하얗게 마른 눈물
It was few weeks ago when the cherry blossom just started blooming: 4:30 pm, and I was just walking across the 14th for my routine afternoon walk, around the Woodruff Art Center and High Museum. It was when the one-eyed guy grabbed me and stared talking, all of sudden.
“Hey, it is OK for me to see things with only one eye, as I am pretty much used to it, but it is so sad to cry with one eye; even sadder when thinking I have only one outlet for tear, I feel like only the half of my sorrow being drained because of that.”
Then I looked at him more carefully: he looked very much ordinary Joe except the fact that wearing eyepatch on his left eye. It is plain and simple one like you can imagine: even if you have even seen one being worn by real people, you might have seen it million times, from some cartoons, illustrations… Somebody in Peter Pan story wears one, for example. While looking him, rather his eyepatch, I just wondered there was any fancy kind of eyepatch for somebody want to have more bling to it: dragon embroidered with golden thread, etc. I had no idea and didn’t need to think about it until really needing it. The eyepatch is something like that: you don’t need to think about its existence until you really get to need it, and barely you will encounter the situation which forces you think about the need as not many people get to be blind and need eyepatch.
Anyway, I wondered: isn’t he really able to cry with both of his eyes? Is his left eye really shut down for shedding tears?
“Hey, can I flip your eyepatch?”
He seemed to be embarrassed.
“Why? Even my mom has not been allowed to do that since I graduated high school…I was an honor student then and got awarded at the ceremony. I cried and both my mom and I wondered my left eye could work had it been for delight.”
“…just for two seconds, I want to check one thing real quick.”
He hesitated few more seconds, but brought his face several inches closer to me, instead of saying yes, and I flipped his eyepatch, yes, that ordinary one, and voila, there is the layer of white powder sticks to the back side of the eyepatch.
“Hey, look. I think they are dried tears. You have been able to shed tears with both of your eyes, but you just don’t know just because the one from left eye has been dried form.”
“I cannot believe it.”
“Oh well, you can lick it then, taste it. If that tastes salty, what can it be other than tears? I guess the sweat is salty too, but
it is very hard to imagine that your left eye sweats that much. I also think it is kind of cool that you are making some kind of dried form of liquid, as that has been a trend in cooking. Ever heard of molecular gastronomy? I do not like that term very much, but the guys pursuing that kind of cooking trend use chemicals to change the texture of ingredients, like dried olive oil or something like that, and oh by the way, it has been a while that buttermilk powder is out on market. I am considering to switch real buttermilk to powdered one for making biscuit as I have been forced to waste a lot of old buttermilk.”
Then I turned my back and resumed my routine afternoon work. I didn’t turn my back and look at him, but wasn’t really tempted, as I was afraid of turning myself into salt like some lady in the Old Testament just because I looked back a guy with salty powder on his blinded eye.
Yes, it was few weeks ago when the cherry blossom just started blooming, but the weather was still very chilly and the petals of the flower looked paler than it was supposed to be.
-One eyed Joe with dried tears (2008)
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저는 왕십리의 산 꼭대기에 있는 대학에 다녔는데, 도서관이 자리잡고 있는 그 꼭대기의 길에 이맘때쯤이면 벚꽃이 예쁘게 피곤했어요. 그것도 군대 갔다오고 복학까지 하고 나서야 눈에 들어왔는데, 왜 사진 한 장이라도 찍을 생각을 못했는지 지금은 잘 이해가 가지 않네요.
개인적으로는 벚꽃은 슬픈 종류라고 생각해요. 예쁘다고 생각하는 어느 순간에 꽃잎이 떨어지기 시작하면서 봄바람에 우수수 날리니까요. 이맘때쯤에 따뜻한 바람이 불면 기분이 좋지만, 그 바람에 섞여 돌아다니는게 저런 종류의 꽃잎이라면 마음이 갑자기 불편해질 때도 있었죠. 그러나 지금은 이 모든 기억이 그렇게 확실하지 않은듯 느껴져요. 여기는 3월초, 중순이면 벚꽃이 피고, 지금쯤은 꽃잎이 날렸던 기억조차 희미해져서 거기에서 언제쯤 이런 일이 벌어졌었는지 기억하기 힘들어지거든요. 사실은 저 꽃이 벚꽃인지조차도 확신이 안 가는게, 누군가 배꽃이라고 그러는 걸 들은 기억이 있거든요. 그러나 뭐 아무려면 어떻겠어요. 꽃잎이 날려서 슬픈 느낌이 들면 그만인거죠. 틀려봐야 개망신 당하면 그만인데.
하여간 올해는 꼭 몇 장이라도 사진을 찍어야지, 라고 새해의 시작부터 마음을 먹었는데 막상 꽃이 피기 시작하니까 날이 추워지고,또 흐려서 사진을 찍어도 볼품이 없더라구요. 그나마 찍은 몇 장도 그래서 별로 볼품이 없어요. 그러고보니 올해도 벌써 꽤나 많이 지나갔네요. 다음달이면 이제 여름일텐데.