Of Honey and Pain

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By: Sapientia Seeker

It’s almost sunset, and I, standing in this salty lake, toes dipped in the soggy mud of my origin, watching the majestic flow of the meandering River Gambia from a fair distance offshore. The waves ― in their gentle rebellion ― as if to say we’ll fight back ― lave the shore as the evening tide begins to rise. An assembly of gloriously lush mangroves, elegantly arranged like the Chinese military on Independence Day parade, adorn the landscape. A few chirping seabirds scattering around and a colony of magnificently colourful parrots perching on the branches of the mangroves humming in a symphony; the sound is a cover for Celine Dion’s Hallelujah melody. Growing up, this spot used to be my haven from life’s daily abuses. I would always come here for a free therapy session with Mother Nature; to vent, reflect, admire, and bask in the serenity and soothing peace of her warm embrace. It worked. Every time.

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I am a country chap. I always have been, even though I cannot seem to unshackle myself from the seductive lure of urban life. I have always loved coming back home to this tiny semi-peninsula village blessed with a sprinkle of rolling hills around the outskirts and an unembellished rugged landscape. This is home. This is Daru Salam; the cradle of my being. The last time I was here my uncle had just died, today my brother is getting married. That is the ambidexterity of fate; adept at serving the dish cold or warm, bitter or saccharine. Equally. Today I am scooping food from the rather warm side of this universal bowl, but as my parents and siblings, including the guests, congregate at the wedding and celebrate the union, I withdrew to come here and reminisce; ambling down the rough route of memory lane I wish I had never trodden upon, but as I grow up, I have learnt that fate, as always, catches up with you. No speedster, however fast, can outpace it.

As hackneyed as it sounds, life literally and figuratively, is not a walk in the park. It is a carousel, a rigmarolic marathon of trials and tribulations. An incessant bout of emotional turmoil and the eternal struggle to find the balance of maintaining sanity. I have been, for the past seven months, battling to find that seemingly elusive balance. I yearn for it. I need it back. On bended knees, in the stillness of darkness, I pray for it.  Sometimes so much so that it awoke the very demon that bereft me of the peace of mind I so much crave and, as it awoke, my muscles would suddenly contract; heart palpitates; chest tightens; breath shortens while I gasp for air; a shooting pain of pins and needles in my limbs; and an overwhelming cloud of fear and impending doom hover over me. It’s happening. It’s another intrusion into the deepest depth of my psyche by the very demon that has left me so broken from the night before. It is yet another episodic attack of reality lying to me. It is my anxiety ― not your typical stage fright type of anxiety, or getting anxious over a job interview type, no ― this is a disorder, an illness. To be more precise, I have battled with anxiety for seven months, which felt like seven years, and in the last couple of months, it has become so familiar, yet so excruciatingly foreign. I am better now, but I still have episodes sometimes. Whew, let’s flip this chapter, shall we? Enough.

I wish we could talk more and exhaust everything pent-up emotion in my bosom, but dusk is creeping in, although in the most magnificently immaculate way of The Divine Artist.

But before I take leave of you, in the immaculate words of Suzy Kassem, “each day is born with a sunrise and ends in a sunset, the same way we open our eyes to see the light and close them to hear the dark. You have no control over how your story begins or ends, but by now you should know that all things have an ending. Every spark returns to darkness. Every sound returns to silence. And every flower returns to sleep with the earth. The journey of the sun and the moon is predictable, but yours is your ultimate art.”

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