Orig Owen was contemplating the mystery of birth, marriage and death on the day he was , on the one hand, celebrating his birthday, and on the other, painfully aware of the cancer cells that had been discovered, a short while ago, multiplying and increasing in his prostate. But now he was on his way to the optician on the High Street to keep an appointment to collect his new glasses since he had to keep going. There was no other choice, after all. It was hard for him to concentrate on anything else under the circumstances he was facing. He had been born sixty years to the day. What a way to mark his birthday. Although he trusted his doctors and they were hopeful that he would come through the surgery and the programme of drugs and therapies that had been set out for him, there was nothing like cancer for putting the mind on one track. ‘We have every reason to believe,’ the specialist had told him, ‘that you will lead a full life again.’ But Orig knew that every recovery was a temporary compromise. If using military cliches was inevitable in discussing cancer and the metaphor for it as a battle, then every retreat on the part of the illness was simply a truce. In other words, the dark companion was waiting for him, just a little further on. Nevertheless Orig still hoped to have another fifteen to twenty years, possibly. After all, hadn’t his old colleague, Professor Egbert, had the same condition and had his prostate completely removed, and that was over twenty years ago, and wasn’t he still with us? But Professor Egbert had a wife and four children and Orig wasn’t sure how many grandsons and grandaughters. The family was a support for him. Orig had no one. He was on his own.
Fifteen years ago, and she was only fifty seven, his sister had died. Such a thing he never forgot about. And so he had already had three years more than his sister. That was another mystery; what did this extra time mean, what had he done with these bonus years alloted to him, that his sister had not been granted? Nothing. Just living
from day to day, working and ‘potching’ (as his mother would’ve said). But that was his wish; to carry on potching having taken early retirement. Birth, no marriage, and death. That would be his fate. So was his existence incomplete never having established a long-term relationship? Marriage had never been an option in his case, and between one thing and another the chance to nurture a partnership or a love affair or even a deep friendship had never arisen. He had never met his ‘significant other’. Some would say it was his own fault for not opening himself up to possibilities because he was too hard to please. But how much did they know? No one else had lived in his skin. But in facing a threat to his life he now saw a new way of looking at the future. If he survived the treatment he had determined to look for a new purpose for living.
It was a fine autumn morning and how could Orig fail to take pleasure in the sunshine and the bizziness of the town and the people in the street as he reached the optician’s shop?
Chwe deg stori yn dynodi munud oddi fewn i awr rhwng 11.00 y bore a chanol dydd. Yr un yw'r cefndir neu'r lleoliad i bob stori, Stryd Fawr mewn tre fach, nid annhebyg i Aberystwyth. Mae'r digwydd yn perthyn i heddiw ac yn gyfredol iawn.
Fel nofelau a chyfrolau eraill Mihangel Morgan, ceir yma amrywiaeth fyw o gymeriadau gyda llwybrau rhai yn croesi ei gilydd: dynes ddigartref sy’n gofyn a yw’n amser symud ymlaen, Jewe£a a’i henw yn ddatganiad i’r byd o’i gwerth a’i harddwch a Howard a’i chwilen am y Titanic: cyn i’r llong enwog daro’r mynydd iâ, a oedd yna deimlad yn yr awyr fel a geir o flaen trychineb?
Ac, ar ddiwrnod ei ben-blwydd, mae Orig Owen yn cadw apwyntiad yn yr optegydd yn y dre, ac yn boenus o ymwybodol o’r celloedd cancr sy’n cynyddu yn ei gorff. Wrth gyrraedd ei chwedeg dyw e ddim yn siŵr a ydyw erioed wedi deall ei hunan, ac mae’n ffeindio ei hun yn gofyn am y tro cyntaf, pwy wyf i? Stori Orig sy’n dechrau a gorffen y casgliad ar yr awr, cyn y digwyddiad ar y diwedd sy’n uno’r holl gymeriadau.
Fe allai’r bobol hyn fod yn unrhyw un, ar unrhyw stryd, yn byw eu bywydau heb wybod beth sydd o’u blaenau. A hwyrach ei fod yn beth da nad oes yr un ohonom yn gwybod beth a ddaw...
'Rwyf yn darllen Mihangel Morgan er mwyn cofio beth yw byw’
Sioned Puw Rowlands
'Er fy mod i’n teimlo bod rhyw dro ar fyd ar fin digwydd wrth i fysedd y cloc symud yn eu blaenau, roedd y diweddglo yn sioc, gan fy nhaflu oddi ar fy echel unwaith eto. Dwi'n dal ddim yn siŵr beth i'w feddwl, ac mae’r diweddglo wedi fy ngorfodi i ailystyried yr hyn a ddarllenais i. Dwi’n dal i feddwl am y straeon ac am y cymeriadau brith ynddynt wythnos wedi i mi gau'r cloriau.'
‘[Mihangel Morgan] yn anad neb o’n llenorion cyfoes sydd wedi llwyddo orau i agor ein dychymyg i archwilio posibiliadau llenyddiaeth, i ’n gwahodd i ailddarllen testunau llenyddol ac yn wir i ystyried bywyd mewn ffordd gwbl ffres.’
Rhiannon Marks, O’r Pedwar Gwynt