Father had a friend whom Beckett called Pok. Pok wasn’t his name. That detail is lost to the mystery of time. Beckett was 10 or thereabouts. It’s unfathomable. It’s inconsequential.
Pok was a philosopher, the kind who only practices their craft on children. Pok told Beckett that time didn’t exist. Tick. Tock. Pok told Beckett that they didn’t exist, not really. No, he would in insist, to exist is to be infinite. You are finite. You will be lost in time. At a minimum you’ll need to have a meaningful impact on the infinite, to exist, Pok Pok Pok. You are finite. Our – he said, referring to the collective human race – our impact is negligible and our life aims are pitiful. We are insignificant finites. Beckett gawped: a 10 year old insignificant finite. Pok’s sculpting hands pushed hard on a his brain and the impressions stuck. These things matter. These things are infinite.
Take your mother (“takiyamudda”), Pok would say, she is a lovely woman, a full figure, enchanting eyes, a genuine heart, but none of that matters. She’ll live her life, she’ll die, she’ll be forgotten and none of that matters (“nanadatmadders”). She has no meaningful impact on the infinite.
Pok would often look into Beckett’s eyes. His voice would become a whisper: You’ll die and not be missed. He’d insist. This was back when Beckett could cry, and tears would well up in his eyes and run in straight channels down his cheeks.
After Pok left, laughing and play-punching the boy on his shoulder, Beckett would search out his mother and her cradling arms. She would hold him tight, her bellowing heart in motion beneath his ears, her chest expanding with each breath (counting up and down). Don’t listen to Pok, she would say, soft as hay, the man is an idiot. Of course I’m real, she’d insist, of course I exist. She insisted. She existed. Mother died 31 years ago. She doesn’t exist.
Tick Tok Pok.
Beckett’s past is as important as his present… to understand how you must understand why