by Maira Butt
The sky above me is dark and spinning, pockmarked with white stars, deep dark brown clouds being ushered across by the hand of God; a backdrop of navy blue skies. I think of computer animated cosiness and happy endings.
I’m a head, floating, eyes closed, and I can see all this through the film of my eyelids. It’s a sight I am familiar and well acquainted with.
What possessed me to take this route anyway, this walk out of the chaotic monotony of my house?
An urge. Inspired no doubt by books of mysticism, purposely built to stir the chemicals of a beating biology – my heart- and urge it outwards of its lock-up in its chest.
They work, those words of the mystics. The ageless remnants of innumerable lost psyches in the barren deserts of their own (or our) ancestral imagination, clinging to the nothingness. Calling out to us, the living, to wake up to the cosmic movement that still includes us as its part.
Because one day, we will melt into it – the nothingness, the black sky amongst the stars. The space between the atoms.
My fingers still smell like curry, and I’ve washed them twice. My headscarf is scratching itself against my skin where the hair has come loose, irritation. I’m catatonic, and quite self-aware of the paralysis, making for an odd but curious situation. I’m trying to get this gunky feeling out from within me. It seems to be stored up, as if for an emergency, till the crown of my head. So I lay motionless and look at my nails, little flakes of skin sticking up around the base of them like disparate blades of grass on the field of my epidermis. Skin –
Skin is the largest organ in the body, covering the entire organism. GCSE Science revision. Everything alive is an organism – MRS NERG (movement, respiration, sensitivity, nutrition, excretion, reproduction and growth). What is THIS then.
I think I will talk to someone – no that’s wrong, because I know I won’t talk to someone. I tell myself I will talk to something, I will write some thing. I will write it accurately. I will put this feeling, this thing inside me, (and it seems to have invaded my surroundings too) into words. I scratch blackness with biro onto the corners of the paper then write:
Seconds leak; mouth closes
Secures and decomposes, the spirit turns black and
inertia has the martyrdom and generosity of compost-
a bright light burns at the pit of the coffin’s encasement – lllumination cradling dirt
fill life with noise.
Life is the burden. Free will; a trust.
Eternity hangs in the balance
and the acceptance is received by Submission.
Will I make the move?
Voices in my head; attack each other, laugh, mocking.
‘She wants change.’ ‘She wants the same.’
Then One: ‘She doesn’t know what she wants.’
I’m dismayed at the banality of what I write. It doesn’t even make sense without being in it. Disjointed. What. Why do I sound so depressed? It’ll be another year before I realise it’s because I am. Another year before I am aware of the existence of mental illnesses- another year after that year before I believe it.
After these words are on the page, and there is some sense of release, I ask myself what I feel inclined to do now. Now that my body is following, or rather listening to, my heart and we’re trying to communicate with each other after all the time that has passed in our past of born divorce. I get up.
I walk out the door and I go for a walk. I don’t know where I am going but I know it is dark outside. I walk down the street, and its ok, because this part is familiar. Then I turn up the road and I feel a sense of excitement like wow I’m really doing this: I don’t know what ‘I’m actually doing – but – it is happening. There isn’t a purpose, what an absurdly loving buzz. Everything seems new.
Rushes of fear as I walk past the pubs, shadows seem scare-y. A cloaked figure going down the path by a church reignites forgotten fears of the worst conspiracy theories – stories I’d buried long ago and laughed at since. Illuminati. It doesn’t help that I know that I am different, somehow – abnormal. And people like me were born to be attacked and removed, like viruses. Glitches in a Matrix.
So we become professional unpaid actresses.
I reach a point of pitch blackness. A residential cul-de-sac, no light pollution. The lamp posts here don’t exist. It’s a little crew of houses on a sloping hill. I walk down the slope unassuming and I’m overpowered by the sky. It is endless above me and it seems to be engulfing me. The darkness is relentless, aggressive, silent, evil, benign. I look up, and I see.
The three kings. I see them. That must be them in a neat row above, and the rest look completely muddled and confounding. They all mix with each other and there’s no left or right or top or bottom. Except the three kings, lined up tight. I smile at them and I feel myself making an O with my mouth in amazement. An expression to be seen by no one- not even myself. It feels more honest than anything I’ve ever done.
I want to spend my life like this.
SIBAQA CALLING —-
My phone’s ringing. I text her with the reject option – ‘don’t worry darling, I’m just on a walk. Be home soon. Xxxx’
I put it out of sight. And walk back. This time I know the way, and all I’m thinking of is the sky I’ve just seen. The stars. The three kings, revered – coordinates used for navigation. I feel intimate with the ghosts of those who once lived – in the presence of nothingness. Not absence. Nothing and everything are really the same thing, you see.
‘I travel through the landscape searching for why, but the question follows everywhere I go like the sky.’ – Akala
The same sky over a prison, through its bars. The same sky shining down on a box with a man inside, labelled ‘solitary confinement’. The same sky over rapists. The same sky over Prophets. The same silent witness, watcher, compassionate, silent complicit, accomplice, bystander, silent.