The Frost Chronicles: The secret world of the marid part 2
12 January -8 February 2020
She stared at the Marid who despite being right in front of her now still seemed like a towering giant. She wondered if her ears failed her as she could not believe what she had just heard. Did he really say daughter? She looked up at the cloud surrounding the haze which was his face.
You profess to be my father, she said in a voice that surprised her by its steadiness despite how shaken she was feeling.
I do not profess to be. I am, answered the marid.
I have a father of my own whom I have known since my childhood
I do not wish to remove his trace from your memory but he is not entirely your father
What do you mean not entirely your father?
It is something that your kind finds difficult to fathom. You see, your mother was married to your part-father but her heart had been promised to me within dream. She was my chosen one. When your moment of conception had come, I was within your part father and together we created you with your mother’s egg, your father’s sperm and my spark. What your kind never realizes is that the spark is stronger than the rest. Those of you created part marid can never deny your kind even if your part-parents may do so. You bear like us the gift of the sight beyond time, beyond matter.
She felt several protests and questions rising to her lips but she decided not to voice any of them. Somehow, somewhere inside her, the truth of what he was saying was dawning upon her. She had always known her father was not exactly her father and there was something different between her and her siblings. At every difficult moment she had gone through in her life, there had always been some sort of magically prepared way for her to be out of the quagmire she was in. She always knew it was no coincidence but she had a hard time realizing that it was her father from his unseen realm pulling the strings of fate in her favour.
Why do I not live within your world? she said after realizing that the marid was somehow reading her thoughts.
The djinn are not very welcoming to half djinns, he said. They fear them as they believe that humans are out to exterminate them. They do not realise that we can live in peace alongside each other as long as none fears the others.
You mentioned that half breeds like me bear the gift of the sight beyond time and matter. Do you mean I can predict the future as well as see what could have been changed in the past to avoid a certain future
Yes but it is a gift to use wisely and not to change things that would then make the future balloon out of control.
Why is it that I cannot see my own fate and future then?
That is because you are not transcending your own future. You have a sense of what is oncoming because of the deeply developed six sense that you have owing to the part marid nature of your DNA. You have, however, chosen to occult it owing to your fear of seeing beyond the creation of yourself. Indeed, if you were to see your future and given your current fears, it would be like an addiction where you would want to see beyond that future which represents your death and you would pass a kaleidoscope of images and sensations that would pertain to all the lives you’ve traversed until your reaching this birth. Given that all part marids are also powerful empaths, you would be condemning yourself to a great amount of torture just by passing through any of those kaleidoscopic lives you traverse if there had been any addiction or brutality within those lives.
I have a feeling I have done this on more than one occasion and I almost lost my sanity. I guess I should work more on the element of transcendence. I always thought that transcendence was the ability to reach stillness and start seeing everything from the point of the inner observer, thereby being out of time and out of matter.
It is that on a certain level. If you are, however, laden with fears that you have not confronted such as traumatic events in the past, then you never reach the proper level of transcendence. You only are at the fear based level and your attachment to your bodily presence enslaves you to see just one version of the truth instead of seeing it in its entirety.
How do I attain transcendence then?
Face your fears first, both known and unknown. Once you have done so, call upon me and I will let you know the true way of transcendence.
She nodded and he disappeared instantly. Inside she could feel welling up a thousand years of knowledge accumulated within past and future lives entering her mind. She could create items and sell them for a reasonable price using all the knowledge accumulated within her. If she created enough items from future thought that should pay a heavy reward and it should be an easy thing to do as she knew how to look into both the past and the present. She did not need the first marid’s help anymore. She vowed, however, to get to know more of the marid world as it was partially her world too and could help her belong to something finally.
Months had gone by since she passed away yet the memory of her wane face was still imprinted in my mind. I was in Egypt when she died and my brother and I were by coincidence in the same neighbourhood in Cairo when we got the news. We both tried desperately to get back to her to be in time for the funeral but I was only able to catch the evening flight the day after she had passed away. Our family members had delayed the funeral so that we could attend. I arrived almost the morning of her funeral, weary and still in shock. I was still unable to face the reality of her demise. Later in the morning, I sat by her side still numb with the shock of the news of her death. She looked so frail wrapped in her light green and white saree that she used to like. The lady who tended to her had wrapped her in it and it was tightly secured in a few knots over her head.
I asked my aunt if we could unwrap the top as I wanted to kiss her goodbye and my aunt unsecured the knots uncovering her face. It was pale, thin and drawn. I kneeled and put my lips to her forehead and the moment I did so it felt like a dam had opened up in my heart and the pain seared through. The tears flowed down my cheeks uncontrollably as I kissed her forehead and held her. After a while I regained composure and sat beside her as other members of the family moved around arranging everything for the funeral. People came and went offering their condolences and asking me if I remembered them but I recognised none, my mind blank to any memory of their faces. I don’t recall much in the days that followed, except for the aching sense of grief that would not leave. I could not believe that she was gone and I would see her no more.
She was an ordinary yet extraordinary woman. She had lived a difficult life after she had married my father and joined him when he had wanted to return to his home country. Ostracised, unable to speak the language and to adapt to the surroundings she was not used to, she had concentrated all of her attention on us, her children. Later, when she had returned to her home country, it was always visible that the experiences she had lived during that period away from her home had significantly marked her. She remained despite all the hostility she had faced a woman with a positive heart and a desire to always help. I remembered warmly now – although it would drive us crazy when she used to do it while we were young, how she used to gather all the stray cats that had been tortured by some awful kids in the neighbourhood and slowly nurse them back to a healthy state.
She was a beautiful woman, not just outside but also inside and her thoughts were always about how one should be a better person and make the world a better world. She believed in the virtues of kindness, respect, caring, independence and equanimity. She lived her vocation in all aspects of her life. A nurse by profession, tending alternately to children with severe diseases or to third degree burn victims, I remember how the patients would talk of her with praise and gratitude. It was not that she was a soft woman as she could be really tough on us sometimes, having spent several years taking care of us on her own. It was that she truly cared about others and was a nurturing human being. It was not by accident that she had become a nurse, she had always wanted to help others hence her choice of the medical field.
I returned to my daily routine but felt listless as if something had been broken. I realised that it was because with the death of my mother a whole aspect of my life was disappearing. When we lose our mother, it is almost as if the last link to our childhood is broken. Mothers are so emblematic of those times of innocence when we could huddle up closer to them and feel comforted and safe. I had spent many a night tucked underneath her arm when I was raving with fever and waking up tightly held by her had always given me the feeling that everything would always be alright. Somehow, the fact that she was no longer there made me feel like I had lost the possibility of feeling that comfort again. There is something unique about the comfort a mother can bestow and that nothing else can replace.
One day, I was feeling particularly destitute and thinking about my mother. It pained me to think that a woman like her who had cared so much for others had died all alone. Indeed, by a rare coincidence, my sister-in-law had not returned before her carer left and in the thirty minutes or so between the leaving of the carer and the return of my sister-in-law, my mother had breathed her last. I was thinking about how I had been planning for my children to visit their grandmother again that summer and how this would no longer be possible. My thoughts were focused on my mother and I could feel the grief well inside me again. I had stopped writing as I could not bring myself to pen anything and the weeks were turning into months.
As I walked, cloaked in my grief, a shrill call from above caught my attention. There, just a few meters above my head, a seagull flew with its arms alternating between stretching and flapping. It seemed to fly in a criss-cross pattern, right above my head, all the while calling shrilly. I stopped and looked at it and it stopped on the rooftop to the right of my head. I moved onward and the seagull called out and flew over my head again. From the entrance to the compound where I lived until the building where my apartment was, it continued to follow me calling shrilly all the while flying above my head in that curious criss-cross pattern. As I reached my building and looked up at it again, it turned its head one way and the other almost as if it were sizing me up. I felt as if it were a messenger from above as it called again shrilly. I thought of my mother again and as I smiled up at it, I could feel a weight lift off my heart. I looked around me and noticed the intense purple of the lavender in the pot and the bright yellow of the fallen leaves. That sense of comfort would always be there. Her body may have disappeared but she was still there, in every bird that flew, in every leaf that fluttered, in every beautiful thing that shone on in this world around me. I smiled up again and the seagull flew.
Mother (in Arabic) and Woman (in English) both dedicated to my mother – Geetha Balvannanathan
The rain was falling heavily on the roof of the car. From time to time a coconut, its stem loosened from the tree it had clung to, fell onto the roof of the car causing a more audible thud than the falling rain. The air that had recently been hot and heavy grew cooler. The driver turned off the air conditioning and opened the windows. Some rain fell into the car and onto her lap, startling her and making her leave her daydreaming.
She looked around her and her eyes met the landscape of heaped piles of rubbish and slowly filling sewages. The rain had freed the stench of the sewages that had been slightly more discreet earlier. It reached her nostrils and she felt overpowered by the stench. The driver caught her look and reassured her that the pouring rain would soon cleanse the sewage. He smiled at her nodding his head in the typical way that all Indians did, a halfway between a yes and a no that was difficult to decipher for anyone who was not from the country.
The light turned red and the taxi came to a standstill. She looked back at the sewages and the piles of garbage. She still wondered at how she had reached here with what seemed to be no real purpose or mission other than making her father happy. She was not sure this was how it was meant to be. She struggled inwards against the feeling of hopelessness that gnawed at her heart.
Outside beggars were busy grappling with their tatters trying to cover and shield themselves from the pouring rain. Some stood stoically beside the windows of those drivers who had opened them and stonily asked for money, their faces devoid of any sense of expectation of mercy. A few vendors shook some toys and other gadgets in front of the windows, yelling the prices across. Their faces held the hope that some of the children in the back seats would help the parents in the front seat make a positive decision in their favour. She watched as their faces fell when the lights turned green and the cars resumed their rush across the streets.
Somewhere at the back of her mind she could feel an analogy forming between those vendors, the beggars and herself. They were all hoping for something that simply did not seem to be coming their way. She looked out at the beggars making their way through the swerving cars. They seemed in no hurry to get out of the way and there were no policemen coming to mend the situation. It had always surprised her to notice that there were so few policemen at the points of great turbulence although there were several hanging around in groups laughing and exchanging pleasantries where there seemed to be no traffic problems at all.
She smiled a wry smile at the thought that where she had indeed seen a policeman at a point of turbulence where beggars and other vendors had been obstructing traffic, he simply did not seem to be concerned. Another oddity, at least for her, was the regular crossing of cows which made their way across the street oblivious of the traffic. Some of the cows actually simply stayed in the middle of the street and the drivers artfully drove around them thanks no doubt to years of experience doing that. The drivers were not so kind though to the stray dogs which sometimes ended up in the middle of the road or on its sides as roadkill.
Her mind strayed back to the times when she had been musing on the meaning of life and the equivalence of all beings. It had seemed to her earlier that all beings had to be equal for there to be a proper energetic balance in the world. She realised now that in practice it was going to be very difficult to achieve such a state of being because nobody seemed to be willing to consider what they coined as lesser beings as their equal. She realised that she too was not yet at that stage.
It then occurred to her that perhaps beyond the desire of her father, this was what had brought her to this country. Practice what you preach she told herself inwards ironically She had indeed always embraced the theory that all beings were alike but in her daily life in a country where she was not confronted with the reality of all these beings swarming together in the same context it had seemed easier. Now that everything was let loose and seemingly at par, she realised that it was not so easy to live that concept in its entirety.
She thought about the dog she had lost in her old location and how much more it had seemed feasible to consider herself as equal to it while it seemed much more difficult
with the dirty stray dogs in this country. She knew that with the practice of the stillness of the mind she could extract herself from the context and reach a feeling of inward peace but somehow she felt that she must go through this sense of uneasiness stirred by the filling sewages and their stench and reach inward peace while experiencing all of this. Perhaps this was one of the reasons she was here, to be at the heart of a turbulent, dirty city and yet feel the sense of inner peace pervading her.
She giggled at the thought that she might be stuck here a long time as she did not feel capable of attaining that inner peace within this context if she were not to extract herself from it mentally. The rising stench slowly sobered her and she watched again the whizzing landscape of beggars, vendors, piles of rubbish, flowing sewages and cars. The rain had gradually gone down to a trickle and she gratefully noticed that the sewages had not started overflowing. She had heard horror stories of people having to wade through sewage water to reach their destination and she really did not feel up to such a feat.
She relaxed into her seat and stared at the sky which was clearing up seemingly at the same speed that her thoughts were. She felt great satisfaction at having reached the realisation of one of the reasons she was here. There were surely other reasons and she felt that some of them were tied to the acquisition of empirical knowledge and acceptance of some of the theories she had embraced earlier purely in the form of a thought process.
She felt that once she was able to experience these matters and reach the same conclusions as in her thought process, she would no longer have to be in that context because context as a concept would no longer hold any meaning for her. It was a necessary stage in the journey towards identifying within her the traceless and placeless. Just as it was necessary to be in a context that exacerbated something to be able to say that one had truly overcome its effect on oneself, it was also necessary to be in a context that challenged one’s beliefs to be able to say that one truly held those beliefs as valid. She now was on the right path in the journey of self-discovery. Know thyself she thought and within her welled a feeling of having overcome a stage towards that end. She smiled at the sun that peeped from behind the clouds signaling the end of the rain.