CURIOSITY IS KEY
I needed to pee, so I walked out my room, and down the corridor to the communal squat-toilet. Walking back, I see the new Maltese girl that arrived, was it yesterday or the day before? Kirsty is her name; she came back with the other Maltese girl. Cheryl-with-the-boobs is how the Spaniards like to refer to her; usually with cupped hands in front of them, and sheer delight painted across their faces. Now Cheryl and Kirsty are sleeping in the room next to mine, about five paces away, where the corridor lowers itself by two steps. I pass their room, walk further, turn right and disappear.
When I reappear, Kirsty is sitting outside, on the two steps. There are papers all about, and a cup of coffee. After my pee, I feel like a morning smoke – a traveling habit – so I walk up to Kirsty, and ask for some rolling tobacco and paper.
I sit on the step above her, roll the tobacco, use some waste cardboard as the filter, light it, and then begin polite conversation as a way of saying thank you. Because it’s not polite to just walk off.
“Can I have a look?” I ask.
“Yes of course.” She replies.
And I begin sifting and skimming my way through her art.
SEE WITHOUT YOUR EYES
When I come across this drawing, I stop.
There is something about it that speaks to me. Literally. Beckons me.
“Can I have this for the day?” I ask.
There was a story in that picture I could sense so vividly, in a space beyond my ordinary Five Senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound.
“Of course!” She replies, “You can keep it as long as you want.“
Turns out she is a painter who has been playing with the idea of collaborating with a writer, to put words to her art.
And I am an author overcoming a personal breakdown, by forging my mental energies ahead to publish a second book that will satisfy me like the first book did not; while possibly re-establishing some shattered self-esteem. To collaborate with an artist (who could possibly design the book cover?) was a significant morale booster.
LOVE IS NOT MAINSTREAM
I take the drawing and retreat into my cave at Namaste Lodge, where I disappear into a creative haze. I pop out later that day having written down the vision I received, of Jumala, Nasha, and the legend of Bun-e-stiah. It’s a fantasy-world style of writing I have never previously attempted, or even thought of.
Day goes into night, and night leads us all into sleep. In the morning, I wake up and realize I’m supposed to be extending my visa, so I get out of bed.
I walk down the corridor, disappear, wash and re-emerge. This time both the Maltese girls are awake and seated on the bench and steps outside their room. Cheryl is blurry eyed and messy haired; rolling a smoke. And they’re speaking Maltese, but I hear the word ‘immigration’.
“Who is going to immigration?” I ask.
“Me.” Says Kirsty, “I want to extend my visa for another week.“
“Okay” I say, “that’s cool. I’m heading that way myself if you want to join?“
Being newly arrived, she is happy to take the offer. And I am happy to chat with her about a collaboration on the book cover of my next book. Win-win.
AN UNLIKELY SETTING
The walk to immigration is a normal walk by two travelers whose lifestyles, ideas, and clothing suggest they are on the fringe of society. We stop for some chai and samosas at a roadside shop, then continue until we reach the immigration office. Everything happens normally and monotonously as expected; we hand in our passports and are told to sit and wait.
One of the characteristics of my life is that I have regularly sat and walked in unconventional places. I’ve always had ‘my spot’, and this has been my own private game I have played, in my own private world. So I don’t sit in the waiting room; I walk outside and head over to the flower bed against the wall so I can sit on its bricks that birds have relentlessly pooped on since it was last washed. But when I get to the door to step outside, Kirsty the new Maltese girl is sitting in my spot, rolling a cigarette. This is both weird and unprecedented. In almost forty years of a well traveled life, I don’t remember anyone ever sitting in ‘my spot.’
I walk over, curiously.
I take my seat next to her. Solo backpacking involves a lot of hanging around, so there’s nothing unfamiliar about sitting and waiting in silence. She takes a few drags on her cigarette then extends her right hand to offer it to me. I reach to take it, our fingers touch, our eyes meet like they have been meeting before … except this time something otherworldly and intergalactic takes place.
THERE IS MAGIC IN THIS UNIVERSE
It feels like every lightning bolt from every corner of the skies gathers into a single immeasurable force, to pass through my body and ground its energies into the earth. As if I have been living on a raft on a turbulent ocean my whole life – with no other point of reference – which in this moment, instantaneously and inexplicably becomes as still as a sheet of glass.
“Did you feel that?” I ask.
She gently nods, with wide eyes of unbelief. We have not moved an inch.
“What is this?“
I have no answer, but there is a deep Knowing, something ancient and primal within that moves me to ask:
“Where have you been?“
To which Kirsty replies,
“What took you so long?“
THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN YOU ARE BEING TOLD
We know each other. We’ve done this before. This is not a first meeting, this is a reunion. And although our minds are confused, our bodies and that mystical space known as spirit both know it. And we cannot stop touching each other because when we do, the lightning force of the universe immediately begins to dissipate and dissolve. When we touch, there is an immediate gathering and grounding of unspeakable energy. A sense of belonging. I would guess – because memory fails me – it would be something similar to an infant being cradled by its mother. A feeling of total belonging, of total familiarity, of total safety … beyond anything that Mind is able to comprehend, vocalize, or explain.
The next ten days is nothing like the romanticized movie scene. It is more like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn meeting up again in another time, on another planet, for another book and another adventure. It is the reaquainting of two soulmates, who are mysteriously also meeting for the first time. By our second morning we’ve already committed to growing old together. And that conversation goes like this:
“Do you want to grow old together?“
“Okay. What shall we eat for breakfast?“
And that’s it. We get dressed and walk out into the village of Pokhara, for some chai and roadside pastries.
We’re together five days, before Kirsty extends her flight by an extra week. And after a total of ten days together, it is time for her to return to Malta. After she leaves, I stay a couple more weeks, caught in a state of what-the-fuck, before heading to India, to begin searching for a way to reach Malta; the island below Sicily that I had never previously heard about, until meeting Cheryl, and her friends Denise and Lauren when they first arrived a month earlier.
COURAGE IS NON NEGOTIABLE
How does a man on a South African passport, who has no employment history, no mentionable banking history, and no permanent residence; who has been out of his home country for the past three years, and who has no more than a hundred Euro to his name, get to Malta, a Schengen state in the European Union? This was the Wormhole I entered as I jumped on the bus to carry me out of Nepal, down into India.
It all seemed like a pipedream; completely not possible. And yet, that deep and inexplicable Inner Urge persisted … as if it knew something I did not.