ZARA (The Book)
“The past keeps on repeating until the lesson is clearly understood, this being the universal law,” the Magus repeatedly proclaimed. ‘What have I failed to see?’ Zara torments herself. ‘Is this why my father is dead? Was it my unfinished karma? Is this the reason why he had to die?’
She re-enters the moment, that morning in Dublin airport, rain beating against the windows of the departures lounge, the morning sun fighting dark clouds. She’s fleeing because she’s challenged his authority, the man believing to be her father, a husband having muted her mother into a docile existence and reduced her life to prescribed medications. Confusion questions, ‘Is my mother’s deception the cause of his tyranny?’ The confrontation on that final morning flashed across the screen of her mind, the first time she had injured another, feet running from the house, lips repeating the words of the Magus, “It is as it is; I have to accept it; I have to accept it.”
Her first meeting with José Maria, the young flute player, his shaggy hair a worn-out mat on his head; “Would you like a hot mug of tea?” he offers. She knows it is part of her destiny unfolding as she goes with him, crossing disused railways and eventually coming to a makeshift hut between derelict buildings. This is his home. Zara clutches the hot mug of tea. It tastes delicious. The morning isn’t cold, yet she can’t stop shivering. José moves without speaking and places an old blanket on her shoulders. Rolling a cigarette, he reaches out, offering it to her. Her distrust in humanity flashes in his face.
Slowly, she warms to his presence, his silence most precious, no urgency about him as he sits at ease yet fully alive to the moment. She remembers being suddenly gripped in fear, the image of her impostor father and the police scouring the streets looking for her. “I can’t go back, I just can’t,” her voice sobs. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do,” José Maria interposes, refilling her mug, the gentle sound of the water pushing the disturbing thought to the background. It’s all necessary, she ponders. Now I understand what the Magus meant about the mind program. “Once you clearly see the source of thoughts they lose their power over your true essence and you stop indulging the story. Even the indulgence of pleasant thoughts opens the door for the unpleasant to enter, triggering emotions and whipping up circular thinking, your precious body becoming the pawn.”
José Maria rises to his feet, no hurry, no urgency in his manner, telling her to rest while offering “Mi casa es tu casa.” He has busking to do and will later return with something to eat. Zara wraps her body in a blanket in the corner of the hut and falls into a troubled sleep. She awakens to a surreal stillness, an unseen hand having pressed pause; her first real taste of freedom from the turmoil of the mind and its terrible world. She tries to recapture that stillness, the snow-capped Sierra Nevada assembling the mystical hue of her journey, the words of the Magus on replay.
“What is reality, you ask me! Have you not noticed you only ask such a question when you are in the pits of your misery? Why are you miserable? Please allow me to tell you why. You are miserable because you are not getting your way. Instead of accepting your life as it is, you are stuck in your thoughts; what you imagine you try to force into existence, foolishly convincing yourself that your imaginings are part of your natural fulfillment. Then life in its goodness delivers an awakening blow; you feel the sudden pain of it, just like banging your head off the wall; you come to me for an immediate cure; I simply tell you to stop imagining, to stop banging your head off the wall. You thank me, of course! But it’s not long before you start doing it all over again. Once more, you stagger before me, seeking another fix for your mind again out of control. What is reality, you ask? See it as it is; accept it as it is; ‘be’ it as it is; this is the one and only reality.”
Glancing at the screen, her flight time is still awaiting confirmation. Her thoughts revisit the hut, José Maria returning with the food. It is a strange relationship lasting for most of a week allowing her the space to explore her subconscious, this being her mission in transcending her own input to the ignorance sustaining the world. José doesn’t interrupt, coming and going mostly in silence sharing his uncluttered space and stillness. His words are sparse, little to say except for the few stories he tells of his past in Granada where he lived with his mother in one of the caves overlooking the Darro Valley. He speaks how she died when he was barely fourteen.
Staring out the airport window, the coincidence is uncanny, this being the place she has just lost her father forever, the father she had vowed to find during those long silences with José Maria in that tiny hut in a derelict part of Dublin. Before dawn on their fifth night together the dreaded moment explodes upon them. Awakened by glaring torchlight and two uniformed figures blocking the doorway, panic grips like a savage hand squeezing her chest. She remembers being grabbed by the armpits and marched down the alley with José Maria, cursing in Spanish, being forced along behind her.
The memory throws up the horrifying sequence of events, separated from her friend, locked in a cell and then signed into the state asylum by the man fighting his inner torment in trying to be her father. “You are in good company,” the message of the Magus sustains her through the ordeal. “Our prophets met similar fate, some ignored and quickly forgotten, others burnt at the stake, and one crucified by the mob as the story goes, whether they succeeded another question waiting in time to be answered, peace upon them and all of us.”
I’m the victim of my mother’s deception, thought delivers the justification. The voice of reason twists in inner space there are no deceptions; here rests the perennial truth in the cosmic order not limited to outer space and time. Reason tries to ascertain its position being faced with its ultimate impotence. ‘My father is dead. I killed him. God, what have I done?’
You are much more than a body and mind struggling in an impermanent world, the voice speaks in her head. The Magus made similar comments, powerful at the time of delivery, but now a flimsy curtain unable to give shelter from the reality. Even if he were still alive he could not save me now, she thinks. I failed to grasp the message the first time and now it’s repeated so violently. I alone am responsible for my life. There is no escaping this fact.
ZARA THE SACRED FEMININE
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Copyright © 2011, Alemu Wolde-Michaél (AC)