The Robber6 mins 311 6 mins 311
Sitting on one of the benches in the 3rd row on the left lot of the aisle, rubbing off the faint tear marks on my cheeks, I tried distracting myself until the last person in the church left. Meditating on the tiles below I noticed how their wayward edges helped them interlock better, which made me question why my own life being so wayward in its own form, never fitted anywhere, especially in ways I didn't know whom to blame.
That Tuesday evening, as I sat on the same bench in the same old church two blocks across my place, back from a terrible fight with someone I expected would understand, I could sense the strangeness of the day, of the place, of the situation, of me. Because unlike the chilly atmosphere on other days, today it was warm inside, unlike the disappointments earlier, this one didn't hurt me the same way. But how? I wasn't sure. Maybe I had become too accustomed to not feeling okay.
Singing out loud, when I'd be upset or trying to avoid something, had always been my habit and I couldn't recall how I learned it. So I started singing some old classic my father used to sing when I was young. Minutes later, as songs changed and my mood too, I realized the reason that gave me the strength to come to this place every day: the relieving eeriness.
But this silence was broken when someone in his swift yet comprehensive accent spoke in a calm, deep and contemplating voice I'd ever heard. "Isn't this Stand By Me from the 1961 album ?" Erect, strongly- built yet slender, probably hailing from a foreign land somewhere in his early 20s he sat two seats next to me.
I hadn't seen anyone come in through the door whilst I sang or sit right next to me for long enough to hear what I had been singing.
"Maybe". I could've asked who was he, instead, I went for "When did you come ?"
"Right when you thought that getting over and moving on were same things." "Sorry, I guess I didn't get you ?"
"Of course you did." The conviction in his voice scared me a bit. I was sitting in an empty church in a deserted part of the town with nothing to protect myself if needed, talking to a complete stranger who, though in no way seemed harmful, still sent chills down my spine with the clarity in his demeanor. Maybe when you get too used to fogs, clear morning breezes don't really suit you. Whoever he was, his aura strangely attracted my senses and I prayed it wasn't obvious.
"Who are you ?" I could finally ask. "I thought I was needed, so I came," was his absurd reply.
"I'm sorry if I disturbed you. That's an old habit." This is what I was good at, unknowingly bothering people.
"No, you didn't. In fact, you sang well." The latter was quite unexpected.
My question was still unanswered. The highly conscious part of me warned to stop, end the conversation and walk out. That much was enough. But the curious me wanted to stay, talk and forget the worries for as long as I could. Enough was never enough.
"I belong to a place far off from yours. But I loved my journey, from screens to pages, from city lights to candle flames, from frowns to smiles and downs to ups, from sleeplessness to awakening and I know you'd love it too." Half of what he said made no sense to me at all but something held me back from stopping him.
"I may not have faced your situations, I may never understand what you have been through, I may never find out what makes you cry, but I know for sure that these experiences of yours have made you, just as strong, beautiful and unique."
That was saturation. "Yes, you or nobody has ever been me. And I only pray no one even tries to. I was, strong now weak, beautiful now plane, silent with all my screams, now simply too tangled. These words never went into anybody's head, so I remained undefined for them." I could feel my fingers shaking as the adrenaline rushed in. "So stop repeating the same old philosophy everyone always makes. I may consider myself for who I can be, but I've hated myself for who I have been." I could explode, literally.
"Only because you forgot it's the present you were supposed to live in." Surprisingly, there were no changes in his voice which made me wonder if he had even paid attention to what and how I spoke?
"It's easy to say you are strong, but it takes courage to say you are weak. So if you can say that, you must know who you are."
"Do you? Know who I am ?"
"Yes, you are someone who's always seeking to be loved, approved of, noticed and even admired. Testing people at different stages because you are insecure. Unsure whether you are capable enough to love them back and so you fear, run behind them and ultimately, hurt yourself." After a moment of silence, he continued. "You don't say this out loud but you do, in the background. Don't you ?"
I wanted to say "no", but didn't I? He got me so right, it hurt in all the right places. For the first time, I ardently wished something to not end.
"You are not a part of the crowd. You are an awakened soul, struggling to emit her light. Become the one who lives with a full moon in herself, so nobody can give it to you or take it away. More importantly, don't wait for life to teach you this as lessons are 'doings', not 'happenings'."
"And those who keep hurting? Incidents that keep happening ? Especially in ways I can never get over?"
"Life is a prism, the light hitting the surface may be an incident. The light that refracts is the change you are expected to undergo and the emerging one, the spectrum is the most beautiful of all - all your lessons and the experiences you gained. So let all your colors disperse on the screen of the world because I know, you possess them in you. And you know it too " My heartbeat raced faster with every word he spoke. Realizing this was all I'd yearned for, not love, not admiration, but patience. To let things blossom within, allowing me a glimpse of the full moon that I always possessed, a real piece of the cosmos in me. In fact, always, in all ways.
He then got up, prayed silently and turned around, ready to leave.
He couldn't be a stranger. I had heard that voice. I had seen those eyes. There must have been some déjà vu. And yes, after all, we were two awakened souls.
"Who are you ?"
"Someone who stole your darkness to let you embrace your light, a Robber?" And he left, taking away what I had started believing belonged to me.
The Robber, indeed.