You know, sometimes I want to be one of those odd objects you discover in abandoned gardens. Somewhere amidst the overgrown grass grazing your calf, a rusty bicycle or a tin box, an old chair with a gaping hole where there used to be a plush seat. A bicycle with vines twirling around the handles, almost struggling to breathe under the weight of the flowers wildly blooming over. The small, inedible mushrooms that poke through the chains, the dandelions that grow in between the crisscrossing wheel spokes. And the wheel itself, hanging in the air, unmoving, stopped by Time and rust a long time ago.
It’s something that feels like it has been pulled to the Earth. It seems such a peaceful thing to be. Bathed in warm sunlight, watered by rain, kept company by wildflowers that giggle in the wind. Overwhelmed by nature, uncaring of Time. For something that was formerly abandoned to bloom like this—Ah, it is wildly enchanting. Like something you could mistake for the beginning of a fairytale.
It is in this sort of garden that breathes eternity that we meet every now and then, in the realm of dreams that try very hard to be reality. We set up wooden swings on the wheel spokes, watch as the vines curl around metal and contemplate how Nature always takes over. We wonder if, when it happens to us, it will be as peaceful as this. Imperceptibly, your hand tightens around mine.
“We could whisper to the stars and tell them what happened to other stars, billions of years ago, tell them how they shattered and turned into people. Do you wonder if stars tell their children that when you die, you become a human? A faraway life, on a small blue planet. “
I can already imagine it, with starry complexity. We will linger at the space station, floating around to haunting piano music softly diffusing across the universe, echoing down lonely black holes and asteroid fields. We’ll hang the clothes to dry on one of Saturn’s rings. On Saturdays (Or however we decide to name it) we’ll have barbecues on the sun and plant artificial roses on dwarf planets and dying stars for a pilot whose plane has crashed to find someday. We’ll pluck stars from space and rearrange the cosmos, play tennis with asteroids and write messages with our fingers across nebulae for Earth to see.
We can hide on the moon, sometime. Lie down in the sea of tranquility and tell corny jokes about how we aimed for the moon. We can close our eyes and move to the dark side, and pretend Earth doesn’t exist. We’ll live out our days in an alcove on a planet no one will ever discover.
We’ll make paperboats, watch them sail and burn in a constellation of stars. We could even reach inside one of them, our hands travelling all the way to the molten core, and touch someone’s consciousness. We could whisper to the stars and tell them what happened to other stars, billions of years ago, tell them how they shattered and turned into people. Do you wonder if stars tell their children that when you die, you become a human? A faraway life, on a small blue planet. So, children if you want to say hi, all you have to do is shine bright and they will know who you are? I wonder if humans are star-ghosts?
We could also hollow out one of the planets, and make home inside.
Trust me, we will never get lost. I have the universe inside of me. Did you know that there are more synapses in the human brain than there are stars in our Milky Way? And there are more possible brain connectivity patterns than there are atoms in the Universe? Our minds are larger and more infinite than the Universe. We are multitudes, eternal matter in perishable bodies.
“When we die,” you ask “do you think we go back to being stars? Do you think that some part of us goes into space? Like, the parts that used to be our eyes, when they rot and become dirt and minerals in the Earth, then feed a tree that later gets turned into wood brought on a spaceship—do you think I could see the universe then? Do you think I could get to be a part of it then? That I will be welcomed, like a missing limb, and I will finally remember? And slowly, like that, the Universe will start being whole again.”
“But you’ll forget me then, you’ll forget Earth.” I say.
“Not if you come with me.” you smile “Then we’ll forget about the lives we had here. But it’s okay, because you and I, we go way back, we were stars together. Then, we can remember who we were meant to be all along.”
Note: This is Day 25 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. I’m afraid with this one, I totally pretended like Science wasn’t a real thing. Don’t shove your hands down molten cores of stars, kids. You’ll be dead before you even get to try. You can read my previous entry for the challenge here. Also, ‘more infinite’ isn’t…really a thing. But eh, dramatics amirite.
“You and all your subterranean lights — may they make the world shine, even as they dim and fade. May they light up the world from the inside, like the earth has swallowed a star that won’t burn out.”
When people die, we light candles to remember them.
To bring a light to the darkness now that they are no longer able to. When someone dies, I wonder how many more lights go out, how many unknown worlds living under their skin are submerged in an eternal darkness, extinguished. Mourning, grief, they feel like a power cut all throughout the city. Like the spark of electricity has stopped flowing, no longer sizzling with life, leaving us individually in our own rooms, our own houses, stranded in the dark. Reaching out in the dark, hands closing around emptiness.
Because when even one light goes out, all of our collective lights shine the dimmer. It may not be apparent all across the complex networks, the bundles of lights that can be seen from space, but there is always a gap. Which is why night rides always make me so wistful, you know. Looking at the city lights, at what every single one of them represents. Life, rising above the night. Light, when even the sun does not shine.
In grief, what comes to my mind first is somehow, always, always, this : “Where is all that light that used to animate your body? Where are the stars in your eyes?” And the thoughts that were like pulsating lights under your skin? How many more worlds slumber now in the darkness, how many more worlds were there that I will never explore? You and all your subterranean lights — may they make the world shine, even as they dim and fade. May they light up the world from the inside, like the earth has swallowed a star that won’t burn out.
But good things can come from the darkness. Sometimes, when we reach out, we find another hand is reaching out, too. And we can hold on to each other until the light arrives, again. It makes us talk, pop our heads out of the window and ask the neighbours if the light has gone out at their place, too.
“Do you have candles we can light ? I have matches.”
We can light them together, and share stories until the light arrives, until the light arrives. We do not have to be alone, lonely in the dark.
And I wonder, when we kindle all these candles for the dead, to light up the darkness — do we, do we look like stars to the stars ?
From space, where we are only networks of light, constellations ( This one here is China, and this one is Australia, this is…) does it look, to the stars that came before us, that we did not change so much after all ? And, did you notice ? Much like stars, our individual lights blaze long after we’ve died, because others carry it with them, like a torch, a light of remembrance.
And when one light goes out, how beautiful it is that we pour in our own strength, like a red candle held in one hand lighting another, and say that no matter how overwhelming the darkness, no matter how deep the grief, this star won’t go out ?
Note : Life has its own ways. This was something I wrote on Thursday, a week back, as a general reflection on grief, death and mourning. On Friday, however, I received some news. Saturday, I went to a funeral. And this became too relevant. So now, here it is.
“Anxiety, I have learned too many times, feels like choking on fear.”
Quietly, the cold dread seeps in.
And my heart, like a cup in the sink, drinks, drinks, drinks….until it drops, sunken, to the bottom. The glacial dampness seizes my throat, clouds my head and I swallow around it.
I thought, I thought I had it under wraps. I thought, a thought too much an accusation, that I was getting better now. But my heart has sunk to my feet, dragging everything in its passage. Lungs, stomach, even my veins feel weighed down, crushed under some leaden weight. Where a void emerges in my chest now, the cold dread fills it in, and colours outside the lines.
Anxiety, I have learned too many times, feels like choking on fear.
Shuddering breaths enter and leave my body and I forget the 4-7-8 that helps so well. Yet the fog in my head won’t clear, will not be shaken off. It’s not long before my eyes, too, turn cloudy. It’s never this huge explosion though, and that may be the worst part of it all. Anxiety gears up, perpetually, for something that never comes to pass. It constantly renews a state of turmoil, churns old fears anew. So, an hour later, my heart has still not settled. Racing, still. Like me, it tries to run away from problems, to leap out of my chest— but it cannot run from itself, just like I cannot.
An hour later finds me pacing — a quiet release. Up and down, around the same streets, I am shuffling. It soothes my brain somehow and subtly releases some of the fog from behind my eyes, clears the veil of smoke obstructing my view.
An hour later, like many other days, like countless other moments like these, finds me at the beach. Deliverance comes in all soft, crashing waves and the sharp, the grounding tang of salt, the sea breeze, the trees that sway in a comforting, lulling rustle.
And I do.
I force myself to see beyond the fog. To become the lighthouse that guides a keeling boat to safety as the storm rages on. I breathe and draw out patterns from the sand, swishing my foot sideways, leaving behind shaky archs and footprints beneath. And the sea, crashing, reborn every few minutes, perpetually setting itself back together, plucks at the tangles in my body. With every soft crash, my heart rate slows and Anxiety unravels under the pale, warm sunlight. All the fog has vanished into the sea, whisked away by the salt spray and the smell of iodine. Anxiety comes undone a half-hour later, nothing now but a soft tiredness cloaking my bones. The boat that rocked dangerously is now safely brought to shore, swaying from the aftershock.
“And it’s not easy— never—the only way to sun-stained hands is to grab the light yourself and never let it go.”
Sun-stained fingers delicately prying open darkened, charred ribs.
Hearts can become such messes, you know.
Clogged with ash, unmoving, hard, cutting like the surface of a mountain.
“Can you even imagine,” she said, “that this used to be young and tender? That it rushed and skipped, halted and leaped.”
Now, it is just a heap of ash.
“Even so,” he says, “you manage.”
“You take a little bit of light everyday, and…”
And it looked so easy for him. Bright, sunny as he was. All golden skin, sun-lightened hair.
“And it’s not easy— never—the only way to sun-stained hands is to grab the light yourself and never let it go.”
No matter the keenness of the burn, the sharpness of the sting. Grab the light and never let it go. Because this burn, it is the burn of alcohol on fresh wounds. It burns because it heals. It burns because it takes away the things that have slipped inside, so tightly enmeshed in parts of yourself.
” I myself am a journalism graduate with a fear of talking to strangers. There must be, out in this world, others. Colour-blind artists. Deaf musicians. Dyslexic writers. People who, everyday, deal with the two or three or four facets of their own natures.”
Sunday evening flows calm and golden, like riverwater over rocks. The streets are bare. The wind whistles a tune, if you strain your ear. Leaves rustle aloft, the soft shhh sound of waves crashing on a faraway beach.
Sundays have always been like this. Never noisy, always sweet and surreal in all of their quietness. Perhaps it is because sundays are for mass, for bells that toll with sharp punctuality, sometimes overlapping the solemn call of a muezzin. Sundays are days for reflection, quiet admiration.
Head in the clouds, as I am searching for daylight stars and my own version of the truth, my mind plucks at a thought like a harp string, sending vibrations flying all around, echoing off walls and then back.
What a beautiful day to stay indoors, it begins.
And yet my legs itch to turn back and follow the golden light to somewhere far away.
My heart and mind wish to stay, to bask in the quietude and serenity of the day, having reached a point and place mantled by a warmth that makes you not want to move. Instead, staying in place, watching the scenery change until tomorrow comes, inevitably.
My body and soul crave adventure, though. Want to sing old songs, teeter around, walk on brickwalls and explore under bridges, unraveling some of this old city’s mysteries.
How strange it is to be made of such contradictory forces. How wonderful, too. Half the time, I can never decide, though. To be home-loving and have a wanderer’s soul is not so easy, although I am sure there are much harder problems to deal with in life. Even so, I think about all the other people who live such contradictions. I myself am a journalism graduate with a fear of talking to strangers. There must be, out in this world, others. Colour-blind artists. Deaf musicians. Dyslexic writers. People who, everyday, deal with the two or three or four facets of their own natures.
” We can write stories about the journeys that we made.” *
There is always a place in my mind that plays music. And this, this is a song all about traveling the world, and trusting in the brand newness of everydays. And yet I am never sure if I want to write stories or make journeys. Still, perhaps one could argue that in doing either one, one ends up doing both.
Maybe it is not so impossible, after all.
There are some words that should naturally not belong together : flightless birds, inkless tattoos, strange familiarity. And yet they do. They fit together in a same sentence, and one does not negate the other. If seeds can take flight and then grow roots, the improbable, the ironic are perhaps merely oddities. Unusual yet possible.
If humans can live with good and evil inside of them, I think I can manage a heart and mind that are homebodies, and a body and soul always eager to set sail for the next adventure.
* Listening to :
Note : I had so much fun looking for art to pair up with today’s post. 9jedit’s work always leaves me speechless and in awe.
“And scents, they have this unique ability to bring us back, to elicit images from our minds that had long been forgotten.”
A floating seed fell on my hand yesterday, carried over great distances by a zephyr, lifted through the atmosphere as though a dancer, all supple muscle and poised grace. Beautiful little thing it was too, the stem thin and elongated, the top softly spread out like an umbrella, or a ballerina’s tutu. It settled ever so gently on my sleeve, caught on a bit of string. So easy it would have been to dislodge it, but for all the times I had chased these floating seeds in my childhood to the ends of the scenery, the idea never even crossed my mind.
And so I kept it close, safe from the winds that had brought it to me. All day long, with a recovered sense of wonder, my finger absent-mindedly brushed against the feathery extremities, sending a feeble yet sharp scent of wildness darting in the air. And scents, they have this unique ability to bring us back, to elicit images from our minds that had long been forgotten.
I imagined fervent wishes whispered warmly in a bunched up bouquet of dandelions as the sun set, and a coldness settled in. A dress billowed in the wind, grass grazed tender calves, and a girl stood alone in an endless stretch of scenery.
I imagined that it must have been a long journey to here. That Nature, the Universe conspired to send me this floating seed and the message whispered urgently into it that spoke of a gentle loneliness. A message in a bottle, sent through the skies. And so, hills, meadows, trees and breeze together decided on the little seed’s fate : “You will go there, to her.” and sent it flying.
So, I keep close to my chest the things the wild winds bring. Sometimes it is voices, other times, this.
Who knows, that I was that girl on the hill, whispering feverishly for a friend. Who knows that this, this little floating seed is a message from myself, from lonely summers back, spent chasing floating seeds to make wishes. I cradle the seed as though it is a present.
And I say to myself, to that girl on the hill from summers back, that it will be alright. Wait for me, I say to her. You must not give up. Just wait for me.
I am glad to know that she did.
I have been having these vivid visions lately, tracing back to innocuous moments I had not understood before. Moments I could not grasp, as though two worlds had collided and I knew only of one, as a life unknown to me breathed all around. Sunsets, days at the beach, or afternoons spent muffled in a blanket, staring at the ceiling, at stars through the open window. How was I to know a piece of Fate was shrouding me then ? That an unchangeable thing was happening, that certain parts of my life were being set in stone. How was I to know, as I breathed quietly the air of gentle, lonely days ? But the air changed, and my skin turned inside out. I could feel it, that something was irrevocably different. Though what, I could never tell. Was not meant to understand.
I look back now, key in hand. The murmurs of the future that I could not comprehend then finally reach me now. And it was never the words that mattered, but the feelings. Strong, bold feelings that leave you staggering. Feelings that ran deeper than any ocean, that had roots as far-reaching and as invisible as that of mountains. Feelings that are the truths that hold all of our beings together.
Do not give up. Wait for me.
And even though what followed then were all of my darkest days, this feeling stayed, even if sometimes at the very edges of my fingertips, ready to slip into the void. But the truth is not the kind of thing that leaves so easily. I knew that truth, even when I seemingly didn’t. Even when I gave up, and continued giving up, and thought all of life was going to be just that : a series of abandons, I think part of me knew. Must have known to wait, to not give up. Whatever it was that held me back, made me lift my head up, I suspect it has a little something to do with voices of the past, and things the wild winds bring. I suspect it has to do with seeds from the past, coming into efflorescence in the present.
There are things we forget about that can only be woken up by triggers as unique as scents. There are things, truths, twisting, writhing inside of us, alive if sometimes to nobody but ourselves.
“I am aware that my breathing slows, that my heart sounds like the crash of waves on a distant shore, echoing in a hollow cave. So I try to hang onto reality a little more, to not slip into this pink-peach warmth, the tiredness that carelessly whispers to my limbs”
Everything is a little bit hazy after work.
Distantly, I am aware that I am reclining into my seat, that the other passengers are probably looking at me. I am aware that my breathing slows, that my heart sounds like the crash of waves on a distant shore, echoing in a hollow cave. So I try to hang onto reality a little more, to not slip into this pink-peach warmth, the tiredness that carelessly whispers to my limbs, that wants to let my mind fall, fall, fall…
But Time catches up with me in hours, sometimes days as I lay back in a moving bus, eyes half closed as reality infiltrates them as though sunlight streaming through blinds. Reality reaches me in stripes and spots, abstract motifs dancing waltzes in my head. In this state of tiredness, the world blurs, leaving everything else clear and sharp and obvious. Nebulous feelings metamorphose into colours, shapes, scents, textures that make sense only in that moment.
My head lolls sideways, drops and falls back vertiginously, a warm tiredness assailing all my senses, threatening to overtake me until my vision suddenly hooks onto the beauty of the unusual, the unnoticed ; the discounted. Something that is beautiful, accidentally. There, in the watercolour skies where the colours of twilight are still being mixed, the palette uncertain and indefinite, I untame routine and let adventure carry my mind away. Today, it is the electricity lines that lure me into this real world, only to get further lost in the pathways of the imaginary that my mind conjures. It is these dark woven cables that I will follow to the ends of the country, today. The way they criss-cross and hang about, the way they encase clear skies in their staunch darkness. They are like frames for a photo you want to take, except the photo is the sky and the sky goes on forever, until the end of Time.
Routine is not something I can make peace with. Not now when there is nothing holding me back but myself. Now there is no school to attend, no fear to be had at not being within grounds from 8 to 3. There is no clear path laid ahead for once, and I myself must choose where I go and how. For now, freedom and adventure are things I must work for. For now, I must be patient with days that are a little too alike for my taste. But even routine is not routine when you realise that routine is what you make it out to be. If everyday, I can find a way to untame the known, then…then it is not the routine other people perceive it to be. It is boring if I let it be. It is unadventurous if I let it be. So I won’t.
Quote of the day :
“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”
The afternoon breeze blows gentle and warm, the white linen curtain billowing like a sail in a great, spacious room with high ceilings and large sliding glass doors. Sunlight, free and opulent, pours in from all sides and bathes the room in warmth. It also brings to light a figure bent over a desk made of dark wood, the face hidden by a curtain of short, cropped hair.
It is so quiet you can hear the slightest breath, the most momentary ruffle.
Quietly, the tip of my pen presses into not-so-white paper, letting pearls of glistening black ink roll out into soft cursive, looping letters and sentences, knitting a story word by word. Every now and then, the black pen stills, and the constant stream halts as I scour for just the right word, the right formulation that fits exactly in the space between the ideas I am trying to melt together.
Oh, the irony, the black screen next to me seems to say.
I insist on it though. I insist on irony, incoherence, irrelevance, obsolescence. They lend something else to the writing, perhaps the very slowness we fault them for, that oldness and hesitance in the face of all else that is now swift and decisive. The writing I have come to love is made of a slow deliberateness that takes its own time to flourish, like the seasons inexorably draw out the buds and then the blooms from bushes and trees. Unlike writing that is like the frantic attention-grab of gaudy red roses showered in chemicals, grown under phosphorescent light in the back of a truck. Unlike these flowers that will wane and be forgotten, not even leaving a scent behind as they are soon replaced by others.
But I, I am a content writer, and I write for the algorithm.
Or I write for people who have had the deliberateness sucked out of them, always trembling from the fear of missing out, and drinking something akin to saltwater thinking it will quench their thirst. But instead, it leaves them yearning for more, continually. It can be lonely, isolating, feeding a mechanism like that. I feel like the ballerina in a music box, wound up and left to play, spinning hauntingly in a backalley, tossed in a gutter. I feel like a pianist playing to the ends of the universe on a space station as humanity falls. And music, the classic notes that have endured time with no trouble at all, echoes in the silent universe, with no ears to listen to it, no hearts to pierce with its debilitating softness.
Still, my pen scritches, scratches against the paper. The black ink flows, stains my fingertips, its coolness soothing the redness and slight swelling that always happen when I write that much.
The algorithm takes in the paper, unloops the cursive, transcribes the writing into uniform letters, and carefully takes it apart as though looking for parts. It stops, beeps when it has found what it is looking for : a keyword. And then another, another. Finally, the rest is discarded in heaps and tumbles of words. Again, it says. More. The algorithm drinks something akin to saltwater, too.
There was a time where, with words, I detangled symbolism from novels, tried to imitate what I could never produce on my own. There was a time when I wrote for people, even if it was only for myself.
Some time back, I wrote a post called “Adventures in the City” about slow, deliberate walks in the city and finding adventures hidden in everyday sceneries. And I have been writing about “the City” for a while now, never calling it by name. But I took a few photos on that day (none very professional or even not-blurry, I’m afraid) and I thought it might be time for the City to be properly introduced. And since this blog is fast becoming a little piggy bank for my little moments of infinity, here it is :
The City, My City in all the delicate splendour of a mid-Saturday stroll, sounds of rustling leaves overlapping car honks and the shrill of bicycle bells cutting through.
The sky so blue it hurts my eyes, a gradient of azure that makes me itch to dive in and not surface for a while as I look for stars and nebulae hidden at the other end of the cosmos.
Little discs of sunlight, from when light streams through the gaps and interstices of the foliage, swaying oh-so gently with the wind that rustles the foliage. I’ve taken a mind to calling them “Sunlight ricochets”, lately.
I could spend forever here, craning my neck back to gaze at this lushness, this oasis of filtered light and nature in the heart of a bustling city that, too often, is harsh and cutthroat on the edges. The trees are gentle giants, shielding weary humans from the outside world as they form a dome of sorts over the heads of visitors, leaving warm sun-stains all over the exposed skin of arms, necks, faces and legs. Their endless veins make me look at mine, make me wonder at how my body is so complex : elaborate circuits running under my skin, working day and night, endlessly.
Light. This is very bad photography, probably, what with taking in all that glaring white light. But I love this, all the same.
The city, constructing itself. Constantly rebuilding, constantly changing face.
” I would rather be here than be alone.” (and what a statement that is, what a thing to feel when you yourself are so usually enmeshed in solitude, wrapped around it like a wedding band around a ring finger).
Weeks of familial effusion, of knitting together days quietly (and not-so-quietly) spent occupying space together have passed. And with them the careless brushes, touches you do not need to think twice about, affection that needs no explanation. It has been weeks of others becoming extensions of myself, of feeling that : “I would rather be here than be alone.” (and what a statement that is, what a thing to feel when you yourself are so usually enmeshed in solitude, wrapped around it like a wedding band around a ring finger). Somewhere, the barriers of ‘you’ and ‘me’ and ‘them’ have melted a bit, like chocolate on a hot day and have left us with intersecting spaces called ‘us’.
This feeling, it is that of blood that is finally around its own, it is like an ocean that has found its own rhythm, like strangers that have found others like them. It is the reality of living in an inner circle only we know, of calendars marked by the days of our personal achievements and ridiculous little happenings in our lives (That time N. got engaged, and Aunt M. started her own business, that day when B., aged 3, demanded the softest of cakes, in french).
Family is warm, warm, warm, where the rest of life is sometimes cool and works in seasons. Family is just one person, sometimes. Or, in some cases, a whole fleet of people who don’t look like you or share the same gene pool. But family is not always easy. Family is also work. And a slew of other little or big issues.
But even this richness, this ambient, suffusing warmth can leave one feeling a bit hot, needing some air. Needing to be on one’s own.
And so now the 2 a.m. conversations in the semi-darkness of a living room have faded. The alternate reality of 3 a.m. teapots, pastries and chips have flown away in an aircraft, held in suspension in the skies waiting for a next time. Now that I have made my peace with the goodbyes that I have said, now that I can swallow the feeling of missing someone, can process the flashes of memories, I must tend to the gardens of thoughts inside my head. They have overflown and overgrown, have tumbled over the precipice, the mouth of the chalice. Now I must groom a garden angry at being left alone, at not being kept in shape and style.
Carefully, I must pluck thoughts and and go through each of them with the patience of one who has spent an eternity learning botany, and the quirks and ways of all flowers and plants. I must give them all attention and nourishment, sunlight and beautiful words. Feed them meaning and purpose and things worth living for.
I must find myself again, a little, in the seasons of life, in the way the leaf drifts, alone, from the (family) tree.
Note : Here, explained, the reason behind the sporadic posting lately. Thank you for your patience ❤
Like a golden coin glinting under the sun, hidden amidst swishing blades of grass, he appeared to me as though a midsummer night’s dream one late morning at the end of June.
I was being carted off — There is something about routine and contracts that turn you against yourself, that make you wake up in spite of the sleepiness assailing you, the feeling of being yanked back into dark unconsciousness as though knocked out by a gloved hand, emerging only because of sheer duty…fear? And yet, I chose, choose everyday to do this. Not a day goes by that is not my choice. It is not obligation that wakes me. Not the idea of losing a job that fuels my fear—it is dreams, growth, the many small, wonderful things that can happen during the day. I am not repulsed by this routine because I am not trapped in it. I am not caught in the stream of everydays, submerged by the currents of norms and expectations, struggling to break through and ultimately resigned to be taken wherever the waters will. No : I choose. I choose everyday to do what I do.
And so, I was carting myself off to work in a shuttle that seemed to be going both slow and fast, as though someone was playing with the fast-forward and rewind buttons in a film. Some moments passed in a blur, evaporated from my consciousness as though they had never existed. Others were so startling, so vivid I could almost touch them through the glass of the window.
We were going through what, next to the glittering shore and the tunnel of trees bent over the road, is turning out to be one of my favourite passing-places. Going through there feels like exploring a painting. Or better yet, like the mental image of the artist painting it. We were navigating rows upon rows of fields that stretched on beyond what the eye could see. Layers of rich, tilled soil gleamed under the sun, and the soft greenery of saplings covered the slopes and dips of the scenery as though a coat of light snow. Shimmering, the tender pink of crop-flowers bent with the wind, spreading a delicate scent of wildness about.
And in the middle of all this, the dwarfed bus puttered on in the motorway that had never, before that moment, seemed so narrow, so modest.
There were grass-cutters about, busying themselves as though ants in a great wilderness. The smell of freshly-cut grass sliced through the thickness of glass windows, filling my nostrils, memories of an old garden rushing back lightning-fast.
And there he was, liminal, someplace in between the fields and the motorway.
A midsummer night’s vision that appeared one late morning in the month of June—lying in a roadside ditch.
There where the strange trees grow, the ones with the large gaps in their foliage that let sunlight stream through as though through a sieve. There, where the grass stops just shy of growing, where, a few centimetres away, gravel crunches underneath your foot. There, right there in the softness of the earth, he lay. And looked at indescribable things some ways beyond the interstices in the yellow-green leaves. A thousand little suns danced in his vision, kaleidoscopic and infinite as his arms crossed behind his head. His legs were sprawled out, his feet pillowed by a mattress of grass and roadside flowers. He looked as though he had been dropped from the sky, and his first instinct was to lay down and contemplate the worlds around him.
All around, the grass-cutters and their scythe-like machines buzzed on, sending grass flying up and down and sideways, over his head. But with a thousand little suns shining on brightly all around him, he simply did not belong to the same stratosphere.
The way the bus whooshed past, I could not have seen him for more than 3 seconds.
And yet, one late morning at the end of June, as I was carting myself off to work, I saw a man lying in a roadside ditch, a midsummer night’s vision, an image of freedom seared into my mind. And oh, the choice he embodied, to be lying under the trees one late morning, to be swimming in the lights of otherworlds….He was…ethereal, superlunary. It was his choice to be. For a split second, I envied him but I knew he had made his choice and I, mine.
But the light of a thousand little suns, even through a bus window, even for 3 seconds’ time is not something that you can forget.
Not even now. In my head, it is the same as that day. A thousand suns burn bright, infinite.