Time to cross the square
heeding gentle beckoning
of time calling grace
just timing my time
and yours to savor and chime
preparing our climb
This months photo challenge in square format from Becky is Time
Rummager of times
Memoirs mimics mimes
(A Collage of this blogger)
As she Shines
One day he passes
shinning water full of life
transformed in the light
Genesis 1:3-5 The Message (MSG)
God spoke: “Light!” And light appeared. God saw that light was good and separated light from dark. God named the light Day, he named the dark Night. It was evening, it was morning— Day One.
hard to restrain art
Toy plane edging and yet barred
Futile attempt marred
my front yard’s sunset floating
I took this photo on 20151229 again in a hurry one evening in California. The place is a must see site because of its famous reflection of beautiful and colorful houses on water. The panoramic view did not turn out well as I was using an older Samsung then. But the static single shots were good. This one is my favorite. Will I want to live in one of these mirrored watery homes? My answer is, “No, thank you.” I still love my own little park with the trees mirroring my life as they stretch upward towards the blue sky where eagles soar.
couples in love just dating
frame framed and framing
One day we went to this place for a brief break. It was a normal day with families and couples around taking their normal meals. I found the framed ceiling structure interesting for no particular reason and took some random photos. I remember we went at night but the photos now seem to show otherwise. Puzzling. Like life.
find the little fox
She is back. He is back. They are not relatives. But the two humans are not together. And yet they love each other.
It is like looking at this photo. You never know whether the photographer is climbing up the mountain or going down the slope. There is no clue. Perhaps you can detect the lonely depression induced by the season from thin trees with bare branches, the snow covered plants shaped like little animals scurrying on the ground, against a grey bland sky and the an overall mood of foreboding of the scene. But you will not know why the photographer went there and took this picture unless you were him. When he took this picture he was actually climbing uphill. It was mid-January.
They did not meet that time. She was too far away and otherwise engaged. He went alone and spent his winter like a lone wolf.
Now they are both back to one place. Same city. Same street. Same house. He is alone. She is alone. He is not married. Neither is she. They love each other. But they are not together. Why are they not together? A complicated riddle.
(I decided to post this blog after leaving the unfinished draft for a month or more. The shape of a lone wolf is too striking to be ignored. Other shapes of animals too. I like seeing living things in shapes formed by nature. I also added a little riddle here to ponder upon on sleepless nights.)
minding our business
looping comes from flying tram
motion froze in frame
I took this shot at a train station. The two “photographers” appeared suddenly while we were waiting for the train to continue to the next stop. While they were setting up their gears on ground I took this photo. I never knew what they were preparing to shoot. But it is a reflection of life. Whilst we are busy making art (or substitute any word you want) we become the art (do likewise) itself.
not knowing one day
life’s spotlight finds him so fine
easy breezy morn’
casual stroll on garden’s lawn
hearing unseen fawn
I took this picture last September in a small scenic town in California. Morning walk was often full of surprises. One of the many pleasant encounters was little animals. Yes, even fawns.
This dawning alone
flying solo not forlorn
painting world beyond
This picture is unedited. I used a Samsung Galaxy and set the scene at dawn. It came out like a painted picture. The bird at the right corner is a bonus. We never know what we shall get in life until we receive them. There is a gap between getting and receiving. I receive this picture without much effort. I woke up and thought it would be a good idea to take a picture of the scene outside my hotel and WhatsApp to my friend. And here is the picture. (Reduced from the original) A good start for the day!
Neither you nor I
musing poets to define
sky water divide
I took this picture last January in Reno. The sun, the cloud, the water and the grass were in quite a spectacular harmonious formation. Narrow and yet broad in the limitation of my phone camera. Quite a poetic inspiring place. My hair turned to gold in some pictures. I did this little haiku only when I look at the pictures now and recall the solitary moment without adequate words to describe then.
alien here I dread
print upon print I now thread
deserted I read
(After I wrote this little poem of a scene I took in US last January, I suddenly realize now of somewhat similar perspective in terms of man and nature left alone, expressed in two previous movie stories, both of which I had not watched. I googled and saw their brief reviews. The Revenant and Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. I would add that the ‘loneliness’ can also be felt in virtual space perspective. The word ‘thread’ is deliberate to bring out another kind of desert effect. Not a misspelt.)
in east and in west
dreaming green field blue sky feast
we have met at best
Look Upholding fast his dream
like snow-covered hidden stream
(please complete for him)
Sad sky with glum sign
many pauses many sighs
heart forlorn desires
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~”Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” He never wants to be a hero even though he recalls this famous first line from a text book of his childhood. This is a duplicate of an English town in the middle of the States. It is strange that a quaint little town brings back such a lot of memories of his very young days in England, or to be precise, London. He has often dreamed of that city after leaving her. He did not have a choice then. There was no provision for him to stay on after he returned from Paris to encounter a brief but very cold winter in London. He always remembers that winter morning. His boss called him in and announced the good news, “Here, have a cup of tea, one sugar? a spot of milk?” The boss was exceptionally civil that fateful morning. He had a spotless glass window room which signified his status. The single tree outside his window was bare and its friendly branches were leaning over and gently tapping the glass pane. “I must say that I am envious of you, going to such exotic and interesting places. But of course I have been to many in my own days…” So he was selected to go to his first posting overseas in a nation beyond many seas and oceans with limitless opportunities for a young executive. What better choice did he have staying in London? None. He stepped into the street as the boss decided to let him off for the rest of the day to sort out his thoughts and perhaps other matters. He was scheduled to travel a week later. He decided to pick just one priority, and took a metro to Charing Cross, the Foyles Bookstore. He collected all the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome and Collections of Giles’s cartoons. Then he left and had a cup of coffee next to the bookstore. That was his personal Brexit. Did he ever return? Yes, several times. But London was a foreign country by then. His childhood friend left and chose to live in a tropical city with her husband. They left for health reason. Will he return again? Perhaps, when days are brighter after the real Brexit. Is there any other city he wants to go back to? Yes, perhaps Paris. Not now though. He has just returned from San Francisco. Not going back for a long time. Is there no city he can go? Not Shanghai either. Not the big ones. Sad, but true. To be accurate, it had been: Lonexit, Paexit, SAexit, Shanexit…and to sum it all, Cityexit.
1 he sounded forlorn: unhappy, sad, miserable, sorrowful, dejected, despondent, disconsolate, wretched, abject, down, downcast, dispirited, downhearted, crestfallen, depressed, melancholy, gloomy, glum, mournful, despairing, doleful, woebegone; informal blue, down in/at the mouth, down in the dumps; rare lachrymose. ANTONYMS happy.
2 a forlorn garden: desolate, deserted, abandoned, forsaken, forgotten, neglected. ANTONYMS cared for.
3 a forlorn attempt: hopeless, vain, with no chance of success; useless, futile, pointless, purposeless, unavailing, nugatory; archaic bootless. ANTONYMS hopeful, sure-fire.
Snow refused to melt
like cards unrelenting dealt
queen to king her heart
none better than love-passion
seldom with ration
“It has to be love, doesn’t it? In however many of its infinite permutations?” “What lasts? Is there anything you’ve made in your life that will still be here 150 years from now? What does not last, if they are not retold, are the stories.” How true these words from a recent reading are. He ponders. When he thinks of all the events that happened before in his young life and hers he knows there is no explanation except love. Love binds their two hearts and spurs them to do things beyond their wildest dream. The union of their hearts and minds crystallizes into something dazzling and brilliant. If he is not telling their stories now whatever that they have together accomplished for which they have given so much of their lives would not last after they are gone. He wants to leave a legacy to his loved one. A legacy of their story.
opening in sky
often makes him wonder why
causing him to sigh
They end to begin
like trees shed their leaves to sing
revived renewed Spring
honor glory thanks
in accord they sang
still my favorite
two chairs one mountain and peach
color of your cheeks
*Namibia desert for two
Concealed and revealed
interspersed with love and pain
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~He decides to dedicate today to the subject of LOVE. On waking this morning he observes that the snow has melted and revealed dark foreboding jagged black rock, like he is suddenly going through a lesson on the description of rocks, including their color and surface shape, plus characteristics such as size, shape, and arrangement of the grains or crystals in each rock. The partially melted snow has cleansed the rocks. It is as if a giant painter has walked through this patch of the mountain and used his gigantic brush and drawn a pattern for the snow to turn into liquid and flow away so that the rock may appear and assume its place in time. He think of his own life that it too has been drawn and brushed and patterned by an invisible hand from birth to this dawn of the melting snow. He wonders what each rock had been before it becomes a rock. He wonders why he had not found a love patch in his own heart until he was twenty and met her, a young smart mature precocious girl of ten. He thinks of the eight years they have had mostly on an intellectual and spiritual connection and comradeship, relying mostly on technology to link up. She lives with her very exclusive folks and travels extensively for her study of draught and underground water. He lives with the convention, also traveling extensively round the globe to all premium conventions held and hosted by the Midas hotel chain. His friends deride him, “What kind of love is that? Love in the virtual world?” He has taken her advice and started to study building. The two of them are going to take care of two major concerns of the world’s poorest and most disaster-hit people groups: water and shelter. His boss taunts him by singing the Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha with daily rendition in full*. Is he taunted? No. Remember? He is a star gazer. He sees and focuses on one star and he is going after it, and he knows it is not unreachable. The name is called LOVE.
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause
And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star
come rest upon my heart now
gentle tender flow
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Everything is something it isn’t. He read this somewhere. People feared the unknown and worried about uncertainty of changes. A wall might not be a wall. A door might not open at all. Yet he knew in chemistry there is a state in which a process and its reverse are occurring at equal rates so that no overall change is taking place, for example, ice is in equilibrium with water. The boss worried that he had gone over his senses when he decided to quit his successful career and go after an illusive dream. “You only see the tip of the iceberg. You never know what lurks beneath the enchanted emerald ocean. Use your superb grey matter, young master, weigh the pros and cons.” The boss warned (possibly quoting from some oriental movie scripts which became his latest craze). He looked at the snow on this mountain and indeed he could not summarily conclude what really lied underneath the white cloth. Should he step on it? There should be a scientific way to gauge the reality of things hidden or supposedly revealed. On the other hand how can one judge love by scientific way? How would the trees know that the snow was coming and would cover the empty ground? But the trees continued to stand their boundary position when the snow came in the night. When the dawn arrived the mountain was demarcated by two colors: white and black, a beautiful natural equilibrium. No, he would not worry about the unknown. He knew her worth. She knew his too. Their love was in a state in which opposing forces or influences were balanced. (to be continued)
snow clothing with might
authenticity that tied
love so pure in sight
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.* He suddenly recalled how he used this line and wrote his first prose. He did not have access to this book then and read it as a quote somewhere. It invoked imagination now of what he would do when he re-visited his own life in time in the different dimensions of space like a layered cake through which he sliced, exposing its various perspectives, colors, smells, textures and ingredients: sound, sight, touch, feel, appearance, love, hate, happiness, sadness, success, disappointment, fulfillment, failure, good, bad, loving kindness, mercy, charity, selfishness, delusion, indifference, warmth, coldness, passion, hopefulness, disillusion, credibility, integrity, wretchedness, lowliness, lacking luster, mediocrity, grandeur, majesty, magnificence, clarity, excellence, stupidity, brilliance, despondency, desolation, elation, jubilation, celebration, melancholy, exuberance, blissfulness and contentment. At twenty-eight he had gone through far more than many of his peers. He was at least happy. He sometimes wondered what was beneath the thick cloth of snow on the mountain. What the snow tried to shield and protect. His life too had been a shield for many things. The convention service too was a shield for many. The participants came and allowed the artificial environment and near real technological simulation give them a pretense of greatness and well-being. Then they left and went home with a fully charged life battery for another year on their respective fast track. He never looked for reality in the convention hall. His verisimilitude was in her. There was no need for simulation or artificial intelligence. Life was not simulation despite the money bags in that game. Life to him was authenticity. Often he and his love exchanged audio recording of each other. He listened to her laugh. They were fresh and sparkling like the mountain spring that rushed down the steep ravine as he trekked up the mountain. He could hear her smiling as she talked, exulting optimism, expectation, expectancy, confidence, faith, trust, belief, conviction, assurance; promise and possibility. Love was a reality between them. (to be continued)
(*the one line quote is taken from Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye).
conspicuous sheer renowned
crystal clear for now
~~~~~~~~He did not know whether his story was going to be celebrated or regretted when it happened. it was certainly a love story which had a noble beginning. As a child he had always dreamed of grandeur, the austere grandeur of mountain scenery. That was why he became an amateur mountaineer when he was not conferencing and conventioning (his coined word). He bought his first set of mountaineering equipment at ten even though he was not allowed to use them. He did not get to climb a mountain until he was fifteen. By then it was a bit late as he was already involved in a distant uncle’s booming business of catering for large hotel chains. He graduated with an undergraduate degree in economics and took a second bachelor’s degree in physics. Instead of pursuing a phd in astrophysics he changed course to food science while doing a master degree in business management. That was how he landed himself in the convention profession. What had his first love astrophysics got to do with mountaineering? He was a star gazer. When he first met his love, he had the feeling that he was gazing at the brightest star, ever. Here are the adjectives that filled his mind when he thought of how she imprinted herself on his heart: graphic, evocative, realistic, lifelike, faithful, authentic, clear, detailed, lucid, eloquent, striking, arresting, impressive, colorful, rich, picturesque, dramatic, lively, stimulating, interesting, fascinating, scintillating; memorable, powerful, stirring, moving, telling, haunting. (To be continued)
Hitching a ride up
windy snowy mountain camp
needing fellowship ~~~~~~~He knows he cannot be alone for long. That is why he joins his friends sometimes as they drive up the mountain. They do not really understand what he tries to express in his words, photos, or even the actions of continuing to climb mountains. They retain their own perspective. He his. Does this mean he gets more lonely? He asks himself. The team efforts in camping and the warm fellowship, do they not mean something to his feeling? Yes at night after a hard day’s work he enjoys a beer or two sitting near the camp fire with pals with similar mountaineering interest, all sharing the goal of climbing up to the highest peak and nothing more. But he cannot expect more, like understanding why he is leaving their company soon and launching into the deepest and furthest wilderness alone. They do not mind the goodbye as they too travel often and a lot. But they cannot share his goal of a travel without a firm destination and away from any civilized help. “How can we ever reach you in time to help you?” They query him, and he just shakes his head. He has no answer. In a place with no modern electricity power it is impossible to connect. He will know how to reach his friends when he gets there, perhaps. But he does not want to give them false hope. It is indeed lonely when he ponders this thought of isolation over unknown uncharted waters. Will his love fail him if ever he gets stranded somewhere in the middle of nowhere? He asks in silence. His heart’s reply, “NO.”
aesthetics for raconteur
lonely connoisseur ~~~~~~~~~~~Many misunderstandings avalanched and snow-balled from all angles. He got tired of repeated explanation which he reserved for the very close ones and there were not few due to the nature of his profession. “Unbelievable.” Many shook their heads. His closest friend warned him, “AJ I wish you success in your new venture whatever it is, but you must remember you are not getting younger.” In his glittering world 29 approaching 30 is considered getting old. No one in his sane mind would start an entirely new field of study unless he was a failure and had no other option. Scientific study was so different from his management background. And he was already rising so fast and running so well. Why bother to change track? Being a mountaineer he knew of a different perspective that could only be viewed standing on the highest peak. Those who stood on the flat land could never see the majestic splendor and awesomeness of the beauty up there. He would not waste his time explaining anymore. He just had to forego even their friendship. He felt lonely at times studying after midnight poring over textbooks on calculus and analytic geometry, building technology, environmental technology etc. But he knew she would be studying too and her subjects were even more difficult and unfathomable to the laymen. The boss summed up nicely, “The things you do for love.”
esoteric love transcends
snow melded with sand ~~~~~~~~She gave him three years to complete a plan. “You need a plan.” The plan demanded him to pay a price. The price of time and efforts. He enrolled in a post-graduate study to learn how to make living shelter that can shield human (and other living creatures) from the fiercest winds, rain and flood. “Where we are going there will be wind and rain storms which you have never seen in your life.” She told him. Whilst she learned how to uncover water underground he learned how to build cover above ground. It was costly. He worked in the day and studied at night. Why did he agree to such a proposal? “Princess Turandot has charmed you!” The boss exclaimed. Because of the study, AJ no longer attended any night functions. He handled the day conference and convention and trained someone to do the night duty. Time was running out. He was 28 and she was 18. His mother was surprised and delighted. “At last you are doing something about your life.” She remarked with a smile. Interestingly the boss and AJ’s mother held two opposite perspectives. The boss looked at the power and glory that the world craved. AJ’s mother looked at the inner man her son was going to become. She had seen the hidden darkness that robbed the luster of his eyes despite the glitter of success in the material and fast tracked corporate business scenario. She had observed a change ever since the day he started a course on a new direction. He put on a new sail. His eyes positively gleamed with hope. He was in love. (to be continued)
Beloved come now
Sail away to blue beyond
Many fields to plow ~~~~~~ “How do you know you know her?” Boss asked. He didn’t answer. How does he know? He just knows. He didn’t give her the right answer the last time because she was called away before he could answer her. She shouted, “See you next time!” He returned the next year. She was there. She had grown a bit. She was seventeen. This time she stayed longer and they talked. Some names were exchanged and he discovered that she was his mother’s private student! His mother was a freelance private teacher/tutor who worked exclusively with those who could not go to the usual school. His mother had taught very exceptionally bright students. “What? You are that girl who is doing PHD study on four billion people with severe water scarcity on planet earth?” They exchanged email addresses and promised to keep in touch. Before she left she asked, “Do you want to play that guessing game again?” He shook his head. He said, “Maybe next time?” She nodded. She remarked before she left, “you know, you look old. Why are you so burdened and wearied?” He had no cause to feel old but he did. He thought about his life, all the 27 years. He could not remember a day when he was relaxed and happy. He thought of how in his childhood he had to move from place to place as he followed his parents. They lived in exotic places round the world where his dad was posted as a missionary. They put him in an English boarding school when he reached 13. Later his parents became settled in their respective second professions and by then he was already staying in college far away from home. Because he was a special child he graduated earlier than others of the same age. Perhaps that was why he felt old. He thought about what she said. The golden girl. She had a passion he could not understand then. She talked of dreams. She asked him to dream dreams beyond what he was doing then in the Midas Convention. “Look around you. What makes you know you are doing the right thing for your life?” He went back to the Convention and looked around and thought about his life. He could not sleep for many nights. She mentioned the 100 million homeless in the world too. “What are you going to do about it?” She asked. She was thinking about four billion people without water and she still looked radiant and fresh and full of hope. He suddenly started feeling cheerful and hopeful. There had to be ways to overcome. He wanted to be real too. Like her. That was how it all started. Their relationship. (to be continued)
He does not lose heart
burning flame consuming might
overcoming odds ~~~~~~~~~Against all odds, their love was. He did not see her again for five years. Meanwhile he worked day and night for the corporation without distraction. He did not have his own private life. The convention-conference business boomed as they partnered with tech-digital gurus who revolutionized the way people connect. Connection was no longer hindered by geographical-location constraints. The key word became connect, connect, connect. It still is today. The guests and participants came armed with their own social connecting machines in their palms, on their laps. Yet the gold continued to pour in because the modern corporate players mix business with pleasures. The Midas still had the edge over any virtual holiday resorts because it offered physically tangible reality of places and food and social connections. The boss was elated, “AJ, we have the best of both worlds: The location. The connection.” But AJ had his mind elsewhere. On the first anniversary of the encounter he went back to the beach to see if she was there, the little princess. But she was not there. Her folks took her elsewhere. On the second anniversary he went again but she was not there. Year after year he went, hoping to meet her again. He had found out that her folks were one of those oldest and rarest families who remained on earth after thousands of years. There was otherwise no information about them. They came in their own liner and private jet. But he did not see her with them. Yes, he waited for their landing every year but she was not in their midst. He could not explain why he went back every year for an appointment which was one-sided. He could not in his rational mind understand what he was trying to do and what he hoped to get in the end. All he knew was the first encounter with her impacted his deepest soul. Maybe he knew his life was to tie with hers.
On this March day when he was a month from his 26th birthday, he walked to the deserted beach again. The sea was calm and still. Gulls were feeding. He closed his eyes and listened to the wind. “Ahem.” She said. He turned and saw a young girl of about sixteen standing behind him. Her large eyes watched him with the seriousness of their first encounter. He recognized her. She held out her hands to him and asked, “Can you tell me what are inside my hands?” He thought he was prepared but he knew she would not expect the same answer. (to be continued)
Aiming for the sky
Crossing rivers and mountains
None too deep too high ~~~~~~She is not Princess Turandot but She has given him three riddles just as the boss has warned him. “Turandot will finish you off. Off with your head. Feed to piranhas. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, AJ.” The boss was now misquoting the playing card Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland). Boss also thought he was going to the Amazon. But AJ knows better. First, his princess is not Turandot. Second, he knows all riddles can be solved. Third, she loves him and it matters. She will not put him through a risk greater than what he can bear. When the riddles come he will be ready. He believes Love is on his side. On the other hand, he has to find and train a successor and hand over the business of the Midas Convention Hotel chain. He remembers the first time he came to this corporation which was conservatively named Goodworth Hotel chain. Convention hosting was only an auxiliary service for corporate or other organizational visitors who came in a group and might want to have their own official meetings. When AJ joined the group he saw the potential of a more focused and faster growing niche market. Studying the global trend in corporate training he saw what he could develop into a major hospitality market utilizing strategically located hotel he acquired. Like someone said, hotel is all about location, location, location. He did just that. Business boomed and they became a major player in the convention scene. Gold poured in. Their name was thus changed.
On the day AJ met his little princess he had already been with the company three years including part time as an intern whilst doing his postgraduate degree. He was chronologically young. But his real age was older and wearier of the drudgery of life. She said, “Ahem.” When he turned and saw her for the first time he knew he was entering into another world. That stretch of her family’s private beach was shinny and gleaming under the sun like they had been overlaid with billions of tiny specks of gold particles. Her hair, her eye-lids, her cheeks and her skin were covered with gold dust. He didn’t know whether this tiny golden girl was for real. He lost his words. “How old are you?” She asked. He had to answer, “21, this April.” “Old enough.” She said. She held out her two clenched fists and said, “Guess what I put in each hand.” He could see tiny bits of shinny gold dust stuck to her hands. “Golden sands?” He made his guess. She shook her head sadly, “No, in my right hand I carry honor, and in my left, wealth.” As she walked away, she said, “Try again next year.” (To be continued)
depth and height of love
beyond his comprehension
life long wild passion ~~~~~~~~~~
One thing she does well. She makes him think of his life. Is he really living the life of the greatness he is meant to become? Night after night he wakes and asks himself. The boss sums up a physical/material perspective, “You have come this far, don’t throw it away. None of us will be there to help you if you fail.” The glitter, the popularity, the high living, the nearness to the highest society ever in human race, the social and financial rewards, the admiration and praises, the power, all. So familiar and so much a part of him after ten years of pouring out himself into a profession at a time of many changes and practically with the right people with power and wealth crashing gates to become part of his world. The boss remarked with frustrations (and obsession with opera), “Don’t go and marry the princess Turandot.” (In a legendary time, at the square in front of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, the Princess, Turandot, is a woman of great beauty, but has a cold heart that is as cold as ice. She said, “Any prince seeking to marry me must answer three riddles. But if he fails, he will have to die.” This opera is the last opera by Giacomo Puccini.) How little does the boss in his ivory money-making tower know the depth, width, breadth and height of true love which can never be bought with cash. He has thrown away his own golden years since graduating with an Economics degree and later a Master of Science. Others call him a “golden boy”. It means he has the Midas touch. Their convention is no ordinary convention. It generates significant monetary income for all who participate as many successful spectacular business dealings happen in their midst. Suppliers and consumers alike. At 31 he has reached the peak of global corporate success. The first time they met she came with her dad and grandad. he was 21 and fresh from university. She was a precocious child of 11. Her folks were not part of the convention. They stayed in the same golden city but in a posher and more exclusive area. They had their private golden beach. He trespassed without knowing. This stretch of the beach was beautiful and deserted. He congratulated himself for having the good sense of looking beyond what everyone else looked. The bustling convention tired him and he needed a rest by himself. While he removed his tie and unbuttoned his Armani dress-shirt, he heard this loud “ahem’ behind him. He turned and saw her, a real-life princess, and yet there is something about her like a celestial being, out of this world. He turned red. (to be continued)
gaping mouth hungry belly
no time to tarry
~~~~~~~~~He has no regrets. “Come. Marry me.” She says. All the exterior signs say, “Don’t go.” His big boss summons him to HQ and offers, “Listen, you are making a big mistake. You can pick and choose a station if you want to. Why don’t you stay and be a partner and still marry that woman?” Pointing to the golden globe on his polished redwood table the boss says, “We have many cities for you to choose from. Anywhere on this globe. Top hospitality-convention centers. You have been to all. Just pick one nearest to her if she doesn’t want to relocate.” It all sounds nice, he thinks silently. But the boss does not know her. She has demanded a full time job with her and not with the boss. Besides, she is not going to stay in any city. She is going to the poorest of the poor. In fact, she has already been there and laid her ground work. She will leave for the deepest jungle and furthest place on planet earth thousands of miles away from any city with or without him exactly one year later. Don’t talk to her about money. She is leaving her folks’ palaces, oil fields, liners, privet jets and all. An author says, “Love comes and takes away your world.” Indeed, he somewhat understands this now. Love compels. Love demands. She is a woman who loves with fierce love. She loves to give love to the loveless. Looking down this snowy slope he now sees the long way down. But then when he first loved her he looked up and not down. Only way is up. That’s the direction he will henceforth look. She is always up there, not down.
heart melts like spring snow
waves of love surging and flow
in rhymes chimes and awe ~~~~~~~He waited too long perhaps to leave. The boss would not release him until he found and trained a successor. He could hear the clock of his heart ticking like a time bomb as he was running out of time. She had given him a year and no more to settle his affairs and go to her. The business at hand in the convention-conglomeration corporate fast-lane was booming and jam packing every bit of his life, now that every one knew he was leaving. “How can you?” They accused. They sighed. They shook their heads. “No, you are not leaving us!” His best clients begged. suddenly orders and bookings door-crashed and piled up and everyone was asking to jump queue and put ahead of the pack in time before he left. It was a nightmare as he knew there was no way he could handle all the engagements to satisfy everyone no matter how he juggled the list. “No, I am sorry, sir.” That was all he could say to each disappointed client at the other end of the phone line. One day the boss called him into his suite and made an offer which could not be refused, “Look, we are making you a partner. You do not owe us anything. We offer you 25% shares without any conditions and you do not have to pay a cent.” But he declined. His heart said NO. She said no. She was not going to wait for him. She gave her offer. She would leave exactly at one second after midnight on the 366th day if he was not there by then. Thus his and her story began. He wishes now he has not missed. Or did he ever miss? (to be continued)
reaching snow peak up this lane
beginning not end
~~~~~~~“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” He hears this quote in his heart. His story has not ended and he is still writing his life and hers. That phone call from her has started a journey in which the two lives like two streams decided to merge and flow into one mighty river. The year of re-scheduling his life, her life, was not easy and they had to juggle lots of stuff out of the window of heart in order to have room for another soul. The looming obstacle was the self who refused to budge not even for a most loved one. Many times he said, “Ok, I am getting out of here!” He meant to pack and leave for good. One big decision he made was to leave his profession. The corporation. Everyone was shock when he tendered his resignation. “Why?” They could not fathom why a rising star was to dim so soon. Little did they know he had seen another light, much much brighter. He had to travel to another land, leaving this bustling harbor behind, the five-starred hotel living, the hospitality-convention industry, the meeting with thousands of people who came for the high-flying time of their own lives, the mingling of great minds and dissertations, the nights and days of battering with words and thoughts, the eating, the drinking, the laughing, the talking. “So sad you have to end this!” His boss said. “You know, I am retiring soon. You will get your chance.” The boss was hinting that he would be the successor if he bothered to hang on for awhile. But his heart had made up and he was not going to look backward. “No, thanks. I am happy leaving, goodbye, sir.” So he left, and began. No, his story and hers have just begun, not one story but two, alas.
a hopeful morning
distant mountain gleams with snow
good omen coming~~~~~~~~It was her phone call that started it. It came in the middle of the day, right after lunch or before? He can’t remember now whether he had lunch that fateful day. The five-star hotel dining area was crowded with festive faces, limbs and trunks, meandering around piles of exotic dishes that surfaced during particular yearly festive events. It was not a place to receive her call but he had nowhere to hide as it was jam packed with heads and toes in every corner of this room. He stood still despite being pushed and crushed by shoulders and chests all around. He shouted at the top of his voice, “Yes?” He heard something shocking, he thought. “I can’t hear you, please repeat!” He heard again, clearer, one specific phrase, “Marry me.” He thought he was hallucinating. “What? Please say again!” He did not mean to be rude but it was an unbelievable phrase and he thought it had to be his own imagination. He checked himself, “Am I drunk? Or am I daydreaming?” Neither, his clear cool rational head assured him, putting a tether (alas, in vain) at the same time to thousands of hooves of horses running wild in his mind right then. “You have to marry me. I can’t stand this anymore.” This time he knew there was no mistake and it was her asking him to marry her. She was vacationing in her parents’ home at the tip of a tropical peninsular and he was thousands of miles away at the tip of a great continent somewhere, at a busy city harbor on duty indefinitely until he was scheduled to move on. “Ok, when?!” He replied. She said, “As soon as you can!” He remembered the thousands of times he proposed and she had rejected. “OK, please give me a bit of time to re-schedule my life! Meanwhile, here is the key to my heart, please handle with care!” A year later, they got married. Today, after many years he suddenly remembers this scene. Why? He is on his way up a mountain on this continent and she is again separated by another great ocean. He has never asked for his heart’s key to be returned to him. She is still keeping it, perhaps in her memory treasure chest. The snow has stopped and the distant hills are gleaming. Somehow his heart lightens and feels cheered as he watches them and he thinks to himself.
“Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get her back. After all, tomorrow is another day.” (last line quoted with a slight modification from “Gone with the Wind“)
the torrential rains on day one of their journey were an omen of things to come: portent, sign, signal, token, forewarning, warning, danger sign, foreshadowing, prediction, forecast, prophecy, harbinger, augury, auspice, presage; straw in the wind, (hand)writing on the wall, indication, hint; literary foretoken.
Not beginning’s end
tracks of white so pure and light
heavy on my heart ~~~~~~~An ice storm, following three days of snow has turned the tracks into sheets of glazed ice that shine and shimmer blue in the distant horizon. He begins another climb up the snow covered mountain. The tracks are unseen and he just has to follow by memory of another day, a day of sunshine and green trees. There are holes on the ground made by others’ footsteps. In some he sees water. The trees seem unreal with their green color sticking out of the otherwise empty wilderness. Some are rather young trees, even saplings. He knows he is in the woods. Distance changes when he walks up this slope. He knows where he is heading but he has to make some effort to get there. It does get lonely. After some years of traveling this life, he has asked himself, “Why am I doing this? Why am I not settling down like many others? What am I hoping to leave behind?” He recalls the first line of a book, “I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I’m old, and you said, I don’t think you’re old.”(Marilynne Robinson, Gilead) He is leaving a legacy for her. They do have a significant age gap between them though not as huge as that between the couple in the book. A gap of fifteen years. When they first met she was 29 and he was 44. He, an established successful senior executive in Wall Street, and she a young medical surgeon posted to a rural farming community. Their first meeting was impossible, like the meeting of aliens, like climbing this mountain on this Winter day. He knows he is not hoping to accomplish another miracle though he believes in miracle. Do not get him wrong, the mountain itself has no magic portion which can give him back his youth. Has he regrets over the life he has with his love? He seems now to have no words of his own. He recalls another quote from his favorite:
“What is pertinent is the calmness of beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it.”
“What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took?“
― Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
How to say goodbye
when he has not even left
many tears and sighs ~~~~~~~~~No, he cannot say goodbye. He has left too many of himself behind. On this particular day he climbs many thousand feet and sees this distant white mountain, so beautiful and enchanting part hidden by the cloud. The scene is most unusual as it is the last day of January and they are supposed to have snow. But the ground is dry and brown and bare. The river T. is still like a dusty long forgotten discarded old mirror. The distant mountain is gleaming white, covered in snow. But the mountain saves the day by its view from a distance. It is too late to go the other side and he has to satisfy himself by viewing from afar, imagining what it is like on the other side. He remembers once he went to her house, not exactly there, a distance away from her house, separated by a park and a lake. He parked his car at the lakeside, under the cool shed of a lone tree. It was an off day from office and he had nowhere to go but to be near her somehow somewhere. So he went there, knowing she was on her off day too after her 48 hours of duty as an assistant anesthetist in the operation theatre. She would be sleeping off the effect of the gases. So he merely stayed under the tree and thought of her. They had newly met and she hardly had time for him. But he was happy and in love. Even though he had to love her from a distance then. It was a wonderful day after all. She woke later and they went for a meal, just the two of them. How can he say goodbye now? He has left his jogging shoes behind. Or perhaps he has left his baseball cap? Or maybe he has left his many half-read books on her shelf? Or his unfinished manuscripts which she has been editing? Yes, he definitely cannot say goodbye. He has left his heart behind.
a silent goodbye
forgetting how they abide
snow covers his hers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~He still cannot say goodbye, even though he has packed resolutely and steps out and goes up this snowy mountain alone and in silence. Why begin another journey when he knows it will end anyway sometime in future? Often people ask those who travel. Why travel and spend your life there when you know you still have to leave the peak one day and return to base? He has no answer. He likes silence. When he has no words he stays in silence. It is like an invisible shield that covers him and keeps him safe. Sometimes he wishes he can become truly invisible. He can blend into the snowy scene and become a background to the trees. The trees are quite tall up the mountain. He feels so small like he has returned to his childhood again when he stands next to a tree trunk. Do trees talk? Or are they like him, silent? Well, he likes to think he hears them talk. When he is alone and the snow has stopped he can hear them sometimes. They talk in another language, as if they use code that sounds like the wind or the sound of water rushing in an invisible mountain river, tripping over hidden rocks protruding from the river bed. He talks back sometimes. Often he stays silent. He does not have words for them. These days when his heart hurts so much his words have deserted him and hidden in locked chest. His love has taken the key and he can no longer access them. No, he just cannot say goodbye because his love has locked up the “goodbye” word too.
leaving her behind
pondering saying goodbye
trees witness untie
~~~~~~~~~~~~~He does not know how to say goodbye. Packing is one way to distract the tinge of sadness and an unnamed uncertain feeling. He packs and unpacks. His room filled with stuff and gifts. He travels light but is still stuck with stuff which mean something to him, reminding him of precious memories. So he ends up packing, unpacking and re-packing. He tries to use the Reebok exercise steps to distract himself while listening to an audio book (Gilead, a novel written by Marilynne Robinson that was published in 2004.) He cannot still his heart because he knows he may not come back this way for a long long time. For months he has been walking and watching lives in this country like she has become part of him, the scenery, the people, and the lifestyle. Because of the cold he longs to leave this place. Yet he knows the cold mountain as a friend by now. It is such irony. He likes to stay and at the same time he wants to leave. So this morning he decides to take this walk to say goodbye to his friend. Whilst there are so many unresolved things in his life, he has learned to live the present moment with gratitude and a sense of resolution to move on that only a traveler may know.
time for reflection
heart’s compass has not failed us
true love’s direction
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Direction can be confusing even for a seasoned traveler. For a European continental driver like him traveling in US is more so as he is compelled to drive on unfamiliar lane, opposite to what he has accustomed to do. He has found the same with relationship. For years he has been on an old comfortable familiar pattern and now he is being asked to travel on an unfamiliar path for the remains of his days. There is no roadmap in love. A superior decision has been made for them. There is no option except to obey and go on this new and separate way, to the same destiny. He can choose the mode of travel but he cannot choose the company. He can choose the direction at a junction but he cannot choose the destination. He cannot even choose the time to get there as he has an appointment that cannot be changed. What can he rely on? His heart compass. Because this is a journey of love.
colors green and blue
always your favorite so true
a dress for my heart
~~~~~~~~~~~~~He remembers her in her blue and green dress. She dresses well. The colors of nature: the green grass, green plants, green trees, and the blue sea, blue mountain, blue sky. Often there is white space in between, like a white canvas background on which an artist has gently and richly added splashes of the colors of his heart, the blue and the green. Blue is for spirit. Green is for life. Spirit and Life. His love is so beautiful, filled with life and spirit.
Verses: John 6:63 New Living Translation (NLT)
63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Here is my heart’s plea
forever planted like tree
Never shall I flee
Where have I planted my heart? You ask. There was an old story that said a man left his hat wherever he went. It seemed to be his way to mark his past. It did not serve any purpose except perhaps to make the former loved one remember him. What a vain hope. She would at best cut it into pieces and throw it to the dogs.
I suddenly remember this story when I look at the trees planted on high ground. I am on this train journey to meet with you. Trees do not move. They stay where they are planted all their lives. I shall not plant my heart like a hat. No, I shall plant my heart like a tree. It will mean I have not really left. I have been planted. My heart fixed on my one love-you, no matter where I shall go again. My heart will not be moved.