The Autumn term is a period of gathering together, of reassembling pencil cases and work-orientated minds after a blissful summer break, of unpacking that suitcase of autumnal clothes, ready for the months of warm cawl and walks in golden parks.
Of course, this is also a time of letting go, of a clammy little hand at the school gate or releasing a bony late teenage hand that disappears through an open car window, ready for college. Tiny things suddenly take on a great significance. A lone sock on a bedroom floor becomes an object of longing and ‘hiraeth’, a half eaten packet of crisps hastily stuffed underneath the bed elicits a much more forgiving emotion than usual!
My second son left for university yesterday, leaving my husband and myself to face each other again across the kitchen table that suddenly looks huge. This isn’t the first time, and things are easier the second time around, yet still difficult. I had expected some feeling of emptiness when the first son left for pastures new, but had really not anticipated the intense feeling of loss that verged on grief. I didn’t venture into my son’s bedroom for about a fortnight after he left, and even then was reluctant to pile his bedclothes into the washing machine for fear of losing that smell, that essence of him. Things gradually improved, of course. I didn’t spend the next months until Christmas whimpering in an armchair. Our other son made his presence felt so that the house was thankfully never really silent. And I had a life, anyway. Hadn’t I?
As there are only two academic years separating the boys, it soon became time for the youngest son to make his way in the world and go to Uni. This was a much more significant change. I started imagining the scenario of separation long before it happened. That’s the curse of having an over active imagination, I suppose.
These wonderings were the beginning of my latest novel, ‘Fi a Mr Huws’. I suppose it was an attempt to try and make sense of a pivotal moment in life, when you have to try and reassemble life’ jigsaw to create a new pattern, a new picture.
In the novel, when Lena’s only son leaves for College, she starts to question her relationship with her husband, Ben. Do they really know each other at all? And what are the lies she starts unravelling about his life? In an attempt to fill the emptiness she feels, and to avoid the supercilious glare of Dwynwen the cat, she flings herself into all kinds of new situations. She encounters a mixture of different people who widen her horizons and fills them with new experiences.
Aimed at Welsh Learners from the High (‘Uwch’) level upwards, (with a short glossary on each page), this is also hopefully an easy read that will also appeal to a wider audience, looking at a subject matter that is often not fully explored.
We are down to two again in our household, then. I’ll still be buying too much food for a while, will still set the table for four before remembering and tutting at my stupidity, I’ll still cook a mountain of mashed potatoes as big as Snowdon for a few days. But it gets easier. And it can be fun! It’s a period of exploring your new relationship with your partner, of vanishing for a weekend with friends without giving anyone else a second thought. And that big block of cheese in the fridge will last more than two days, for a while, at least.
‘Fi a Mr Huws’ by Mared Lewis is available from the Lolfa, for £7.95
By Mared Lewis.