Episode 23: “PAPUS’ MAGIC”

“Do you know how to diaper babies?” Was the first thing Papus told me when he rushed out of Madame Verdurin’s salon. I had to ask him to repeat the question several times because I thought I had not heard correctly. When I finally made sure I had understood the question correctly, I could not help but notice his belly. When I saw him for the first time several weeks ago, he already had a prominent belly, but now I realized that that belly had been increasing progressively in size. A shudder ran through my spine. “Are you going to have a child?” I asked, stunned. And I quickly added: “Well, I warn you, it’s not my son”. Then he began to laugh out loud while I didn’t take my eyes off her belly, which, with every laugh, rose and fell as if it were alive or enclosed a living being inside it. When he finished laughing, he grabbed me by the arm and, avoiding the carriages that passed through the boulevard, made me enter the building from which he had just left. He led me up the stairs to the floor of the Verdurins, whence came the cries of babies. He pushed me inside Mme Verdurin’s salon and closed the door behind him. I could not believe what I was seeing. There were eight babies under the age of one year scattered around the room, some of whom didn’t stop bawling. “Has Mme Verdurin been the mother of octuplets?” I asked naively. And Papus carefully took one of the babies and handed it to me with a sarcastic smile: “Here is your Madame Verdurin.” I laughed nervously, thinking he was joking. But when I looked at the precious baby lying in my arms… I recognized Mme Verdurin as she must have been when she was barely one year old! Papus laid me down on a chaise-longue to keep me from falling to the floor unconscious with the baby in my arms. And then he began to talk at length, but, in my state of utter stupefaction, I only picked up some loose phrases. Like these: “I have done them a great favor, you know?”, “They have returned to the happiest period of their lives.” “There is nothing so close to God as childhood”, “Adults are only expired children”. Then I lifted the baby up to my face and stammered: “I–Is this Madame Verdurin really?” “You’ll see how she will not cause you more problems” Papus said, and at that moment the baby made a pee-pee on my face.

This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to raise funds for children in need. So if you want to make a donation in exchange for this story, click on this link to UNICEF. I really appreciate it!

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