Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chapter 2

A month later, late one night, Seema was barely asleep, and it wasn’t quite sleep but exhaustion that had taken over, when somewhere between the ragged shores of faltering awareness and stupor swam a mermaid in the cold waters of  Seema’s subconscious mind. The mermaid had been in the deep, deep waters for days too many to count. She had no clue if there were people on the riverbank, what day of the week it was, or if it were morning or evening. She could see it was dark. Bored, she darted about aimlessly.
Suddenly, she found she was much closer to the surface than she had thought when she looked up for no particular reason. Like gold dust in a pan, sparkles shot about in the dark waters. She was mesmerized by the patches of light that danced up there and made a sequined quilt of the surface. She had gazed upon the star spangled sky sometimes and loved it. This was intriguing. Up, up, up to the surface she rose strongly. The circles of darkness grew bigger, around them the rings of light brighter. When she broke surface she saw as far as the eyes could see a million diyas (little clay lamps that are lit for the festival of lights) bobbing gently in the slowly flowing river.
“Wow! I wish I had known sooner. I almost completely missed it. I think I’ll just stay here and pretend I’m a diya on the water too. When this vision of beauty is taken away I won’t lament its loss. I’ll lose myself in its beauty forever never to be found again.”  
The mermaid sat at the bottom of the stairs going into the water, half-submerged. Her eyes grew heavy-lidded and she slept half-sitting leaning against a balustrade. Down, down, down the steep steps of the riverbank in the dark before dawn walked a lonely figure in white garb, dark shawl, his head bent in deep thought, measured tread, sadness, light, and finality his aura.
“I have to go now,” he said, turning away to return by the way he came, and disappeared into the darkness.
The mermaid stirred thinking she had heard some one say something to her but there was nobody around. It was really, really dark, but for the few diyas that floated about still aglow. As her eyes grew used to seeing in the dark, a small shiny object a few feet from her on the step at the water’s edge caught her eye. She leaned across to get a closer look. It was a golden key barely reflecting light from a passing diya. She instinctively reached for it but caught herself mid-motion and decided what was not hers she might as well leave alone. If the real owner did not find it first it might delight a little child for a while until perhaps he would be chided for playing finders keepers. Thunder rolled in the distance and by and by gentle rain began to fall putting out the remaining diyas. Dawn would break through the clouds and mermaids don’t wish to be discovered so this one was back in the water in one gentle splash, down, down, down to her home deeply rested from her sojourn into the airy world. She swam round and round in quick bursts expending excess energy.

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