Trying my hand again at sketches with a focus on nudes ; sketching to the tune of jazz.
I called the portrait « Resilience ». It is perhaps one of the traits that I favour most in human beings. Whatever we go through in life, a little bit of music, giving free course to our imagination and the exercise of our hobbies together with this trait allow us to go through many situations that we initially thought insurmountable. So here’s to resilience and to the great all at once soothing and stimulating effect of jazz.
She gathered the diamonds in a small cloth purse and gave a few phone calls to diamond merchants she knew. One of them who had helped her earlier invited her to his office in Deira. She quickly slid the cloth purse into her handbag and set off to the diamond trader’s office. When she reached she found him sitting in his usual corner inspecting a batch of diamonds. He beckoned to her to apprach and she sat on the bench facing him. He was surprised to see her as she had mentioned to him that it was the last piece of jewelry she was selling the last time he had seen her. He knew her to be a very resourceful woman however and was ready to see what she had brought him as she had been quite mysterious over the phone.
Nothing prepared him though for the sight of what she brought out from her purse. Huge pear-shaped diamonds that were worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars and a couple perhaps worth a million or two. He reached out for the diamonds and inspected them closely. Surely enough, one must be worth around two million and the other big one a million and a half. He looked again surprised as something caught his attention and he realised what it was. Some of the yellow coloured diamonds were those that were supposed to be sold at an auction before they had suddenly disappeared. He asked her where she got the diamonds and she told him she could not provide that information.
She walked out of there stunned and dismayed. He had told her he would not be able to buy the diamonds as they had been stolen from an auction. He had told her that there was someone else who could buy them but he would definitely pay her much less than what they were worth given their provenance. She looked down at the number he had given her and dialed it. The man answered and gave her an appointment for the same afternoon. She decided to take only some of the diamonds and passed by her home where she hid most of the diamonds only taking with her one of the two big diamonds and three smaller ones.
How did you do it, was his first question before he even greeted her.
I did nothing she answered. I got them from a friend.
Of course, he sneered, beckoning to her to show him the diamonds
He took the larger diamond from off her extended palm and whistled.
I’ll give you four hundred thousand for this one he said.
But it’s worth more than a million
When you buy it at an auction, maybe but down here it is only worth that much.
That’s very little
I’ll tell you what. I’ll throw in an extra hundred thousand because I feel you’ve got more to show me.
I don’t have much. Only two or three
She laid the diamonds out on the table and he picked them up quickly.
I’ll give you hundred and fifty thousand for these three he said
Sure she said. She was glad she had not brought the other ones with her or she was sure that he would have downplayed them even more and perhaps given her that same amount for five of them.
She carefully counted the bills he gave her and he put the diamonds in a safe behind a portrait on the wall. She was still stunned by the combined effect of finding out the diamonds were from a heist in an auction house and of how much less they were worth now because of that. She realised however that she had a handsome amount in the big bag he had given her that would pay the bills. Now the problem would be how to pay in cash for the medical treatment of her son. She would need to get the money moved into her bank account and that would cost her an extra 15% she thought gloomily. She dialed the hawala dealer Ashok and sure enough he confirmed he would be charging 15% for the transaction.
A few hours later she was looking with great satisfaction at her bank account balance that had increased by several hundred thousand.
She sighed and thought to herself that she would need to summon the Marid again to ask him why he had chosen a heist instead of just creating the diamonds for her. She set the candles around her and summoned him using his special name. He appeared in front of her and seemed to know what she had on her mind. She explained to him that he could not simply steal jewelry and give it to her as it was not simple to handle. He told her that he could not create the diamonds from nowhere. Either he got them from somewhere or he got the energy necessary to create them. He told her that if she wanted him to create them then she had to provide him with enough energy. When she asked him how she would do that he answered that she could grant him energy in a condensed manner by giving him several months of her life. She stared at him, realising what he was suggesting and asked him to leave. She looked at her laptop where the amount on the screen was still visible. This would last her a few months of treatment but soon she would have to think seriously about his proposal.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend – Marilyn Monroe
From the day she had heard the terrible news about her son she was distraught. A few weeks after the initial diagnosis she had realised that the insurance would not continue pay the costs of the treatment. They paid only for the chemotherapy but not for the stem cell transplants nor for some of the blood and platelet transfusions. She had wondered where to get the money and had been desperate initially as her salary would not cover such huge costs but ultimately she had made up her mind to get the money by all means.
In the beginning she had sold off all her diamond jewelry she had acquired over the years but when that was not enough, she realised she needed more of the same as it was a very easy item to sell. She was unable to borrow any money or jewelry from her friends and had no family left to help her so she found herself in a desperate enough situation to resort to thinking of stealing the jewelry. She was no professional thief, however, and realised that most jewelry stores had too sophisticated security systems for her to be able to do anything without being immediately caught.
It was then that she remembered her knowledge of magic and of ancient spells to invoke beings that could be of use to her. She had quickly taken out her book of spells and found the one that invoked a powerful being which belonged to the class of jinns. It was called a Marid and was believed to be able to grant many wishes as well as to materialise items from one side of the Universe to the other. She ran to the local store and bought the candles required for the spell : six red candles, six white candles and six black candles. She disposed them around her in concentric circles, the black candles first, the red second and the white in the middle.
Within the first circle she put some drops of what was called ageing blood (menstrual blood) to attract the jinn into the circles, within the second circle she put a few drops of younger blood which she had taken from the small wound in her thumb where she had pricked it and within the last circle she drew the protective circle of rosemary, amber and frankincense based on the extracts of these items. She sat in the middle of the circles and recited the incantation « Allah shaoufni barooh shou matnakkar kamir » six times. Shortly after that she sensed the presence of the Marid which eventually whispered its secret name to her. This was the name to be used when calling upon it for services and it accepted to be bound to her ring.
After the ceremony, she carefully noted down the name of the Marid who had appeared and promised to herself that she would invoke him in a few days when it was the blood moon. The night of the blood moon, she wore the ring and disposed the candles around her. This time she only needed white candles as the initial summoning ritual had already been performed and this was only a call to the Marid to connect. The Marid answered her call immediately and as the wish formed in her mind, she watched amazed as her wish materialised into the circle as several beautifully cut large pear-shaped and round shaped diamonds.
She gathered the children around her and asked them if they would like to hear a bed-time story. They were thrilled at the prospect and huddled closer. She took the youngest of the group on her lap and started the story. Soon enough the children were all sleepy and she had no trouble taking them to bed where she tucked each one of them in. She smiled at them though her heart was sinking. Soon they might not even have a place to live in anymore.
She took out her laptop and looked desperately for an answer. She had sent emails to all the people she knew including the office of his holiness. She browsed hopefully including in her junk emails but there was no response. She knew that most people would not be at their homes during the holiday season but had hoped against hope that someone would be there and would help them out. She looked at the children. They had grown since she first came and the youngest had been just a baby at the time.
She could not think of what would happen if they were not able to find the funds to keep the house. The more she thought of it the more it seemed hopeless. She realised that even if the landlord did not chase them away, they would still not have money to survive. What was she going to feed them ? For the first time in years she doubted her faith and her mission on earth. How could it be that while so many were enjoying themselves at Christmas the children should have noone to stand up for them ?
She clasped both hands in prayer and looked up at Christ on the cross on the wall in front of her. She closed her eyes and pleaded or mercy. When her prayer was finished she went out to buy bread for the next morning. She felt so tired and desperate. She wished she had kept some funds aside from the previous job she had before she had decided to become a nun but unfortunately she had donated everything to the Church just before she had taken her vows.
She did not find the usual shop open but saw a small shop at a corner where she had never seen one before. She thought it strange that she had never seen it before and that she had not heard of a second shop opening in the area. The shopkeeper gave her a dozen baguettes and added some cheese. She told him she did not have enough money to pay for the cheese but he shook his head and told her it was on the house as it had just been Christmas. He added that he was just sorry he had no turkey left to give her.She smiled and thanked him telling him that the children would already be thrilled with the cheese.
Just as she was about to go the shopkeeper gave her a lottery ticket telling her it was valid for the New Year and he hoped she would win something. She told him that she did not think it was appropriate to gamble but he assured her that as she had not paid for it, it was not gambling and that besides, God always worked in mysterious ways so why not in this way. She thanked him and returned to the orphanage. The children were all fast asleep. She fell to her knees again in prayer begging the Lord for mercy. These children had already been through so much and she wished would not have to go through the process of having to find a nw orphanage again.
She spent the whole week in prayer every night and tended to the children during the day. They were happy to be with her and oblivious of the fact that soon they might be separated perhaps forever. The first day of the New Year, the usual shop was closed and she was surprised to see that the other corner shop was open again while it had been closed during the whole week after Christmas. She went in and asked for a dozen baguettes again and the shopkeeper gave them to her smiling. He had a well-trimmed beard and his eyes were full of kindness. She wished there were more people with such kindness in their eyes and hearts.
How did it go sister ? he asked softly.
How did what go ?
Oh, I did not check it. I think the ticket must still be somewhere in the bag where I had put the bread
Maybe you should check it
Something in his voice and demeanour seemed so familiar. She promised him that she would check it once home and he gave her the winning numbers on a piece of paper. She returned to the orphanage and fell on her knees in prayer again. She was getting weary as nobody had responded to any of her emails yet. She remembered that she had promised the shopkeeper to look up the ticket and so she checked the numbers. She had to look twice as she could not believe her eyes. She seemed to have won the jackpot. With trembling hands she folded the paper and tucked the ticket into her pocket. God worked indeed in mysterious ways. She clasped her hands in prayer again and looked up at the cross. The Christ was no longer there.
She looked around her. Everything looked exactly the same as the other days but she knew that she had shifted again. Nothing else than the small difference usually identified the shift but here it was much more marked. Many events in this reality were different from how she remembered them. After the first discrepancy she had searched the internet and identified several other discrepancies. She was convinced by then that this time she must have jumped several parallel universes to land in this one.
The first time it had happened she had brushed it away on the account that her memory must be failing her but when it had happened again and another of her friends remembered the same event in a different way than how it was supposed to have unfolded she had then been convinced that she had somehow jumped into an alternate reality. Since then, every time she identified a discrepancy she knew that she was in an alternate version of her reality where only slight changes had taken place.
Slowly but surely she had become able to identify the very small differences in her own life that then confirmed the fact that she was in a parallel reality. Something inside her knew with certainty that it was not a physical leap as much as it was a consciousness switch. It was as if her consciousness which had vibrated at a different level the day before had then syntonised with a new level of perception and therefore blended into a new reality. Everything around remained the same but for a few changes and while she first identified this by major different events, her confirmation always came from the small differences in her own life.
She thought back to the first time it had happened and realised that it was following an intense session of meditation that had involved kundalini activation. The awakening of the kundalini had put her consciousness in a completely altered state and she had felt vibrations go through her whole body. The next day when she had awoken something had seemed strange and she had then discovered the first discrepancy during the day. After that, every day of intense meditation had been followed by a day of shift into an alternate reality.
She realised over the weeks that she was now moving into a reality that was so far removed from the original reality that very few things remained the same as they were perhaps meant to be. She looked at the photographs of herself and her friends and sometimes she could not remember the details of the moment photographed. When she searched hard enough though she eventually found the details but it was as if she was searching in another person’s memories and not her own. She had realised that consciousness was so designed as to allow one to access streams of it even if those streams belonged to someone else and defined their memories.
During one of the incursions into the consciousness streams, she had come to realise that she could use the energy of the kundalini activation to direct her shift into a reality that she would be more comfortable with. After a few trials, she was starting to get the gist of how to make it happen. She realised that it required a concentrated effort of mental projection into the altered reality the day before the shift and immediately after the kundalini meditation. The only thing that was a bit disappointing for now was that she was not able to move into a substantially different reality all at once but it had to happen gradually.
The first time she had tried she had been quite ambitious and tried to project herself into a reality where flying cars were an ordinary thing but that had not happened. Instead there were just a few advances in the field and some drones as well as a couple of prototypes that were functional but nothing at the large scale she had hoped for. Over the weeks she had gotten used to the fact that things could not change drastically but only gradually. She had however kept her ambitious plans in mind although in a different way and she was now aiming for a world without illnesses and free of poverty. She concentrated shortly after the meditation and imagined how such a world would be. Her mind filled with mental images of such a world. She smiled at the thought of it and closed her eyes. Tomorrow would be the first day of the new shift.
The rhythm is that of the wind against the fallen leaves like a banshee wailing. Her mind syntonises with it finally as she picks up pieces of the shattered glass in front of her. There is no saying how much time the wind will continue to blow relentless. Her mind blows with the wind, flying high in the sky gathering momentum. At the same time her body continues to mechanically operate on its own. She carefully stacks the pieces of shattered glass in front of her and starts her daily work of repairing the window pane again.
She must have repaired it a hundred times yet every sunrise, the storm strikes at the same place again with the tree breaking through the window instantly killing her husband yet another time. Every day she wakes up again with the agony of knowing that she will again witness the scene of her husband’s death. The torture of knowing that initially numbed by the pain of his horrific death all she will be able to do is pick up the pieces of the shattered glass and start repairing the window as if to negate that it happened at all pursues her daily. She lives dreading the moment of initial sunshine which once made both her husband and her so happy.
She realises that she will never be able to grieve the loss of her husband as by the time she has finished repairing the window it is night time again and she falls asleep, exhausted. The first days that it happens, she does not remember exactly what has occurred but is only left with a sense of foreboding. Upon waking up that sense of foreboding slowly grows throughout the first week although it remains quite hazy. As time goes by , however, memories of the day before play back with excruciating precision.
She usually wakes up already knowing what will happen and totally helpless as she watches the events unfold. All she can do is repair the window in a wild and desperate hope that the next time, maybe at least once, it will not give way as the tree comes crashing through. Some days she would work her fingers sore until the nails almost peel and her fingers bleed and yet the next morning she would wake up to perfectly manicured fingers, her stomach tense with the knowledge of the oncoming onslaught.
Her mind soars higher as her fingers work swiftly repairing the window pane. She feels the moment when the night descends softly around her body that falls back on the bed. She watches as she lies almost lifeless her breath ragged as she struggles to overcome the sleepiness. Yet the slumber slowly overcomes her and her breath becomes more peaceful. It is the darkest point of the night now. Soon the killer dawn will strike again. She watches the body of her husband turn around and embrace her body.
Something inside her chest expands and she feels it stirring her body as she looks onward. The sun is about to rise and the winds are still howling. Her mind continues its wild jig with the winds. She knows that as the sun rises the storm will pick up strength and the tree will fall over breaking through the window pane. Her mind stills itself as the winds continue howling. The first rays of the sun pierce the horizon.
She opens wide her mouth and as it slowly rises she finally swallows the sun and the storm slowly loses its strength. Darkness falls all around as heat scorches her mind. She can feel the light exploding throughout her skull. She clenches her jaws as her mind maintains its stranglehold on the sun. The tree never moves again. She rolls her tongue softly over the blisters on her tongue. In the darkness beside her she can hear the soft breath of her husband. She utters a soft sigh and turns toward him holding him tight.