Saturday, 22 March 2014

The 22nd of March

Ali in Venice in 1990
When I first knew Ali one of her favourite books, if not her favourite, was Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. The book consists of a conversation between the Venetian explorer Marco Polo and the Chinese emperor Kublai Khan.  Polo appears to be telling the emperor about a number of cities he has visited, but he is in fact describing just one city - Venice.  Ali had a fascination with Venice and though she spent just one day there, while we were travelling in Europe in Sept-Oct 1990, the visit was one that she treasured.

Ali sometimes quoted from memory passages of Calvino's book, one of the shortest of which is the sentence, given to Marco Polo: "Memory's images, once they are fixed in words, are erased."  The memories of some experiences cannot be adequately expressed; to express them in words can have the effect of distorting and even erasing the memory.

Ali found it difficult to express some experiences in words. Sometimes words are inadequate. An event that occurred many years ago on 22 March, as well as events associated with it, was particularly difficult for Ali to talk about. Of all the dates in the year, I think this is the one that had particular significance for her.  Now is not the time to talk of it, but it doesn't seem right for today to pass without a post to observe the importance that Ali attached to this date.

Ali in front of St Mark's Basilica, Venice, 1990