Numbers. All around us, surrounding our immediate vision, filling up voids within us. I’m 21. I only have 50 bucks, so just get me one cigarette. I have three term papers and four presentations this semester. I have a one bedroom house with an attached bathroom. Gimme a toke for later man! And then there are the infinite, uncountable intricacies of daily life. I have so much work to do, so could you JUST SHUT UP! I need some time off, to relax and gather my thoughts and my life. I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, and I just can’t seem to sleep at night. I have love, so much love, but what do I do with it? Back and forth, we walk this tight rope called life eating up numbers and spewing out more. A look it entreats.
I met a lady the other day, around three weeks ago actually, who was 90 years old. She was the epitome of happiness. She had a permanent smile and beautiful voice. As we youngsters (when compared to her) flipped through the song book looking for a suitable song to sing, she glanced through the book (without glasses I may add) and came upon a song she used to sing when she was in the choir. Quietly she put forth her suggestion and we readily agreed. As she began singing, without her glasses, without any inhibition, I wondered about the peace that was underneath her voice. It was soulfully melodious and touching. When I’m 90 will I even remember my name? At our every word she just simply smiled and nodded. She had a slight hearing problem but that was about it. She had no complaints. None at all. No issues with the weather, or the food, or in general about life. Her daughter narrates stories about herself when she young. “My mom never got angry. And when I say never, I really mean never. If my father was angry about something and in situations where normal couples would shout and fight, she would simply smile and go on with her work. Never has she been in an argument.” I looked at her in awe. This fragile human, who smiled her way through life, is living in this wretched world, still smiling even when she falls. She is an exception.
I threw a mini tantrum yesterday. I was adamant on going to the church picnic for no apparent reason. But I don’t know anyone besides Ann and Agnes and Sam uncle. I decided that silence is the way to victory. I did get my way in the end (small victories). These two kids or girls were almost like my sister and me. The elder, Ann Johanna Sam, was interested in all the crafts and painting. The younger, Agnes Joela Sam, was generally undecided in life (can’t blame her :P). As I walked into their room (a few hours before the picnic) I looked at all the familiar demarcations sisters have. Half the table, bunk beds, drawers, cupboards… I sat down on one of their beds and Agnes proceeded to show me all the certificates they had been awarded and their school magazine. Ann began painting a mud pot completely white. In a while we had coffee and biscuits and resumed our previous positions of comfort. Suddenly Ann said, “The people I love I will hurt. I will hurt them a lot.” Bham! What could she possibly mean by that? I looked at her with a confused expression. “What do you mean Ann? Why would you hurt the people you love?”
“That’s how I express how much I love them. That’s why I bite my dad.” I couldn’t help but smile.
“Now that’s a first. I’ve never heard this theory before.” She shrugged her shoulders and went back to painting. I could hear Agnes calling me from the other room. I followed her voice and there she was standing in the middle of a partly dark room pointing to the ceiling. “They glow in the dark.”
“Ahh, stars and moons. You can count them all and still not fall asleep.”
“Yes, that’s true, but my parents sleep here, not me.”
We left for the picnic and I was left wondering about love and stars and white mud pots.