She walked through the swarming streets heading towards the beachfront. She smiled at the woman who crossed her path and touched her outstretched hands that were offering her a garland of jasmine woven with small roses. She took the garland and put it around her neck as her hair was too short to weave it in there. She paid the woman, smiled and moved on as the woman waved at her smilingly.
The sun was high in the sky but the sea remained grey as usual. She had wondered when she had first arrived at the seaside why the sea was always grey but had got used to it. It seemed like it had to blend with the darker colour of the rocks on the seaside. She thought back to the beautiful sparkling beaches in North Africa and wondered whether it was the pollution here that made the sea turn grey close to the coast.
She sat on a rock overlooking the beach and stared at the sea. The waves were making a gentle lulling sound interrupted from time to time by the shrieks of children jumping into the water. It was a joyous sight but somehow she could not help her heart feeling heavy. She could not get over the feeling that something had completely stirred out of control in her destiny, changing her future, and that it was not by chance. Barely a year and a half had gone by but it seemed like it was light years away.
Back home to keep the memories of those moments of the future she had glimpsed she had resorted to collecting falling leaves in which she mentally inscribed glimpses of that future. Over time, the future she had seen seemed to be slowly fading into oblivion and she would then take out the leaves to remember. Each leaf reminded her vividly of a place in time where she had been in thought and where she had lived an incredible adventure filled with love and happiness.
Her right hand felt for the small basket that was tucked inside her handbag. It was still there and she sighed a sigh of relief. She wondered how it could be so small and hold so much at the same time. She got up from the rock and resumed her walk but towards the canal this time. It was one of the rare places in the city where stagnant water was not necessarily a synonym of stench and rot. At some points it even looked beautiful with profuse vegetation and a small bridge-like construction.
The water was a sombre green. She walked to the bridge, looked over the edge of it and slowly emptied the small basket. The leaves fell into the water and swirled away with the current caused by the wind. She watched until they were out of sight and felt as though her heart were leaving with those swirling leaves. Yet she knew that she could not hold on to the leaves as a totem anymore. They had to disappear for what they represented to reappear.
Those moments of the lost future she had lived had to be reintegrated within her. They belonged to her and had to be a part of her again, not relegated to the role of externalised memories. Her heart warmed slowly with the returning memories that filled her being with love. It was as if the release of the leaves had opened a dam within her. The images cascaded in her mind like a whirlpool of sunny water as they filled her neurons. Tears of joy streamed down her face and wiping them she lifted her head and smiled up at the skies. It did not matter anymore that it had been steered away for it existed out there. It was forever hers.
The night exhaled the scent of jasmine into her nostrils. She opened her eyes and peered into the darkness. She could hardly make out the outline of the jasmine tree’s branches. The pot with the tree had been removed by a friend who had taken the jasmine tree but the branches clung to the little hedge and still flowered. It was a curious thing to ponder on really. How those flowers could still bloom and the leaves still stay green while the tree had been snipped away from them was another of the mysteries of life. She went back inside her room where the darkness was thicker and lay her head on the pillow. She would check tomorrow if the leaves had begun to wither finally and she would then disentangle them from the hedge and cast them away.
The next morning was a gloomy grey morning as the dust from an oncoming sandstorm piled into the skies. She went to check the hedge and surely enough after their display of frantic desire to survive the branches were going limp and some leaves had turned yellow. The flowers too seemed withered and forlorn. She wondered if she should take them off right now or wait for all the leaves to become yellow before she would throw them in the bin. Looking at those desperate branches made her think of the eventuality of what consciousness went through when the body came to pass. Did all people’s consciousness linger desperately for a while without a body trying to find a way back into this life or unlike the flowers did they just stop blooming and join the collective consciousness the minute the body’s time ended ?
The dust in the air thickened and she could feel her throat going hoarse as the particles invaded her nostrils and found their way into her lungs. She sneezed as the wind picked up moving more dust her way. The branches heaved on the hedge and some of the yellow leaves flew with the wind before it settled bringing them to the ground. She reached out into the hedge and started easing the branches off it. As she piled the leaves into a heap, the wind picked up again and the branches scattered all across the pathway. The sky grew darker as more sand flew with the wind walling off the sun’s rays. She continued easing off the branches and finally gathering them together she cast them into the bin outside the gate. As she entered the house she could still smell the wane scent of jasmine mingled with the unmistakable sandy smell of the dust in the wind.