Fifty-Three

In a wintry forest, in the night, the trees were dancing. Their black bodies stirred in the wind, a frozen flow of shadows against the white. I looked up at the light above. Couldn’t tell whether it was the moon or a lamppost. My face was slowly covered with snowflakes ready to melt. I could feel the presence of my father, but could not spot him anywhere. My cap was getting soaked where it touched my face, the heavy fabric stuck to my skin and I started to itch. There was a smell of burning wood in the air. There must have been a house around, with a warm furnace.

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Thirty-One

We were in a wintry landscape with the Siberian man. Broad daylight. There was nothing around us. Nothing could be seen, nothing could be heard… It felt as if the snow was the frozen echo of the bright blue sky, and we were submerged in this dazzling silence.

Then we could hear a soft murmur growing into a roar. It stopped, it started again. My heart sank. I looked at the Siberian man, he was worried, too. “We go that way”, he said “as fast as we can. or faster”. It was not easy in the deep snow. Every step was a struggle. But we kept on going.

We reached the edge: we were on a plateau. A distant world below us, far, far away. The earth was vibrating under our feet, maybe some kind of avalanche was coming.

“We go”, said the Siberian man. He jumped onto a small landing just below the edge. I followed.

In front of us was the vast, white abyss, and behind us there was a cave. We entered. He lead me the way, and we went deeper and deeper.

Suddenly, I noticed that there was someone in front of us, a woman dressed in white, gently glowing like the moonlight. From the way she moved, I guessed she was very old.

“Who is she?”, I asked the Siberian man.

“Be polite”, he replied.

I was perplexed. What did he want me to do? I felt like a child. “Be polite”. I never knew what exactly adults wanted me to do when they said that. A lie is a lie, truth is truth. What is “polite”? Then, years later, I told a man how I never figured this out. And he said “You don’t get it, you don’t get it. So what. Darn politeness. you are kind and you care. Those who don’t feel it, well, there’s plenty of space around, they can just walk away. Politely.” And we laughed.

The old woman turned around and came to me. A powerful presence. She smiled and put a finger on my temple.

“He means be quiet. In there, too. Hush.”

I shut up.

“Good girl” – she said. I saw from her mischievous smile that she knew exactly how irritating that sounded, she did it on purpose. I got even more curious about her, I wanted to ask questions, but I understood from the glances of the Siberian man that this was not the time. We were in her realm now, and we had to get going, there was probably a long journey ahead of us. And so we set forth in total silence.

Twenty-Four

I was on a mountain, riding a horse. It was almost dark, foggy, the air was damp and cold. I felt sad. The horse was slowly moving ahead on an invisible path.

My hands were in my lap, and a glowing ball started to grow there, it gave warmth, and its light was cloudy and soft. It reminded me of the Moon. There was something comforting about it.

My horse went on steadily. I thought we were descending. It was getting darker and darker. We were in the night forest I already knew from other journeys. I could see the bee coming out of the glowing sphere, it cheered me up a bit to see him/her. It flew a bit ahead, as if trying to light the way.

I suddenly had a memory of my father pulling me on a sleigh. It was dark, we were in one of the neighbouring small streets. It had just snowed, but people were inside, it was just the two of us. The streetlights were on, snowflakes were whirling, floating, glimmering everywhere. All I could see from my father was his coat and his boots. I could smell the fresh snow. He sped up until I started to laugh. It suddenly hurt to remember him. I missed him so much.

Next, we were in the living room, it was dark, the shutters were closed. My father had taken a white bed sheet and fixed it on the doors of the wardrobe. We were watching filmstrips. All afternoon long, he was holding me in his arms, reading the words written under the pictures. When the projector got too hot, we took a break, brought some food and hot tea. As I came out of the room, I could smell his shoes on the shelf, they really stank. I told him, and he laughed. I suddenly didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to miss him. It hurt. I wanted to get away.

Then I was in the dark forest, again. The bee was in front of me, leading me somewhere. His light was very feeble, but I could see something like a wooden statue. I went to it, it looked like my father. I wanted to stroke his face but I was too small, I couldn’t reach it. I was a child. I wanted to grow so that I could touch his face, and I did. I was stroking him and suddenly the left side of my head started to go numb.

“Don’t let it go, keep it together” – the bee said.
And I tried. I tried not to go numb, but it hurt. I was chasing after the numbness, trying to catch it within my head.

Suddenly I was in a snowstorm, at night, in the middle of endless plains, chasing a figure wearing a white fur coat.

“Stop, please stop” – I shouted after him.

Running hurt, my head felt like it would explode, but I kept on running, faster and faster. I reached him, touched his fur coat. He turned and I realized it was a large polar bear. He went for my neck, grabbed it with a single move and held it tight. I could feel its teeth in my flesh, my blood flooding my throat, I couldn’t breathe, I was suffocating. I could see myself and the bear from the outside. He finally let me go.

My throat was a bloody piece of unrecognizable flesh, and I was choking in my own blood. I sounded just like my father after he drank the acid. But there was no blood then, and I did not see him, I could only hear him from the next room, I was frozen to my chair.

I was still looking at myself, but I didn’t make sounds anymore. maybe I was dead. I was staring at the dark red pool in the snow.

Suddenly, the bear transformed into the Siberian man. He gently put his hands on my tattered throat. I wasn’t outside anymore, I could feel the warmth of his hand, and pain. Then I saw ourselves from the outside again. The Siberian man let his hands go, and my neck was completely healed. He was kneeling in the snow, lifted me up. He held me in his arms, stroking my head, gently rocking me, softly murmuring, full of love.

Six

I was in an old forest, it was late afternoon or evening, and a group of children was running around, laughing, chasing each other. Then it started to snow… I was surpized, because it felt like summer, warm and green… but then I realized that what surrounded us was not snow but seeds from a cottonwood tree. There was hardly any wind, we were enveloped in small, luminous feathers, playing in the colours of the setting sun. The world was in slow motion, as if we were all floating. I looked around, observing all the details, the lights, the colours, and I noticed that there was a river close by, and a boat on the bank. There was an old couple sitting by the boat. I remembered the woman from previous meditations. I didn’t recognize the man, but I could tell from the way they looked at each other that they were intimate.

Then I saw the great yew tree… I was mesmerized and went closer. It had a cavity at its foot, and there seemed to be some light within, red, like fire, but I didn’t want to go down there. I stared upwards instead, and pondered whether I could climb up. I suddenly remembered an old dream with my “home”. In my dreams, I am usually either in an unknown place, or somebody else’s house, but in this one I was in my own home:  a tree house with colourful, translucent veils instead of walls, high up on a big, old tree, in the middle of an ancient woods…

Five

I wondered, what would it be like to meet Jupiter? I thought I’d ask the bee. I found myself in a narrow boat,  like a canoe. There was somebody sitting at my head, rowing. I was lying on my back, staring at the sky above me. I saw some spots of light shooting by, they looked like fireflies, except the bee who was flying very close to me. Then I realized they were not fireflies but stars, and that even though it felt like we were hardly moving at all, we were in fact gliding so fast the stars seemed to leave a trail on our breaths…

It was a small river, and we were going upstream, the landscape changed from summer reed to autumn meadow to snow covered field, and the river got more and more narrow, until the rower had to step out and pull the canoe.

At one point, somewhere in the midst of autumn, we stopped by a field of harvested corn. Barely visible beings wrapped me in a large piece of white gauze, as if I was a newborn baby (I still couldn’t move). I saw my mother as a young girl, maybe seven, they also put a sheet around her shoulders, like a shawl to protect her from the cold. Then I saw another girl, about the same age, on the other side of the river (to the right) and they dropped the cloth on her head and tightened it around the knees, I was frightened for a second that they would suffocate her, she seemed scared, too, but didn’t move or give a sound. They loosened the gauze, and then my canoe sped off, leaving me to wonder if the girl took it off her head in the end or stayed under it…

Finally, the rower stopped pulling me across the snow, and I wasn’t sure whether we arrived somewhere or she just got exhausted. Then I heard a drum, two reindeers came to meet us, and I could feel a new presence welcoming us without words.

.


Note:

Going upstream the river to the north reminded me of the tree of languages, my mother tongue belongs to the ugric family, one of only three languages. The other two people are both native to Siberia, they are mostly nomadic reindeer herders – the drum could have been a shaman’s drum.

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