Another conversation with Grief

Published: January 28, 2015

I had asked who you are, but most of your answer merely told me where to look.

“They speak of humanity, my humanity is in feeling we are all voices of the same poverty.” – Jorge  Luis Borges, Boast of quietness

“Can I interrupt?” the boy asked, and without waiting, he said, “I had asked who you are, but most of your answer merely told me where to look.”

Grief was pleased.

“Who we are, we don’t know. But we thought that maybe telling you about our whereabouts, we, too, might find out the answer.”

The boy listened. Frowns no longer tented on his forehead. And this time, there was something strange in his expression, and Grief was happy that it had not seen this emotion before.

“I need to know.”

Grief raised four hands, all in confusion,

“No. If you cannot tell me, then fill my mind, not one room, but all rooms, and not just the walls, but the floor and the roof, with each place that you have ever treaded upon. I will seek your nature myself.”

Grief looked again at the words, wondering whether the conversation was with a boy or a man. Time smiled silently, slightly away from all six eyes.

“Have you seen leaves whisper to each other? No, not in the wind but in an absolute still weather.”

The boy’s mind, with a freshly sharpened pencil, drew not fields or gardens, but parents who stood transfixed at the sight of their newly-born daughter, who looked equally stunned at the world of colour and light and two smiles.

“Have you seen when light splits into varying colours, we are the ones asking each colour to bend ever so slightly, so they can delight others, as well, as themselves. And you know when a man sins and regrets, that flavour that regret has, we are inside there, and after the man has had had a taste, we push him up, each time, because it’s a pool he falls into, often knowingly.”

A man is drawn sitting in a crowded room, and on an empty table, he holds in his palm, his moist eyes.

“Please wait,” said the boy, “can I continue this from here? I think I know where to look”

And he started,

“When a man loses his friend, and I mean a friend, both of you mix into each other and offer him Loss; a mould that he is compelled to use, either to build his strength or if he desires, to enlarge the circle of his past, so he can fit his existence inside there, somewhere, watching his lost friend, lost no longer, seemingly.”

Grief smiled, feeling its fingertips, remembering…

“And some think both of you can be made distinct in a man’s face, but, they forget that the eyes and the lips are so adept at hiding both of you. Maybe this is so because you’ve formed such a strange bond between them, which is why a sage says, the best smiles come from those who weep.”

And the mind drew a mild smile tearing its way inside a reluctant teardrop.

“And when eyes do what they are best at, close, and dreams step softly outside, you are the cook cooking up the cauldron inside the dreams, using a healthy amount of the person’s past, a pinch of fears and strong insecurities, and mixing it with a spoon of desire.”

Somehow, Grief silently touched the skin below the eyes, and the boy quickly added,

“Oh, there are some, who have not slept soundly for ages. Toil has them by their collars, every minute, and their eyes can merely blink, not close, and when they close, they sleep, not dream. And when they smile, a load is lifted, but you are the hands or the pulley doing the lifting. Each time they sigh, you are the weight of the sigh being expelled. You are in anything that makes it easier for them to live.”

The boy suddenly stopped,

“Is there anyone who actually knows you? Who doesn’t need these clues and cues?”

Silence slowly entered the arena, swaying both their thoughts to and fro, cradles in a cot,

“Yes, there are some who have not slept out of choice. They sigh, not out of exhaustion, but out of absorption, they smile, not for the world, but to the unseen. They pen incredible verses, and leave no signatures. The world laughs at them in the day and they secretly cry at nights, not at the injustice they receive, but at the injustice the world inflicts upon itself. They are so ecstatic at being misunderstood by the world and understood by their Creator that they go into bouts of silence, silence so sweet and so rapturous. And they are stubborn as toddlers when they are asked to come out. And the best thing… they will not share what they know because if you tell ‘a man (world) blind from birth who has not learnt about colours and shapes about these things for the first time, he does not understand them nor admit their existence’ (parenthesis added with love). These people not only know us but have permanent room inside them for us to live comfortably.”

The boy nodded vigorously, vertically adjusting the newly formed images inside,

“Anyone else?” he asked,

“Yes, every child and every man who is a child.”

The child knew he had finally asked a good question, because the answer posed several more questions, the answer of each he wanted to find himself. He thought his next discussion needed to be with honesty and innocence.

They sat now, all six eyes closed. And their sight, infinite, of course!

Zain Murtaza Maken

Zain Murtaza Maken

A teaching fellow at Teach For Pakistan, he loves to write and read.

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  • Imad Uddin

    You made the ending unpredictably complete bro…Looking forward to the next discussion… :)Recommend