“I went into the barbershop as usual, with the pleasant sensation of entering a familiar place, easily and naturally. New things are distressing to my sensibility; I’m at ease only in places where I’ve already been.
After I’d sat down in the chair, I happened to ask the young barber, occupied in fastening a clean, cool cloth around my neck, about his older colleague from the chair to the right, a spry fellow who’d been sick. I didn’t ask this because I’d felt obliged to ask something; it was the place and my memory that sparked the question. ‘He passed away yesterday,’ flatly answered the barber’s voice behind me and the linen cloth as his fingers withdrew from the final tuck of the cloth in between my shirt collar and my neck. The whole of my irrational good mood abruptly died, like the eternally missing barber from the adjacent chair. A chill swept over all my thoughts. I said nothing.
Nostalgia! I even feel it for people and things that were nothing to me, because time’s fleeing is for me an anguish, and life’s mystery is a torture. Faces I habitually see on my habitual streets – if I stop seeing them I become sad. And they were nothing to me, except perhaps the symbol of all life.
The nondescript old man with dirty gaiters who often crossed my path at nine-thirty in the morning… The crippled seller of lottery tickets who would pester me in vain… The round and ruddy old man smoking a cigar at the door of the tobacco shop… The pale tobacco shop owner… What has happened to them all, who because I regularly saw them were a part of my life? Tomorrow I too will vanish from the Rua da Prata, the Rua dos Douradores, the Rua dos Fanqueiros. Tomorrow I too – I this soul that feels and thinks, this universe I am for myself – yes, tomorrow I too will be the one who no longer walks these streets, whom others will vaguely evoke with a ‘What’s become of him?’ And everything I’ve done, everything I’ve felt and everything I’ve lived will amount merely to one less passer-by on the everyday streets of some city or other.”
Pessoa, Fernando. The Book of Disquiet (Penguin Modern Classics) .