• ainfaa


Updated: Mar 22, 2020

Literary ramblings - do we live in a parallel universe? What reality is the "real' reality?

Somewhere on the roof of a village house, on a jute charpoy, they lie huddled together, listening to the constant droning of the crickets, the woman's arm tucked under her daughter's head, the soft brown head snuggling close to her mother's bosom, the woman's head angled to look at the small face staring in wonderment at the clear night sky. Once in a while an owl hoots and a mourning dove answers the call sorrowfully but every once in a while the nightingale interrupts them with her song.

“Which star is that?” the little fingers point to a conspicuous silver dot shivering in the sky, bright enough to step into the frail figments of the girl´s imagination.

The woman can see the tiny shimmering dots reflected in what were honey-gold eyes in the sunlight earlier today but are now matted into a dull brown by the darkness of the night. She follows the small hand attentively.

“Dhanab” she answers with a certainty that is uncommon for a village woman.

A light breeze wafts through, possibly carrying the waves of their sounds to far away corners of the universe much faster than they know…

At that instant some stars dim out and others brighten up, perhaps because of the dust particles that shift in the wind. To the woman it seems like the stars have just winked at her. She must tell their story.

Somewhere in a parallel universe a boy cycles home in broad daylight, the calves of his legs straining painfully as he pedals faster. His excitement to be home before everyone else makes him forget the pain as he pushes his legs to move faster. He doesn´t notice the cars whirring by, or the clouds creeping into the sky above, or the man who has just stepped out into his garden with a dog…

“Dhanab?” the girl asks. “Who was she?”

The woman's lips twitch into a smile, the sort of a secret smile that you smile when you are telling a secret to your very own self, the one that tells your inner self that you have found within yourself a hidden power that you will never divulge to anyone. The woman turns her gaze to the purple sky, dazzled almost to the point of envy by the freely shining stars that look down at her from a place far away and unreachable. With her eyes she traces the path the stars make tonight. Her mind colludes with her vision and she ends up imaging that the stars have taken the form of a flying woman.

She considers for a moment if she should tell her daughter that she isn't certain the star she is pointing to tonight is really Dhanab or not, that that is the only star she has ever heard of, the name passed on from her own elders while lying on the roof of another house in the same village. Just then the nightingale sings…

Somewhere in another parallel universe a baby opens his eyes in bewilderment, trying to adjust his retinas to the layers of oxygen that have suddenly replaced the amniotic fluid he just popped out from. A haze of white uniforms, blue caps and green surgical masks surround him. He must be moving at the speed of light because in a matter of nanoseconds the world around him has changed incredibly…

The light summer breeze carries the nightingale´s song clear and consistent like fluid. At that instant some stars dim out and others brighten up, perhaps because of the dust particles that shift in the wind. To the woman it seems like the stars have just winked at her. She must tell their story.

“Dhanab, the flying girl.” She answers tracing the path of stars, Dhanab at the head pursued by a line of stars, arms recreated from the point from where more shimmering dots spread out, like the curved head of a T. Inquisitive and trusting eyes follow the mother´s every move. The woman continues, “She flew across the heavens to cross the bridge,” here she briefly falters to find a suitable bridge, “ to the other side where no one else had ever gone before.” Her voice ends in a dramatic whisper.

The little girl looks speechlessly at the purple sky. For a moment she imagines she is the girl flying through the heavens to the other side of the bridge…

The boy in the parallel universe sees the dog a second too late. Instead of heading into the bushes from where the animal leapt, he turns the handle of his bicycle towards the other side of the pavement, hurtling down the sidewalk onto the asphalt. The sound of a screech, followed by a swerve, a heavy thud of something hitting the hood of a car and the smell of animal blood fill the air. For a moment the boy stares speechlessly at his leg jammed in the wheel of the bicycle in an ominously crooked way…

The baby stares at the air around him filled with bobbing objects, round heads, eye balls that cannot stay still, mouths that ride up and down, sometimes open, sometimes closed, clanking hospital utensils and surgical gloves stained with blood. The chaos of the outside world is too much for him…

They all cry in unison. The girl in wonder of the realisation she has just made, the boy in shock and pain and the baby unnerved by the anarchy of the outside world.

For a moment they all stop, as if they have heard each other from the far ends of wherever they are in the universe. The girl sees the stars taking the shape of a wheel hanging limply from the frame of a bicycle, the boy sees a multitude of faces looking at him with rapidly changing expressions and the baby sees a purple screen full of stars. They each blink. And then it is gone – that moment of connection – as they step back into their own reality.

But there is another side of this reality. What the woman doesn't tell her daughter, partly because she herself doesn't know and mostly because Greek mythology is unheard of in Pakistani villages, is that Dhanab wasn't flying in the direction the woman had pointed out. Because Dhanab is not the head of a girl but the tail of a swan. What the woman certainly doesn’t know is that the flickering star that she saw with her very own eyes may not exist after all. Because Dhanab is 2600 light years away from the Earth and may very well be dead by now. What the girl saw was only a figment from the past…

If what we see isn't the truth, what then is the truth?

#amwriting #paralleluniverse #reality

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