crossing continents

i flew over the big water from there, literally translated *land of the pure*: black eyed turbanned men wielding scimitars while they danced in pointed slippers to a rousing drumbeat silhouetted by fire, raw, primal, a land where self-governance and common sense formed the principal law. all men and women were my brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather, one enormous family with many different tribes and clans within it.

peddlers sold their wares in the midst of traffic: rose garlands, combs, religious booklets, rosaries, newspapers. beggars wheeled one-armed and legless on carts, followed by blind men led by young children, and mothers with babies on their breasts; all paying dues to the guildmaster, working designated spots, organized within the hustle and bustle of seeming chaos. the muezzins called us to our devotions five times a day, some singing others shrieking out the summons, from at least three different mosques within listening distance from my home all at one time.

it was a noisy place, horns blaring, music blasting, bells ringing, donkey carts carrying washed and ironed clothes from house to house, the milk arriving on bicycles in plastic bags, fishermen coming and going hither and thither, camels and buffaloes weaving in and out between yellow buses adorned with murals and bells. this was the land of the pure, where we rejoiced and mourned in grand style, taking ourselves and our emotions out onto the streets whether it be dressed in jewels and silks atop elephants, or dressed in black, faces veiled, carrying candles while the men were bare backed and flagellating themselves with a dozen tiny sharpened daggers on chains to the sounds of mournful songs and rythmic chest beating, the women walking over beds of hot coal.

this was a place where feuds and vendettas lasted seven generations, violation of tribal tradition leading to a hunt resulting in certain death for perpetrators. we followed the moon, each one having its own rituals and festivals. henna adorned our hands and jasmine flowers we wove into our braids. a place filled with contradictions, both fierce and gentle, violent yet completely true in its aspects. we lived fearlessly. ah yes! the land of the pure. it is embedded within me and i carry it wherever i go.

even here, in this pleasant, quiet, and rustic woodland that i now call my home, i see it all intertwined and mingled in the faces of my gunslinging, wild eyed, bearded neighbours; who dance their own primal beat to the sounds of banjo, mandolin, and the hoofbeats of a running stag. here too everyone is my mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, son, daughter; all a part of my growing family. this too is the land of the pure. iron john makes his home here and self-governance and common sense are our laws. here we live. fearlessly. fiercely. purely.

the village has its own turban toting, dark eyed, scimitar wielding, pointy slipper wearing dancing dervish who practices holistic medicine by day. there are mystics, and mis-takes, renegade knights, cauldron stirring witches cooking up who-knows-what, shamans with holy fire, medicine wheels, and feathers arranged about heart stones spiralling into a turtles back, blacksmiths working the forges while walking on hot coals and juggling ten balls on one-wheeled bicycles. the circus moves with me and without me, and the moon, earth, planets, clouds, and everything in between moves purely and purposefully all at once in perfect accord, aligned to the tune of dhuk-dhuk-dhuk-dhuk . . . . do you hear it too?


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