You are are going to ponder upon what I am about to tell you.
It is strange how a series of seemingly unrelated events ‘add up down the street’.
These events though unrelated turn out to be monumental.
So monumental that I am forced to acknowledge the truth that, “all you know is all you have learned. Yet all you have learned is not all there is to know.”
My story begins about five years ago.
The circumstances surrounding this beginning were sorrowful. A friend and a brother died after a protracted illness. We were friends and so I had to travel out of town for his funeral.
On the morning of the funeral three of his colleagues from work approached me.
They said they recognized me from Maxwell’s service of songs a month before.
I had recited an ode to Maxwell. I had written it for him.
This was true. I had been called up to say a few words in honor of the deceased. It was a great opportunity to immortalize him. My rendition went well. I was honored by back slaps and back pats. Pecks, kisses, hugs and a phone number surreptitiously inserted into my clenched fist.
Adelaide… I’m in town for a few…let me know?
I apologise. I digressed.
These colleagues soon lent me the impression that we were not all mutual friends of the deceased.
In fact, they whispered to me slander so malicious that I could not stay for the ceremony any longer.
It was obvious to me that my friend had acquaintances masquerading as his friends.
Their words offended me.
I am not holding brief for anyone, besides not that it matters anymore. Maxwell has gone beyond our words and beliefs.
I was offended because these jerks were also assholes. I tend favorably toward straightforward people.
These were not. They were a bunch of crooked, cruel and malicious young men.
My driver was not available when I made up my mind to leave post-offense. But leave I had to.
So I began walking down the street in the direction we had arrived hours earlier.
The funeral was holding at Maxwell’s family’s villa out in the country. It had been a thirty minute drive. The city center was where I was headed. I was going back to my hotel.
In direct rebellion to my vast reserves of common sense, I flagged down a tricycle. They seemed to be the popular choice of transport for the indigenes.
Besides, I wanted some fresh air. I like a hike whenever I get conflicted.
Any writer worth his salt knows that inspiration may lay lurking… Grazing within inspired action.
The ride was uneventful for a bit. I immersed myself in the beauty of the countryside. I was carefully filling my lungs with fresh breaths…controlled inhalations and exhalations…
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a blur of brown and black hurtling toward my head.
The rider and I were the only occupants of the sturdy tricycle. He was in front of me steering the motorcycle on three wheels.
The tricycle was designed to carry the rider and four passengers. One in front with the rider and three behind. I had opted to pay for all the seats.
The design of the tricycle had us all cocooned in a hard shell made of metal. Canvas flaps were present but rolled up carefully. The canvas rolls held with ropes knotted at the top of the metal frame that was part of the hard shell. The concept being that in the event of rain tugging the ropes would allow the canvas roll down. And become makeshift doors. Protecting passengers from becoming drenched.
We were hurtling downhill when the projectile struck.
I had the presence of mind to duck and bring my right hand up to protect my head. My left hand was clutching my phone and my right hand held the A4 size magazine that was the funeral program.
There was about fifteen seconds of pandemonium as the missile hit somewhere on the right side of the hard shell. It then redirected into the cabin and smack into the hand protecting my face.
The magazine (or was it the projectile) struck the right side of my neck.
The alarmed rider struggled to control the rickshaw for a few meters. Before bringing the tricycle to an abrupt stop.
Luckily, there were no vehicles behind, before or incoming. We would have been telling another story otherwise.
I immediately disembarked and moved onto the gravelly part of the road. Away from the tricycle and traffic. The driver shakily killed the engine and stepped out too. As he began inspecting his rickshaw, I studied him for the first time.
He was one of those people addicted to skin toning creams.
He had bleached his skin into an off-putting red hue.
His skin was splotchy and the knuckles of his hands and feet specifically blackened. They looked like poorly roasted ripe plantains.
His knuckles, feet and the back of his exposed neck were all darker than the rest of his skin.
To further cement my feeling of distress, I noticed how his face and his arms were bleached a perfect tone of impossible yellow.
His entire skin was afflicted with eczema. The disease was so acute that his skin looked embossed.
Cringe worthy to say the least… Everything about the man was cringe worthy.
I watched him climb into the back where I was seated the entire ride and rummage behind the hard wooden seat. He presently emerged with the largest crow I had ever seen in my life.
It was barely alive and it’s neck was crooked. No doubt from it’s immediate past misadventure. It’s eyes were a smouldering black with a tinge of red. It’s black and grey beak kept opening and closing like it was trying to caw or speak.
The man began muttering incantations. As he was chanting, he began plucking the large feathers on the wings of the unfortunate bird.
He got some dirty twine and wrapped it around the bird tight. He then unceremoniously tossed the trussed bird behind the same wooden seat.
He looked up at me and informed me that he was going to take it to the local shaman.
We both agreed that it was a strange experience.
He (all by himself) agreed that it was an evil omen.
He motioned that we resume our journey.
Long story short, we parted ways. I was unharmed and even more eager to get back to my hotel.
Once there, I undressed and treated myself to air-conditioning. That and as many alcoholic beverages I could stomach.
I could not get the crow out of my mind. So I began praying for the bird, earnestly insisting that the rider not harm the bird in any way. That the bird live and not suffer abuse from superstitious buffoons.
Like I stated before, all these happened about five years ago.
Yesterday, I was at the entrance to the City Center, Deira, Dubai. I am printing copies of my soon – to – be – released book at an excellent establishment in Dubai.
It was there I ran into Time.
Time is a lovely creature I once dated.
Okay…allow me rephrase… About five years ago, I was engaged to be married to Time.
We had been dating for about a year when at her insistence, she proposed.
Of course I said, “no”.
We went our separate ways without malice.
She wanted above anything in the world to marry me. She said that she was too much in love with me to date me without a firm commitment.
So a few hours later she swung by my suite.
At my invitation…of course.
Life had been kind to us. We were both thousands of miles away from home and it looked like she was doing well.
Over drinks I prodded gently because I know her. Time has a few tells when she is stressed out. We were once lovers, so I was concerned.
She broke shortly. She told me that her mom had taken ill some years ago. Something about the ‘C bones’ in her mom’s neck needing surgery. She had brought her mum to the American Hospital Dubai for the surgery.
Her mom was always in pain from the condition she told me. The woman had lived in excruciating pain for many years now.
Time was visibly distraught and I reached for her hand. I had only intended to squeeze it gently in solidarity and support. We ended up squeezing one another gently.
In solidarity and support… Of course.
A few hours later I roused myself and left her asleep in my bed.
I wandered off to the balcony and was taking in the beauty of the city when I remembered the crow from years before in vivid detail.
I remember everything about that day and that bird.
I remember especially the eyes of the crow. And the beak of the bird.
I remember the eyes….how it looked at me.
It struck me right between my eyes that the bird KNEW me.
It occurred to me in that instant that I knew that bird.
Yes. I knew that bird.
I knew everything as the Rubik’s Cube of that enigmatic event yielded and I understood finally.
I had solved the Rubik’s Cube!
Time and I broke up just before I left for that funeral five years ago.
Time is an only child. Her mom was all she had. Time was the only thing her mother lived for.
I had tears in my eyes as I began praying for the bird again. I earnestly insisted that the bird not suffer anymore. I prayed that it be led to rest in peace.
I cried because I knew that my request would be granted.
Right on cue, I heard sobbing from inside my suite. With a heavy heart I walked back in to find Time in tears.
She was seated on the cold marble floor nude.
“It was the hospital that called” she told me.
They called to tell her that her mother had just died.
With a guilty conscience, I gathered her up and tried my best to comfort her.
There exists a practice in some parts of the world; the practice of white witchcraft.
Women in complicated relationships or in polygamy seek power to protect their children.
These white witches use their powers to open ‘doors of advantage’. They cater for their children using dark magic.
It is my understanding that Time’s mother had not taken my breakup with her daughter kindly. She had taken up the essence of the crow to frighten me years ago.
The encounter with me broke her neck. Her vertebrae had cracks in several places.
My prayers from way back then had (mercilessly) kept her alive in excruciating pain.
Meeting Time yesterday was not an accident. She had inadvertently given me what I needed to know to permit her mom to die in mercy.
Before meeting Time yesterday, I had no idea. No clue about anything… Her mom, the shape shifting, or my emerging powers.
May we all keep time in due season.