I think I was 5 when I realized that I had a slightly major defect in vision. You see – normal people, when they look at a rainbow, they see, well, a rainbow, as for me, all the colors were messed up and different: I couldn’t understand why red and pink are more similar than red and blue. So I grew up knowing that the way I saw the world was very different.
When I was 16, my brother, who was 18 at the time, walked with me all the 25 km from the top of the mountain where we lived, to the closest town, where I was supposed to find a job. It was my first time out into the world, so my brother poured on me, as we walked, all the conventional wisdom. “There are four gods in the world”, he said, “and every day, only one of them is true. We could not find him, unless he wanted us to”. My brother went on ranting: “science is what we know, philosophy is what we don’t, and magic is how we turn one into another. But magic is hard work. And of all spells, the most difficult is a curse. You see, a curse is a spell so long that it can fill a hundred volumes, and takes decades to utter. Unless, you take every word of the spell and split it between people in a large crowd, then, you can destroy a life in a matter of minutes.”
And my brother wouldn’t stop … “to avoid a spell you have to” … I thought – what a bunch of nonsense… and I let him talk by himself, while I was looking at the large stone buildings of the town, with metal cars moving in perfect line with the edge of the city.
We went to the market, where I was supposed to find a job, and there I saw people walking in 4 directions, supposedly searching amongst the 4 gods to find the right one. The moment we entered the market, my brother confident, and me, with eyes scattered, the crowd stopped from their running. They knew I was different, and that if I wasn’t cursed yet, I had to be cursed. They all sat in a circle around me, chanting, and in a matter of minutes, the spell was said. As arrived home, I could only see 10 meters around me, all the rest of the world was filled with a thick foam of darkness. I tried to move through it but it was filled with scary thoughts and filthy smells.
I told my brother – “I will shake off the darkness!” but he said “It can’t be done. No one has ever undone a curse like that. I told you to look straight. I told you not to show any fear. They saw you were weak and now … you’re lost to the world!”
“No, I have a plan. I will shake of the darkness, I’ll go into the darkness every day and I’ll write a story about it. Until I will shake it off and finish my book.”.
“You’re crazy!” he said, and then went away. Every day he would come to my 10 meters circle of light, and bring flowers and sweets and magazines. And every day I grew more bitter because I could find none of those things when I went out to my darkness. And when I asked him to stop coming he brought me books and news of his new job. And when I asked him to stop coming he brought me a TV and talked about his friends and parties. And then I got really angry because he couldn’t stop and I pushed him against the stone. There was blood. I looked up at the sky and for some reason, none of the four gods was watching. I couldn’t stay home anymore… But I’ve never spent more than a day in the darkness!
I don’t remember the first month. It was mostly fear. At some point I began writing again in my book stories of what I saw. Yyou see, my darkness was not like the darkness of a blind person. It had corners. It had texture. In between the thick fog there were bubbles of fresh air. It was like watching the moon appear and disappear between the clouds except my moon moved like a balloon spitting out air. Now I’d see in front of me an autumn leaf pop out and then disappear, and later on a moustache suspended in a jiff in the empty air, or a pair of high heels rushing. Or a dog cuddling at my feet, who would go out in the river to swim, and then come back to shake the water off my feet. We walked together for days: the dog was homeless , so was I. One day, as we were walking around, I realized that I could see the grass, I could see the roots of trees, I could see the legs of people, and small children playing. But every time when the dog went away I was surrounded again by darkness. And when the dog would come back, I could see everything up, but only up to my waist – I could see the world through the eyes of my dog. As we walked together, one day I saw a woman who was beating her hands gently against a row of white little boxes that were sitting on the top of a sort of big black box. A most beautiful sound came out of it, and the music touched the ceilings of the building, reached to the sky, caressed the faces of people, and through the eyes of the music I could see everywhere. When the music stopped, the darkness would envelop me again. So I did what everyone of you would do: I started going to places where music was everywhere.
45 years passed from that time. I’m sure none of you will believe me. No one ever believes me when I tell them about my age. Most people give me 25 years, unless I’m sad. Then only they can see my true age. The truth is, I’m 70 now. And if it weren’t for something that happened 2 weeks ago, I wouldn’t have dared to tell this story. I went back to the mountain I grew up in, to the church where the preacher was re-telling the same old story ‘There are four gods in the world and every day, only one of them is true… “. At the end of the service, the preacher came to me, he was an energetic man of 7, he talked with lots of joy and enthusiasm, and his wife, who was sitting next to him, couldn’t take her eyes off him. I could tell they were still in love. And he told me about his kids and grandkids and grandgrandkids and how the two of them have met… But there was something strangely familiar about him. And then he told me how when he was 18, his younger brother fled far away home, with only a notebook in his hand. I felt a jolt in my heart, and wanted to run, this was my brother! “This is not possible – I killed you!” I said. His eyes became large and he hugged me and said – “none of the 4 gods was watching us that day – when the gods don’t see something, it doesn’t happen! I have something for you, I said. And from my bag I drew this out. “You remember the day I was cursed? I told you I will shake off the darkness, and write a book about it, and you said I was crazy. This is the book!”. He opened it up. He read story after story, his eyes gaping. After a long time, he stopped and asked me “what is this?”, pointing to a squibble drawn at the end of every story, a word that looked like a rainbow where all the colors were messed up and different . “Do you remember what you told me?” I said. “There are four gods in the world and every day, only one of them is true, we could not find him, unless he wanted”. That squibble, that is the name of the true god, I found her. Her name is ‘hope’”.