She was walking for almost an hour now, always with the Thames by her side. Her thoughts went back to Manas and how she had met him first in a small hut-like construction in Cameroon. She had landed quite abruptly in the field near his house and had hid the parachute under the sand and foliage beneath the trees. She had removed her jumping gear and shoved it under the sand before straightening her clothes. She could not see the remaining members of her team and remembered that she had seen no member of her team jump after her. She knew what her mission was anyway: look for and then report Manas once she had identified him. She had headed towards the house and found the household in great agitation and fuss, celebrating a marriage.
Without further warning, she had been whisked into the cohort and had become part of the celebration. With her local clothes on, nobody suspected her of any ulterior motive than just the wedding celebration. She had looked around for Manas and identified him sitting next to the bride. She looked at the wristwatch with the small camera, but the camera place seemed damaged. She had turned it nevertheless towards Manas and the bride, hoping that the camera would transmit the images of Manas to her team in the airplane that seemed to have vanished in the skies.
They probably will come back after viewing the images sent by her camera she had thought. She had sunk into a small couch next to several other women and joined the celebrations, keen to keep her identity safe. Manas had walked over towards her, his smile engaging and charming like she was told it would be. Her boss had predicted accurately that she would be Manas’ type and that this would lead him to bring his guard down. Manas had bowed towards her, with his hand extended, inviting her to dance alongside him like the Muslims in Cameroon did. She had stood up and had slowly been taken by the banter and the dance and almost forgotten what she had come here to do.
She looked back at the Thames and threw a stone in it, watching the ripples grow as the water was displaced by the impact. One of the images that haunted her mind was Manas standing in front of the policemen in Cameroon where she had taken him, and he had not fled. He was free now, walking sometimes in the streets of London when he needed to but all she could think of was the Manas in chains in Cameroon smiling at her, with his followers at his side. She realized that the only reason Manas was free now was because some policemen in Cameroon admired his jihadism and one of them had released him making use of the lax state of security in Cameroonian prisons.
Her story with Manas had been a very controversial one when her boss realized that she was actually falling in love with the man she was supposed to bring to justice. She had been demoted and was no longer on the anti-terrorist team so she resigned and joined the private sector. She thought back to how the story had evolved. It seemed so long ago now while it had only been 6 months since she had first met him. She remembered how he had reached out to her when he had first got out of prison. She had wondered how he had found her in London as she was not on the phonebook and not a registered voter. She threw another stone in the Thames and realized that it was raining, making more ripples than with just her stone. Her love story with Manas had begun in a very strange way so it was probably just as well that it could lead to strange things. She let her mind drift…
Chapter Seven: On playgrounds and Kingdoms without a King
8 December 2015
Mother came to Rita again, this time in broad daylight, her face a dark river of shimmering stars, the bluest of hues her black body.
What are these talks of going elsewhere?
Rita felt as always when she saw Mother torn between Shaking awe and powerful solace
Well you told me Mother that this place would be no more and that we would all live in another place, very different from here so I was just getting myself ready for the journey, knowing it would be long
It could be, yes but where do you think it is? Some distant planet that I have chosen for you? Another universe perhaps?
The ground shook under her step and the air vibrated with her presence as she walked, a figure of grace and power all at once
I don’t know Mother. Another galaxy, yes, I assumed
You assume a lot child. When you don’t know why don’t you just ask me?
A smile tugged at the corners of what Rita imagined were her lips. It was not really that she had a face but Rita could see in that river something that replicated an image of what she thought a human face would look like. Rita volunteered a smile back and Mother laughed so Rita laughed too, at first with a sense of guilt and then freely with the wildest of joys as the room heaved and shook with their laughter and the frames from the wall strew the grounds in fits.
I shall ask you next time Mother. Rita’s voice was between a hiccup and a snigger, the laughs still Shaking her uncontrollably
The journey within can be long but you know best what this place will be like because you will be one of the builders.
Me? One of which builders? How many are we? How much time do we have?
Oh Time, that silly notion I put in place a long time ago for us to measure the dilation of your playgrounds. I think you don’t need to worry about that anymore soon.
Are we going to a place of zero-point? Will we reach full stillness, no Time?
She laughed again and Rita laughed too though less heartily as she was keen on having Mother answer before she left.
What is zero-point? Do you still ask me really the question, child? Have I not left more impact on such matters with you before?
It is the point of implosion, when Time will disappear and our bodies will transform, right? It is the bridge between the playgrounds.
Mother was listening to Rita, a little twirl in her like every time Rita knew she was pleased with her response.
Do you know why you are changing playgrounds?
I think it is because we have outgrown this one. We don’t know what to do anymore here and most of us are getting bored, with some creating new games in the playground which are not to everyone’s liking or others playing the sae games that we are sick and tired of playing. Yet they don’t care much when we tell them to stop, that it is not a nice game anymore and that we are tired of it, that we want to play a nicer and more interesting game.
Yes, well that is the old way of the male energy. It only knows destruction and return to void, unlike what you hold and some of you have marginalised your female energy. It was not a thing of a day, it took many light travels of your Time to achieve that.
But why was the female energy marginalised? Why not leave us alone?
Do you still wonder why? It is because you are the ones who create and play the most. When you arrived here, each of you had chosen which side of the energy you would be on because full balance would take you out of the playground and those who chose the male energy lost their touch with the full creation energy because it is the female energy that stirs the void into creation. In your reality, the female energy still needs the male energy to create within physical density but it does not in the realm of dreams and art which are expressions of your eternal being.
But there are many male artists, not just female artists.
Yes, being male or female is not just a matter of external appearance. Those who thus create have not withdrawn completely from the female energy but preserved it within them. Some, though very predominantly in the male energy, thrive on the energy they draw from the females they attract around them to stir their internal voids into creation.
If all males know whether consciously or unconsciously that females are essential to the game, why do they suppress us so? Why not just play along with us?
Have you not realised child that things are changing? More males are waking up to and accepting the female energy as it returns to them.
But at the same time such horrors are committed against women in so many places around the world. Not just women but also children. All these wars that bring desolation to the hearts of everyone and mostly to those of women and children, so many of them abused and broken
Yes my child but that is soon a thing of the past. Who else, other than females is so close to creation and playing?
Oh yes, children of course!
Precisely my child, they do that because they don’t want to change playgrounds. They try to keep you in fear and in anger so that you will lose hope, love, laughter and therefore the possibility to continue creating the new playgrounds. They create a vicious circle by which you enslave yourself into this playground, forced to play with the bullies they have become and that way you would never have enough material to create another playground. By attempting to keep you in that vicious circle, they attempt to never leave this playground where they can rule like the tyrant children they have become but both father and I are tired. We have to shake all of you back into your senses and we can’t choose which ones to shake because you have all created a common playground. Your playground heaves, it is soaked in waters, it is seared by flames that all of you may finally understand that this playground is not for you anymore, that it is time to go to the new playgrounds.
Transform or die?
Not exactly my child. Understand when the game is over and move on to the new game, pick up the code and learn the new rules that you might not be taken aback but fear not, the rules are precisely those. Not to fear. Only to Love, freely, wholly and uncontrollably.
But what then of detachment? The wise ones speak of detachment and of not allowing oneself to get attached. How do you love wholly and uncontrollably and at the same time not get attached?
Well I have to say that the notion of detachment you are all playing with is not the one we had in mind when we originally set the rules of your playground. Your detachment has become a sense of nothingness, a dull grey of being while the detachment we had in mind was a shiny explosion of vibrant colours
How can one speak of detachment and explosion of colours. I don’t understand Mother…
It is simple really child. Detachment is that knowledge in you that everything you are playing with is merely a means for play and for learning something else that will help you in another playground. Nothing is for keeping forever because otherwise you would be playing all the time the same games with the same playthings. Have you not seen your children how they play with toys and then tire of them after a while and want something new to play with? Have you not noticed what they do if you force them to keep the same toys?
Yes, after a while they destroy them. Well actually I have noticed that it is more the boys who destroy the toys when they don’t want them anymore. The girls most of the time just go and sit by themselves or with each other if they have company, singing or playing with imaginary toys or friends.
Not just the girls, those boys with the female energy in them also do that.
A twinkle passes through what Rita feels are her eyes. Today she is not changing into a human-type form for Rita. She seems to be very taken by this whole matter of playgrounds and Rita’s misunderstanding of them. In fact she seems so taken that she has not even waited for Kayla or Kalen to accompany her but has come herself and right in the middle of the day.
So do you understand better detachment now?
I think I do Mother. Detachment is not caring less. In fact it is caring to the maximum point but knowing all the same that you will give away these means of playing and move to another level some day and if the means of play was not capable of transforming into a means for the next level into the next playground than we will never see those means again. We can continue to care for those means but we know that we will have to leave them and be in peace with the fact of leaving them.
She smiled and stars sparkled harder within her dark river. It shimmered in places again and Rita knew she was now extremely pleased with her. She slowly started materialising into a more human-type form and this always caused Rita such joy because she could actually look into Mother’s huge beautiful eyes full of power and compassion and be submerged by their infinity.
Mother, please tell me and don’t be angry with me. People speak of apocalypse, of the end of Times, of retribution and of the Day of Judgement. They say that God will decide who will go to Heaven and who will go to Hell based on our deeds and that we only have this Life, that we will need to redeem ourselves in it if we had committed sins.
Do you believe in Heaven and Hell, in God and in the Devil?
Well I believe that there is an energy of Love and an opposing energy of Fear and that perhaps we can call these God and the Devil if we think in our human terms.
Hmmmm…. Well, for the sake of argument in the sense that you like to use, let us say that there is a Devil, one with horns and hooves and with tattered wings from the Times that he was an angel before he was cast upon the Kingdoms of Hell as it goes by the teachings that were brought to you. People have given him such great powers maKing him akin to God alone though inferior in rank to him as the belief goes. What according to you would happen to the Devil on Judgement Day?
The question took Rita by surprise. She had never thought about that and was not sure anybody had actually thought about that. Yes, true, what would happen to the Devil on Judgement Day? Rita thought to herself.
Well I guess he would be punished like all the evil-doers and he would be…
Cast to Hell?
The irony in her voice was palpable as her human-type body now clearly shook with mirth. Rita was slowly getting the point of what she was trying to say. If on Judgement Day the Devil got cast to hell, he was merely being sent back to his own Kingdom where he would reign as a King again and no subject of that Kingdom would dare question the King. So in all likelihood on Judgement Day the Devil would actually be rewarded and with royal title, just like he was while moving all those wrong-doers to carry out their ill-advised deeds. But if it was so then why would he be rewarded while they would be banished to his Kingdom and tortured while he, the one behind all their misdeeds would be thriving in a Kingdom where he could do as he please while he was the true culprit really?
Mother was watching Rita closely and this latter could feel Mother’s watchful intent eyes upon her as her face betrayed her inner turmoil and confusion of thoughts. Rita gave up at last trying to reason internally and volunteered a partial response.
It would not be right I presume
Why not? Could he not be cast to hell and not be a King there?
Well there cannot be a Kingdom without a King. If there is one, then he is the Devil but the old Devil would be no more because we are normally on Judgement Day where only God would be ruling. If the Devil is no more, then he would be a mortal being judged for his misdeeds and if he were a mortal then he is not to blame really because it would be the Devil who would be the true culprit but that Devil was just put in place to be the King of the Kingdom and who could be put in that place on Judgement Day if there are no more real Devils and only mortals, The Old Devil and God with his angels. Would another angel be sacrificed to play the part of the New Devil? That would be a monstrous fate and would it really be Judgement Day if we had a New Devil in place? Would God have to take that part for himself? If he did would that not be twice the monstrosity? Would those of us who carried out the misdeeds have to condemn ourselves to be the Devil and would we have to cast ourselves into Hell and torture ourselves? Would we all be the King or would we take turns in being the Devil King? If we were the King, would we not be able to do as we please within our own Kingdom?
The more Rita thought about it, the less it made sense. Mother merely smiled at her knowingly. She came closer to Rita, lifting her chin and looKing her again straight in the Eye.
Yes, there cannot be a Kingdom without a King and where there is no King there can be no Kingdom. So on Judgement Day as most of you would have it, there would be no Judgement and no means of executing that Judgement. Do you understand now?
There will be no Judgement Day. Just the Day we are all together again with the Source of all things. Is that why there are these playgrounds, so that we may slowly act out different levels of the game of life?
Not exactly? Father and I wanted to test various scenarios but it was not just about life, it was about life and death and everything in between. It was about creation and the transformation of the energy. How it could come about, how it would evolve and what it would evolve into. It is now Time for other playgrounds. This one is saturated by the same playing and playthings and your nimble consciousness needs novelty, new fields, new experiences, new ways of expanding. Did we not tell you before? In fact we even left it within all your textbooks as there are not just playthings for children but also things to learn from within your textbooks. We told you that we created you in our image because you are miniature representations of us. You remember the talk about the archetypes you had with Kayla and Kalen, it is precisely that. Now it is time to have those archetypes evolve further into their purer forms and this entails leaving this playground to go to the next.
I rather liked it here. I will miss it.
That is why you have to learn to detach my darling child but never stop experiencing that flow of sensations, that burst of colours within your chest and behind your eyes because it is the fabric of your future playgrounds and you will need to keep weaving it because there will be nothing left here soon.
Rita looked around, soaking in the sun far behind the houses, moving slowly towards the higher point of skies and sighed. She did not want to tell it to Mother again but she would really miss this playground. It was so beautiful and Rita was having a hard time giving up the toys she had played with here. She still felt there was so much to learn here but Mother seemed to think that it was Time for her to move to the other playground. Rita sighed again. The sun was sparkling on the small puddle in the lawn left by the rain and it made her think of Mother again as it bore the remnants of the starlight that ran through her rivers.
Rita sighed again as she looked back to the blue skies stretching in the horizons, behind Mother’s frame. She had a fleeting thought for Martin but realised that like all the other means of play in this playground, she had to let him too go. He was still so bent on playing within this playground and his main playthings were void and destruction with only distorted waves of the Love. She knew without Mother or Kayla needing to tell her that a phase in the growth of her Heart was over and Martin belonged to that phase – at least for now. He was not ready to move into the new playgrounds and kept alternating between blabbering indistinctly about the love of some of his toys, yelling sorely at Mother and Father or throwing some of his old or new toys in rage with tears of anger and madness streaming down his darkened face.
Mother merely smiled at her when she looked back to her and she knew that Mother knew so she smiled back, a smile of relief and gratitude for her caring. All Mothers always know what goes on in their children’s mind. Sometimes they pretend not to know because they want their child to feel that it has its own secret garden but Rita understood in her Heart of Hearts that Mother knew as certainly as she herself had looked upon her children’s faces in times that troubled them and knew. She just knew.
Ashok and his mother – chapter 1: The night at the shelter
4 July 2015
Ashok lifted his head from his plate and looked at the woman sitting on the chair at the opposite side of the shelter. She had the silent sullen look of those who are used to fate giving them blow after blow and her whole body carried itself hunched, ready for the oncoming onslaught. She was a stocky large-faced woman with features which did not allow you to guess whether she had been beautiful or not, so bloated they were from the drinking and difficult life she must have lead. She was seated, hunched on a corner of the chair as if she were afraid to occupy more of it and perhaps be blamed for taking too much space. He had noticed how most of the people who came here for food seemed to carry that apologetic stance about them, as if they were readily acknowledging in advance that they ought to be sorry for the misery that brought them to this point of having to get food donated to them. He winced as somehow it brought back memories of someone closer to him, so much closer that he had once fell asleep feeling safe and comforted on her bosom.
Ashok shook off the bittersweet memories and tried to concentrate on his plate. The food was not a luxury meal but it was still good and its heat warmed his belly and made him feel ready to tackle the biting cold outside. He forked out a piece of the meat that sat on a corner of his plate and proceeded to cut it into bits so that he could swallow them slowly with his soup together with the bread that he had broken into pieces before. Today, the cook who was a Tunisian called Ammar, had cooked a favourite Tunisian dish for those who needed some energy and a remedy against the cold and it was called Leblaby. It mainly consisted of a very spicy chickpea soup into which some egg was added, sometimes with meat too and which you were supposed to eat by breaking pieces of bread in it and swallowing it all like a soup while it was still very hot. Ammar and the Canadian apprentice Andrew had joked a lot with Ashok about the fact that this dish was really going to give a jolt to those among the shelter visitors who were not used to eating spicy food but that he could handle it as he too came from a culture that enjoyed spicy food. Ashok had laughed with them absent-mindedly not really getting why it was a joke if these poor people coming for food would not be able to handle the spice. He knew, however, that Ammar meant no real malice as he had volunteered, as Ashok had done, to work in the shelter and came regularly day after day at the end of his shift to prepare the food for the night at the shelter.
Ashok felt again that gnawing at his heart and the longing for the comfort and safety he had lost as his mind strayed again into thoughts of the past. He tried to remember how she had looked before but it was always the mask she wore at death that came to his mind. It seemed like he could never remember her again the way she had been. People had told him that she had been a beautiful woman and many had attempted to console him but he had pulled away from them. He could not understand how there were so many people at her funeral but none had come earlier so that this could be prevented. His heart had hardened then as he had thought to himself that these hands that were reaching out for him in an attempt to console him were like claws of vultures attempting a show of affection while they had only circled above while she was all set to die. He had not wanted to give them the pleasure of feeling or perhaps of pretending in front of others that they had achieved something good by consoling him, the little matchstick boy as some of the boys in the neighbourhood called him. He had thus broken away from their grabbing hands and stood, a pitiful sight in his trousers that were at least two sizes too big for him, his painfully thin hands tucked into his hollow chest and his wobbling ungainly legs attempting to stay stiff and solid on the ground as his whole body quaked with sobs. People had looked at him with real pity then but all he could feel was the anger at their lack of reaction earlier and nothing they could have said could have possibly consoled him then.
It was then that he had first felt the pangs of hatred he recalled, that he had vowed to take revenge on every person who had somehow been responsible for her state as she lay there in front of him. He had repeated to himself the words he had heard “She was such a beautiful woman. How come she allowed herself to sink this far” and they had become like a mantra that he repeated to himself every time he felt weak and incapable of doing what he had vowed to do. His frail body then was incapable of doing anything else than growing and he had focused mainly on that first although he did not neglect his studies. Despite the number of people who had attended the funeral, nobody had come forward to become his legal guardian but he was lucky as the orphanage where he had been placed by the State was one of the rare good ones and he was treated decently if not with some kindness on occasion. He had studied hard and succeeded in life but he had never once given up his night job of working in shelters that distributed food to the homeless. He wondered whether this had contributed to his failed marriage but did not even dwell upon the thought as nothing in his marriage had felt right anyway, despite his initial lust for his wife, which he had mistakenly taken for love.
The woman moved a bit and looked around with shifty eyes and he realised she was probably about to do what many of the homeless do, while thinking they are actually not entitled to it. Most of them would do it in a more discreet way but this woman seemed to have a sense of urgency about her. She looked around again and not noticing his gaze as he was looking at her through semi-closed eyes, pretending to be dozing, she quickly tucked in her bra a couple of bread rolls. He chuckled inward despite the incongruous situation thinking that had it not been soup but steak as they served on rare occasions she would probably have tried to hide some of those too. He opened wide his eyes, staring straight at her intensely and like a hunted animal she felt his gaze and looked back at him with widening eyes. She seemed to quickly try to assess whether he had noticed her stealing the loafs and judged otherwise as he did not seem to be angry but her stance changed to an even less comfortable one when he rose and started walking towards her.
As he came up to her side she winced and started getting ready to offload her breast area of their load but he put a hand on her rough hand and stopped her. In a deliberately quiet and low voice he told her to keep them. He said it was not against the rules to take bread away as long as it was not too much. The shelter privileged giving food to those who made the effort of coming all the way but if some extra food was needed by the person who had come there was nothing against keeping a bit for later or perhaps, he said gazing at her intensely, for someone else. As their eyes locked while he said this, something passed in between them and the stocky hardened woman started to sob. Ashok kept his hand on her shoulder as she sobbed and pressed her to collect herself together so that Ammar’s apprentice would not come to the table and find out why she was crying. Neither Ammar nor Ashok bothered when people took away food with them as they knew it must be direly needed but the young boy Andrew was very tight on the rules and would have reported her. Ashok thought to himself that unlike Ammar or himself, the boy certainly had never known hardship as he came from a normal Canadian family and had been sent by his mother – a devout catholic – to the shelter to work. The woman sniffed and then stayed huddled attempting to quiet her sobs and eventually they ceased so he went back to his seat to regain his own composure and watched as she slowly edged towards the shelter exit and then disappeared into the night.
Ashok gazed at the gaping door that was slowly shutting behind her. He wanted to follow her but what had passed between them in that gaze had left him weak and he had been that wobbly thin boy again looking up into his mother’s eyes as she pleaded with people passing to buy her embroidered tablecloths. By the time he had been able to still his beating heart, she had been out of the door and out of the shelter. He looked past the door, staring emptily, trying to recollect images of the times before when they had both been happy. Slowly, like a man in a dream, he walked towards the window to try and get a glimpse of the woman as she left the shelter. Outside, a line of people were still queueing up for the food at the shelter and the cars on the street were still abuzz. He opened the window partially to see better and rested his throbbing head against the cool surface of the window pane as he breathed in the chill of the night and it filled his lungs and his heart with its iciness. Warm tears rolled down his cheeks as he caught a glimpse of the stocky hunched woman making her way through the stream of people, her precious load of food snuck closely to her heart and he whimpered out loud “Mother!”