I didn't find it. So I went looking through My Last Breath (or My Last Sigh, depending). And though I didn't find anything relevant about what I started wanting to know, I found this passage towards the very end of the book:
The diagnosis couldn't be simpler: I'm an old man and that's all there is to it. I'm only happy at home following my daily routine: wake up, have a cup of coffee, exercise for half an hour, wash, have another cup of coffee, eat something, walk around the block, wait until noon. My eyes are weak and I need a magnifying glass and a special light in order to read. My deafness keeps me from listening to music so I wait, I think, I remember, filled with a desperate impatience and constantly looking at my watch.
Reading this, I was reminded of my grandfather who used to do the same thing. He used to sit in one chair, adding a pillow or cushion as the years went by and he became thinner and could no longer be comfortable with the chair as it was. And he used to look at his watch every five minutes, while sitting in full view of the big clock on the wall. I used to wonder what it was he used to look for, why he needed to check the time so often.
Then last year, he died and I inherited his diaries. I had thought they would contain gems of I don't know what. Perhaps not wisdom, but an insight into someone else's mind; perhaps some window into something not usually visible. As with all expectation, this one also was met with disappointment.
My gradfather's diaries were pages and pages of lists, of chronicling every moment as it passed: waking up, bathing, food consumed. The slightest deviation from routine, the grumblings of an old man whose body was refusing to cooperate, the looking forward to the smallest treat - a fruit out of season, a bowl of payasam - all of it was put down in a cramped and shaky hand. Every time he wrote, he slowed down time while making it pass. I wondered, did he ever re-read anything he wrote? Would he know one day from another? How many months' worth would he be able to re-read before he had to cry out in frustration?
There was this poem that I used to like when I was in college. Jenny Joseph's alternate list seemed wonderful: I would be like that, I used to think. I would only appear senile or eccentric to other people but it would actually be daring and free-spirited to wear purple and pluck other peoples' flowers. It's been a while since I've entertained the possiblity of taking any pleasure at watching someone else down three pounds of sausage at a go (what a relief it is to be single!), but even this kind of list-making seems unbearably sad because it is so delusional.
What can old age be but a bleak series of breakdowns? Of watching the time crawl and recording it as it goes in all its minuteness, if one is able to?
I want none of it.
PS: I'm aware that this is not the promised HP post. But wouldn't you rather have Buñuel that Potter?