by Rami Mackie
The stray thought came quickly. He didn’t understand the context, but knew this faded illusion, this fantasy needed to be caught. It was elusive and his mind was sluggish when compared to the immediacy of the memory that had struck. The streets, alleys, front doors and even the olive tree he had once sat next to were hovering at the edges of consciousness. They were just waiting to explode from the corners of his mind in a myriad of colours and sounds. It was as though he were a lover, hovering thousands of miles away. He needed to make a conscious decision to embrace the pain and sorrow of loss, acknowledging the darkness so he could wipe it away; and be left with something he knew would intoxicate with joy.
Alienation defines my days, a continuous state of anticipation offering no relief and carrying nothing but silence. There is no noise from the streets that were once filled with ramblers, no crowing roosters at break of dawn, no conversations between neighbours, not even a Fairuoz song that used to glow the morning stillness. Dead silence disrupts the words even that come out of my mouth … silence fills every corner of my body; it freezes every move.
My life is defined by a series of snapshots. My body is a mere statue invaded by nests of migratory birds. Memories roost in them but they mean nothing, they are ephemeral, and yet looking in vain for somewhere to hook into. I see beauty, I acknowledge it and yet without a familiar point of reference the finality of my exile defines. I scour the streets for my mother’s features knowing, even as I do so, that set in a stranger’s face any familiarity is meaningless. I am like a hungry ghost, unable to smell the scent on the breeze that touches my face in the back garden that I abandoned, but desperate to do so.
The beauty that I see is fake and colourless. I miss the fragrance of the nectar which I once took for granted, but now would pay fortunes to for. I miss hiding from the rain. Strangely though, now all my days are rainy and gloomy. Not the life-giving rain I hid from as a child, but rain the colour of my neighbour’s dress, worn to remember her martyred son. She vowed to change the dress eventually, but the colour would always remain. Why did I move away from the home and hearth that once embraced me and my brothers? I also do not know why I moved away from the embrace of my mother; all I know now is that I yearn for her touch…
I walk down the road to the end, my steps tracing a seemingly random path. One however, of interminable length – rendered thus by the burden of my memories. This never-ending road is punctuated by the toll of the church bells overlooking the big street, the sound of which is liberated from my childhood memories. We would look at this house of worship in awe, sharing in hushed tones how we would one day explore its divine secrets; the secrets Priest Georges carried. Our Man was human, exchanging good words with kindness and we tried to follow in his footsteps.
My pictures have come to an end. I am still walking though. An alley that once smelled of food and amber incense is now instead a road of alienation. It is still dreary and never ends.