August 18, 2004

What an utterly despairing feeling it is, to be swamped by wave upon wave of desolate longing and inveterate solitude—to walk, as it were, with a sandstorm blowing in my eyes and the senseless drumming of a few thousand years of servitude drowning out all sound.

The sand is coarse beneath my bare feet, its gravely grains rubbing painfully against the fissures carved by age upon my soles. Everywhere I turn for deliverance, I encounter dunes and more sand dunes. Not another living soul in sight, not even a whisper of movement. The reel is frozen on this frame—a relentless chrome sun blazing down from an equally austere azure sky, frowning upon reams of undulating sienna. Near the epicentre of this spartan frame is a single vivid splash of colour, the only living force in an otherwise breathtakingly still, even if savagely barren, scene.

A low moan is torn from shrivelled lips that hastily clamp shut of their own volition, as though every sound uttered in that inert wasteland was sacrilege.

No clock ticks to measure the passage of time, no shadows lengthen to indicate closure of day, no damp breeze blows to usher in the dark—nothing but silence and stillness.

Hushed lips halt their quivering, tired limbs turn rigid—the focal statuette is changing shades. My crimson robes and sunbaked skin shift hues. The robes lose their richness, turn tangerine and slowly rust to a burnt sienna; while my skin pales, grows jaundiced, and acquires the same russet sheen.

Flesh and nerves transmute to brittle silicon even as blood and tears congeal into crystalline quartz—an idol fashioned from sand, head thrown back in despair and ecstasy, arms outstretched, frozen into immobility and drained of colour, to blend into the burnished silence of suspended uncertainty.

For an instant, the sun burns brighter, the dunes stir in their comatose state and a gentle wind picks up from the south—in that instant, the idol crumbles without preamble. No sign remains of crimson or even russet—undulating sienna mounds stretch on as before, and I disperse as dust returning to dust, or silence to eternity. All that remains as evidence of my existence is a pair of white orbs half-buried in sand—they blink a few times, adjust to their limited vision and accept the sameness as their world.

Did the dry desert swamps of loneliness asphyxiate my soul, or did the dunes release it from corporeal captivity? Must annihilation be the only means of deliverance? Must it die to be born or suffer in order to comprehend anguish? Must my soul know astringent isolation so it may experience the bliss of boundless love?


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