He was back there, on the same path, that path which took him to childish joys and childish fears.
He spent countless hours of his childhood running back and forth on that pathway with brothers, cousins and friends, all of whom felt equally close and equally related. It was never lonely on that path back then, but now it was painfully so. It was their place of fun and games, racing on the soft dirt that never hurt them when they tripped and fell, climbing the rough sturdy trees that steadily held their weight, and eventually splashing in the water canal at the end of the road, the one with the cool, sparkly water, clear like no other in the surrounding villages. There they spent the hours of day light when they didn’t have to help their fathers in the fields or their mothers in the homes. They enjoyed every minute of it without a care in the world, but only till the daylight started to fade.. then they would all stop their toying and their games without being asked, and quietly move away and back towards their homes. But always, He was the last one to leave.
Like all of them he had heard the stories, the ones all grandmothers told again and again, because that was what grandmothers did, they were the story tellers, the ones who nourished every child on honey sweet dreamy fantasies and lemon sour cautionary tales. But this story in particular, the one which made all the kids leave their games by dusk, was sour sweet.
It was the story of the NADAHA, the caller of names, the one who inhabits waters and wakes at nights. The one who’s so beautiful she enchants whoever man glimpses her and hears his name in her voice, whether he was a little boy or a man grown. They said she knew all names, yours too, even before you were born. But she can’t call for you unless you are near. she can only call your name when she can feel your presence, hear your steps on her threshold and your breath penetrating the silence of her kingdom. Only then she calls, and when she calls you are lost, you disappear and be forgotten from the world. They said she seduced men and devoured children, that her charm turns monstrous and deadly once you are trapped by the beauty of the face and the voice, once you can’t escape. But this part he couldn’t believe. It felt like details added by women who lost their beauty to old age, jealous of another woman who the years can’t take her beauty away.
He always wanted to know more, asking to hear the tale again and again, hoping to discover a new detail with every retelling. He never stopped thinking about it, about her, even when he grew out of story time and had to deal with reality. So he came back here, to his childhood path. He had nowhere else to come back to. No more friends to run along with.. not even cousins or brothers, all of them lost in the struggle to survive reality. He still had the house, but it wasn’t a home anymore, lifeless and cold.
He had to come back, though, go back to somewhere, to something. He’s been out there, to the big city, chasing dreams of freedom, success and love. But he realized that he was running in circles, losing something with every round. He just couldn’t lose more, forget more, so he had to come back to remember and to regain parts of what was lost of himself.
He’s been here before, in the same spot in the middle of the path late at night. He came many times challenging his fear and the warnings he heard every day. But he was young then, and he had more to look forward to, the mere threat of the end was too much to risk. So he never got to the end of the road. But this time he was ready to face it, face the possibilities and the threats. So he kept walking towards the end of the road, to his beloved canal. He realized then that the soft light he glimpsed when he came years ago wasn’t young imagination. It was a silver blue light, like that of the moon if the moon was blue.
He heard it then, a soft voice like water trickling coming in syllables, like tunes of a song being composed. As he came closer the syllables took form, became familiar to his ears.. the song was his name, a song created just for him. It felt like a lullaby that he knew since the cradle, a calling of caring, of love and of peace. It was too beautiful, too familiar to ignore or resist, and he didn’t want to resist.
And then she was there, right there in front of him, more real and more alive than anyone he knew. She had long hair, rippling around her figure in waves and waves of black, and entwined within the strands were lotus flowers in full bloom. She had blue skin and silvery lips, but her blue wasn’t a color of death or cold, it was a warm blue, a vibrant hue more lively than all rosy cheeks. And she had black eyes, deep eyes, you could drown in those eyes, in the depths of what they have seen and what they can say. They would remind you of those ancient goddesses on temple walls, with eyes so deep that time couldn’t erase them.
He was standing there right at the edge of the water, seeing her for real.. and it wasn’t amazement or disbelief that he felt. It felt more true than his own existence, or as if it was the reason for his existence. She extended her hand and he stepped forward, touching her, not feeling his feet getting wet, not caring if he even drowned or became forgotten from the world. He knew her and she knew him and that was enough. He gave himself to his fantasy and reality didn’t have a meaning anymore.