Sunday, 12 September 2021


 I'm not sure why this is happening again and again.

I seem to be unable to concentrate on reading.  I start a book and then very soon I slip in a bookmark. When I return to reading, this bookmark might advance only a half-dozen pages.

I belong to a book club and I haven't read more than a dozen pages from this month's selection. And now, someone passed on their copy of October's selection, The Boat People.  I settled on the couch to spend an early morning hour to begin reading.  

By the 20th page I understood that this was going to be hard read: a boatload of refugees arriving in Canada and the man we have been following has his 6-year old son taken from him and placed on a bus with the women and children.

 I have closed the book and instead have started this post.

I have noticed, over these many months, that I seem unable to read anything that is painful: either sad or angry. A few months ago I jumped ahead in another book to read the ending, something I have very rarely done before.  In fact, something I have reprimanded my husband, Brian, for doing!

I do recognize that I am a sensitive person and feel things deeply but this new avoidance seems different, more acute, more poignant.

Looking for reasons, I grab onto The Pandemic. I wonder if the isolation and pain surrounding Covid is the culprit. Enough pain in our present lives; why read about more.  

Yes, The Boat People is fiction, but only the refugees' names and country of origin have been changed. 

This has happened before. 

During the Second World War, a boatload of  Jews was not allowed into Canada and was instead returned to the Nazis.  And now, especially by the United States, many hundreds of thousands of other refugees are being returned to the danger of their homelands.

Many years ago I looked through our bookshelves.  There were a number of books that I hadn't read, many purchased at a wonderful bookstore in Flagstaff, Arizona.  A great many of these related to the Holocaust. Without even reading the blurbs on their back covers, I packed them up and gave them to Russell's Books.

Visiting with a dear friend yesterday, drinking glasses of Prosecco, she related how many years ago she had forced herself read the entire TimeLife Issue on the Holocaust. She told herself then that if she read and saw photographs of this horror, she would never need to revisit it again.

Maybe I won't read The Boat People.  Maybe I need to accept and honour my avoidance-- accept that this is too heavy for me to carry right now.

                I created these collages about 35 years ago