Photo Essay – Stealing a Letter and Doing Pushups at Marcel Proust’s Tomb, Père-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
[Photos by a Friend of Marcel Proust; text by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Suddenly, MARCEL PROUST. His tomb.
The Delhi Walla is at Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris. I have come to see Proust, the author of In Search of Lost Time. I have brought a pale white rose for him from a florist outside the cemetery.
Just before stepping into the graveyard, I had stopped at a café for a cup of allongé where I wondered if I would be able to find Marcel Proust amid hundreds of graves.
It is a very cold grey day at Père-Lachaise. I walk along a sequence of cobbled passageways lined with tombs of varying sizes and designs. Sometimes I stop to read the inscriptions on the graves.
Marcel’s grave is black. A piece of folded paper is lying on the top. It turns out to be a handwritten note (see picture 13 below). I look around, and finding no one, start to read the note.
I fell in love at
I cried and he com-
Did you have a
hand in this?
You have changed
because of you, I
am not afraid to love, to feel. And I
love you, even though
you are gone.
I love you.
My heart swells
with love for you. It
is your mind I feel I know better
than any other.
That is your gift to
me, and to us all.
I hope you are not
cold. I had no cattleyas
or lilacs, but I bought
you daisies (more fitting for
me). I will love you for ever.
It is growing very cold. A plane is noiselessly crossing the cloudy sky. I do twenty pushups to warm up myself.
While leaving, I leave behind my handwritten note on Proust’s tomb:
I just read a letter from one of your lovers. It mirrored my feelings, so I’m stealing it from you. It’s now in my wallet. Please forgive me.