He does know his own name. He does not even need to write it down. His name is Len. Len Samuelson. And his parents were Mr and Mrs Samuelson. He cannot remember their first names. Perhaps that is because, until he was well into his twenties he was not allowed, or did not allow himself, he was never sure which, to call them by anything other than Mum and Dad when they were alone together, or Mr and Mrs Samuelson when he introduced them to his friends.
He does remember their names are written in the folder of papers he found on their desk in the little retirement village unit when he went to clean it out after they both perished in that dreadful accident. So-called accident. Those souped up black devil cars should be banned, and the young guys who drive them emphatically, demandingly, forcefully, hurtling their right to be energised from testererone hits into the paths of innocents taking a stroll in the late afternoon sun, those neanderfuls should be hung and quartered. Or eaten alive by cannibals, a mouthful at a time.
He shudders. That is not a kind thought. He practices forgiveness contemplation every day. It helps. He is not perfect, but he thinks he is ready to meet his maker. The doctors say that will not be long now.
And he knows, he deeply knows, he will be re-united with her there, also. He wonders who will come to greet him as he passes through those gates, first. His maker? Or his eternal love. Or perhaps Blacky the puppy who one day in the night completely disappeared while the family were all sleeping. Yes Blacky will be first. Or the birds.
He knows his mind is a little strange. He does not care. He barely talks to other people now. Only to the mice and the birds does he really open up. Why should he bother with people at all. All he wants is his wife back.
And he cannot quite recall her name.
The doctors say his memory will completely fail a month or so before his final breath. They say he won’t even remember he once found perfect love, and then she was taken away.
The priest who came by a couple of times to pray for him still has no idea what was going through his mind. Stan just nodded his head when the priest offered to say a prayer for his eternal soul. And when the prayer was finished and the priest asked him was their anything on his mind that he felt God needed to know before the journey he was soon to take, Stan whispered, “I will hang on that cross next to Jesus, if I can see her eyes as I mount her, one more time again”.
The priest had a moment of feeling horrified, but then decided this man was a little senile and probably was quite confused.
He sprinkled some holy water on his forehead anyhow, and muttered, “May this good man’s soul be laid to rest, in your care, until the holy ones return to earth commanded by your magnificence.”
And then the priest departed for he had a busy day ahead. Stan sat in his cane chair for a long long time and then sighed, “I just want her to come home”, and then he wept like a baby, until the cockatoos squawked above his verandah and told him it was time for bed.
“The infinite sea is red. And the sailors on it are blue. In the long boats the natives are as silent as the mid summer clouds. They know those sailors will struggle as they are dragged up the beach to the cooking fires. They will make a grand banquet for the Queen of The Land this very evening. And the turtles they captured this morning will be served an an entree. The blue sailors are not even aware of the presence of the long boats or the natives rowing them quietly. And I am watching over this from a tower on a hill, up beyond the village, and my feet and hands are bound in chains. I do not know why I have not been eaten yet, I have seen many meals come and go. I have got used to the idea of my eventual horrific demise. I wonder if they will enjoy my taste.”
He sighs, in the dream, and considers himself lucky to be still alive today. The scene changes abruptly and he is in that plane again.
“Turtles are meandering down the aisle, and the hostess is naked except for a bandana that seems to have been taken from a wanderer who came too close to a village where the locals have never been told about Jesus. And I do not know, in the dream, why I know all this. And the naked hostess does not interest me. I have no desire for her nakedness, I just request a small bottle of water, and then settle down to read the inflight magazine. The naked hostess continues up the aisle, where a bear of a man grabs her – with not a drop of tenderness – and splays her across the row of seats and she does not complain at all. A minstrel strums a sullen song that slowly turns into an abandoned dance. Three mystic sufis whirl themselves down the aisle and as the back door opens, they turn for a moment back to us, genuflect magnificently, and then with serene smiles on their faces hurtle themselves down into the sea. I hear the splash of their bodies and then voices calling out in a foreign tongue that I magically understand, “Boil the water! Sprinkle the salt! We are bringing a meal back for us all. Three lovely morsels, and none of the tribe needs to be hungry tonight, at all.”
In the dream he wonders what all of it means. Is it all true or is it symbology playing out in a mind tormented by something that occurred in its past? Is it even possible to wonder about symbology of a dream while actually dreaming that dream? Is it possible he is not dreaming the dream at all? If so, who is dreaming the dream he is suffering inside?
He also wonders if other people wonder about their dream, while in the dreams. He murmurs softly in his bed, “This dream would be nothing, without me”.
The warrant that was put out for his arrest in those turbulent days after he arrived back in this little village, has fortunately been annulled. His mother’s lawyer had done a good job. And indeed he should have, with the stipend his mother had left for his practice, as part of the trust fund she had set up for little Len.
Even in her final years when Len was approaching seventy, she would smile as he came walking towards her hospice bed and whisper, “Here comes little Len.” But sometimes she would instead call out more loudly, “Here comes little Stan.” And he would be indignant because Stan was his cousin and why does she confuse him with me.
On the warrant was written, “Wanted for Dealing in Miracles without a License”. And the lawyer had argued, “The legislation about miracle dealing does not apply, because my client has special needs.”
And Len sitting in his cane chair on the verandah is a little confused. He cannot work out if all this happened before, or is it all still to come. But he does not care about confusion, it does not matter, nothing matters at all. He just wonders, that’s all. Wonder comes and goes, the pain comes and goes, the sense of utter abandonment comes and goes, even his own presence in this world in front of his eyes comes and goes. But only one thing never ever comes and goes, is always inside him, is always embracing him, is always breathing him and seeing through him and caring for him, and creating him and dissolving him, and recreating him in another galaxy far far away… and that thing, that infinite all-powerful, ever-present and ever-loving thing is inseparable from her, and he cannot remember her name.
He looks up again as the cockatoos screech at him. “Len you are day dreaming nonsense again. Why don’t you go inside and make some tea.”
He never drinks tea during the day, but the cockatoos understand poetic imagery so he smiles and calls to them, “My mind is relaxed already you little scarlatans. If I were any more relaxed I’d be able to fly like you. And my time for that is still coming. Meanwhile come down here and I will eat you.”
And the cockatoos laugh. They know he would never hurt a feather of anything that belongs to a flock. They come to visit him every day, and wonder if perhaps he is the humanised form of their leader who unfortunately flew head on to a jumbo jet as it was coming into land, at that airport they visit every September. Chiang Mai International is its name. Len remembers that.
The temples of Chiang Mai are never far from his thoughts. They are a symbol of the perfection he experienced with his wife. He cannot quite explain this, except to realise they gave the impression they had always been there, they were completely open to anyone who wished to experience their grace, and the holiness and silence inside them always refreshed his soul.