An eternity has past, time stopped, started and became irrelevant. Suddenly things are not the same anymore, a dyke has broken, a bridge has failed, an unsinkable ship has slipped beneath the waves; what was terra firma is now a swamp.
Wednesday morning nine o’clock the phone rings. I’m on my way out of the apartment to my office, thinking a line of poetry that I can’t quite get right. I know who to ask, it is my mom, she know the rest of the line so why should a I worry. She always knows the poetry, in fact we have had long discussions about poets and what is attributed to one is accurate or not. Kind of esoteric stuff that goes on in literature classes but with less intensity.
That’s the word, intensity, discussions with mom are always intense, she has her world view and she stands by it. She is passionate about her likes and dislikes and that is what makes it fun to discuss things with her. No opinion is worthless and she certainly does not mince words about her views; like it or not she will inform you, in her own way what she thinks.
She is an unstoppable force of nature but with a twist, she can admit a mistake if proven wrong. The key word is prove. You can’t just state a fact and let it ride, you need your reference book and make sure your reference is not some nitwit because she’ll proceed to tear him apart first as an hors d’oeuvre, and then finish you of as the main course and declare point won as the dessert.
I’ve won a few bouts with her, rare and I cherish them with glee and remind her of them from time to time when she gets on my case. The wins are few and far between, not because she is obstinate (although she can be) but because she requires logic, not emotion in proving your position. You can never win by simply increasing the volume of the discussion and throwing a tantrum, I’ve tried and lost miserably.
But all things aside, mom was a bulwark you could trust. What she said she would do was done, you could bet the bank on it. If she thought something shouldn’t be done she would let you know surely and firmly. Even if you insisted, tore your heart out, screamed, yelled, pleaded, sobbed, you were going nowhere if you couldn’t convinced her.
She had the respect of everyone because she respected everyone. In her eyes everyone was equal. She would serve tea to beggar and king equally and listen and record their wisdom without bias. If a gardener made a ditty that was to the point, it went into her poetry file right next to Saadi, Ferdowsi, Rumi and Hafez. If a king spouted nonsense I was sure he would be immediately cut to size in no uncertain terms.
She considered no one beneath her and no one above her. Woe be to the person who tried to pull rank on her! Don’t even go there. She would ban the person to kingdom come. And insincerity, she could smell it a mile away and would never, ever tolerate it.
But one thing would send her on a warpath like no other – injustice. That was an unforgivable crime. To commit a travesty of justice was to her worse than murder; she would never forgive or forget that. This was specially true if it was against someone who could not defend himself or committed by someone “who should know better”. The few people who got in her bad books were because of this “crime”; some made it out and even then, they were never fully rehabilitated. Her sense of justice extended to everyone equally, including many times, to my chagrin, to myself.
Charity was personal her, she did it, she did not delegate it. She did it one on one and never considered it charity but rather correcting an injustice. She felt it the duty of a person to help the less fortunate in person, with respect and as an equal. She knew that the unfortunate were people like herself who had a streak of bad luck, nothing more, nothing less. Did she have any charitable causes? If asked she would say “Cause, what cause?” Doing good was cause in itself. It was a personal obligation that came with one’s sense of existence, in fact, not doing good or being silent was an injustice.
The first line of the poem has been on my mind since I took my shower, “lalalal dada then…?” I know it is not a four liner, it’s a two liner. I will call when I get to the office sort this out…..
The phone is ringing, it’s my sister-in-law. Cool! I think, I’ll sort the poem out right now, why torture myself. She asks how things are and I say OK. How are things over there? She says OK. I say I need to ask my mom a question. She stops. There is a pause. I say is mom home? Pause, then slowly she says there has been an accident, your brother and mom were on the way to the Caspian and there has been an accident. What? Anyone hurt? Your brother is OK but Mom broke her leg and hip. Oh! Is it bad? I hear tears on the phone and she slowly says Mom died when they tried to take the X-ray.
Hell is a funny place. Theologians tell us it is an eternity of torture and pain. What do they know? Eternity is seconds, milliseconds, it is forever, it is the blow that is so painful that time, itself, cannot tolerate it. Time stops dead in its tracks allowing that vulture called information to rip you apart, killing you organ by organ while knowledge that you are breathing keeps you alive! That is Hell! I saw it, felt it, tasted it and smelt it all in one phone call, all in the time it took to say one word.
Someone had just burned my public library, killed my intellectual foil, shattered my defenses, marched on to my very soul with rough-shod boots. Suddenly the storm is upon me, and I loose it. I can’t think. Are you sure I say? Tears. Really? Tears then good bye. I collapse. It has been less than a minute yet it lasts and lasts and lasts.
Who says time a distinct finite sequencing of events? Physicists? What do they know? Modern day theologians with an agenda. Time is what it takes to crawl, stagger and fight your way out of Hell and reduce the weight and pain of sorrow.