quinta-feira, 25 de Março de 2010

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sábado, 16 de Janeiro de 2010

How it ends

Adrift and lost amidst the eternal expanses of space, in the cold desolations of long dead galaxies whose cluster star systems are now reduced to cosmic debris, roaming alongside the phantom trails of comets of aeons gone by and suns whose flame flickered millenia ago, there floats a lonely asteroid, against the stark blackness of the forever sea of stars and soundless void.
Inside this asteroid, barren, mournful, bleak, unseen, there wanders the last surviving life form in this dying universe, waiting for it to die, so that it can too, and finally, die. This wraith is clad in white, a long robe of flowing albus, and his beard and hair grew long and white until it could grow no longer, or whiter. He sits in a throne he fashioned from the remains of a shoal of fish-like tachyon particles he came across in Beta Tauri a number of decades ago, or possibly thousands of years ago, for time - for him and in this place - has long lost any kind of meaning, since there are no more people to make the days seem easier -or harder - to endure, there are no more devices who tell what time it is. Now there is only he, and he alone can tell time what it is.
In the throne, twice his height and three time his girth, he sits in deep thought, sometimes for what could be measured as decades at a time. He allows his mind to race to events that occured lifetimes ago, but the details are increasingly sketchy... his knowledge knows no boundaries, for he has learned the secret patterns of the universe, he has seen the rise and fall of intergalactic fauna and flora, whose existence was as ephemeral as evanescent waves from gamma rich pulsars, or as far reaching as the auroras of suns that were old when most of the known universe was still young. The only constant in all this knowledge he has amassed throughout the eras he has lived, is that he has forgotten more - so much more - than every single being that ever lived could ever hope to learn. And it is these lapses in his memory that wound him the most : he has, and by virtue of events that are now alien to his mind, events that sent his existence into this higher plane of being, forgotten or shunned many of the things that once made him what he was : human.
How long ago since he last tasted the zesty taste of fruit, or the redness of a rich meat? When was the last time he supped on game and drank wine by the goblets, and let himself fall into a joyful innebriation? When was the last time he heard music, or so much as heard the whisper of some voice, familiar or otherwise? So long ago, in fact, that he secretly believes that none of those things ever happened - they are but ghosts of dreams he had in his youth, who now come back to haunt him.
But in December, this planetoid where he inhabits, which he must have somehow named in distant days, times are darkest when, in contemplation, he turns to the other memories, to the memories of others.
Eyes closed, their lids burdened by weights that would drown empires, his hand over his forehead as if shading his eyes in shame, he tilts his head sideways, and remembers.
Truth be told, he doesn't know exactly what he remembers - he only knows that these things may or may not have happened, he has no way of ascertaining the one or the other. But the memories remain, and he relives days gone by once more.
Once, when he was young - impossibly so, it seems to him -, things were different. He was, and to all intents and purposes, someone else, not this wisp of existence so far removed from everything else. And that previous existence, that other state of mind and being, is what haunts him.
He remembers.
He remembers the voices of others with whom he all too briefly shared his life, and he remembers the laughter and the warmth of another human body, 'round him coiled in the softness of a bed that has long ago crumbled to sub-atomic dust. These are the things he truly misses. When he feels the pangs of despair rapping at the doors of consciousness, he allows himself to slip further into the reverie, and, if only for the tiniest of moments, he recalls what feeling was actually like.
But now, in the oh so distant future, feelings are but words that echo in his mind. How many were there? And how pungent and puissant were those self-same feelings? He recalls the bilious sensation of hatred. Why? Why woud he ever hate anything? How could he have ever hated anything? True, he now has the gift of a never-ending span of time between what is and what was to see how misguided he was, but it doesn't make it easier to understand. Why waste so much of what he perceived as a limited time of his life harbouring those feelings? The answer comes to him : it is because if there is hate, then there must also be its shadow, its counterpart. How was it called? Lust. No, that can't be right. Passion? Closer. There is an element of it there, sure, but it's not the whole of it. There is desire and longing. Wanting, needing, pleading. The sighing and the crying, parts of a whole. Parts of a hole? A heart-shaped hole. A heart that was once filled with... how did they call it? Love.
Ah, that elusive feeling, love. He can conjure up a number of faces, mayhap even names if he has to, that once professed love for him, or to whom he vowed to love eternally. Long dead, long faded into obscurity. He ponders on the nature of love often. What is love? What, when it comes down to it, does love mean? In the untold years that he has lived, he still finds no easy answer. He does know that when he was younger, when he was that other someone else, he thought of love as but a feeling - a feeling that, and depending on the circumstances, could be as fleeting as an orgasm, or as lasting as a lifetime. Ah, the follies of youth. It would take him many more years, during that lifetime, to find out that love is not just a feeling. It is a many splintered and ever evolving thing, that will never be the same the second time round. The feeling that it is, is just a part of what it actually is. But what is it? What defines this feeling to which we slave ourselves over and makes cowards or heroes out of each and every single one of us? With the first one he knew, he thought he understood the feeling, and he thought he knew love. He thought that love would last forever. He was wrong.
Then came two and three and many more, and love - in the rare instances where it was indeed present - was always different.
But it was a feeling, sure. A feeling of heralded greatness, of promised bliss. He was, above all, naive.
For then came a time, a time unlike any other he had hitherto experienced when he finally realized what was eluding him : Love was not a feeling. It wasn't just a feeling. Nay, it was more than a feeling.
It was more than a feeling : It became a choice as well. A way to live your life, for the alternative was too frightful to be contemplated. And, being a choice - and as choices are wont to -, it brings with itself consequences and repercussions.
Perhaps the most stinging consequence of chosing something is that it entails yet another choice - to be strong and be content with the choice you have made, or to press the reset button and keep on repeating the same mistakes time and time again and again, world without end.
And choice... the one he made, the one he never regretted... a distant day, a day so long ago... he wonders : where are they, the days that time erased? Once, the flame of youth lay in wait, but too late now...
He was lying on a bed with her. The name is too sacred to be spoken, and he has not the energy to utter it, not anymore. But in bed, around her arms, the radio (a primitive device that broadcast words and sounds over airwaves) played a haunting requiem softly to his ear... he knows how it begins : ever so quietly, a piano forebodes of a declaration to be made, and soothing cello strings are artfully plucked to accomodate the words that will invade, that will permeate from within. Then the man sings... no, his is not just any voice, he doesn't just sing : it's as if he howls to the mooon itself, it's as if the fate of the universe hinged on the very words he brings into this world, urgent and heart-felt, poignant and tinged with the power of delight : it was the cry of mankind.
He knows how it begins, but try as he might, he can no longer recall how it ends.
Outside, in the star strewn panorama of the doomed universe, something shifts : a shadow stirs, a bird streches its wings for the final time. He feels this, and he know that this universe's dying throes are but a prelude to the one that will be soon birthed. Struggling with the atrophy in his muscles, slowly and ponderously he makes his way out of the throne-room, passing through the antechamber that leads to the celestial dome from which he can observe. The last two remaining stars in the universe - twin supernovas at that - prepare to take a bow. Their light taking an erubescent hue, he smiles. He knows what comes next. In all honesty, he feels relieved : this universe had been pushing him towards obsolescence for millions of years now, and he was more than happy to oblige.
The star on the left, huge and bloated like a woman about to give birth to octuplets erupts in an atomic frenzy of fire. Its sister responds in fashion, and the universe calls it a day.
He closes his eyes, awaiting for the wave of light and fire to turn him into cinder. Arms outstretched, like Christ on a cross, he is turned to ashes, turned to dust.
He smiles as he dies. It's going to be a glorious day, this much he knows.
He will be born again, the energy that forms his core will coalesce in the new universe, and he will continue.
And he shall remember, deep down he will remember the choice that stayed with him, day after long day, year after neverending year. And he will be pleased.
And he will know that, maybe, just may be, that's how people grow up.