Friday, June 3


Last month's book club which I did not go to (may I add...) was all about Jean-Dominique Bauby's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le Papillon).
Bauby, Jean-Do to his friends, was the editor of the famous French Elle magazine. Almost at the end of 1995, he suffered a massive stroke that left him in a coma for nearly 20 day. He woke up only to find himself a victim of the "locked-in" syndrome wherein his mental faculties were intact but his body was paralyzed (all he could do was blink his left eye). The book is devoid of self-pity or even anger.
He dictated this book alphabet by alphabet and blinking when the correct one was mentioned.

This is a beautiful memoir that shows the authors' courage and wit. A heart-wrenching narrative of what happened to him as a person who can think but cannot say a word. Bauby talks about food, his girlfriend, his children-

"Once, I was a master of recycling leftovers. Now I cultivate the art of simmering memories. You can sit down to a meal at any hour, with no fuss or ceremony. If it's a restaurant, no need to call ahead. If I do the cooking, it is always a success"

A very poignant story that at times is witty and funny even (you wonder the how resilient this man must have been). The English translation is really good- not that I have read the French version.

"Today is Father's Day. Until my stroke, we had felt no need to fit this made-up holiday into our emotional calendar. But today we spend the whole of the symbolic day together, affirming that even a rough sketch, a shadow, a tiny fragment of a dad is still a dad"

Bauby died about a year or so later, you can read more about him here and here.

A must-read, really!

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