The concern about the twigs or the leaflets was partial, certain things have to vanish for others to ascend. My eyes winked with the dim ache in my toe as I courteously balanced against the v-shaped branch. My toes painstakingly rubbing against the bark of the tree. The skin peeled and numerous rashes of various degrees appeared, reminiscent of my stay on the branch. Ten feet higher than the ground escaping the voluptuous realities of the hearth, I transcended with an alarming sense of peace and safety from the tenants of this world. It had been hours, minutes,
seconds and nanoseconds as I have been counting deluded by my sense of humor and as allowed by my memory since I arrived at the mango tree. My feeble state and poorly dressed attire despised my realism as my sense of factual fanaticism transpired and lastly the confidence perspired under the solace of the sunrays, soothing my aching bones to the level of dehydration. I am not a novice or least a mystic. My mind buzzed with thoughts like the flies that were mocking my state, picking on my reluctant face and everywhere I could detest at the verge of losing balance. I moved reclaiming territory to the discomfort in my posterior, giving it the virtue of relaxation. It was painstakingly uncomfortable relating to my comfort zones. I was lost somewhere in the serenity of the fresh air and with the smell of adequate freedom even if it meant the constant pinching of the uneven branch that I was residing against my skin or the crookedness in my spine. My eyes were sore from the burning flow of tears flooding like rain. I wanted to redeem myself or felt an invincible sense of reclaiming myself. Although I realized it had taken me long, thirty five long years to take back what was my own all the way: myself. It was then that it appeared. The firefly – spark-fly that I so adamantly called it. It flashed before my eyes and before I could move in an attempt to catch it. It all went dark after the splash.
It all started longer than I could remember, considering my feeble memory, as a kid. One day when I got late to school.
“I don’t care if my sentences fail to fall under the delusion of time. Of what is the extent and care of time when it doth not change? It is stagnant. Every second leveled to another, every hour shadowed by the thought of the former, and darkened with the worry of the latter. Of what does time tell when it has no wit, it clicks and goes. It is ordained to memory by men, and ascended to history by men, and of what can time do but make you old; every second, every minute and every hour.” I said standing before my teacher.
My sense of humor eluded me in my transparency of thought. Where had the topic started? The mere mention of time? The dark haired woman wearing her spectacles halfway across the edge of her nose was eyeing me, miraculously stunned with a muffled expression on her face, and the neatly trimmed lines on her forehead.
“What did I ask you gentleman?” She hissed under the keen observation of my idle stare. The rest of the class meanwhile hushed at the urgency of the moment.
“It is 8’O clock and I am late about 30 minutes. My driver does not care enough for his schedule so I rode my bicycle to school which by no means breaks any rules but due to my inexperienced hand on the road, I am late. The people on the road weren’t nice either, they seldom are,” I said
“What did I ask you Ali?” She hissed again. This time showing her fangs across her overly lipstick coated lips. Her eyes narrowed as her nostrils flared, thrusting air, and her hands gripped the edge of the dice.
“I am sorry, I am late. I can’t write a letter of apology –“
“Get out,” she said with her eyes closed shut against her dying patience. “Out of my class right now,” she said without further ado. My hands shivered slightly as the last remnants of confidence evaporated under the sarcastic grim atmosphere around the entrance door. My head filled with air like a balloon, and I felt like a giant clown like figure as my eyes roamed around the class, falling piously on the corner where ‘she’ was sitting. Her eyes carried pity. It was pitiful that I only cared for her say among the numerous hissing, smirking as dreadful gloomy eyes soared at me at the corner of the door. For a moment, or precisely in that moment I felt like an ant. The ant crawling near my foot that I would have sparsely noticed had it been a change of events, but in that moment under the flattering stares of her dazzling eyes, I enflamed into a snare. I wanted to be the ant, smaller than him or even a subatomic particle, as small as my self-esteem was minimized in that moment.
They say those tired of realities are metaphorical, those tired of themselves as cynical, and it requires unuttered realism and courage to be both with a sheer sense of love. In sheer sense of love or was it the poetic sense of it, that I left for the ground. The lychee tree in the corner became my refuge, not because it hid me away, but also that it heard all my ramblings. About my parents fighting, about the incompetent school driver, the class teacher and then about her ‘the girl’. As of that day, I survived under the shade of the trees for solace and for love evaded in all other relations as a kid, and some in part of my adult life while others chased girls.
It was on the edgy branches of the same lychee tree that I caught my first firefly after the rain had vanished leaving puddles of water. The moment I saw its dim light emanating from the corners of my tightly closed chubby fingers as the tiny insect wrestled against my palm. I knew it was just the metaphorical or insane form of myself. I knew there was no firefly. It was a spark-fly. A flying spark, secretly besotted by the passion of the universe which had started flying. I don’t know how it must seem like being a spark and flying. I know there are times when you are right even if everyone around makes you feel like a moron. You are right and you are among people who are underestimating the very core of your thinking capabilities. Some people who are unable to comprehend the idea of you being right. Some, who think they are old and who aren’t familiar with the aura of being wrong, and then there are some who are under the illusion that they are in fact in this mortal world, in deep and compassionate form of some sort of unknown, benign and at the same time enduring, feasible but reluctant, patient but intimidating and in vain but timely worthwhile form of love with you. In these very moments, I knew the form of spark-flies, I actually knew what it was being like a spark-fly.
So then when I retired to the solace once again being a spark-fly, I started writing about it. Scribbling it on pages, word by word, page after page. I didn’t had the courage or the energy to purge through the intense feelings. I continued to write and the world around me fell into place, like the sand particles that move with the wind and fall into place, running to maintain the inertia of its weight and then settling down abruptly. Moments in my life had not yet come to pass; I forgot to mention that the world fixed their lives while I fixed my vocabulary, my sentence structure, punctuation and then the meaning in my sentences. I was stagnant as a pond or less a sand dune not prone to the wind, my sand grains moved only to make me look subtle, more bereaved and small. I chose the white blank screen or a piece of paper. She was back, back again in the moment. It is a long story or let’s say part of the story but it insinuates in me the poor lad that screamed for peace. It was only a few days back to my university when I woke up in the middle of the night and thanked God for the sound sleep and peace of my mind. How prayers work and God respond to them is still a mystery to me, but the intent of God in bringing her back is enriching in my heart a blasphemy, I am unable to comprehend. It indeed is a long story, I was young and she was beautiful and everything seemed promising and far. Like a faraway fairyland and in my heart, I wondered I had all the time in the world to build and design the fairyland. It is said people are unrealistic and then those people go forward and built empires. I don’t know where to classify myself, I might need a new label. I had a wild imagination, wild enough to fit Alaska and all its icebergs together, and I am not even finished yet. It was a good seven years ago when our eyes first met and then I was there on that very day, ready to destroy her and moreover, myself.
I looked at her with awe in my eyes. Her face perplexed but serene as if she had been dreaming or roaming around in the obscene world. I was there to tell her about one of my fears. It was my stomach wrenching moments and I was ready to be a moron to be precise. It seemed she had sensed it from somewhere like the animals predict earthquakes or the birds’ prophesize storms. Her eyes had it all. Of all the conversations we have had. This was the longest, the briefest and the most realistic as then we weren’t fooled by love or unraveling mysteries of the world or soul, I was about to kill her. In cold blood. Piece by piece. Why her voice shook, as tangles of hair unloosened from her massive ponytail? I had asked these questions a number of times over, and answered myself. I had a stubborn smirk on my face then, that as I recall now, want to slap from my face. In a while, my resentment was going to melt but to no avail.
“I am sorry Erica. This is it. I am leaving for my country. I cannot do this anymore.”
“But – but,” her lips quivered.
“We could do this forever. I have made up my mind. My parents are very different. I understand everything but they wouldn’t Erica. You don’t understand the world I belong to. Not a thing about it.”
“But you knew that from the start. What changed? How did this change overnight. I was a non- Muslim since the day I met you Ali,” her eyes were strained. Her eyeballs jolting with the energy of pronouncing every word. Striving hard to make her point.
She had left the staircase doorway and stood at the entrance before me, staring right me in the eyes.
“I – I know. I tried to change their mind Erica. I did my best but it didn’t work.”
“Did you?” Her voice jolted and resonated inside her throat.
“I did. You know that I did. You heard the tapes and my phone call recordings that I had with them –”
“Is this some kind of a joke?” Her lungs were heavy with breathing. She wrenched her knuckles and blew off air from her nostrils to compensate her heavy heartbeat. It was a shock. A massive shock.
“If only you had been paying attention to serious discussion rather than recording it. The results would have been different. Do you think this is a joke? Is it a joke for you? You claiming to be the creation of beloved God and then you come up with such illegitimate issues and reasons. Ali when was I wrong? How was I wrong? I have listened and believed in every single word that you have told me. Now what do you want me to undo from my mind? This conversation or everything else?”
“Erica. I have personal issues. I cannot explain.”
“It is me.”
“You don’t understand.”
“Oh I do – now I do for certain. I have but understood everything. I have faith and I do not suffice to the mediocre, Ali. But I do know one thing that everything you told me before is true. It is easier to change perception than faith. So I am going to do that. If there is a God which I now believe that there is and there is respect for every human being that He has created. You don’t know what it feels like to have that taken from you. But one day I am going to meet God. I will call Him and He will hear me and then I will curse you. May the beloved of all in your life push you away, so you can feel the taste of abandonment and treachery. I curse you with the love of the sun, the love of delusion –”
Her eyes were red sore and her body was shaking. I was numb and speechless in front of her. Unable to comprehend or muster up the courage to make even a sentence. She blew away my existence in a moment. Her dress was simmering against the slight breeze. I nullified to a zero forgetting even the air that dilated and flattened my chest. She moved away from me. Away towards the stairs floating downward into the grounds and then I watched her leave, becoming a part of the crowd. My heart slipped somewhere into a hole. I had heard what I never had imagined and then I was a man left with goosebumps and a broken heart with a hunch indented deep into my soul.
I sat on the trunk of the mango tree in all these years after reading a bundle of rejection letters in my inbox. I had looked outside the window at this mango tree that stood there stagnant and fruitless as if waiting for its lover, while I sat to write on my old desk. It was a long while when the braches steadily seeped through my tough skin that the clouds densely appeared in the sky. To mourn my festivity. The rebirth of my old love for meditation in the arms of a tree. In no time was the shower in full hold of the surrounding, sending angels to brighten up the earth. Fully drenched even under the shade of the dense tree, the memories fell on me like a heavy branch with all its saplings and new twigs eating through my soaked skin. It could reach through my veins and tear the blood out. When she had left the threshold of the mighty column, I was close to falling through-through the charge of air. It is true what they say that when someone leaves they take a part of you, a part that can never be filled again. It was the longest of nights and the roughest of days. I would wake up feeling the sense of rejuvenating energy from a nap of two hours, sitting like an owl in the death of the night. There were times I could sit for hours, thinking without uttering a word. Listening to the silence like a novice or a priest and then there were others where the rupture of my heart would get denser and impossible to hold. My throat aching under the pressure to withhold the pressure of my aching nerves and then it would burst. Burst like thunder in rain. My voice meek and croaky. My hands shaky and my toes wobbling under my weight until I would fall and my tears would rub the ground. Sometimes under the shower, my aching eyes would simmer when drenched and I would let it pass my tears until they were unrecognizable. There were times when I couldn’t taste the food I ate or smell the air around me. There were moments when I forgot to pee only to realize it while washing my hands, and at others it was an exam I slept through. Yeah, I got a B. The only B on my report card. I have a tough skin, I survived. I am human and I am programmed to survive – it is what I am good at doing best.
I was nestled on the trunk of the tree and the depression below in the ground nearby had the water pooled in from the rain. I was drenched but little did I move when the water travelled all over me and trickled down on the tree, first the mild breathtaking scent of the humid earth and then the aroma of herbs saturated the surrounding minced with the chill in the air. Every muscle in my body responded to the slight breezes. The rain had played the insects, ants but the flies, the flies were there. It appeared in the dense evening air, out of nowhere. The firefly of my dreams and for a moment as I moved forward in my juvenile attempt of the child who had evaded his long lost love. There was a huge splash and I was drenched, sprawling in mud.
I felt welcome in a long time to feel the sense of existence when I felt like Icarus fallen from the vastness of the sky. Burning and independent. Flying and fueling myself with the taming energies. My curse lifted and in the moment, I knew how it felt to be a spark-fly again. It meant to be a power-fly to make the spark-fly. Indeed it is hard life being a firefly.
In the mud sprawling as a tiny insect buzzed against my palm, I laughed. I laughed so hard my stomach started aching.
About the Author
I am an aspiring writer, blogger, and poet. I write poetry and prose and a hybrid of both for the obituaries of my thoughts. I am currently looking for a publisher for my novel manuscript In the Mirror whilst working on my second The Storyteller.