I have finished reading Don’t call it night, by Amos Oz.
A little bit dark, in Amos Oz style, the novel presents a side of a relationship that is not very often presented to the public, and hard to catch in words. Two people who spent most of their lifetime without each other, meet in more or less circumstantial time and place, without having many things in common, yet get to live together and try to share their lives. After a while they disconnect at the mental and communication level, and try to understand each other, both succeeding and failing in the same time.
To be more precise, we have a man close to his sixties, Teo, who lived a life full of lust in South America, without any future plans, without coordination or considering aspects of his existence, who lived and lives alone on an intellectual level, and we have Noa, a much younger literature teacher, who keeps her mind and soul busy with petty things, near to the fall into utter boredom, but without any purpose of her future life as well.
They meet and spend together 7 years of their life, but after all this time, they manage to understand each other’s needs, but not enough to complete them for one another. Teo needs intellectual challenges, to be connected with the world, to understand more, but without getting involved. He is somehow the model of the brilliant mind, but a solitary mind, as he needs plenty of space and time alone. Too much connection with someone makes him anxious, and at his affective and intellectual level, he is always alone.
Noa on the other hand, needs to obtain a moral and professional fulfillment, to be able to do something on her own, without help from other people, to have something to be proud of. The thing that happens in the novel and makes things a little different between the two is the death of one of her students, and her desire to get involved into creating a rehabilitation center for drug addicts, as this is the main reason for the death of her student.
The story circles around Noa’s need for fulfillment, and Teo’s desire to watch and observe. As it looks to me, none of them is really engaged in their relationship, and does not see their life as part of a couple. Being both very solitary, it does not help being together. The time they spend with each other is lacking emotion, is lacking communication and affection. Their relationship is very cold, and they are both unhappy in their lives. Noa considers cheating with different other men, but this won’t make her happier. Teo has desires for other women, yet all he considers about women is desire, nothing more, as he doesn’t need fulfillment on any other plane from any woman. He somehow waits and expects for Noa to have a different lover.
They are very different in many aspects: Teo is organized and intellectual, while Noa is completely disorganized and doesn’t plan any future steps. Teo has experience and connections, and can imagine problems and solutions, while Noa is dreaming and idealistic. Teo is pessimistic and puts the worst case before, while Noa is optimistic and most of the times sees the good part. The only thing that bonds them is their need for solitude, and their complete lack of interest for the future of their life.
Teo and Noa stay together until the end of the novel, and live a life poor in feeling, poor in living, and the question we ask ourselves at the end, is it what we all want, or do we want better fulfillment from the person we share our life with ?