More than a feeling

Flash Fiction

 

Al was a gifted Daf player, he had spent his entire life immersed in playing this Iranian cultural drumlike musical instrument with chains that beat rhythmically, intricately against the skin. He also played the Dayareh, and pretty much anything that could be tapped in the sequences that played through his mind even when he wasn’t playing. He even drummed in his sleep, his grand children teased him about it one night when he woke them up by sleeping through rousing pattern of thumps and tumps. Not wanting to harm him, having heard all the urban legends about waking sleep walkers, they danced wildly about as he played and once finished, he put down the drumsticks, returning to bed and having no further recollection in the morning.

He was disappointed, none of his three sons showed the remotest signs of interest in playing. As his eldest Jab said one day recently, they never thought they could ever be as good at drums, when they were all so good at other things. Jab was good at talking – he was a criminal lawyer that never lost a case, Bel was good at cards and fast women and lived a single life his father almost envied, and Zed was a cunning businessman. It was a little disappointing to think that they would never really change the world for the better, or contribute much to the world’s offerings, but they’d married well for themselves and the grandchildren made up for it almost. His daughter Mol quite liked playing the drums. Strangely enough this annoyed Al more than anything his sons had ever done. She wasn’t good enough to be allowed to continue. There was a limit, and Al couldn’t have her practicing drums poorly being heard by the neighbour.

Some days you wake up and wonder if today is the day you’re going to die. From the age of about sixty, that was what Al found himself wondering every day. And so, he lived his life as if his last day was today. He played his drums. He picked a flower in memory of his recently passed wife – just in case she was waiting on the threshold of the afterlife – he didn’t want to give her something to complain about. He found that he’d missed the complaints more than he’d thought that he would before she died, considering it was incessant, the silence had been a shock. Yet, he didn’t want to give her cause for complaint.

And so Mol continued learning the Daf, and the Drums, eventually discovering that she quite liked the Iranian flutelike Ney instrument, and as it turned out, she was quite good at it. Being pretty, she’d made a good match and her husband let her get away with playing her music, as long as it was discrete. For a select group of friends, Mol was allowed to play.

Then one day Al woke up and he was correct. It was his death day. He wondered, as he always wondered, and he played the Daf, the Dayareh, and a few other instruments he’d always played. It was his daily meditation after all. As he was preparing to go to his youngest grandson’s piano recital, he slipped down the stairs and was rushed to hospital instead. The wounds were extensive, but there was just enough time to get the family gathered around to say their teary goodbyes before he slipped down the tunnel of light to the great beyond he’d spent every day of his life wondering about. He told Jab that he was proud of him, he told Bel to settle down and father some legitimate children with a proper name, he congratulated Zed on having steel nerves and heartless dispassion that led to wonderful financial rewards to the tune of trillions, squirreled away all over the planet. Moreover, to Mol, he said, “If you are blessed to have a son, please name him Al, and if it’s a girl, you may use your mother’s name.” And nobody thought it was weird at all because within their family, this was perfectly acceptable behaviour.

So Al tootled up the hill of white light, his life flashing before his eyes. Some realisations started coming clear with all the haziness of confusion dissipating. He could see his daughter didn’t seem as upset as his sons. It didn’t bother him, she was just a girl, she was living God’s will for women since Eve disobeyed God’s direct order.” He saw his late wife, she was also called Eve, she didn’t move toward him, she simply stood for a while before disappearing. He didn’t much like the look on her face.

And then he was in a white room. Nothing surrounded him for quite some time until a figure appeared. It looked exactly how he’d imagined God would look. He held up a hand to prevent Al from bowing down before him and instead said kindly, “I see you had a large family. You played Drums very well. You accumulated a lot of wealth…” and in a process indescribable within 3-D terms, gave Al a perspective of himself as told from each and every person that Al had ever come into contact with. As you can imagine, by the end of it Al felt wrung out, and desolate. Every poor decision had been inflicted one upon the other, until he could just watch with the dawning realisation that the things that he’d considered victories in his living life, were actually failures in the greater scheme of things. That he’d had so much faith that he’d lived his life according to the rules, without stopping to consider the wider implications of those rules, and whether or not a benevolent being like the God he worshipped would hold with the more nasty rules, the ones he cringed about following once he realised what they’d meant.

He also discovered by means impossible to describe that his daughter was almost about to be pregnant and that God had him in mind to be the baby. Al wasn’t happy with that, but he was informed that the alternative was a random place in the middle of nowhere with a low vibration related leg of his family that required some intellectual upliftment. This time he would get it right, this time he’d stick to the way, this time he’d take his drumming places and be the best drummer in the world.

He entered the slipstream to birth, perfectly calculated to engage maximum conception, and entered into the warm fuzzy pink glow of foetal development.

“What will my name be?” he found himself wondering… and resonating deep within his arms as he tapped out the familiar drumbeats he’d played everyday in his life as Al, was one word.

Eve.

 

 

Doctor Who: Thought morass before the big reveal

eyeThis season has been the most enjoyable ever (for me anyway), and I think when Christmas is done and the special shown, I’ll have to go back to previous ones just to see if this is an accurate belief, or an immediate side-effect of watching this broadcast legend brought to life by the world watching and commentating.

Telepathic interfaceAll along, we’ve been swept away, tumbled about for a bit, floating along in the air – a bit like Clara’s leaf. Our Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Teacher (Jenna Coleman) masterfully play off, challenge, and support one another – they are a dynamic duo.

Having knocked about with the Doctor and Clara, we’ve seen intriguing role-swapping, reflecting, and tightrope walking along the invisible threads that link with our current cultural narrative, Season 8 has touched on very relevant themes like battle, soldiers, history, humanity, our world (let’s take a deep breath now) our attitudes, and fears about death, the truth (whatever that happens to be), the qualities of goodness, lies, lies and damned lies, puddingheads, jobsworths, and so on.

Robot of Sherwood” was edited (and I think it suffered as a result) because of its similarity with recent events and fears of causing offence, and “Dark Water” has truly offended the closely regarded sensibilities of many people who hold death in as sacred a regard, as life. My view for whatever it’s worth is I’m not afraid of death – having lost someone dear to me twenty years ago I’ve long made peace with it’s inevitability and grace – I don’t invite it, but I don’t fear it either. I’ll discover what it’s like the same way everybody else does. In death we are all equal, and fear is a super power. Nevertheless, it was upsetting for many people’s sensibilities, it says a lot about how invested in the show people are, and it’s arguably comparable to the reaction to the original broadcast of radio drama “War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells — but more intense in the spotlight.

MeditatingFor the Doctor, life got back to normal following his extended stay on Trenzalore, which seemed to create the necessary psychological distance between him and everybody – making way for the new (more alien) Doctor. And what a new Doctor Peter Capaldi is. He is perfect – and I don’t mean that in a superficial way. I mean his whole portrayal of the flaws and virtues of an indispensible and terrified Time Lord is flawless against the backdrop of great writing, editing, production, music that Season 8 has been.

Clara goofy DannyAs for Clara, her life was progressing nicely until it wasn’t – she had an exciting secret hobby that took her to places she’d never have seen otherwise, a quiet maths teacher with his feet firmly planted, teaching a nice bunch of kids in an inner city school. She’s been tested, challenged, stretched and has sprung back repeatedly, gaining character strength (Str +10 Int +5, Wis +5, Dex +10) over time.

Watching previous episodes – looking for hints that I might have missed or forgotten over these busy and exciting weeks, it’s incredible to watch his transformation occur in binge-watching mode. It’s like I said before, seeing an episode once the iron is off the fire and having a few more stories lining the memory banks is a very different experience to watching it for the first time in the white heat of the media forge.

I don’t really have any theories or expectations about tonight’s finale to an enlightening and epic run… hopefully closing some vital plot-holes…

All seems to be flowing into the pool that is “Dark Water”… and (hopefully) “Death in Heaven” will bring us some interesting conclusions, closure, and peace to the fearful. I’m holding onto the optimistic notes of “Kill the Moon” and “In the Forest of the Night” and trying not to assume the worst…

 

Keep going

A few notes on similarities I noticed between “Deep Breath” and “Dark Water” (If you can think of any more…)

Deep Breath: First words – Doctor says “Shush!”
Clara says, First words – Clara says “Shut-up!

Deep Breath: We begin story at Clara’s loss of the Doctor
Dark Water: We begin story at Clara’s loss of Danny Pink

Deep Breath: Clara keeps it all together in “Deep Breath
Dark Water: Clara falls apart in “Dark Water

Speculation
Will there be a parallel between the moment where the Doctor mourns for the death of the Dinosaur and something that happens in “Death in Heaven”, he says “She was scared and alone, I brought her here and look what they did.” It’s almost the kind of thing he might have an opportunity say about Clara in the Underworld.

Deep Breath: Coldness – the Doctor is cold in the biting London air
Dark Water: Coldness – Danny is cold in the Nethersphere

Deep Breath: The Ad in the newspaper
Dark Water: The Ad for 3W

Deep Breath: They’re surrounded by eating automaton
Dark Water: They’re surrounded by submerged cybermen

Deep Breath: They’re in a trap long before they notice
Dark Water: This feels like a trap…

Deep Breath: Harvesting organs
Dark Water: Harvesting the dead

Deep Breath: Robot turning itself into a man
Dark Water: Man being turned into a robot (Cyberman)

 

© Nicki Ki, All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

Losses and memories

Loss

Loss is only a positive word when associated with weight — and when it occurs, it calls everything into question, often forever.

I was very close to my grandparents as a child. Because my parents worked long hours, often six days, I spent a lot of time with them. Because they were always pottering about, being at their house sometimes felt more homely than home. Through them I learnt to cook, bake, make jams and preserves, sew, knit, (unfortunately I didn’t get the hang of crochet), gardening etc. and watching lots of cartoons my gran recorded for us on Betamax – she loved Tom and Jerry.

In our down time (my gran napped every day between 2 and 4), I remember having in-depth conversations with the both of them and they were always genuinely interested in what we had to say, and in what we were doing at school. My gran never screamed and insulted us. Her approach was nurturing, feeding and supporting, yet stern enough when she needed to be. She only ever spanked me once, I was in nappies, it never happened again… I had a healthy respect for her.

When my gramps died in 1990, it was a catastrophe. It was the first time I lost someone that meant that much. I wasn’t even around when he passed on and didn’t get to attend his funeral as my step mother was out catching a tan with my father sunning his perm — we were on a family holiday that I just wanted to be over from the day after we arrived and found out that my Grampa had died.

My gran passed away last year, 2012 and although her collapse was a shock, her death felt like a release because she’d been waiting to go for a long time. She’d stopped talking on the phone because she couldn’t hear, stopped drinking water so she didn’t have to use the loo, napped a lot during the day, slept twelve hours through the night, snacked on apricots and Marie biscuits and then she finally wound down.

And after my Gran’s memorial service, I had to come to terms with not only the loss of two of my favourite people in the world, but also mentally sever that connection to that phase of life. It is a time that still lives in my memory with absolute vivacity, that existed so long that I could be forgiven for taking it a little for granted and is now permanently lost in the mists of time.

These people that were once a part of my life, are now gone. I can no longer lay down next to my Gran having laugh at the newspaper over a cup of chicory coffee (Gran would have very weak lemon tea), or go even further back and draw on my Grampa’s back with a ten colour pen he’d picked up at the stationery store earlier that week.

I have one small item that still holds a puff of memory. A music box that used to belong to my Great Aunt, that my Grampa inherited, came to me. It’s made of yellow wood, not particularly remarkable to look at but it’s priceless because it smells like my childhood and the home it smells of, no longer exists — demolished to make way for two new homes. When I really miss the old folks, I just lift the lid and all the smells of childhood are right there to breathe.

However, while I cannot simply have a two-way dialogue with them, their influence, love and presence is always with me. When I play with my daughter, it’s my gran’s nurturing style that’s coming through. When I make jam, I remember my grampa telling me about the scum rising to the top (in both jam making and politics). When I find another key to the life puzzles, especially regarding the templars and the holy grail, I think of my gran and uncle.  They were really interested in that, many moons ago.

What I do after sustaining a massive loss is I just pick up whatever pieces I can, remind myself that I’m still alive, that I have more immediate matters to attend to and try to move on. At points I welcome the memories, cry the tears and laugh at the truths. Remaining realistic and objective goes a long way. I know deep down that the older I get, the more loss I’m likely to deal with, I might as well cultivate a healthy attitude toward it now.

And when I pass on, I’d like to think that those that favoured and appreciated me would celebrate my life, quirks, opinions and sayings, cry a little and talk to me until they no longer have anything left to say.