The drugs I have been taking have had an interesting affect on me. I woke up this morning – about 5 am – the drugs running through my system – and I decided to take a walk. As you by now should know, Valparaiso is not a ‘straight’ city in the guise of ‘normal’ cities – it is a higgledy-piggledy ant hill of a city. With up’s and down’s with wonky roads and wonky lines. So – I took a walk.
Ahhh – what bliss! It was all still early morning with the sun slowly creeping up from the west – and there was total silence in the air. The dogs were asleep, the occasional cat huddled in the corner might awake from seeing me – but not a sound. The only sound it seemed was the wind and the tingling in my ears. I walked around – took the steps down to the main street level. Dustbin men, street cleaners, vultures, drunkards, workaholics, party-animals, the insomniacs and the sick and convalescent – the only types you see at this time. The insomniacs and sick like ghosts warily trudging the streets. Everybody else warmly tucked up in bed but not the restless. The early mornings, when roads are empty of traffic, no din, the traffic lights blinking away to themselves, plastic bags fluttering along the empty pavements, the shops all shuttered except the 24 hour pharmacy with its blinking neon sign and its bored solitary worker – it’s a wondrous sublime scene. You feel you are the only one left in the world. The few people you do meet at this time all seem friendly. Everybody smiles and say’s “Ola” as if we all share some great cosmic secret: “Shush – don’t tell the world!” we whisper to each other…
I head for a bench in the square but it is occupied by the tramps. A dozen or more huddled creatures wrapped tight in their dirty day clothes – lying – sleeping – one to a bench. Like black beetles. Broken beer bottle shards of glass litter the square. Drink: the best cure to help you forget the misery of your life
And the drugs are doing all sorts of things to me as I trudge on through the crepuscular twilight. Making me faintly dizzy, making me feel as if I weigh as much as a feather, bright lights I no longer like, I feel more sensitive – that’s it! More sensitive. I feel I can sense more – as if my sense settings have been boosted up a few notches thanks to the cocktail swilling around in my blood. I feel like a hospital patient who has escaped from the mad house. I have the faint thrill of doing something dangerous! Am I sleepwalking? The sea gulls arc their wings above me calling names to each other. The drone of the sea is the background music to this sojourn, and then the sun finally shows its fiery head. First it rises a little tentatively, a little sheepishly, as if it has just gotten out of bed, and then after having breakfasted and gotten dressed, the sun emerges in full regalia. In the garbs of the great emperor. A brilliant golden fiery orb of life giving sustenance. It emerges in full splendour above the western cerros of the city and inches its away up the firmament – the thick mist in the distance – lying low, slowly rises, like a curtain upon a stage, and then disappears. A new day has begun. A brand new day. But no ordinary day. Today is my birthday. Today I am birthday boy. Today is the day I was born.
Yet – it won’t feel special, because nobody here knows it is my birthday. I could tell people: “Oh by the way it is my birthday today” just to elicit a response and no doubt they will look at me and nod their heads in smiles and perplexed approval (just in case I have a knife and wish to stab them)
I walk up the hill and with the city below me and the sun casting its golden tentacles across the sweeping bay – I think of grander themes. I think of time – the equalizer.
Time goes on. As it always goes on. Before me, since the birth of the universe lies 14.72 billion years of time. And then I appear – a tiny, fragile flickering candle tossed unto the waves of an empty storm of time – My candle will flicker for a while on the sea of time. This flickering is important to me because it is all that I am. It is my life. This flickering is me – Wasim. But in the great scheme of things, it is a mere trifle, like a single sand grain washed upon a beach of trillions of sand grains. And then one day, in the future, I will flicker one last time and the envelope of darkness – the sea of time on whose borrowed immensity I float – will once again wash over me. This sand grain called ‘I’ will return to the vast sea that spawned it. I will have had my moment. My fill. My dawn and my sunset. My life and perhaps my fill of love. And nobody nor the universe will ever care.
It will be, as if I had never been. The only thing that distinguishes the now, or makes it any special compared to all the other possible times – is that now is my time. Now is also your time. In fact this applies to everybody reading this. Now is your time.
and today is – my day.
My glorious sunny and beautiful – birthday!
And now…it is time…to crawl back into bed.