September 1, 2009

She’d gone stale… begun to doubt the relevance of this world unity push.  All around her… atrocious, selfish behaviour.  She was edging towards ‘fuck em, they’re not worth the bother… none of them’.

But not any more apparently.  Not after that morning’s experience at the Royal Women’s.

“Nally, you were right all along.”

Ah vindication, that massaged my muscles and improved my posture.  If she could just leave it at that.  Reaching the correct conclusion was gratifying enough.  From experience, I wasn’t keen for her to elaborate on the specifics of how she got there.

“Do you know that… even though I love you immeasurably… if I suspected you had any involvement in my children’s demise… I’d squeeze you till you burst and your entrails oozed out?”

Chilling and uncalled for.  Panic-stricken, I backtracked over my life… checking if I could have been an accessory.  Silly, but I did it.

[Layla, agitatedly preparing to restate that sentiment]:
“No, no.  What I mean is… I’m no moral role model.  I’m as much a hostage to base instincts as any politician or dictator.  The Bahai’s are right.  This whole thing is about spiritual transformation.  Mine, not someone else’s.  It’s a pity they only gave me a diagram.

I’ve been pampered too much, Nally.  I respect that you’ve never pampered me.”

She could have said that the first time.  My immediate reaction was to say:

That’s simply not true Layla.  You’re much better than us.  You are… better than me.  It’s why I’m so harsh on you.  I’m jealous, I feel inferior.

But I held back and went with a more considered thought instead.

“You welcome Layls.  But get real.  There’s no way you would actually harm anyone.”

“Yes way.”

The Insight Story
When the doctors hunched in and revealed the need for a hysterectomy… “I felt I’d swallowed sorrow.  I fizzled to a pinhead”

Then, a detonation… a real big bang.

“My mind was blown into millions of smithereen me’s that rocketed off in all directions.  As if on a string, they halted abruptly at a two metre radius making a  speckled sphere around me… in sight but untouchable… like a hologram.”

They hung there glimmering, these shattered Layla pieces… observing the suffering central Layla.  They debated points and took notes.

“Despite the hubbub I could make out every sound. One exclaimed how proud she was of the pain I was in.  Another, sniffing like a petrol head, delighted in her craving for that pure, cleansing pain.  It was very disconcerting.

Oh Nally, they were every thing imaginable… bitchy and circumspect… comforting and controlling… protective and absent.  But I hearkened to a raucous section that were baiting and sneering… swaggering and drooling.  ‘what a hottie… real ripe… what will barren you do with all that sexy skin now… how about  wear dowdy clobber and not lead them on.’

That was too much for me.  Exploding into a whirling furnace of rage, I set off… scuttling hospital staff and smashing hospital property.  Some of them shards gulped ‘that is not good… very unattractive’.  I didn’t care.

I barged into a toilet, swung open a cubicle and slammed the latch shut.  Still in my bubble… I couldn’t shake them.”

“But you’re here now Layls.  You’re safe.  A strong reaction is to be expected after such a massive shock.  ”

Layla steadied me and bade me listen on.  In torment, she’d yelled ‘Pippy, fix me… now’.  Pippy, maddeningly monotone, asked how important it was.

She’d growled “What’s the problem Pippy?  Do you need to prioritize your time?”

All the millions, even the disrespectful ones, wrinkled their noses at Pippy’s response “You can have your fertility back but, as a consequence, every plane will drop from the sky”.

“How ridiculous!  Loathsome.  Ludicrous.” the little Layla s huffed to each other.

“I stopped sobbing and snapped ‘Do it.  Get it back to the way it was.’”

“That’s interesting” said Pippy… and evaporated.

An uncomfortable eternity.  There was a lull in the little Layla s.  Losing  their tight structure they went to ground, flapping down onto any surface that would support them.

“I wouldn’t look them in the eyes… I kept averting.  I was deeply ashamed but I wouldn’t budge.”

She felt them roll their eyes contemptuously as, on cue, the battling engine of a light aircraft rattled by.  All tracked its buzzing… imagining at every moment a kamikaze swoop.  Eventually, the realization that its flight hadn’t faltered.  Pippy hadn’t delivered.

“I was hysterical.  Some of the little Layla s swarmed over me… soothing me till I calmed down.”

Then, one by one, they came forward and articulated their version of this event.  Numb, I listened.  Finally, one handed me a bound summary of their thoughts and recommendations.  I thanked her and timidly accepted it.

After a while I got myself back together again and thought ‘Nally.  I must say sorry to dear Nally right away’.”

I clucked comfortingly at her “there’s no need to apologise to me.  If it helps though… I wholeheartedly accept.  Don’t blame yourself sister.  Don’t let the bastards get you down eh?”

[Layla, radiantly]:
“I’m not overwhelmed… I’m in love again.  Yeah, still in the depths of desolation… but I gained great oomph from this experience.  Those little Layla s fortified me in so many ways.  Look, here are the notes.”

Layla pulled a pad from her pants and turned a page towards me.  There, in the middle of a mind map, and surrounded by squiggles and doodles were a number of bullet points.

  • This is how powerlessness feels!  Most important life concern subject to someone’s whim.  And cast aside.  Having nowhere to turn.  No choice but to get on with it.
  • Willing to kill to bring back children.  Know it’s a biological instinct but… tut tut… never thought myself capable of that.
  • Having done the dirty, understand the impulse to cling onto power and advantage at all costs.  Some just have a job to do.  Find ways to unburden them… redirect their energies.
  • ‘Oneness of Humanity’ mantra goes deeper than I’d thought.  Maybe when I put an unknown German bus driver on a par with my children… when I name him Fritz and cajole him… I’ll preach again.
  • Hey, there’s a funny side.  Kids weren’t even real.  No children murdered, no planes fell from the sky.  No harm done.
  • Like sport, need safe ways to contain destructive inclinations.
  • Pippy is amazing. But don’t hold him to it.

“My head was too far up my arse Nally… but this has helped.  As I said, I feel a much stronger commitment to reality… even if that reality is fuzzier than ever.

Passionately dispassionate.  That’s my go now.  Aim high and have minimal expectations.  Do my best for its own sake.  I feel revitalized.”

Tempting but No
I have to say I didn’t really get it.  However, I prayed her new insights might sustain her for at least a few nights… get her over the hump.  And despite the schizophrenic mumbo jumbo, I had an inkling there was some cause for optimism.  I sensed a hint of Pippy skepticism.

I suggested she might now focus on more natural routes to advance civilization.  Consensus forming options… evolutionary options.  You know… damn hard work.  After all that spiritual spiel I admit being underwhelmed with her irresponsible retort.

[Layla, mischievously]:
“God no, that’s all been tried before.  Haven’t you been listening?  I was prepared to authorize mass slaughter to reset my biological clock for heaven’s sake.  You think you can wrest power and resources away by appealing to rationality?

Rationality, nationality.  Nah.  Miracles.  Really absurd miracles.  And outstanding sporting prowess.  That’s what’ll get the job done.  I just need to find common purpose with that blasted Pippy… twist his arm… get him to crack a few good ones.”

I capitulated.  Reason no was good here.  Anyway, impudent Layla was my favourite.  I’d missed her.

“Yeah, well, it’s a bewildering time for you, Layls.  Stay with me.  Convalesce at my place.  It’d be like old times.”

[Layla, hey now]:
“I’d really like that!  Let me call Joel and Cath.”

“Oh.  Hasn’t Joel had outlived his usefulness?”

[Layla, quizzically]:
“Noooo.  He’s an idiot but I’ll always love him.  I’ve decided to talk to him and Cath about adoption.  My kids don’t have to have my DNA… I’d love any child I had responsibility for.  One of theirs, someone else’s.  One of yours?  Nally, do you think you could…?”

I couldn’t.  No, no.

“Okay.  Look, I understand.  You know, I should really go back to Horsham.”

“Yes, your mom… she’ll get you back up and running in no time.”

Gay Abandon
History records she went crazy after that…  unleashing a flurry of bizarre phenomena that had the herd trotting tamely towards today.  I know.  I was the one who stood sternly in ‘Halt!” as they sauntered past me in their stupor. 

“I’ll take my informed and concerned facial furrows over their vapid marshmallow moo-iness any day. “

I quoted that quite often.  I needed to re-use it… it had taken an all-nighter to construct.

What was I doing?  Negotiating with my best beloved?  Depriving myself in an attempt to gain some undetermined upper hand?  You have to laugh, don’t you?  No doubt, having borne the brunt of it, grandma’s wrought iron stubbornness is familiar to you all.

No, it’s no laughing matter.  How abhorrent was I?  I didn’t help her and I could have.  I was well aware of her fragile mental health… her tendency to depression.  That tragic day, it was obvious to me she was declining as much as refining.

If you ever get a chance like I had… no… I’m done lecturing you. I. I. I.  I have made mistakes and I am broken-hearted.  Maybe, my loved ones, this story reveals some capacity for love and adventure hidden under my crusty layers.

Today, of course, is Layla Day.  It’s right that World Fed celebrates it. But how distant, mythical and infallible is the creature they present compared to my rendition!  I would love you to be able to judge for yourselves one day.

I have some exciting news.  My dear children and grandchildren, I am to embark on one more exhilarating adventure.  Till I return, let’s just say these next few words have taken a lifetime.

Large moon darknesses near her
Secretly severed from a shadow
Somewhere else

For example
In bank to bank

Leaning her long hair over
To the side of her face looked-down
The my lovely Layla
Dress thigh-clutched
Cold-footsoles the pebbles
Across the bbbbrrrrrr-freezing, rush-trickling, clear-water stream

Scurry-limb-climbing and clasping the grass
She falls down in front
To lie back love-laughing
Leg long, Leg bent
Silent Christ
That body skin is whisked
With brown topping

I am your gran Naledi.  No longer in denial.


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