Thoughts, Reflections and Stories

One must have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star...
Massoud Abbasi

The End of History

            The child charged to him with the fear of sheep when a wolf is near. “Papa, papa!” he yelled as hammered into his father’s thick, sturdy frame who had knelt to receive his boy once the phenomenon had descended upon them. “I got you, my boy, its ok” he said to him. The boy clenched to his father, eyes closed, overcome with a great fear no child his age could bear alone. Even men would shiver at what had befallen them just then. Sitting there, on the rough, barren plane of the land which only a moment ago was their home and hearth, there was no longer any trace of their farm, or of the other farms nearby. No vestige of the life they knew, the world they inhabited just a moment ago. A great, heavy sound had erupted across all the land, a roaring thunder and cataclysm, as if sent from Zeus himself, but no rain had followed it. Both of them had been in a plane of movement when it all occurred, the man tending to the soil, the child playing nearby. Both were arrested upon hearing it and feeling it, their bodies prostrating immediately as if some great call was made from the sky above. In all directions they looked, but nothing from where the sound and fury had come. Amidst all of this, the child had run to his father for refuge.

 

            The little child now slowly opened his eyes, his father ever gently nudging him to lift his head which was buried in his chest. “My son,” he said, “it’s alright, you can relax now, I am here.” The boy did so, slowly, but still found himself in an alien place as he looked around. The father, for all his coolness, was also fearful and worried, for nothing he saw was familiar, none of it made sense. “Where is everything, papa? Where is everything?” the child asked.  The farm, the stables, the animals, their home, all had vanished now. “I don’t know, my boy” answered the father who looked around with eyes wide open, looking at the same Nothingness that surrounded them that mystified his son. Indeed, where had everything gone?

 

             Both of them were now startled and the child let out a cry as the sound of a neighing horse rose from their side. Turning, they saw a great, caramel stallion with a thick, blonde mane and tail ride off hurriedly ahead, as if it had been thrashed by an invisible whip. Where had it come from? And then their attention was drawn to the opposite side now, hearing more noise, where they saw chickens and hens, flapping and wailing feverishly, as if being thrashed. The child and his father were overcome with fear and shock yet again as they were now overwhelmed by a mass exodus of many animals, on all sides, running away in frenzy as if danger was nearing. Only a moment ago, there had had been nothing all around them. Sense, neither could not make of this, especially the man. “Papa, papa!” the child said, as he could look on no longer and hugged his father tight, again.  “Why are they acting like that? Why are they doing that, papa, why?” The father, dumbfounded himself, looking on with a wild gaze, was speechless himself. “I don’t know, my boy” he said. “I don’t know.” And only a moment ago he was the master of the world, this father and farmer, this great ruler of his realm, of all realms. Voila un homme.

 

            With the animals all gone and out of sight now, an eerie silence set in. There was nothing left but barren soil and a murky sky and the mixed greenery of the landscape, far and near. Another load noise suddenly erupted just then from out of nowhere, cracking in several spots, spreading across the plain like drought across a desert. The child was still clenching to his father, who was still seated on the ground on his knees, bearing the mysterious phenomenon that pervaded them. The child tightened his grip. The father felt him shiver. He placed his left hand over his head now and whispered to him: “everything is going to be fine, my boy. I won’t let anything happen to you. I promise.” And yet even he was afraid, as evidenced by his constricted muscles which would not let him move. Only his eyes and heart moved. One thumping rapidly, the other darting in all directions, in awe of what it was bearing witness to. What is more powerful, what we see, or what we feel? Can we feel what we cannot see? Can we see what we cannot feel? The man closed his eyes, lowered his head and placed his lips on his son’s head.

 

            The crackle of the cataclysm faded, but it was now replaced by an odd noise, a whirr of some sort. The man opened his eyes, slowly. The colours of the environment, the nearby and the far, were all changing before him. The man could not believe what he was witnessing. “Keep your eyes closed my boy, keep them closed” he told the child. The boy clenched tighter, as his legs buckled. The man looked  ahead, eyes wide open, as the wildlife, the greenery, the sky all around them began to melt into each other, as if converging into a whole and creating a singular atmosphere. It seemed fluid but thick, like molasses. It looked like an abstractionist painting. It was no painting, however. It was the everything that surrounded them now. He could distinguish nothing within it anymore but the barren plain which he was sitting on, and the murky brown, grey and green atmosphere all around him. He brought his other hand now to his eyes, rubbing both profusely, but what he saw did not change at all. “What is going on here? What is happening?” he thought to himself now, surveying the enigma that his eyes perceived.

 

              The atmosphere had by now settled. He gently pulled the child off himself, who had been whimpering the whole time.  “We must pray my boy,” he said to him, “we must pray to the Gods so that they may help us.” The child was confused and scared. It could be seen on his delicate face, his brows furrowing as his freckled cheeks bent in to meet them. “But papa,” the child said, “how can we pray, our altar is no longer there, our Gods too.” He spoke faintly. There was no hope in his voice. The man looked in all directions, and indeed, nothing to be found, no altar, no one, and nothing. Nothingness. “Yes, my boy,” he said, “they are gone it would seem. No matter, we will pray to them still. Sometimes the absent are the nearest.” The child nodded his head, prostrated himself on the barren plane, like his father, and they both prayed to the Gods for help and guidance. The great storm had desecrated their altar, and all that they had hitherto held dear.

 

            They had been walking for a couple hours now, directionless, filled only with the hope of finding others, or at least some remnant of life; and of course food and water. Their surrounding environment, whether horizontal or vertical, grew progressively more brown and grey. All touches of green seemed to have disappeared now. Nothing could be seen in the distance. “Papa” said the child, holding his father’s hand as they walked together in their blue overalls and matching white shirts. “Yes, my boy” responded the father. “Papa, what if this is a dream?” The man looked at his son, the faintest of smiles on his face. “No, my boy, this is not a dream.” “But how do you know, Papa?” the child retorted. “I just know, my boy. This is not a dream, this is life.” “Ok” the child finally agreed. As they took a few more stops the man stopped and advised his son to do the same. “What is it, Papa?” he asked his father, tense once more. “Do you hear anything, my boy?” The child nodded. “No, papa.” The man then saw something, far ahead, as if something was moving on the ground. “There, there!” he said now as he pointed with surprise and a penetrating gaze. The child squinted, and then his eyes grew wide. He clenched his father’s legs quickly. The man, noticing this, sat once more on the ground, grabbing his boy in the same position as before, pressing him against his chest so that he would not see whatever was approaching, whispering something in his ear to calm his fears. As it neared, it seemed like a great dust now rising from the ground. It grew thicker and heavier as it drew close. And as it did, faint outlines could now be seen by him, and he realized it was not dust, but animals, of some sort. It was like a herd of wild animals charging with speed, many of them, hundreds, even thousands. The man’s heartbeat accelerated as the ground began to rumble, realizing that he and his son were directly in their way and that he couldn’t do much about it now. Adrenaline kept his eyes pried open, and they now discerned something which left his jaw dropped and his torso trembling. The ground rumbled heavier now as the wave drew close. The child was shaking and crying. “It’s ok, my boy, it’s ok, I won’t let anything happen to you. I promise.” It wasn’t ok. His face grew open with terror as the herd got close enough for him to see what they were. They were men, and not even men, but primitive men, Neanderthals. Thousands of them, running like thunder, looks of malaise and malice on their jagged and morose faces. Fury and rage in their blood shot eyes. Their bodies were comported like ours but in all different shapes and sizes. Some tall, some short, some thick, some slender.  Most of their body was covered in hair. As they neared, unable to take his eyes off them, the man now noticed that they were all attacking one another as they ran, with sticks and stones and sharp, pointed objects that resembled primitive weapons. Each and every one wailed and cried and screamed and shouted, all bleeding from one place or another, all charging forward and at one another at the same time, as if they had some destination to reach before they were all dead. The man was by now petrified, trembling himself, realizing they had no way out. He pulled his son completely into him, kissed him twice on the head, and then turned around placing the child on the ground and covering his body using his own. “It’s going to be ok, my boy” he shouted now, shaking. “I love you.” He clenched his eyes as he could hear them and feel them just behind him and braced for impact. He prepared himself to meet death.

 

              The man and the child lay there motionless, except for their fear and trembling. Everything around them was now silent and still. If it was day just a moment ago, it was now night. If there was war a moment ago, there was now peace. The man slowly lifted his head, scared of what he might face when he opened his eyes. His breathing was deep, like tides in the ocean on a full moon. His chest heaved in and out, like a galloping horse. His eyes darted across the landscape, to make sure that they were indeed gone, the barbarian horde which only a moment ago thundered towards him and his son. Absolutely nothing around them. Pure Nothingness. He slowly lifted himself off his son. The child was still crying. His eyes remained shut. The man pressed his hand across the child’s face to comfort him. “It’s alright, my boy” he said, “you can open your eyes now, it’s alright.” The child was slow to do so, and hence the father helped him up. “I am here. I have you now. Everything’s going to be alright” he said to him kissing him on the forehead as the child now stood standing, eyes barely open, catching his breath. “Then why do you look that way, papa, why?” The man touched his own face, realizing he must have looked aghast himself. He forced a smile and then immediately brought his son forth and embraced him. “It’s going to be alright, my boy,” he said, “I promise.” What else do we tell our children?  The man now did his best to take the child’s attention off the experience, realizing that luckily he had not actually seen any details. And what were they, after all, he wondered himself now? They seemed to be primitive men, but how could that be? Maybe they were just a savage tribe? And how could they disappear like that all of a sudden? Was this a dream, after all, he began to ask himself, as the child had earlier suggested? How could it be a dream?  It felt too real. A man certainly knows the difference between dream and reality, after all. Does he not?

 

            They had been walking for a couple of hours now and not much had changed. The boy had calmed but was still scared, naturally, and had grown more tired. The man tried to remain steadfast but he too was starting to wonder just what was happening to them and what they would do. He looked in all directions, like a true wanderer, for any sign, of anything. Nothing presented itself to his eyes, but the barren landscape they traversed, and the Nothingness of their surroundings, and the brown and grey sky that was covered as if with some soot or sand. He noticed now that the environment had become more grey than brown, in fact. “What time is it?” he wondered. It must be nearing night, he inferred. He didn’t really know. “Papa” he heard now from the soft, delicate voice of his little boy, who was bravely walking along holding his father’s hand, in his dirty and sullied clothes. “Yes, my boy” the father asked him, “what is it?” “I’m hungry, papa” the boy said. The man stopped now, the boy too, and they stared at one another. He knew he was in a bind. He knelt down again to face him, cupping his petite face with his hand ever so gently. “My boy” he said, “we don’t have any food right now, I need you to be strong and wait just a little while longer while I figure things out, ok.” He had no idea what there was to figure out, or how he was going to do it, but his job was to give the child peace and to protect him. The child stared at him and then tilted his head and nodded to his father in agreement. He was a good, understanding child. The man smiled and they embraced each other, hugging affectionately once more. All they had was each other. Does anyone have anything more? All our material things and belongings, watch how time sweeps them up and churns them into worthless bits, covering them all up, as if they were nothing; as if they never were. And one day the same with you and I. All we have is each other.

 

            A moment later they had relinquished their embrace and sat still smiling at one another, when all of a sudden a sharp noise was heard, startling them both. It was a sharp but narrow noise, loud, piercing and shooting across the landscape. The man was dismayed and quickly brought his son forth clenching him again. “Papa, what is it? What is it, papa?” the child asked, his calm quickly vanishing. “I don’t know my boy.” They both sat still. It happened again, shaking them both as it seemed to come from a totally different direction this time. “Did you hear that, my boy?” the man asked the child. “Yes, papa, what is it? I’m scared.” “I don’t know, but I’ve got you, my boy, don’t worry, I won’t let anything happen to you. I promise.” The boy had begun to shake again, the poor thing. Both were startled once more now as the noise arose once again and then again as it grew in number and frequency. Eventually, the whole environment was overcome with a constant, shrill noise altogether that was terrifying. The child started to scream again, and the man now quickly laid him on the ground once more as to his shock he began to see something rise from the ground from afar. It was just as before. It began to swell and grow as it neared. His heart began to race. Was it the herd, again, he wondered?  Just then he began to see debris rise from parts of the barren plane in front of him. Small puffs of dirt would pop up out of nowhere here and there. It was almost as if something was coming in and hitting the ground. What could it be, he wondered? He received his answer when a second later an arrow swept near him, striking the ground and stocking itself into the soil. Shocked, he hadn’t seen such a thing before, but knew it could be lethal if it struck them. He quickly decided to flip himself and the child around now to face the opposite direction so that any errant arrow could hit him first, and in the lower body and not the important organs at the top, but before he could do so he was paralyzed in place by what he now noticed was drawing near: Men. Hordes of normal human men wearing odd articles of clothing carrying antique weapons he could barely recognize. Shields made of wood or metal, some pierced with the teeth of arrows, many containing slivers surely made from the impact of swords. One thing in particular fixed his attention and body in place. It was the face of one of the men which he could discern, who was no more than 30 meters away by now. He was wearing a thick, green robe, an axe like knife in his hand, a steel guard in the other, staring directly ahead and at him with scorched, hollow eyes. And beside him there were many others, like him, all attacking one another just as before. Cut, bloodied, disfigured, hounds, the lot of them, these savage men, all charging forward and at one another simultaneously. And the one, looking right at him, a seething gaze on his vicious face. Finally, the thunder of the herd’s movement began to shake the ground once more and the child now started to cry and scream feverishly, his young nerves shot. The father finally shook off his physical arrest and looked down, placed the boys head in his chest tightly once more and turned around in the opposite direction and braced for impact as he had before. His heart racing, fear and trembling, death once again seemed imminent. “I love you, my boy” he shouted at him as he closed his eyes on day and on life.

 

             The body can sometimes bewilder the mind. The man wondered now whether he was in Elysium for a brief moment as stillness and silence once again set in. And then immediately he came back to by the crying of the child. The boy was still weeping when the man finally lifted his head up, ever so gently, wary as to what he may see when he gazed at the land. He darted his eyes around quickly to see if anyone was still approaching. They were not. The horde had once again vanished, along with its sound. No one and nothing was in sight. Nothingness, all over again. His breathing was rapid, and he noticed his boy’s was as well, raising him up quickly to hold him in his hands once more. “My boy, open your eyes, open your eyes” he implored him, wiping away his endless tears. “There is nothing to be afraid of any longer, open your eyes” he said again. The boy did so finally. The father, warmed by the gaze of his son, his everything, smiled at him and cleared away his curly locks, some of which were bunched up and wet with tears. This was all too much for the child. Children are supposed to live in fairy tales, not in real life; not whilst they are at such a tender age at least. Even Damascus, the oldest city in history, was once a fairy tale. “Everything is going to be just fine, I promise you” the man said to the young one now as he brought him close and they hugged one another once more. The child eventually stopped crying and displayed the faintest of smiles now. Without that smile, the man would be lost. They were each other’s world entire. A single smile can salvage a soul. One un-salvaged soul can ruin a thousand smiles.

 

            It had been another couple of hours of walking for the pair. “Certainly it must be night, now” the man whispered to himself as he looked up and ahead to the same, brown and grey sky which had now become even more grey than before. In fact there was hardly any brown in it anymore, perhaps just a hint. “What did you say, papa?” the child asked. He looked down at him, smiling faintly, “nothing, my boy, nothing.” “No papa, you said something, you said something papa.” Children are keener than we allow. “I’m just wondering, son” the father now replied. “Wondering? What are you wondering about, papa?”  The man now looked ahead and away, and decided he should be honest with his son, if in fact this was the End of History. “Well, I’m thinking about your mama, my boy.” The boy kept pacing, not looking up but down, and kicking the odd rock, clenching his father’s hands. “Why mama, papa?” They kept walking. “Well” the man said, “because I love her, and because without her you would not be here with me.” The little boy had never met his mother; she had died giving birth to him. The man always thought of her, for he missed her. The soul always yearns for its counterpart, near or far. He was grateful for the memories that he had with her, for they were of real times spent together, and these were for him blessings. “What else are you wondering about, papa?” the boy persisted now. The man looked down at him, smiled again, and then looked up and away. “I’m wondering where all those stars up there come from, and how it is that they came to be, and we along with them.” The child looked up now, eagerly, expecting to see celestial bodies. None were there. Nothing but the grey haze that permeated everywhere. He looked at his father now and waved his head. “Papa, I don’t see any stars up there, where, where are the stars?” The man stopped now, the boy too. The man looked ahead, looking for the greatest star, the sun, and where he thought it might be just now, if his sense of time was right, setting to the southeast. “Well my boy,” he said, kneeling down, looking at his son’s green eyes, “they are right up there, past that grey, thick sky.” “There papa, there?” the little boy inquired now, pointing up above him. “Yes, my boy” the man said, “there, there, and over there, too. Do you see them, do you see them my boy?” The boy said nothing for a moment, and then suddenly shook his head. “Yes, papa” he said smiling, “I can see them, I can see them!” The man smiled, perhaps a melancholy one as a lone tear slipped from the corner pocket of his left eye and slid across his rough and rugged skin. The child reminded him of her. He watched her die, and the only reason that he didn’t follow her is because as she slipped away, she left for him this child, and this child kept him fixed to life. “Protect him” were her final words, before her deep, blue eyes closed forever, his face being the last sight she saw, not even her child. “Papa” the boy said now. The man was deep in thought. “Papa, papa” the boy said again. “Yes, my son” the man responded finally, shaking away his heaviness. “What’s wrong papa?” He smiled at his son through watery eyes. “Nothing my boy. What is it? What were you asking me?” “Do you see any food anywhere, papa?” The man’s face went blank, unsure how to respond, knowing that imagination might fill the mind, but not the stomach. Even he could not provide for his boy just now, and he was growing worried about this. He might go on for days without food, but a child. Well, a child cannot. He drew his boy near, and hugged him affectionately once more. He would hunt a gazelle for his son with his bare hands if he could, but there was absolutely nothing around. Nothing but Nothingness. Holding him in place, he kissed him on the head. “Soon, my boy, soon, we will eat” he lied, hoped and prayed. On the lake of life, where we all float, sometimes we become lost when it is dark. It is then that we require a lighthouse to bring us back to shore. Hope and faith, these are lighthouses.

 

            They sat there in that position for a few minutes as the man could not let go of his boy. The boy too stood still, for he also loved his father. They were two parts of a whole. Without the other, neither would survive. “Papa” the boy now said, breaking the silence. “Yes, my son?” the father responded. “Maybe there is food over there, where that light is” the boy said now. The man’s eyes shot open at hearing those words and he suddenly pulled back to turn around and look where the boy was looking. “Where, my boy, where?” he asked hurriedly, a glimmer of hope washing over his heart. “Over there” the boy said innocently, not realizing how important his sighting was. The man was challenged at first, asking for more direction, but squinting, he finally made it out. A dim light sparkled in the far off, indeed. His heart skipped a beat and his reflexes all sharpened as if a wayfarer on the waves who has spotted a ship on the horizon after many days lost at sea. Now he noticed another sharp light emanating from the far, in the same area, and then another. Eventually, the man and the child began to see light after light emerge on the horizon, smiling with each one. Eventually, they bore witness to a whole area ahead which was now illuminated with sparking tall lights that seemed to shoot upward some ways into the air. It was unlike anything either of them had ever countenanced.

 

            A bit later, the man and the child were walking, holding hands and looking ahead, as surprise and joy had turned to wonder now. They could see a great big outline of light that got bigger and brighter as they walked towards it. The man, piercing sharply ahead with his eyes, concentrating, now realized that these lights all seemed to be fixed in place, as if attached to some structures. He had no idea what they might be. These tall structures were each prostrated beside each other, shiny and bright. Was this a mirage, he thought to himself now?  Perhaps they were indeed just dreaming a deep dream as the boy had suggested at first. He shrugged off that notion. A man certainly knows the difference between dream and reality. “Papa” the child finally spoke, disrupting the man’s thoughts. “Yes, my boy” he said to him, smiling. “What are they, papa, what are those lights?” Looking back in its direction, both of them, the man really did not know. “I’m not sure, my boy, but let’s keep walking towards it” he responded. “Ok, papa” the boy agreed. He was a good boy, an agreeable soul.

 

                As they were pacing towards it, there came out of nowhere and without warning now a great, big, massive explosion from the area of the lights. It was so strong that it shook the ground beneath them enough to trip them both up. The man turned around now, fazed, and lifted the child who was shaken by the whole ordeal. Both of them were now once again thrown into an anxious state, their peace having been ripped away from them by the cataclysm ahead. All along, the man had a strange feeling about this mirage, light or objects that they were heading towards. One should always heed the guidance of the gut and the instincts of the body. This whole experience had begun to make him question his grasp on reality. He didn’t know what the explosion was or what was to follow it but he asked his son to cover his eyes for a moment while he investigated. The boy, shaken and scared, did as he was told, beginning to crying once again. The man now turned around to witness something so grand and monstrous that he was frozen and became awe struck. A great, massive, fireball and billow of smoke and flame where before the lights and structures were, rolling up towards the sky, rolling inwards as it did the whole time, leaving a gigantic, thick, dark plume below it hanging as if it was a ladder on which the top portion was climbing up into the sky. His eyes, his mind and his conscience had never been as confounded as they were now. His mouth open, he could not utter a word, nor could he take his eyes off of it. He noticed now that it almost resembled a massive mushroom. The quaintness of its shape quickly escaped him just then as he now saw that the tall, shiny structures around it had been blown into pieces and were collapsing all around it, in every direction. Next, he began to feel something. He began to sense some heat and a warm draft hit him. It wasn’t long before he discerned that a force of some sort had begun to hurtle outwards and head in his direction from the fireball. If it wasn’t for the urgency of the situation, he might have fainted and collapsed. His son needed him however, and for that reason alone he would remain alert, however overwhelming all this was. Life is always worth fighting for. Especially the life of others.

 

            The force had become even more pronounced now. He could sense his hair begin to drift back, and his clothes too.  His eyes began to water now as a result of it and he began to smell something that resembled burning or charred wood. All of it grew stronger and more forceful, thicker, as he now began to discern a whole wave of atmosphere hurtling towards him and the child from all sides like a great wave conjured by a great storm. His heart had never beaten faster. His eyes had never been as open. His body was actually moving back a bit now, without his volition, and the sound of the incoming fury was immense. He faintly heard his boy now, whom he turned around to notice, was screaming, also being pushed back against his will, even faster than the man given his smaller frame. The man lunged forward now as fast as he could to save his boy, grabbing him by his arms and pulling him into his chest once again. And like previous times, he knew a great force was nearing that would destroy them if it landed and so once again, reactively, he placed his head and body down over the child on the ground, covering him up and bracing for impact. He was convinced that this time there would be no escape, and that this was truly the end. You can only cheat death so many times, and for so long.

 

            Sometimes when we wake from a dream, though awake, we still feel as we did in the dream. The worlds are merged, and the sensation is so unique we feel other than human, for a brief, split second. The man felt this precisely just now. Was he dead? Was he alive? Could he move his body? Did he have a body any longer? He heard his son crying now, which opened his eyes, and indeed, he was still alive, it would seem. Save for the cries of the boy, all was calm, silent and still. Everything that was just a moment ago, the great thundering and nearing force had once again vanished like a vapor, like it never was. He was overwhelmed by this recurrence and mystery of it all, this thing which had happened to him and the child thrice today. The boy too was overwhelmed, sobbing as his father tried to assuage him now. He tried to calm him down, sitting him up as he held him, reassuring him that everything was alright, that it would be fine, that perhaps he was right, that perhaps this was all a bad dream from which they would soon wake. The boy quieted down eventually, but kept whimpering, unable to any longer sustain himself in a comported manner. The man himself was in shock, too. Rationality has its bounds, and life seems to have none. Everything that had happened today was simply inexplicable. The man now began to wonder if he wasn’t hallucinating perhaps. Dejected, despairing, they both sat there. They were in a maze and could not find the way out. Hope was in short supply. What is life but a light in between two darkness’s? Darkness was beginning to close in.

 

             “Papa” the boy said to his father, hiccupping from all the crying. “Yes, my boy” the man said rubbing his face to become alert. “So we are dreaming?” the child asked now. The man looked at him, “maybe, my boy, maybe we are dreaming.” “Ok” the boy responded. The man looked on, disappointed with himself. “Papa?” the boy said again. “Yes, my boy.” “If we are dreaming, it means we are sleeping, right?” The man smiled, and said “yes.” The boy looked at him funny and said, “then why don’t we wake up papa?  Why don’t we wake up so we can eat and be happy again?” The man now stared at the child, inhaling deeply, then gently nodded his head. “Yes, my boy, let’s try to wake up. Let’s open our eyes, slowly.” The man held out his arms, gesturing to the boy to come to him. The boy smiled, and embraced his father, and they hugged affectionately once again. This time he was not knelt on his knees. This time was different. This time the man was seated on the barren soil.

 

            They had once again been walking for perhaps another hour or so when fatigue, hunger and thirst was finally beginning to set in. In fact the boy was now riding on his father’s back, who was clearly getting worn out himself, also without food or rest. The weight of figuring out just what was happening with the world, with their world, and how he would take care of his boy was taxing him. He stopped, bent down and told the child that he needed a break. The boy came down, and sat on the ground. The father laid on the barren soil once more, this time lying down completely. As he did, he noticed it was softer however than before, the ground. Next, looking up at the sky he noticed it wasn’t as grey as before. These things quickly perked him up. Looking around he now saw sparse vegetation around him which delighted him. It was the first real thing of colour he had seen in some while, save for the fireball, which was hardly endearing. “Papa, papa, look, look!” the boy now shouted with excitement, pointing away. “What is it, my boy?” “A tree, papa, it’s a tree!” the young child exclaimed proudly. The man looked in the direction now, squinting and his eyes couldn’t believe what they were witnessing. A full, luscious, Jacaranda tree in the middle of nowhere ahead.  The man shot up and onto his feet, grabbed his boy and they began pacing towards it, a slight skip in their step for once.

 

                 The closer they got, the bigger their smiles, as they noticed that it was a fruit tree. Under it now, the foliage grew more thick and dense before their very eyes and they stared in wonder at the great many ripe pears within its strong and solid branches. The boy chuckled, so did the man. Both laughed. He reached for a few, rubbed them with his hand and passed it off to the boy, and one for himself. They consumed it with gusto, as they laughed and smiled at one another. The man now became aware of another change in their surrounding environment. The boy noticed the look on his dads face change. “Papa, papa, what is it, you’re scaring me,” he pleaded. “No, no don’t be scared, my son” the man said to the child, drawing him in. “It’s just the sky, it looks different” he said to him. The boy looked on now, studying it, and then nodded. “Yes, papa, it looks white” he said. “It looks very white, papa, like milk!”

              The man was fascinated by the observation his son had made as he turned to look at him, nodding in agreement. “Yes” he said, “yes it does look like milk, my boy!” He grabbed his son’s hand and they walked out from under the tree and into the open. In the clear, they looked up and around them. Still no openings in the sky, but the colour was definitely different now, clearer, lighter, more pleasing to the eye. It was as if the whole sky was a white, floating sea of milk, just like the child had noted. Then the boy spoke again: “Papa, papa, look!” he said excitedly pointing to their left. The man turned and saw what had excited his son. It was another tree, not far off. They both smiled and laughed again and started walking towards it. As they neared it they realized this one bore no fruit, but they did not worry, for they saw several more ahead now spring up as they kept walking.

 

               Shortly after, the man began to feel warmth begin to emanate from above. He looked up, realizing it could only be from the sun. “Was it all returning?” he wondered. Normalcy, that is. He really had no idea what was happening anymore. The best explanation for today is likely a deep dream, or some neuroses or hallucination brought upon by an illness, or maybe a substance accidentally ingested. It has happened before. It all certainly felt real, however, but it was too ridiculous to have been. Wasn’t it? What were all those attacking herds from earlier? Apparitions? The lights and structures they saw ahead at one point and the explosion and oncoming force which followed it? The bizarre sky and the landscape, the disappearance of everything, and all the unexplainable phenomena of today?  “It must be a dream,” he whispered to convince himself. “A dream which I am still dreaming and cannot escape.” After all, a man certainly knows the difference between reality and dream after all, right. But what if it was not a dream? Then what could it have all been?  A glimpse, perhaps? Into what, though?  His mind began to inundate itself with permutations and possibilities, but none of them were much better than any other. He was growing vexed at his state of affairs, at his cognitive state, at his inability to control his thoughts and make sense of his reality. He was speaking to himself now, stammering disparate words and sentences and moving about erratically, like some mad man. Thoughts and notions were coming and going at the speed of light and he did not know which one to entertain. He felt his environment start to spin and rotate and in his vexation and lack of control he began to scream at himself, to himself, to the world, as if the world listens when man screams. And why should it. Does man listen when the world screams? The world is screaming today. And we are all deaf.  We’re too busy talking to ourselves, about ourselves, to hear anything or anyone else. The man’s screams now rang far and wide across the land, echoing across the plains.

 

                 “Papa, papa” he heard now as he felt someone tugging at his leg. Shaking his head and blinking repeatedly as if waking, he stopped and looked down at his son. “Papa” the boy said to him again, staring at him. He seemed disconcerted. “What is it” he responded, “what is it, my boy?” The boy stared at him. “What are you doing papa? Why are you screaming?” The man was confused, unsure as to what his son was talking about. “I’m not, my boy” he said, “I’m not screaming.” The child just stood still, looking at his father oddly. The man felt that something was off. He did not feel like himself, rather groggy and opaque in mind. They both stood staring at one another, in silence. Finally their stand-off was interrupted by the sound of birds. Both of them looked up now, just in time to notice a flock flying above them, past them, making a drawn noise as they swept the air and hugged the sky. The man’s head turned with the moving flock until all of a sudden he stood facing the bright, shining sun, and he threw his hands up reflexively to shield himself against its strong glare. As he lowered his hands, a moment later, and his eyes, he next heard the neigh of a horse. That sound slowly brought him back. Still heavy of mind and confused, he now began to recognize his humble farm in the Valley of Elea and realized where he was. He looked down at his son now, who was looking up at him still as if he didn’t recognize his father. “Papa, are you ok?” he asked him. The man looked at his boy, and eventually nodded that he was.  The boy smiled, faintly, and then ran away towards the modest home and barn behind them. The man could not make sense of it all. He felt forgetful, as if he had blanked out, or was waking from a long nap. He looked around, up and down the valleys that surrounded him, the pastures and farms of neighbours far and near, the river way up ahead beside the hills, and the grazing animals all over. He rubbed a bead of sweat from his head with his hand.  It almost felt as though he was returning from a long journey, but it didn’t seem that he had gone anywhere. Had he, he wondered? It was not possible. He could not figure it out. He merely stood there, looking around in wonder at his surroundings, confounded, fatigued and melancholy. Life is a bittersweet potion. Every day can’t be a bowl of cherries.

 

              A moment later, the man bent down and picked up his straw hat and placed it back on his head. He now took a few steps forward towards his humble abode and life and land, and his only son whom he loved and cherished more than anything else in the world. He had everything a man could ever want or need, save perhaps for a companion whom he had lost many years ago but longed for still. Life is after all an incomplete jigsaw puzzle. No man can have every piece. Nevertheless, he had his fair share, this man. Hopefully he would not want more than this. Anything more would be ruinous. Death and decay begin when we want more what we don’t have, than we do what we do have. And what is life but earth, air, bread, water and one another. He had all these things, this man. Will it be enough, for him? This man stood at the Dawn of Time.

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08.12 | 10:21

Good reflexions and philosophy
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25.01 | 13:17

Profound with a lot of philosophical insights. I love the admonition of never abdicating the future. Thanks for sharing.

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06.07 | 17:41

Wow, this is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. Love & Peace.

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19.03 | 03:49

Amazing to read and thank you for some beautiful insights.

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