What do I know?
Who am I?
There is a whisper that tells me I am Isca.
But what does that mean?
What can that mean?
How far can you travel and not be so changed that you do not recognise your home when you finally return?
Yet I remember it all. I remember it all with perfect clarity.
I even remember the moment when I became.
When I was all and everything there ever was.
I remember that particularly and it is this that makes it so that I can now not clearly find my way back from there.
I am here at Headman’s Acre.
It is not like I remember it to be.
The windows, they are broken.
I am lying on a bed of straw with a blanket across it, not the bed I made, the bed I grew together from old pieces of wood and shaped it so it would be stout and pleasant, soft and protective.
Marani is here but she, too is not the same as she used to be. Her hair is white now and she looks so very old it makes me feel deeply sad in the most disconcerting way.
The children are different, more somber, more quiet. And golden Chay is silent and sits by me only when I sleep; if I awake, he gets up and leaves me as though he could not meet my eyes.
How much time has passed?
I drift and wonder sometimes about sequences of events and thoughts, as though they may just be one and the same, and there’s the child, of course, moving, stirring and radiating its presence and half formed thought.
Sometimes I dissipate and become again, and sometimes I re-assemble in form and mind for long enough to wonder afresh about the many things that are so far beyond my comprehension.
Marani tries to talk and sometimes she pushes me with her mind, coarse and chafing and I must withdraw the physicality so that it will not be damaged further.
I am very – fragile.
I think that is the right expression, or it might not be, for what indeed is physicality?
As though this question, this very question needs to be answered in a most explicit way, that is when the pain came. Softly it came, so at first it was not really a pain, more of a foreknowing of pain, a shadow of a far away event that tingles briefly and makes you shiver.
The pain came closer, nearer, and you could begin to hear it. It called now, challenged and demanded my undivided attention, and the more I gave, the more it demanded from me until it was screaming so loud the noise changed into movement, trembling movement first and building once more, a breath at a time, until the earth was shaking and tearing itself apart beneath the roaring of the falling mountain ranges.
At some point, I was no longer the observer but became one with the pain.
It went on and on for an eternity. It could never stop and there had never been a time before, nor would there ever be a time again.
I was hell, and hell was me, and that was all.
I did not question this, for a hell may not question; I did not regret or resent this, for a hell cannot.
Slowly, imperceptibly, I collapsed in on myself, feeding myself to my own fires with excruciating determination.
And then, from outside, there came to me an angel.
At the time, I did not think like that, it was only later that I understood.
With radiant wings of night blue it enfolded me and the fires began to dissemble beneath its ancient power.
Within this enfoldment, I lay encircled and protected and I re-build myself enough to rise and grow to the angel, to grow within it and to become one with it until I, myself, was ready to rise and take wing, high and mighty, powerful pulses lifting with such passion and such vengeance, with such incomprehensible submission.
I was saved and healed, born and re-united, cleaned and cleansed, all right there.