What the old man heard

“How’s the cocoa?” the old man asked before taking a sip of his drink. He sat on the carpet close beside the fireplace.

“It’s delicious.” the little girl grinned. Her initial reserve slowly disintegrated as she got more comfortable around the old man.

“So,” began the old man, “do you wanna tell me what you saw?”

“Wouldn’t you rather know where I am from?” the little girl offered.

“Oh, yeah that too. I thought you’re gonna tell me all that along with whatever you saw.” the old man’s eyes sparkled with suppressed anticipation.

“Okay. I will.” the little girl gulped down the last bit of her drink and put the mug down on the small table that stood beside the armchair.

“I live with my aunty in a village close by. I go school there too. And I come to the forest a lot to play with my friends.”

“I figured you must’ve came from the village.” the old man interjected.

“Aunty always warned me not to go too deep inside the forest.” guilt washed over her small face. “My aunty has to work late sometimes. Janesha sneaks out of her home and we run to the forest to play with the fireflies.” she continued, trying not to think about how much trouble she was going to be in. “There’s a magical lake too, if you go a little further. We throw rocks at it and it glows!”

“My aunty’s going to be late tonight and I finished my homework and chores early. There was still light outside, so we thought we could go inside the forest a little more than we usually do. We were hoping to find some cute bunnies. Oh, or deers with horns like glow sticks.”

“Don’t they tell you kids tales about the dangers of venturing out too much?” the old man shook his head with disapproval. “Back in my days, they told us there were wolves who smelled out brats as soon as the sun began to set. They would devour our bones if we went anywhere close to the forest after dark.”

“No, Ms Diya taught us we don’t have wolves in our forest.” the little girl stated as a matter of factly. Her face suddenly became alive with excitement as she recalled something, “but they tell us stories about an invisible line that only appears…”

“…once during a full moon every decade when the flowers with obsidian petals appear.” the old man finished. “They still tell you that, huh.”

“You know that story!” the little girl exclaimed, “I always wonder what happened to the boy.”

“Well, I never heard of no boy in the story.” the old man said, straightening his legs on the carpet.

“But that’s the best part!” she didn’t hide the disappointment in her voice. “You know, the boy who saw the flowers and followed their trail into the forest.”

Everything about the old man hardened for a moment. His grey eyes became cold and distant. He got up and walked towards the window, lifting the curtain to look at the moon. His features softened and his eyes regained their sad undertones.

“Do tell me more about this boy.” the old man urged, letting go of the curtain. The sudden change in his behaviour confused the little girl but her eagerness to tell the story made her pay no attention to it.

“They say the boy woke up in the middle of the night to relieve himself. But when he got out of bed he saw the window was open and the moonlight was especially bright. Slowly, he peered out the window to see a trail of flowers with petals the colour of obsidian growing all the way from his window and disappearing into the forest. He went to wake his mother up and when they returned, there was nothing outside other than darkness.” she paused, her eyes wide as if she was hearing the story for the first time.

“His mother told him he must’ve dreamt it and closed the window shut. When morning came, his mother realised the house was too quiet. She went to check if the boy was still sleeping. When she went into his room, she found an empty bed with no sign of her boy. The morning sun poured in through the open windows. At first, she thought he went outside to play but then she spotted a single petal lying at the edge of the bed and she knew. She knew that her little boy was gone.”


A Continuation of Dance of the cosmic whales.
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Dance of the cosmic whales

“What did you see?” the old man enquired. His voice deep and solemn, “speak up, girl.”

“I saw a, a whale. A whale made of stars, swimming in…nothing.” mumbled the little girl. She didn’t look into the eyes of her interrogator. Her eyes were fixed on the twilight.

“Child, I’ve lived in these mountains for years. So many lonely years, to…to see this. My sanity girl, give me back my sanity!” the old man howled with bitter laughter which frightened the little girl. Her shoulder shook as she began to cry silently.

“No, no. I am so sorry!” the old man cleared his throat and kneeled down in front of the little girl. He patted the little girl’s head with an oversized palm. “There, there. Don’t you cry, sweetheart. I wouldn’t hurt ya. I can act a little crazy sometimes, sorry.”

The little girl looked down at her feet and rocked on her heels, sniffling every now and again.

“I promise, I won’t do it again. Forgive me?” he apologised in a gentle and sincere manner.

She finally raised her eyes to look at the old man and smiled. The moonlight glistened on the traces of snot and tears left behind. The old man gave her an old handkerchief to clean her face with.

“Wanna come inside and have a cup of hot cocoa?” he asked, gesturing towards the small wooden cabin he called home. “It’s freezing out here.”

“Sure.” she whispered, blowing her nose on the handkerchief. Her voice was still shaky from crying.

“That’ll be lovely.” she added, louder this time.

They headed towards the door of the cabin which stood only a few steps away from them. The old man held the door open for the little girl to pass through. He might’ve minimised his contact with civilisation as much as possible but he never forgot his manners. She thanked him while he closed the door and hanged his jacket and scarf. Then he gave the little girl a blanket to wrap around herself and told her to make herself at home. She took a sit on a small armchair in front of the fireplace while he made the hot chocolates.


My writing goal at this stage is simply to write anything so that it becomes a part of my everyday routine.

Ten worthy quotes

Quotes are the words of wisdom that were preserved over time and space, or so I imagine them to be. I, for one, can appreciate a quote that makes me think. It can help shift a perspective. Or simply serve as a reminder. So here I am, sharing a few quotes that speak to me.

“Let your kindness be like the rain, that cares not about whom it falls upon…”

-Talib Al Habib

When life seems to be full of hatred and it becomes just that much easier to justify our bitter words and actions.

“I am not interested in being original. I am interested in being true.”

-Agostinho da Silva

When the realisation of our ordinariness hits hard and we do things we don’t believe in to appear different.

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

-Socrates

When we become arrogant about the little knowledge that we have; Or when we are saddened, realising one can never know everything. We missed most events of the Universe, after all.

“Never be afraid to sit a while and think.”

-Lorraine Hansberry

Sometimes, we just need a little solitude to learn from our mistakes; to smile at the happy memories and mourn the tragic ones. To let the course of life play itself, right before our eyes.

“Sometimes the right thing feels all wrong until it is over and done with.”

-Alice Hoffman

For moments that make us question whether it is worth doing. Is it? One must look at the bigger picture to decide that, I suppose.

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”

-Gabriel García Márquez

It’s a lot about perspective, you see.

“It is easy to love people in memory; the hard thing is to love them when they are there in front of you.”

-John Updike

The most self-explanatory quote.

“Deserve your dream.”

-Octavia Paz

I am not one to be content simply by receiving something. I must work hard and deserve it. But a free chocolate is always welcome.

“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”

-Laura Ingalls Wilder

I used to go about telling people how much I wanted to skydive. Lies. I did indeed convince myself, but turns out not one cell in my body can be bothered to go skydiving. I am more about enjoying the view from a parachute or a mountain top. Mostly, reading a good book with a cup of tea at hand.

“Be in the world as if you were a stranger or a traveller along the path.”

-Prophet Muhammad (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam)

For those of us that can never feel completely at home. Yet, always content no matter where we are. When we need to break free the chains of expectations and conformity. Or when we are haunted by the unshakable feeling of being strange, always.