought

  awful moment in any case if there ever was one what vistas that closes the first phase of our life in common and unlatches the second and for that matter last more fertile in vicissitudes and peripeteias the best in my life perhaps best moment I mean it is difficult to choose

  a human voice there within an inch or two my dream perhaps even a human mind if I have to learn Italian obviously it will be less amusing

  but first some remarks very sparsim vast stretch of time some thirty perhaps in all here are two or three we’ll see

  oriented as he is he must have been following the same road as I before he dropped there’s one

  one day we’ll set off again together and I saw us the curtains parted an instant something wrong there and I saw us darkly all this before the little tune oh long before helping each other on dropping with one accord and lying biding in each other’s arms the time to set off again

  to play at him who exists or at least existed then I know I know so much the worse there’s no harm in mentioning it no harm is done it does you good now and then they are good moments what does it matter it does no harm to anyone there isn’t anyone

  there then behind us already at last the first phase of our life in common leaving only the second and last end of part two leaving only part three and last

  problem of training and concurrently little by little solution and application of same and concurrently moral plane bud and bloom of relations proper but first some remarks two or three we’ll see

  moving right my right foot encounters only the familiar mud with the result that while the knee bends to its full extent at the same time it rises my foot we’re talking of my foot and rubs down one can see the movement all along Pim’s straight stiff legs it’s as I thought there’s one

  my head same movement it encounters his it’s as I thought but I may be mistaken with the result it draws back again and launches right the expected shock ensues that clinches it I’m the taller

  I resume my pose cleave to him closer he ends at my ankle two or three inches shorter than me I put it down to seniority

  now his arms Saint Andrew’s cross top V reduced aperture my left hand moves up the left branch follows it into the sack his sack he holds his sack on the inside near the mouth more daring than me my hand lingers a moment on his like cords his veins withdraws and resumes its place on the left in the mud no more about this sack for the moment

  in the deeper silence succeeding Pim’s song finally vast stretch of time a distant ticking I listen a good moment they are good moments

  my right hand sets off along his right arm toils to the limit of its reach and beyond tips with finger-tips a watch wristlet to the feel it’s as I thought it will have its part to play yes I hear yes then no

  better a big ordinary watch complete with heavy chain he holds it tight in his fist my index worms through the clenched fingers and says a big ordinary watch complete with heavy chain

  I draw his
arm towards me behind his back it jams ticking very greatly improved I drink it for a moment

  a few more movements put the arm back where I found it then towards me again the other way overhead sinistro until it jams one can see the movement grasp the wrist with my left hand and pull while bearing from behind with the right on the elbow or thereabouts all that beyond my strength

  without having had to raise my head from the mud no question I finally have the watch to my ear the hand the fist it’s preferable I drink deep of the seconds delicious moments and vistas

  released at last the arm recoils sharp a little way then comes to rest it’s I again must put it back where I found it way off on the right in the mud Pim is like that he will be like that he stays whatever way he’s put but it doesn’t amount to much on the whole a rock

  from it to me now part three from way off out on the right in the mud to me abandoned the distant ticking I derive no more profit from it none whatever no more pleasure count no more the unforgiving seconds measure no more durations and frequencies take my pulse no more ninety ninety-five

  it keeps me company that’s all its ticking now and then but break it throw it away let it run down and stop no something stops me it stops I shake my arm it starts no more about this watch

  no more than I by his own account or my imagination he had no name any more than I so I gave him one the name Pim for more commodity more convenience it’s off again in the past

  it must have appealed to him it’s understandable finished by appealing to him he was calling him by it himself in the end long before Pim Pim ad nauseam I Pim I always say when a man’s name is Pim he hasn’t the right and all the things a man hadn’t the right always said when his name was Pim and with that better from that time out livelier chattier

  when this has sunk in I let him know that I too Pim my name Pim there he has more difficulty a moment of confusion irritation it’s understandable it’s a noble name then it calms down

  me too great benefit too I have that impression great benefit especially at first hard to say why less anonymous somehow or other less obscure

  me too I feel it forsaking me soon there will be no one never been anyone of the noble name of Pim yes I hear yes then no

  the one I’m waiting for oh not that I believe in him I say it as I hear it he can give me another it will be my first Bom he can call me Bom for more commodity that would appeal to me m at the end and one syllable the rest indifferent

  BOM scored by finger-nail athwart the arse the vowel in the hole I would say in a scene from my life he would oblige me to have had a life the Boms sir you don’t know the Boms sir you can shit on a Bom sir you can’t humiliate him a Bom sir the Boms sir

  but first have done with this part two with Pim life in common how it was leaving only part three and last when I hear among other extravagances that he is coming ten yards fifteen yards who for me for whom I what I for Pim Pim for me

  other extravagances including the use of speech it will come back to me that much is true it has come back to me here it is I listen I speak brief movements of the lower face with sound in the mud a murmur all sorts one Pim a life I’m said to have had before him with him after him a life I’m said to have

  training early days or heroic prior to the script the refinements difficult to describe just the broad lines on stop that family beyond my strength he floundered I floundered but little by little by little

  between sessions sometimes a sprat a prawn that could happen it goes on in the past ah if only all past all in the past Bom come I gone and Bom on our life in common we had good moments they were good moments drivel drivel no matter a sprat a prawn

  not burst Pim’s sack not burst there’s no justice or else just one of those things that pass understanding there are some

  older than mine and not burst perhaps better quality jute and with that still half-full or else something that escapes me

  sacks that void and burst others never is it possible the old business of grace in this sewer why want us all alike some vanish others never

  all I hear leave out more leave out all hear no more lie there in my arms the ancient without end me we’re talking of me without end that buries all mankind to the last cunt they’d be good moments in the dark the mud hearing nothing saying nothing capable of nothing nothing

  then of a sudden like all that starts starts again no knowing set forth forth again ten yards fifteen yards right leg right arm push pull a few images patches of blue a few words no sound cling to species a few sardines yawn of mud burst the sack drivel on drone on in a word the old road

  from the next mortal to the next leading nowhere and saving correction no other goal than the next mortal cleave to him give him a name train him up bloody him all over with Roman capitals gorge on his fables unite for life in stoic love to the last shrimp and a little longer

  till the fine day when flip he vanishes leaving me his effects and the sooth comes true the new life no more journeys no more blue a murmur in the mud that’s true all must be true and the other on his way ten yards fifteen yards what I for Pim Pim for me

  all I hear hear no more lie there the same as before Pim after Pim the same as before in my arms with my sack then of a sudden the old road towards my next mortal ten yards fifteen yards push pull season after season my only season towards my first mortal drivel drivel happily brief

  first lesson theme song I dig my nails into his armpit right hand right pit he cries I withdraw them thump with fist on skull his face sinks in the mud his cries cease end of first lesson

  second lesson same theme nails in armpit cries thump on skull silence end of second lesson all that beyond my strength

  but this man is no fool he must say to himself I would if I were he what does he require of me or better still what is required of me that I am tormented thus and the answer sparsim little by little vast tracts of time

  not that I should cry that is evident since when I do I am punished instanter

  sadism pure and simple no since I may not cry

  something perhaps beyond my powers assuredly not this creature is no fool one senses that

  what is not beyond my powers known not to be beyond them song it is required therefore that I sing

  what if I were he I would have said it seems to me in the end to myself but I may be mistaken and God knows I’m not intelligent otherwise I’d be dead

  that or something else the day comes that word again we come to the day at the end of how long no figures vast stretch of time when clawed in the armpit long since an open sore for try a new place one is tempted desperation more sensitive the eye the glans no only confuse him fatal thing avoid at all costs

  the day then when clawed in the armpit instead of crying he sings his song the song ascends in the present it’s off again in the present

  I withdraw my nails he continues the same air it seems to me I am rather musical this time I have that in my life this time and this time on the wing a word or two eyes skies the or thee cheers we use the same idiom what a blessing

  that’s not all he stops nails in armpit he resumes cheers done it armpit song and this music as sure as if I pressed a button I can indulge in it any time henceforward

  that’s not all he continues thump on skull he stops and stop it likewise the thump on skull signifying stop at all times and that come to think of it almost mechanically at least where words involved

  why mechanically why simply because it has the effect the thump on skull we’re talking of the thump on skull the effect of plunging the face in the mud the mouth the nose and even the eyes and what but words could be involved in the case of Pim a few words what he can now and then I am not a monster

  I am not going to kill myself demanding something beyond his powers that he stand on his head for example or on his feet or kneel most certainly not

  or turn over on his back or side no rancour in me any more no wish any more for anyone to have to do without ceasing and without ceasing not be able huge cymb
als giant arms outspread two hundred degrees and clang clang miracle miracle the impossible do the impossible suffer the impossible most certainly not

  merely that he sing or speak and not even this rather than that in the early stages merely speak what he will what he can now and then a few words nothing more

  first lesson then second series but first take away his sack he resists I claw his left hand to the bone it’s not far he cries but won’t let go the blood he must have lost by this time vast stretch of time I am not a brute as I may have said before access to the sack that I have my left hand enters gropes for the opener here a parenthesis

  no minutiae no problems but all this time we’ve been together many is the couple would be content with it see each other die without a murmur having had their fill

  and Pim all this time vast stretch of time not a movement apart from the lips and thereabouts the lower face to sing cry and convulsive now and again the right hand for pale green the hour to turn that he’ll never see and those willy-nilly to be sure by me imparted Pim has not eaten

  I yes without its being said all is not said almost nothing and far too much I have eaten offered him to eat crushed against his mouth lost in the hairs the mud my palm dripping with cod’s liver or suchlike rubbed it in labour lost if he’s still nourished it’s on mud if that’s what it is I always said so this mud by osmosis long run fullness of time by capillarity

  by the tongue when it sticks out the mouth when the lips part the nostrils the eyes when the lids part the anus no it’s high and dry the ears no

  the urethra perhaps after piss the last drop the bladder sucking in a second after all the pumping out certain pores too the urethra perhaps a certain number of pores

  this mud I always said so it keeps a man going and he clings to the sack that was the point to be made I say it as I hear it does it as much as serve to pillow his head no he clutches it at arm’s length as he the window-sill who falls out of the window

 
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