Moshe Sakal On:
Regina by Gilles Rozier
Regina by Gilles Rozier focuses on one of the most disturbing topics: disappearance. Not one’s own disappearance, but the disappearance of others and the fear of life without them. We have many fears regarding our loved ones – that they might suffer a catastrophe, lose their minds, take their own lives, even the fear of abandonment is associated with a break-up – but disappearance seems to overshadow all others. Alongside the knowledge of the absence, a certain unrest gnaws at the soul of the deserted individual; he is tortured by self-reproach and a big question mark that arises: what happened? Why? How? What could I have done to anticipate this disappearance and, especially, when (if at all) will it be resolved. When the absent is no longer absent, so it seems, the equation will finally be answered and all the troubles, horror and terror will be gone.
The person who has been evaded feels anger toward the one who has disappeared, and this anger is mingled with sincere worry. He feels the ground shifting under his feet. He makes promises and takes vows which no one can release him from, besides, of course, the missing person herself. “No news” complains the narrator at the beginning of the story concerning Regina’s disappearance. “It’s been almost eight years now”. The absent person’s moment of disappearance (or, more precisely, the moment the fact of his or her disappearance becomes known) triggers a clock that does not obey the laws of time of those present. This clock doesn’t even get the time right twice a day, like one that has stopped; on the contrary, it ticks and ticks and all the hours are its hours, all the minutes – its minutes. “Anyone can be found,” claims Regina, and the narrator proves her wrong: “Not those who disappear”. You can’t find those who disappear, and the moment of disappearance is what defines their condition, otherwise, they wouldn’t be missing.
Regina focuses first and foremost on absence, but through this absence other topics arise, most of which focus on the relationship between the lover and the loved one; the inevitable distance between them, the desired proximity; freedom and ties; guilt and comfort. The quick style and use of short, disrupted sentences make the text seem like a frenzied race that has ran amok, a chase after something that we once had but has slipped our grip. The last sentence may echo the end of “Solitude” by the French-Jewish singer Barbara. But while the solitude appears in Barbara’s song as a kind of guest who turns up on one’s doorstep and comes to stay, the narrator of Regina rejects the definition of his loved one as absent as best he can and, for a few minutes, with the help of his words, he even succeeds. And so, the story he narrates brings his loved one back to him a moment before she slips away once again.