Monday, December 30, 2013

Listening to the Wind

I think I know what's been wrong with me. I think I've been afraid to feel anything for the past three years. Sometimes, rarely, something breaks through and then I start to sob. It might be the picture of somebody dead on the news, dead in Syria or anywhere else. It might even be an emotional scene in a movie that slipped past my guard. I committed not to watch anything intellectual, or emotional, or that might make me feel connected to the universe again. Instead I drown myself in stupid and shallow films, the crasser the humour, the more outrageous the storyline or action sequence, the better. I lose myself in the garish obscenity of popular culture, and joke frequently, too frequently, with colleagues and loved ones. I don't want to talk about the serious stuff. Nobody wants to hear me talk about how worried I am for my family all the time, or how upset I am about the way an entire country I cared about can go down the toilet. That would just make me a bore. So instead I pretend as if life carries on. It does, I know it does, but a part of me refuses to accept that. After all who would have thought any this was possible? That any of this could happen? We were just boring, normal people trying to get on with our mundane lives. And to think there was a time when I bemoaned the uneventful pace of my life. I had felt like my life was slipping away and I resented it.

Now it's still slipping away, and many, many things are happening. But it's still slipping away, that is the only thing that is certain. I look in the mirror and see a tired face. Somebody with a lot of memories, a lot of regrets and a lot of dashed hopes. Is that pudginess just from having awoken from sleep or am I getting fat? Who knows? Who cares? The hair is getting grayer, thinner. The house is still empty. Everybody I loved and wanted around me is thrown across the globe. We were never asked about this. Nobody asked any of us if we'd like to live where we live, and if we had actively tried then we wouldn't have been able to, what with visas and travel restrictions and the lack of money. And yet somehow, here we are, scattered across three continents. And as if that wasn't enough, we see the people we loved and shared life with also getting scattered. We gradually grow apart, in spite of teary goodbyes and promises to keep in touch and return. But some of us know that we aren't going to return, that the life we knew will never come back because it is gone forever. If we were to go back to those neighbourhoods we would find the houses inhabited by strangers, the shops closed or changed. An uninviting, cold reception, as if there had never been warmth and giving there, and as if all those memories never happened. We have a saying in Arabic, your waters here are finished - it is time to move on. A long time ago when the water ran out somewhere the tribe simply moved on. How many lost friendships and loves were erased in the shifting sands of our past? How many promises to return, tearful goodbyes, and broken families and loves? As many as there are particles of dust. I like to think that if you listen to the wind closely enough you can hear every single sigh. I listen with reverence, because I know that one day it will carry mine.

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