2015 · 2015/07 · Vignette

You have not an umbrella

Jane’s first meeting with Mr Rochester, reapplied.

            “Are you injured, sir?”

I dare not ask. I know. Decades old hurts, years long pains, constant and incessant belittlement from others and himself. All work/ed on rendering him a living, pulsing mass of never-good-enough. Imagined, implied, does not matter if realistic or true, if it feels so.

            “Can I do anything?”

I have offered. And I keep offering. Every good afternoon and every good night; every song lyrics and article links; every ‘I hope you’re alright’. I want him to know, I’m here. Lean on me. I can listen.

I may, probably, not be able to solve anything. Make anything change for the better. But I have good ears, I believe. He could make use of them.

            “If you are hurt, and want help, sir, I can fetch some one either from Thornfield Hall or from Hay.”

I do not claim to be the magical touch that’s so hoped for. I do not claim to have all the solutions. I do claim that my offering, being there in any shape or form I can, if he would let me, is a gift not many are willing to give, and not many are being offered.

It may not be enough. It may not be all that helpful. But having it thrown in my face is not deserved. I would appreciate a kinder declination. Some acknowledgment of my efforts. An explanation of why it is all futile or unwanted.

            “I cannot think of leaving you, sir, at so late an hour, in this solitary lane, till I see you are fit to mount your horse.”

In spite of everything, all the sarcasm, the patronising, the shutting out, the belittling…. I go back, and make my offerings day after day.

All Jane’s offers of support got her was a measured yet cutting “You have not an umbrella that I can use as a stick?” To have one’s attempted offers of support be dismissed like that and to be chided for not offering an inanimate stick to lean on instead is, in all fairness, the epitome of ungratefulness, and to this day I wonder what Jane saw in Mr Rochester.

Jane did not relent though. She withstood not only Edward’s sarcastic, often patronising and belittling outbursts, but society’s upturned noses and the law. And in the end, she was happy to announce “reader, I married him”.

Such ambitions are, I am well aware, outwith of my reach, and are not included on my to-aspire-to list. But a thank you goes a long way.


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