A Conversation to Remember

January 7, 2010

With sisterly complicity, she and I tossed our shoes to the meadow and sprinted to the stream. Reaching the edge, the scene invited us to pause, and observe. There was great surprise in her eyes, but could she read  my own surprise in mine? Yes. She and I had not had a conversation of this kind in years, but had I had one with myself? I watched her kneel to the water, and wash away her tears. Then wounds. One here, one there, and a couple she could not see. When she was not looking, I washed my own.

Dear Papaito,

I dont think she has the faintest idea of how much our conversation meant to me. Why would she? It has been a few days now, and I myself have not yet fully recovered from the state of bewilderment it so suddenly propelled me into.

During those two hours (was it two hours, or was it a lifetime?), something changed. No, I lie. Change had already happened, and our conversation simply brought it forth, and placed it on a silver platter in front of my eyes. This time, there was no escaping from it. No looking away. The creature laid there exposed, naked and alive, struggling between shrill cries and desperate attempts to breath… It had been born, and I had just witnessed it. I was in shock.

During those two hours (or was it a lifetime?), there was no hiding behind ever circumspect me. I, the drop that tiptoes cautiously between the two, was being asked, by a pair of tired and desolate eyes, to be stream. I, a stream! I, who wished nothing more than to be drop, little and unseen. I, asked to flow! When I had found comfort and security in my own static state… and to leave my own little niche, where I’d learned to observe….and where I, perhaps, had begun to sense the direction I would take when the right gushes of rain came to take me…

But her eyes took me by surprise, Papaito, and I found myself flowing with her tears.

For two hours, (or was it a lifetime? hers or mine?), I spoke from my heart, from conviction, and from every faculty I’d ever learned to use. I resorted to readings, classes, and lectures, frantically browsing through eight years of notes, selecting the relevant ones and discarding the others. How to piece them all together in a second?!

But ease ensued. Slowly, I found myself effortlessly recollecting experiences, recent and long past. Tying knots from strings of insight…. Some flimsy, some vivid and strong. I took from these, and I took from those. And carried away by my own crescendo, I washed away scattered moments of introspection, reflection, and thought, claiming them to my stream. How I flowed, Papaito, once I’d started flowing! Could I ever be drop again?

For two hours (maybe two lifetimes, hers and mine), I was able to see in a stream what I’d only caught glimpses of when drop. As though it was only possible to trace my religious and spiritual path in something that shared its fluid and probing nature. Never before had its features and the impact of time and space been so clear. Never before had it been so simple and manifest…

With sisterly complicity, she and I tossed our shoes to the meadow and sprinted to the stream. Reaching the edge, the scene invited us to pause, and observe. There was great surprise in her eyes, but could she read in mine my own? Yes, she and I had not had a conversation of this kind in years, but had I had one with myself? I watched her kneel to the water, and wash away her tears. Then wounds. One here, one there, and a couple she could not see. When she was not looking, I washed my own.

It’s now been days, Papaito, but these waters have not yet settled. And how to contain them now that they’ve tasted freedom? Should I try? Is it even possible? I’m afraid I have not a single answer to provide today. All I can say is that the depth of possibility I saw in that stream was inspiring and beautiful. It was intimidating too, of course, but so are all great things we possess little knowledge about, or control over. Would you not agree?

Do you remember, Papaito, when I spoke to you about that puzzle I brought under my arm when I came to this country? Do you remember how I described the process of seeing it fall piece by piece? Yes, it is all gone now. But this conversation…. Allahu A’lam, this may be the beginning of something new. The first piece in a new puzzle I’m yet to discover and claim for myself.

So let me just hang on to this feeling of bewilderment for a little longer. There is no need to settle these waters just yet. Perhaps you will accompany me to the shore? Come, let me tell you the story of a drop who became a stream. It’s a years long (a lifetime, mine) preface to this letter, do you have time?

J.

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