THE MAN-CHILD … (Easter intuitions)

ONCE, AS I stood outside my house early one dawn, I saw the man-child playing in front of my door.

I called to him:

Child of Creation! What brings you here?

He turned around, looked into my eyes with his bright, warming eyes.

I came to visit the world, he said, to learn its ways and woes.

I left my family and people, and went to the man-child, vowing to protect him from evil men. He, however, did not understand my vow, for he was yet to understand evil men.

And so we set off together, to learn him the world.

We first came across the weary and the poor, and the man-child smiled at them; and his smile, like the sun, melted their sorrows away. He told them stories of life in the higher realms of creation; and his stories, like gentle rain and cool breezes, calmed them and made them sleep, peacefully.

As we journeyed on, the man-child grew into an adolescent. Then we came across the entertainers and singers. He joined them and began to sing with them. That was the first time I noticed that little thing which would one day lead to much sorrow. It was obvious that the man-child was a better entertainer, and soon the others became jealous. But because he was still something of a boy, it would have seemed very foolish if they had expressed these feelings openly. So instead they said that he was an adolescent and should not be with men. They drove him away. As he walked away, I saw confusion mixed with sadness in his eyes, and I did my best to distract him from his inner pain.

Meanwhile the man-child grew into a youth and we came across the workers and the farmers. The youth asked for a chance to work, got it. But his work was the most beautiful and soon he became the recipient of the majority of the customers. The fruit of his farm was also the richest, and in no time more and more of the market-visitors came buying from him. The other workers and farmers grew angry, envious. And they planned against him; and, going to the scholars and the lawmakers, they bore false witness against him.

So the scholars and lawmakers summoned him and he explained his soul, whereupon it became apparent that he was innocent and it was the others who had lied. He became a hero.

By now he had grown into a man, and the scholars and lawmakers bid him stay with them for they perceived a keen intelligence behind his luminous eyes.

He consented, and stayed. But in no time at all, it became clear that the scholars were ignorant and the lawmakers themselves lawbreakers, because the man-child’s wisdom was like a bright light that illumined all inherent defects, much to the displeasure of the scholars and lawmakers. If it became apparent to all that he was wiser than they, that would be the end of their position of prominence and their status. So they promulgated a law deliberately designed to ensnare him, through which they arrested him for being a stranger and a deceiver.

But before they could sentence him to his punishment, I ran ahead to the elders and the custodians of truth, before whom I laid down the entire matter.

All parties were summoned.

I remember that day clearly. Everybody was sitted except the man-child. He stood in their middle and he was no more a child, but a man. His lips were formed into a perpetual, if subtle, half-smile, interrupted by lines of sorrow and a slight furrow on his forehead that both told more than the bitterest words would. Tears ran down my cheeks as I saw what the world had done to the beautiful, innocent child of creation.

Presiding over the sitting was the Prince of the Land, their highest authority. He too summoned himself to the sitting, for no case in recent history had been imbued with so much intrigue or attracted so much publicity.

And voices began to speak. To accuse. But when the man in the heart of the child of creation spoke, it became clear that the lawmakers were the lawbreakers and the scholars ignorant.

The Prince, he was a good man, he decided to let the man-child go free. But the elders were afraid and the custodians of truth were no real custodians of truth, for they realised that if the man in the heart of the child of creation continued speaking, he would soon show that even they were less than they were supposed to be.

They informed the Prince that if he did not convict the stranger, then he would gather enormous power, wealth and force-of-arm, and overthrow the Prince. When the Prince heard this, his fear and ego flared up within him. He charged the man-child to speak again and to make clear his position with regards to this accusation.

The man-child, however, having understood what was going on, shook his head and remained silent. His lips were turned down. No smile played on them any longer.

The Prince became confused. Finally he let the executioners execute the murdering of the man-child, lest he indeed become greater then he was and overthrow him.

It was a bright, hot noon, the day on which he was executed for being the child of creation. Nature wept.

Hours later, I walked away, remembering the times we had shared. Remembering his sunny heart. My heart broke. Then broke doubly. For I saw that the people were celebrating the murder of the troublesome stranger.

As my weeping grew deeper, a Shadow fell upon me. I looked up into the sky and saw the Avenger looking down on us all. And he was not smiling.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

WAITING…

THERE IS a man in the Nsukka Hills. If you drive past between 7 and 8 pm in the evening and look up with sharpened eyes, you might see his outline. Some say he is mad. Others say he is not. But all know and say that he is waiting…

He is waiting for his love, his heart, who promised to meet him there – thirty-two years ago!

They met by chance and fell in love also by chance. Then came a terrible civil war in the land which forced them to part from each other and disappear in different directions for different reasons. But before they parted they promised to meet one another again on these hills as soon as the war was over.

They stood upon these hills and made the promise. Then they departed.

The war, as all wars do, eventually ended… a full thirty-two years ago. He came to the agreed hills and began to wait. But she did not appear.

He must be sixty now, or fifty, or seventy; it’s hard to tell. He looks ageless. Only his eyes betray an age indefinable with words which, if one were to attempt to but articulate, can only be captured with the expression ever-young.

He believes she will come. He believes that she loved and still loves him just as strongly as he loved and still loves her; and any love that strong does not break its own vows; for if they can be broken, they would not have been spoken.

But people have sworn that she died in the war.

Others declare that they have seen her in a distant land in the west, married and happy.

And yet not a few maintain mournfully that she did indeed come back once, took a look at him from afar, then turned around and walked away again.

Anytime he hears any of these stories, he does not get angry, neither does he laugh. He does not dismiss them offhandedly or obstinately, no. Instead he raises his eyes, sea-deep and dead-serious, to the heavens and keeps them there for a long, long time. Then, finally, slowly, a warm smile would begin to glow on his face as he brought his bright eyes back to bear upon the speaker or speakers, informing them in a voice as unperturbed as the pacific:

“No… she is on the way…“

Those who have met him say he is a nice friendly fellow, jovial and communicative… half-the-time. The other half he is silent and lonely, wondering what could be taking her so long. In such moments, he is sorrowful, thoughtful.

I mounted the hill at the appropriate evening hour to find, see and meet this wonder for myself. My heart pounded. He is truly a legend, a hero, made of that fractionless primevium of which immortals are forged. Thirty-two years and he is still waiting, waiting, waiting for a dream… – can I do that too?

The rising moon was fuller. What would he have to say to me?

I saw his silhouette, like a human mountain, noble and undefeated, backing me, face raised to the moon, breathing, still. I approached as silently as I could, so as not to disturb the solemnity of this magic moment.

As I neared him, I saw him raise his two hands skywards for one steady arrested moment in time, like a victor, his body shuddered; then he turned around and faced me, tears and laughter in his eyes.

“Darling, what took you so long?” he whispered at me…

I had been sure that I would not cry, but now the last chains broke and fell from my heart and I ran to him, fell into his embrace, weeping uncontrollably.

Indeed what had taken me so long? I do not know. Why do we lose courage in the greater and settle for the lesser? Why do we always fear the immortal call of love? Why did I hesitate for thirty-two long years to do the one single thing that I have longed more than every other thing in the world to do? And to thereby fulfil my eternal promise. What had so scared me? The notion of eternal love or the possibility of betrayal?

And all the while he had waited, waited for me, surer than I was that I would return to my destiny…

Love cannot die.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.
You can read this and other short stories in my collection of short, philosophical and inspirational stories titled:
THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING MORE.
amazon cover copy there is always something more 2015