There once was a little boy called Sebastian, who was fond of wanderings and adventures. In fact, these wanderings and adventures were his ‘walkabout’. What is a ‘walkabout’, you may ask. That is indeed an interesting question.
It is said that once a child reaches puberty amongst the Australian aborigines, he or she is ordered to roam in the wild, preferably under the watchful eye of a tribal elder. So the child wanders here and there and sees all. The sights become perceptions; the perceptions become observations; and the observations become learning.
Though Sebastian was never ordered by anyone to roam; he loved doing it. He loved the tall trees and the green mountains and the blue sky filled with billowing summer clouds. He loved nature and all its wonderful smells.
I had been living in Room 106 for as long as I could remember. The room had soft-padded pale green walls and a ceiling painted white. There were neither windows nor ventilators – only a single door, which was always locked from the outside. A single fluorescent light was always on, right in the middle of the ceiling.
‘Tell me why you are here?’ I caressed the back of her delicate hand like one caresses a dead bird – a last gesture of useless kindness.
‘Tell me why you are here….. with me…….in this very moment?’
‘I really do not know.’ A tiny smile danced around the corners of her lips. She peered into my eyes looking for an answer or perhaps solace. Then she looked away.
‘Have you listened to what the dead man said?’ Maga asked me.
‘Yes I have.’
‘And what have you understood?’
‘That past was a dream, future is a fantasy and present is all that ever matters.’
‘Why is it……’ I asked the turtle. ‘….that the more I understand life and the more I write, the more I grow sad? I don’t dislike being sad but it overburdens me sometimes.’
‘Hmm!’ the turtle closed his grey clouded eyes for a moment. When he opened them again, they were as usual, shining with the golden light of ancient wisdom.
‘Understanding is a gift child. This gift comes to a few but this gift always comes with a curse. And that’s what the witch told you. That was the deal you made with her.’
‘Witch?’ I was surprised. ‘What witch and what deal?’
The sky was intermittently dark. Each period of darkness ended in a lightning flash. Each flash was succeeded by a deep growl up above and deep within the belly of the clouds. The light breeze smelt of a subtle promise of rain.
The old man with a head full of bushy silver hair stood quietly in the veranda. He was looking towards the western skies. His cloudy brown eyes were open but looked at nothing in particular. Instead they were filled with the grey shadows of memories.