Archive for love

Lips Kiss

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2012 by javedbabar

“I am a dealer of the world’s most popular drug,” said Guru Baba, “and it is entirely legal.”

The journalist continued writing. She was very fast indeed. It must be shorthand, thought Sami.

Guru Baba continued, “Many drugs are becoming legal – I know the pharmacy now sells cannabis, and forms of heroin – but none of them can match its power. I deal in the drug of love.”

“Guru Baba, that’s good,” said the journalist. “Any final words?”

“Yes, of course. My customers come in their thousands; they are addicts already or want to become so. They know our world is built on loving relationships, which activate complex brain chemistries whose effects are like cocaine, but they are not toxins, they create long term positive change.”

The journalist looked away for a moment. She was paying attention but there was something on her mind.

Guru Baba continued, “Not just our world, but our whole universe, is built on love. How else to make sense of our tiny lives in the incomprehensible vastness of space? It is said that the universe began with a seed, and will continue to grow forever. As worlds continue to fly from its centre, the essence of our lives must surely be attraction.”

Sami was surprised that Guru Baba had agreed to the interview. In this half hour break during the Great Gathering, it was best if he rested. The journalist hadn’t even booked a slot; she had asked for the interview this morning upon arrival. She had said “Don’t you know who I am?” flashed her press card and walked past the queue.

She said, “Please tell me about the Enhanced Trance Dance. Will we be performing it at today’s event?”

“Yes, of course we will! Why not? People perform it all over the world, every day. Why shouldn’t we do so here!”

“I’m not sure I understand. Is it a well-known dance?”

“Shall I show you?”

“Well, I don’t have the best shoes for dancing, but we can give it a whirl.”

What is he doing? thought Sami. She may not have the right mindset for this. She hasn’t read any of his teachings. Cultural connotations differ. She won’t understand.

Guru Baba stood erect and held out his arms. The journalist realized she was expected to do the same. She held out her hands and he pulled her towards him and kissed her on the lips.

The journalist was shocked. She jerked back her head and pulled away. “What the hell are you doing?”

“The Enhanced Trance Dance. You asked for a demonstration.”

“What! It’s an old man getting his rocks off with a young woman?”

“Not so young,” said Guru Baba.

“Not so young! Are you for real? You grope me and then insult me. And you call yourself a holy man! Shame on you!”

That didn’t go well, thought Sami. A kiss can mean many things; it represents love, passion, affection, respect, greeting, friendship, devotion, and good luck. It involves all five senses – touch of the lips, smell of your perfume, taste of the skin, a smacking sound when joining or pulling way, and seeing whatever you desire with your eyes closed. You are in a trance, enhanced by the dance of love. Hence the name.

Guru Baba had kissed millions of people on the lips. He knew the romantic kiss had evolved from the first and greatest kiss – the maternal kiss. When lips joined with the kiss of life, the powers of the universe activated.

The Prophet

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2012 by javedbabar

The Prophet was a well-structured text. Sophie had read it many times. There were twenty-six poetry essays on topics concerning the tribulations of human existence. It was early inspirational fiction that had lasted in a way that recent over-hyped junk just wouldn’t.

The topics could run sequentially, she thought, starting with love and ending with death. Or somehow concurrently, infused with the essence of the work, which could be described as enhanced awareness.

“It starts and ends with the sea,” said Danny, QARY’s chief technician. He had started as a regular crew member when the old quarry was converted into a multimedia venue, and had proved himself over the past two seasons. He was now Sophie’s right hand man.

“Yes, it does,” she said, “Would that work as a theme?”

“I think it would. At the beginning, Almustafa is waiting for his ship to come after twelve years in Orphalese. Then he stands before a sea of people and runs through the journey of life. Later he bids them farewell and sets sail for home, with a promise of return, like a tide.”

“I need to watch you,” said Sophie. “I think you are after my job.”

Danny smiled and reddened. He didn’t know how to deal with Sophie since she had spurned his advances. They had a comfortable working relationship, but an uncomfortable personal one.

They decided to retain the book’s structure, but split the essays into sections. The quarry’s chambers would each show one third of the work: nine, nine, and eight chapters respectively. Each chapter was self-contained and didn’t need to be seen in sequence. There was a benefit in seeing some sections together, such as love, marriage and children, and these would be kept in their original order.

The finished show was good, though not their best production. There weren’t enough of Kahlil Gibran’s’ mystical drawings to illustrate the performance, and the new ones they created lacked his magic. Digital media will take you so far but cannot replace nuanced genius.

They did the best they could. Sophie loved hearing the Prophet’s profound words. Her favourite parts were those about love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, and joy and sorrow.

“When love beckons you, follow him; Though his ways are hard and steep.”

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness; And let the winds of heaven dance between you.”

“Your children are not your children; They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.”

“All you have shall some day be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.”

“Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven.”

“Work is love made visible.”

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.”

The words were beautiful, spiritual, meaningful, but something wasn’t right with the show. Sophie wondered what it was. The performance felt empty and a little contrived.

The QARY computer had been given the role of HAL in the 2001: A Space Odyssey show. The computer had enjoyed this role and not relinquished control. All images, words, sounds and actions were now part of a programme continuing forever. The crew and audience were part of the programme too.

Big machines had once hollowed the quarry and violated Mother Earth. Now one of their number, gazing into the past, attempted to make amends. QARY had transcended physical karma and manifested virtual karma. This empty space was now filled forever.

Crazy Heart

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2012 by javedbabar

Dimpy received a phone call. She answered immediately, saying, “Hello, Lucerne Village Hall, Wedding Registration Dept.”

A man’s unsteady voice said, “Do both partners have to come in?” He was nervous, she could tell.

“Yes, they do.” She listened intently, trying to gauge his voice. Was he nervous because he had learnt what to say and now that he had started the process, his heart was beating fast, and his tongue, erratic? “Is that a problem for you?”

“No, no, no, there isn’t. We’ll both be there. I promise.”

She said, “Excuse me, who am I…?” but there was no one there. He must have rung off. Her job was to confirm that people were engaging in legitimate unions rather than shams. Maybe she was being too scary with callers.

Two days later there was a commotion downstairs. She heard doors banging and someone shouting. It sounded as if a person tripped and fell. Was it those kids causing trouble again? Where was security? She’d better go and check.

A small man stood in the hallway, stiffly, looking lost. His eyes were dead and unmoving. Was he blind? He didn’t have dark glasses or a white stick though.

A large woman with a yellow and blue patterned dress, and a mess of dyed black hair, arose from the ground. It was she that had fallen.

It was clear that the man couldn’t see her; he must be blind… yet there was such a strange impression created by his sightless eyes that Dimpy dare not speak.

It was the look of love, and she stood as its silent witness.

There was also something incredible – supernatural – in the woman’s smile. Despite being sighted, she wasn’t smiling at him; she didn’t seem to see him either; instead her eyes rolled around continuously and her head followed their motion.

“Hello!” the man called out. “Is somebody there? I heard you coming out of your office.”

“Yes, I’m the Registrar of Weddings, Dimpy.”

“Ah, good to meet you at last. We spoke earlier this week. We have a two p.m. appointment with you, but I’m afraid we are one hour early.”

“Oh, yes, please come up. Can you… come up? Do you need help?”

“No thank you, I can make it up. I am very independent; I have been so for many years now. The only real problems have been caused by my beloved Samantha who insists on helping me around. The first time that she forced me to cross the road with her almost caused my death!”

Samantha, smoothing her hair, her eyes still rolling, said, “Yes I have no sense of co-ordination. I am always unbalanced and I am scared of going out. I used to get so angry about it until I saw this amazing man one day” – she looked at her fiancé – “Blind, but so accepting. He was content with his life. My heart beat all around my body, even more than usual, and my movements were uncontrollable. I wanted to help him across the road but I almost helped him somewhere else.” They both began laughing.

“Come on then, love,” he said, offering her his hand. “Let’s go up.”

“It won’t be necessary,” said Dimpy. “I’ve seen all I need to see. You wait here. I will do all the paperwork for you.”

A small man and a large woman; she, afraid of light, and he, not afraid of dark; standing still and always moving; yin and yang; their union was perfect.

Tropical Igloo

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2012 by javedbabar

Mixed race couples aren’t strange – we’ll all be mixed race one day – but this one stood out. Dimpy, Lucerne’s part-time Registrar of Weddings, looked at them but not too hard. Her job was to make them feel comfortable first and then to grill them, to discover if they were getting married for the right reasons. Everybody wanted to live in Arcadia and there were increasing numbers of sham marriages that were for immigration rather than romantic purposes.

The woman’s ethnicity was hard to define – either Caribbean or African, or maybe South American, though she could be South East Asian. Her skin was brown but also golden. She had big lips and eyes, and a small nose with a diamond stud. Her eyes were electric blue, but that could be contact lenses. When she smiled, her eyes and face shone. She was a ravishing beauty; she could have any man she wanted.

Then why choose this tall white man with a moustache, who looked like a shabby bank manager? He also looked ten years older than her.

Dimpy chatted to them together, as she always did, and then asked the lady to leave the room. Separate interviews yield the best results.

She had once considered becoming a lawyer. Maybe she would have been good at it. It would have been more money and more regular work. Right now she was doing three jobs just to make ends meet.

The man lifted up the back of his pin-striped jacket in a peculiar fashion, sat down and smiled. His moustache seemed like a caterpillar yawning and stretching, and his ears held small caterpillars too. A small forest sprouted from beneath his collars. She asked him how he had met his fiancée.

“Before I tell you that, I would like to update you on some back story.” He had a faded, but polished, British accent. “My grandfather worked for the Foreign Service and lived in many tropical lands, including Jamaica, Ethiopia, Surinam and Indonesia. However my father started a small business and I followed in his footsteps, and I have never had the opportunity to travel much. I only ever dreamed about these places; they were so lush and exotic. Sometimes the dreams were so intense they made me shake; sometimes they made me cry; sometimes…”

Dimpy didn’t like interrupting clients, but if he carried on like this she’d be here all day. She said, “Thank you for the…”

“I’ve only just started,” he said. “Don’t you want to hear the story?”

“I do want to hear it, but I’m afraid that I haven’t got time. I have to ask you many more questions, and then your fiancée, and we have forms to complete.”

“Okay, I will speed it up. I began to dream of women from those places, bright women with dark skin, who were filled with sunshine. So when I met Susan in the city – you’ve seen what she looks like – she blew me away. It was love at first sight. We would like to get married in Lucerne, as Susan has fallen in love with this place.”

Dimpy wondered if he loved her really. Was he fantasising, dreaming, projecting? She completed her questions and then asked him to leave the room, and invited Susan back in.

Susan said, “Sometimes I think this man is crazy. He literally worships me, and calls me his golden goddess. He says that I’m his dream come true, and treats me better than any man I’ve ever known. Did he tell you about his tropical dreams? He tells everyone. I have dreams too, about the Arctic. I’ve always lived in hot places and never seen more than a touch of frost. In the dreams I am with somebody hairy, wearing furs, cutting blocks of snow to build an igloo. Snow whirls around us like a tornado.”

Alex and Sandra's Teatime

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2012 by javedbabar

“Alex and Sandra?” said Dimpy, trying not to show surprise. Sandra was a tall, red-haired girl, big-boobed and round-faced, with light freckles. Alex was also tall, blonde-haired, with smaller boobs, and a slimmer face and body. Alex was Alexandra. For the first time since she’d started this job, Dimpy was interviewing two women.

Lucerne’s part-time Registrar of Weddings was all for same-sex marriage. Why shouldn’t two people who loved each other be able to join together and create a stable home? God knows that her different-sex marriage had failed.

It wasn’t about gender, it was about adoration. It was simple really – if you adored each other, then things worked out.

Dimpy had admired her husband, liked him, maybe loved him, but had not adored him. When problems started, that was it.

She chatted to Alex and Sandra together, and then sent Sandra out. It was time to grill them one by one, to see if their union was genuine and not some kind of sham.

“When did you meet?” asked Dimpy, fixing her with a stare.

“Online. It was Arcadian Personals.” So she was looking nationally, not just locally. That showed determination.

“Please tell me about your first date.”

“We met for teatime,” said Alex, a little awkwardly. Dimpy hadn’t noticed her green eyes before, how they were flecked with gold. “Lunch is always a rush, you have to get from work to the restaurant, and then back to work. I find that dinner can either be too formal, or a drunken wasted night. There’s always sexual tension, wondering if you should make a move, and if so, how, and when, and whether you’ll regret it.”

She must have had some fun dates, thought Dimpy. Lucky girl.

“At teatime you can just be yourself. There’s no rush, you sit and wait patiently for flavours to infuse. You are participating in a ritual going back thousands of years. It’s different with different cultures of course. English like milk and sugar, Indians use pepper and cardamom, Chinese let the tealeaves unfurl, Japanese admire the cup and teahouse and recite poetry, Russians top up the samovar and sing.”

Dimpy couldn’t help nodding along. She loved teatime too, and hadn’t realized there were so many variations.

Alex continued, the colours of her eyes seeming to swirl and fuse. “So we met up at the Lucerne Valley Hotel for tea. Sandra ordered a Lapsang Souchong that smelled so heady I almost fainted, and I had a Bengali Chai with chilli and ginger. It was delicious.” She looked at Dimpy and said, “Things got hotter after that.”

“What about your second date?” said Dimpy. “Did you manage to have a nice lunch or dinner?”

“It was another teatime.” She beamed at Dimpy. “But this time I was making her morning cuppa.”

No Glasses and a Full Head of Hair

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2012 by javedbabar

“Why do you want to get married?” asked Dimpy. She did a quick calculation from the birth date he’d given her; he was eighty-one years old. He looked in great shape for a man of that age – no glasses, a full head of hair, and he walked unaided, quite lightly still. Overall tip-top. She hoped that she would be in a similar condition at his age.

“Well, I’ve been single my whole life,” said Jack. “I thought I’d give it a go.”

Dimpy’s Indian culture taught her to respect elders. She didn’t want to give him a hard time unnecessarily, but Lucerne’s part-time Registrar of Weddings had decided that it was her duty to ensure people were getting married for the right reasons. She would grill him like everybody else. It should make no difference that he was a charming old man. Her duty was to witness couple’s consent to marry. But more important was her consent. Without it they wouldn’t be legally wed. No one escaped her validation.

She said, “What makes you think that marriage is for you? Why don’t you just carry on as always?”

Dimpy decided that she would ask the same question of the lady waiting outside, Judy, who was seventy-six. After all these years alone, why now? Wasn’t she set in her ways, inflexible? Wouldn’t she be annoyed at deviations from her decades-old preferred way of doing things?

If Dimpy could talk them out of marriage she would be doing them a favour. She saw it now – the divorce document sitting on her desk in a year’s time when he was eighty-two and she was seventy-seven. How sad.

He seemed at peace with himself. Why change that now?

“I’m getting frail,” said Jack. “I may not be active for too much longer. I have been fortunate in life. I have always enjoyed good health, but I’m starting to fade now…”

Aha! thought Dimpy. So that’s it. He’s not just lonely, he’s also worried that he won’t be able to get around. Rather than a nurse, he wants a wife. If they were Hindu, he would have to walk around the fire seven times, making the seven vows, with the sacred fire, Agni, bearing witness…

He continued. “In a way I’ve been selfish my whole life. I’ve only ever thought about myself. I’ve avoided attachments of every kind – rented rather than bought a house, performed consultancy rather than permanent work, had girlfriends rather than a wife, and nephews and nieces rather than children. Now I find myself alone with many fine memories but no real relationships. While I’m in good health I’d like to make the most of it. It’s my last chance to serve someone else. To make a real difference to someone’s life as…”

Dimpy closed her eyes. It was unprofessional to cry while working. Also, she was then able to imagine Jack in a white tuxedo and top hat, and Judy wearing a white dress and veil.

Young Love

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2012 by javedbabar

Dimpy thought she was being too soft on couples intending to get married. Her job as Registrar of Weddings was to facilitate their unions, she knew, but she wanted them to be lasting unions. There was no point in getting hitched, and then abandoning each other two miles down the track, like donkeys running in different directions.

She performed this job only one day per week, but she would make that day count. She would add value to people’s relationships in a way that she had not managed to do to her own. But she had learnt her lesson soon enough, and would be sure that prospective brides and grooms learnt theirs too – but in time.

“David and Ashley?” she said to the young couple cuddling and whispering on the sofa. They separated quickly and looked at her fearfully, and then both smiled. How old were they? she wondered. Fifteen? Sixteen? What on earth were they doing here? The girl looked like a sweetheart; the boy seemed a cad.

She called them into her office, introduced herself, and read them the regulatory paragraphs. She told them that national and local laws were applicable, that they should be of the age of majority, residents of the Lucerne Valley, be of sound mind, and entering into this marital union of their own accord.

They both said they were eighteen and very much wanting to get married, but after that things began to go wrong. He didn’t know her middle name was Joanne. She couldn’t name his place of birth as Golden. He didn’t know the name of her sister Megan. She wasn’t aware that he had visited Peru with his uncle and trekked the Inca Trail.

She was grilling them harder than usual, for sure. Maybe people didn’t know as much about each other as they should. Maybe they should talk less and listen more. But some of these were basic things. If they didn’t listen to each other now, what hope was there for the future? Dimpy sent David out so she could interview his fiancée further, alone. She asked Ashley how they met.

“My family moved to Lucerne when I was sixteen years old and I enrolled at the High School. I was with a group of friends in the… Oh, sorry, it was two years ago. He saw me and walked straight towards me. I was so amazed. Such a handsome guy, I knew he was popular, all the other girls liked him too, but he liked me. He said that he knew immediately. I knew too. Knew what? Oh, that he was the one for me.”

After twenty more minutes of gush, Dimpy sent her out and called in David. He related the same story but less convincingly. When Dimpy pushed him, he said, “Look, Miss Kalash. I can see that you’re suspicious of me. I know why. So I’ll be honest with you. There was a group of girls there. I’d slept with them all. Then a new girl came and I thought I’d try my luck with her. She liked me a lot but not enough to let me – you know – get to know her better. She said that she liked herself more. I couldn’t believe it. No girl had ever said that to me before. She made me rethink everything. I realized that’s what I wanted; someone who liked herself more than she liked me; who was strong that way, not needy and…”

Honesty is a good quality, thought Dimpy. He has passed.

One Year Hitch

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2012 by javedbabar

Dimpy (Dimples) had three jobs now. She was Lucerne Valley Museum’s Director two days a week, taught Spatial Studies another two days per week, and was Registrar of Weddings on the remaining working day. She often thought that she worked too hard. Three different jobs meant three different offices, three kinds of skills, and three sets of colleagues every week. It was a lot to juggle. But she also found that it kept things fresh. Her life was always interesting.

She had come to Lucerne to take up the Museum job. When funding was cut, she began teaching at the college too. She thought that over time the latter would become full time, but when that was capped at two days per week she looked for other opportunities. A part time Registrar was required by the village; there was on average only one marriage and one divorce per week. The village took her on upon the condition that she attained the qualifications required within one month, and she did so.

She had been practising for a year now with no complaints, but she did often wonder what she was doing. Her own marriage had failed, leaving her with a child to raise alone, hence the three jobs.

What valuable insights did she have into marriage? That it was often entered into foolishly? That money was always an issue? That little niggles became huge arguments? That words always hurt?

In truth she had no guidance for others, but maybe she could learn something from them. Then next time – and she hoped that there would be one; she believed there would be; she affirmed it daily – things would work out better. But what if you had found the wrong person? If you weren’t right for each other could you ever make it work?

That was not her job to establish though. It was theirs. She was just interviewing people, engaging in a formality. They completed the forms and sealed the deal. Their love was – had to be – enough.

Dimpy realized though that this had been her failing with Shama. He wasn’t a bad person; he had brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues who adored him. Even she had adored him initially, but they just weren’t compatible. Her steady approach to things, which he called her “methodical madness”, and his seat-of-the-pants style, which even the devil wouldn’t care for. They disagreed on everything – holidays, cooking, cleaning, not to mention spending, and when – to be honest, with him it was if – to have babies.

Dimpy realized that her duty as a Registrar of Weddings was greater than she imagined. She should make people fight to get married. If they didn’t do that now, they would surely be fighting later. She decided that from now on she would give everybody a good grilling, like the one she had given her husband once too often. But if she hadn’t, maybe they would still be together – both unhappy forever.

Light Water

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2012 by javedbabar

Danny stood on the far side of the car park, looking down. Sophie indicated for him to walk towards her but he didn’t move. “Come on, love,” she called out, “Let’s go.”

There was still no motion, so she walked towards him instead, and put her arm around his waist when she reached him. “Are you all right?”

Danny looked up at her but said nothing, then again looked downwards. She followed his eyes and saw what he was looking at: a large pool of water reflecting the stars, and also the two of them. It wasn’t a normal reflection though. Their images were repeated all over the pool in different sizes, with different opacities, and orientations. They seemed caught within an infinite mirror, with stars all around them.

All she could say was, “Wow! Babe.” Sophie was no scientist, but figured it was something to do with crystals melting into water. There had been frost warnings this week, and she’d seen snow plows spreading rock salt. It must affect the water somehow.

She had heard the term “heavy water” on a news story about proliferation of nuclear technology in the Middle East. Was it something like that? Then she realized that if anything, this was its opposite: light water, water filled with light.

Sophie was mesmerised by the mirror. She stood beside Danny, together, forever it seemed. Forever and ever. Here they were in Lucerne. There, in the City, before they’d met. And there, living in a beautiful cabin in the valley. Elsewhere, at the Taj Mahal. She was hallucinating surely. Meditating. Obsessing. Entranced.

This water was filled with the wonder of the universe. The stars all around them knowing each other, connecting and signalling, making constellations.

His Taurus strode towards her Leo, but rather than fighting, they lay down together in velvet. Aquarius carried over a pitcher of cool water with Pisces swimming within it. Gemini said, “Hello! Hello!” to Capricorn, who replied with “Mehhn!” Cancer and Scorpio pinched each other playfully. Virgo herded Aries along, while Sagittarius used Libra to balance his arrows. Was this an image of the “heaven on earth” spoken of in holy books? A moment of union with all that exists?

“Hey! What are you two looking at?” shouted their friend Shama, pulling his truck into the car park, on his way to the bottle shop. “Get out of the way or you’ll be pretty flat soon.” Danny and Sophie looked up as he drove through the light water. It rippled and became dark.

Shitty Brown

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , on April 16, 2012 by javedbabar

“I’m looking forward to the art class,” said Irene. “It’s been years since I’ve painted anything. It will be fun I think.” James stared past her towards the front windows, where light poured in. He seemed to prefer facing that direction, not that he could tell her himself. She just had a feeling.

She enjoyed her daily visit to Open Hearts seniors daycare centre. It got her out of the house, and she’d made a couple of friends now. Most of all she liked to spend time with James, who had been her soulmate in many lifetimes, even though she’d found him too late in this life to share much, and his stroke had left him unresponsive to her and everybody else.

What did he do all day, she wondered? What did he think? What did he feel? What was it like to be locked up inside yourself, unable to share your thoughts and dreams? Poor James. Her James. King James. She said to him, “Okay darling, I’m going to see Mr. Amin to see if I can help today. He seems to appreciate my assistance.”

Mr. Amin said, “Irene! Nice to see you.” She wondered if they had magic imps in India? If they did, then he would definitely be one of them. “The art teacher will be arriving at ten. Would you please help her to set up when she comes.”

Mr. Amin was amazing. Where did he find resources for these kinds of activities? The Authority had cut back severely on funding. Public services were closing down everywhere, yet Open Hearts was running smoothly with cultural activities weekly, even twice weekly. They’d recently been taught a dance called Zumba, Egyptian belly dancing, healthy cooking, pottery, origami, and rapping – at which ex-cowboy Albert excelled, though Mr. Amin was displeased with the continual rhyming of his name with gold pannin’ and jammin’; “It is pronounced A-meen,” he said. “Not Am-in.” Albert had then rhymed his name with spleen and unseen, and obscene and latrine, at which point Mr. Amin had asked him to stop.

Irene helped the teacher lay out paper, paints, brushes, and pots. She hadn’t brought many colours – just the basics: red, yellow, blue, black and white. Enough to make something garish like they would have produced when children. Maybe they would succeed in mixing subtler shades. From what she recalled though, mix too much and you end up with shitty brown. There was enough of that around here already.

Mr. Amin called everybody together. Not everyone wanted to join in though, and not everyone was able to. Her James for example just sat to one side, staring. How could he engage? Never mind a paintbrush, he could barely hold his spoon.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said Mr. Amin. “Here is our teacher, Stella. She has been an artist for twenty years, and has kindly agreed to deliver a six-week art course at Open Hearts.”

“If she’s an artist, then why isn’t she making art?” said Gemma.

“What do you mean by that?” said Mr. Amin.

“Isn’t there a saying: ‘Those that can do, and those that can’t teach’?”

There was an embarrassed silence, broken by Stella. “Actually I do both. I teach two days a week and paint three days. I’ll invite you all to ‘Being Become’, my next exhibition in the City. Mr. Amin, would you be able to arrange the transport?” He nodded. “Good. Let’s begin. Why do we make art?”

“Because it’s lovely?” said Irene. “It improves our environment.”

“Yes, it does. Anybody else?”

Mr. Amin couldn’t help joining in. He said that we had a basic instinct for harmony, balance, and rhythm. We desired experience of the mysterious. It was an expression of the imagination. It held ritualistic and symbolic functions. Nobody needed reminding that he had once been the Minister of Culture for Northern India, before retiring to Canadia to be near his grandchildren.

Stella said, “I think you’ve covered everything, Mr. Amin. Shall we begin?”

People fiddled about, knocked over water, got paint on their clothes, bent brushes, and ripped paper, but eventually paint made it onto paper, and artworks “became”.

Nobody noticed James rise. He shuffled over to the central table and seated himself before an art station. “What’s he doing?” Gemma said. “Watch out, he’ll make a big mess.” Stella helped him to get started, and he continued independently. It was true though, he was making a mess. There were patches of colour beside and then atop each other, which quickly fused into browns. Shitty browns. It was time for lunch, and they went to the dining area for oil-free chicken curry with chick pea rice. James stayed where he was, manifesting his vision.

Mr. Amin went to check on his progress. As Minister of Culture he had considered all manner of artworks for purchase and display in national museums. From Mughal miniatures to pickled sharks. He saw that there was merit in this painting. Within the shitty brown he saw a strong story emerging. He saw two trails of colours joining, separating, and rejoining, arching and twisting, fading and reforming – losing and then finding each other – yet their forms were always entwined.