Last night I dreamt of monkeys. In my dream a frail old lady sat in a wicker chair looking at trees dancing in the moonlight. With her soft silvery hair and kohl lined eyes. A black and white silhouette. A gentle witch. A blithe spirit. A figment of fantasy. She smiled as she came out of her reverie. And the monkeys trooping across the fort wall, marching in straight file ably commanded by the leader, for a moment froze in the silver light.
There you are, as always, there you are, she murmured. I can see each one of you. The ones before you, the ones after you and the ones that are yet to come. I know everyone of you and everything about you. Your every mood, your every emotion, your every virtue, your every indulgence. I was there when it all began. And I will be there till you are there. She chuckled and lifted her hand to smoothen her hair and the monkeys all at once disappeared, as if struck by a blow.
I need to write a book. My life has been a fascinating journey. The fact that I have survived is deemed a miracle by the most qualified of professionals, as well as, the closest of friends. Like any other life mine too has had its own curious twists and turns. But I feel my life most closely mirrors yours. As an infant I have had my days in the sun. Basking in the shadow of love and protection. As an adolescent I too have strayed from the known path. My curiosity getting the better of me. As a maturing adult I too have learnt where life hides the choicest of fruits and the sharpest of barbs.
Like you I am nimble and light footed. Easily side-stepping danger and awkwardness. Or at least so I believe. I have wandered through innumerable labyrinths and still found the goal. I have been feted and stoned. I have been hugged and chained. I have been revered and mercilessly hounded. The parallels overlap. And the narratives merge. In another life I may have been you.
I need to write a book. But how do we measure a lifetime? How do we describe it all? There are lines upon lines and words upon words and still the plot is not clear. Only you and I understand that which the lines hide and the words obscure. There are no invisible ropes that bind or elusive clasps that hold. There is only a heart wide open and a mind full of acceptance. Tempered by a touch of empathy and the whiff of an ancient memory. How will words do justice? What prose will encompass that which we convey with a mere glance? How many words, days, months, lifetimes will it take to explain it all?
The monkey troop gathered in the failing light. As one they turned and looked towards the fort wall. The old lady, the monkey troop and the tide of time. The circle was completed and so again it began.
Last night I dreamt of monkeys and a frail old lady. The monkey mother. Reminiscing about a lifetime. An epoch. The soft sea breeze ruffled the tall palm trees. And another moment faded into my memory.
(for Ms. Iqbal Malik)