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Sunday, 17 July 2016


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I sat down quietly on the wooden bench. It was an empty one, far away from the busy section of the park, a deliberate decision. It was my first time there. I watched the kids play with kites and paper planes. Some were dangling to and fro on the swing. Two toddlers were trying to seesaw on the paint-ridden metal cantilever, their moms helping them balance. They giggled and exposed their fallen front teeth. Life could never be full of sadness, I told myself. Somehow, their joy almost lit up a candle in my dense soul. My stare drifted to the teenage girls in skimpy skirts, taking turns to skip ropes. Their dexterity caught my attention; perfect timing, sufficient clearance–it was admirable. But my attention couldn’t be caught up so long. The memories I wanted to burry were difficult to trick with flimsy distractions. My heart was in plague, it was drowning me. I could feel the heaviness rising, taking the form of invisibility. Life couldn’t be full of sadness, I tried to believe.

I looked again in the direction of the seesaw kids. They were gone, now seated with their parents and family on the tender meadow, forming a circle round baskets of food and fruits. I saw joy in their laugher, I saw happiness. Life couldn’t be full of sadness, I wanted to believe.
“Hello, that’s my usual seat,” a voice from behind said. There was something about it– there was everything about it. It carried a note of tenderness and innocence. Being compelled to behold the bearer, I turned. She was an alluring damsel, slender and comely to look upon. She fitted into the category of the teenage girls skipping rope but there was a higher tone of decency in her, her youthfulness was untapped. I didn’t want company. I wanted to be alone; to sink in my thoughts, to hope for a miracle, to feel the plaguing monsters melt away. I looked straight again, hoping she’d vanish after my rude silence. But she wasn’t like smoke as I thought; she sat at the other end of the bench with me, looking so carefree and happy, like she owned the world, not speaking to me anymore. I felt like my privacy was invaded. I took a deep breath and exhaled silently. Life couldn’t be full of sadness, I consoled.

The sky was transformed into a beautiful orange shade, like molten metal spilled across a white canvas. The orange ball was sinking. I looked at the wonderful art delightfully, wishing it could melt my sorrows away. If only my joy will rise with it in the morning. I stared on. “What do you see?” That was the girl again, trying to be friendly, I guessed. Why couldn’t she mind her business? I didn’t know exactly what to reply, if to query her for staring at me, which I discovered she was. Didn’t her mother caution her about talking to strangers? I think she read my mind because she let me be. “I see orderliness,” I could hear her say, she was answering her own question. From the corner of my eye, I could see her starring at the setting sun. I cast a quick glance at her face and I realized I made a mistake. I felt electric pulse run through me. I could swear her skin was molded from chocolate. I could feel the texture of her chubby cheeks with the hands of my eyes. There was a glint of depression as she stared. I looked away after another deep breath. “I come here very often…to watch the sun set. It gives me a connection with my mom.” She spoke without looking at me. I couldn’t tell why I was rude to her, the same way I couldn’t eject the demons plaguing me. Maybe she was another spoilt kid from a broken home. Maybe she lived with a drinking father who didn’t want her to travel to the mom. My imaginations painted her so.

“Why?” I finally spoke after some minutes of silence. She turned and gave me a puzzled look–that innocence. “Why can’t you go to your mom?” I asked again. I looked at her face, her lips were curved slightly in a soft smile. “Because she’s in heaven. She died last month in the labour room. I lost a sister too.” The smile was still there on her well-designed lips. Suddenly, I felt like a bag of bones. I felt like a complete idiot. I felt so dumb. She had come here to receive healing. She had come here to hope for a miracle. She had come here just like me, to find a silver lining. Just like me. I felt terribly sorry and stammered out my apologies for her loss and my rudeness and she seemed quite understanding. I stopped seeing her as a distraction and gave her attention. Her calmness and tranquil aura was marveling. “Why the setting sun?” I asked her how that made her connected to her mother.
“One evening, we sat down here, eating pop corn and drinking coke. Together, we had watched the sun set,” she paused briefly and continued. “She said to me, I see orderliness up there; rise, shine, set–everyday. The human life is made that way too; rise, shine, set. But many don’t follow the order, they skip the second step. Don’t let the clouds dim your shine. That’s what she said to me.” I listened to her, I watched energy radiate from her, I got entrapped in her alluring aura.
Minutes turned to hours and new cords were forming–cords of mutuality. We both understood sorrow and pain, my yoke felt lighter when I shared with her. She gave me a reason to smile again, she gave me a miracle. I couldn’t believe there was any remnant of laughter in my soul again. It felt like a dream. The clouds were melting and I could feel rain drops in my soul. It was refreshing.

The halogen lights flickered above and came to life, ushering luminance into the darkness in the park. The rays filtered through the air particles and caused a reflection over some loose strands of her hair, making them glow round the edges. She was very beautiful. She was adorable. She was happy too. “I want to dance,” she said. I smiled. I was a good dancer but there had been no reason to dance lately until now. Life could never be full of sadness, I reminded myself. She pulled me up from the seat to a tango dance position. We held hands and danced to the blues playing from her cell phone–Hero, by Enrique Iglesias. The dance motion was simple but powerful. It conveyed a lot of unspoken emotions; it was an expression of mutual affliction, a celebration of resurrection. We rocked in unison, our bodies merging in an embrace. I could feel the electric pulse again, more electrifying than the first. It was just a dance, I told myself.
We danced until the music stopped. We kept rocking to the silence and it felt like forever should start there. Her grey eyes lit up and burned my sorrows. Her lips curved seductively into a delicate arc. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. The human body was a cursed chameleon: one minute, grief, another minute, excitement. I felt like water, taking the shape of the container. This was the only shape I wanted to dwell in. “You’re a good dancer,” she said, her voice barely a whisper, her breath like the scent of petals. Fire was rising in me. “You’re very beautiful,” I could hear my faint voice say. At 22, I thought I had grown past teenage nervousness but it was all coming back. “Thank you,” she replied. She looked at me; eyes wanting, lips waiting. Like a palm tree swaying to the rhythm of the wind, my face lowered into hers, merging, tasting, exploring, discovering, giving and receiving. The finest of words could not describe her sweetness. The electric pulses had become tiny sparks, delightful sparks. I steadied her weight with my hands, giving her slender frame sufficient balance. Just like the dance, I wished even more, this moment never ended.

But wishes were mere wishes and in fact, the union ended almost abruptly, beating my anticipation. She pulled off and wiped her lips with the back of her palm. She looked regretful. She looked the saddest I ever saw her. Tears rolled down her eyes. “I’m sorry, I...I’m sorry, I’ve never done this…” she sobbed shaking badly. “I...I don’t know what to say. I saw you…something in me came alive, like a miracle. I felt a connection…but not like this…I’m sorry…” she cried more and hastened away. My confusion increased. I took another deep breath and tried to steady my mind from the hard switching my system was going through. I went after her but she yelled back, warning me to back off.

I watched her disappear into the night, the same way I had watched my brother drown in the pool. That feeling of helplessness fell on me afresh, encapsulating my once gleeful atmosphere. I could hear the echoes in my head. Give me your hand! Billy please, don’t drown! Give me your hand! Help! Somebody help! The scene played for the umpteenth time in my head. Billy had boasted he had learned how to swim from his boarding school friends. He had come home on terminal break and we had sat by the pool cracking jokes, sipping Ribenna and talking about girls. He was just seventeen and so full of life. If only I had known he lied about knowing how to swim, if only I had known it was his way of making me feel he was ahead of me on that, I would never had pushed him into the pool. It was supposed to be a play, to watch him display his much bragged swimming skills. But he drowned. I couldn’t save him. Billy, my only brother drowned. Tonight, I lost something precious again. Life couldn’t be full of sadness; I hated the sound of that. I broke down on my knees and wept heavily for long minutes. I remained on the grass sobbing out my heartache in despair. I went home broken in pieces.

Somehow, I could feel a rainbow in my heart in the morning. Hope had to be alive. I prepared myself and summoned cheerfulness. Before sunset, I was at the park, same bench, waiting for—it occurred to me then, that I didn’t even know her name! I felt like a douchebag but hope kept me waiting. She was my angel; that was all that mattered. The sun set and night fell. I waited for hours but it was all vain so I left for home late in the night.
The following day, I was at the park again, waiting. Two weeks later, I was still visiting the park consistently. I never missed the sunset and the orange sky. I had faith, at some point, she would show up. It was worth waiting.

I had lost count of days after two months of her departure. Maybe it was meant to be so. I started to feel better about myself, ever cherishing the memory of the moments of that evening and all the great lessons she taught me. It brought light into my life again. I will not let the cloud dim my shine. I’ll move on, I will live again, I told myself. Life couldn’t be full of sadness. I started to feel the radiation from the park which I had blocked out all the while; the happiness and laughter, the fun and memories that was created for the future, I smiled to myself. “Uncle, can you help me fix my paper plane? It won’t fly high,” A little boy ran up to me with a wet paper plane. “Okay buddy, I’ll make a new one for you. This one is wet.” I walked to a nearby bar hut and requested for a piece of paper from the sales girl. I bought myself a drink too, just to appreciate the favour.  Folding a paper plane was very easy. Billy and I were always littering the compound with paper planes when we were much younger. I threw it into the air after folding and it soared gracefully. We ran after it, just to watch it land on the bench I had sat on. I picked it up and handed to the boy. The kid was joyous, he thanked me and left. I took my seat and sipped my drink in satisfaction. I felt happy I could put a smile on a face again. But something had caught my vision while I had picked the plane from the bench. It was the spot she had sat on some months ago. There was something on the wooden bench – a faint writing. I looked closely.
–Lily N. Morris
I could feel the tiny sparks again, it tingled every nerve in me. Her name was Lily. Finding her now wouldn’t be so impossible. The secret was in a single act of love. I knew somewhere deep inside me, she was waiting for me. I would find her. Merrily, I whistled the tune of Hero and walked home like the world was mine. Life couldn’t be full of sadness.



  1. Wow!Thank you Nickz... I pray nobody misses a part in the 'rise, shine and set' theory..

  2. This is just so beautiful. Despite the length, you've kept me glued and captured to the very end. Lovely piece.


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