A LIST OF THINGS “THE OTHER” GAVE TO “PIRANESI”
FROM SUSANNA CLARKE’S NOVEL PIRANESI
Entry for the seventeenth day of the sixth month in the year the albatross came to the south-western halls
I have made a list of all the things that the Other has given me, so that I will remember to be grateful and thank the House for sending me such an excellent friend!
In the Year I named the Constellations, the Other gave me:
• a sleeping bag
• a pillow
• 2 blankets
• 2 fishing nets made of a synthetic polymer
• 4 large sheets of heavy-gauge plastic
• a torch. I have never used this and cannot now remember where I put it.
• 6 boxes of matches
• 2 bottles of multivitamins
In the Year I counted and named the Dead, he gave me:
• a cheese and ham sandwich
In the Year that the Ceilings in the Twentieth and Twenty-First North-Eastern Halls collapsed, he gave me:
• 6 plastic bowls. I use them to catch Fresh Water as it flows through Cracks in the Ceilings and down the Faces of the Statues. One of the bowls is blue, two are red and three are cloud coloured. The cloud-coloured ones are troublesome. They are almost exactly the same whitey-grey colour as the Statues. Whenever I put them somewhere to catch Water they immediately fade into their surroundings and I lose sight of them. One disappeared last year and I have yet to find it.
• 4 pairs of socks. For two Winters my feet have been warm and cosy, but now the socks are all in holes. Unfortunately, it has not occurred to the Other to give me new ones.
• a fishing rod and line
• an orange
• a slice of Christmas cake
• 8 bottles of multivitamins
• 4 boxes of matches
In the Year I travelled to the Nine-Hundred-and-Sixtieth Western Hall, he gave me:
• a new battery for my watch
• 10 new notebooks
• various assorted items of stationery, including 12 large sheets of paper to make Star Maps, envelopes, pencils, a ruler and some rubbers
• 47 pens
• more multivitamins and matches
This year (the Year the Albatross came to the South-Western Halls), he has given me so far:
• 3 more plastic bowls. These are the best ones, being brightly coloured and therefore easy to see. One is orange and two are different shades of green.
• 4 boxes of matches
• 3 bottles of vitamins
• a pair of new shoes!
I owe so much to the Other’s generosity. Without him I would not sleep snug and warm in my sleeping bag in Winter. I would not have notebooks in which to record my thoughts.
That being said, it occurs to me to wonder why it is that the House gives a greater variety of objects to the Other than to me, providing him with sleeping bags, shoes, plastic bowls, cheese sandwiches, notebooks, slices of Christmas cake etc., etc., whereas me it mostly gives fish. I think perhaps it is because the Other is not as skilled in taking care of himself as I am. He does not know how to fish. He never (as far as I know) gathers seaweed, dries it and stores it to make fires or a tasty snack; he does not cure fish skins and make leather out of them (which is useful for many things). If the House did not provide all these things for him, it is quite possible that he would die. Or else (which is more likely) I would have to devote a great deal of my time to caring for him.
Clarke, Susanna. Piranesi (pp. 52-54). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.