January 29, 2020

In time

From This Is Happiness by Niall Williams (2019):

My grandparents never took the electricity. They didn’t act as though there was a lack. They carried on as they were, which is the prayer of most people. They lived in that house until they were carried out of it, one after the other. Because the twelve sons in the corners of the worlds couldn’t reach a verdict, the house was left to itself. The thatch started sagging in two places like consternated eyebrows, brambles overtook the potato ridges and came up the garden, and soon enough in under the front door. Soon, you couldn’t see the house from the road. Soon, too, the bits of hedging Doady had stuck into the ditch to camouflage the broken Milk of Magnesia bottles grew to twelve feet and fell over and grew along the ground then, marrying thorn bushes and nettles and making of the whole a miry jungle. When the roof fell in the crows that were in the chimney came down to see the songbirds sitting in Ganga’s chair eating Old Moore’s and that way becoming eternal. When grown a man, one of the Kellys took out the kitchen flagstones for a cabin he was making. He took out the stone lintel over the fireplace after, and a year later came back for half the gable when he needed good building stones for a wall.

In time, as with all modest places of few votes, Government would be looking the other way when its policies closed Faha’s post office, barracks, primary school, surgery, chemist, and lastly the pubs.

In time, the windmills would be coming. Gairdín na scoile and Páirc na mónaigh would be bulldozed to straighten the bends in the road to let the turbines pass. Any trees in the way would be taken down. Two- and three-hundred-year-old stone walls would be pushed aside, the councillors, who had never been there, adjudging them in the way of the future.

By that time, my grandparents’ house would be another of those tumbledown triangles of mossy masonry you see everywhere in the western countryside, the life that was in them once all but escaping imagining.