Category Archives: Prose

Elements Of Eternity–The Text

In the end, there is and will only be fire and water. As our world was created from the cataclysms of inferno, so too will our world crumble by the raging kisses of fire. Fire, the everlasting spirit, the uncompromising entity from which all essence of being has been born. Then water, in which life forms squirm from within, in utero, anticipating birth into eternity.

The eternity we seek is universal. In our anticipation of the end of our physical being, we equally shudder in fear of our spiritual destiny as well as embrace it, our souls expanding in melancholic bliss. The juggler of fate, our savior in obtaining enlightenment, exchanges fire and water through a haphazard, yet controlled continuum, the same which balances the tides of evil and good, bitterness and benevolence, rage and serenity. The flames feed the elements of malice, in turn quenched by the forgiving rains to neutralize, then manifest into the solace we seek with all our determination to obtain, finally sustained in harmony by the two opposing, yet codependent life elements.

Fire and water… the essentials of life, the forces perpetuating eternity. To be is dependent on fire and water—the fire to enable being, the water to sustain being. Sacred are the fire and water which reign supreme in the everlasting cosmos.

In fire, man looks to obtain enlightenment. He perceives it as being a miracle, a fabulous deity, which serves all purposes for the creation and sustentation of life, even in its most primitive forms. The illumination of fire is the sole vessel for transporting man towards enlightenment and inspiration.

Fire represents the essence of what man is and will continue to be.

The technological and intellectual advancement of man has come from the ability to create and sustain fire. Man’s modern devices are powered by controlled and contained, highly concentrated forms of fire. Man has proven to be entirely reliant on fire to deliver comfort and kindle the hearth. Mankind wages wars against itself with fire it invents in order to access and possess the sources of fire it does not already have.

We are unwillingly captivated by the force of fire, its destructive radiating tentacles, and its caressing cruelty. Yet we are obliged to worship fire, as slaves to its nourishing properties. Fire is our salvation, perpetuating our endurance as living, breathing organisms.

We are the sons of daughters of Ahura Mazda, living by the doctrine of the Avesta. It outlines the fundamental principles of the Zoroastrian tradition, the same that has helped to bind the roots of mankind’s modern celebrated faiths.

It is said that water comprises 90 percent of our bodies, for without the element mankind would shrivel and die, just as a leaf from the mighty oak that is no longer able to sustain itself by photosynthesis. Our bodies must be continually replenished by fluids so that the regenerative process of our cells continues. Water ensures the hydration of our skin, ridding it of toxins that we absorb in our everyday environs or from the foods we consume. Its oxygen and minerals help to protect the body’s organs from disease and premature decay.

Water is the guarantor of our persistence, as it enriches the soil to produce crops and hydrates our livestock to provide us our sustenance. And the integral component of water, namely oxygen, is the same that nourishes its sister life force, fire. Yet uncontrolled, water can also lead to man’s peril—just as it ensures life, it can also just as easily suffocate life.

So that animal life continues to exist, fire and water must remain eternal. In infinity the world will continue to change seasons as it spins on is axis, revolving around the fiery sun, the water continually nourishing our planet through precipitation and in tide with the gravity of the orbiting moon. Earth’s life forms will continue to evolve, forever adapting to the changing environs and Earth’s transient nature, forever dependent on fire and water, the elements of eternity… the elements of our destiny.

–Christian Garbis
2004

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A Short Story

Hagop was from Baku. He moved to Yerevan at the age of 17 to honor his father’s dying wish so that he could study architecture there. It was the right career path for his son, he believed, and being a structural engineer by profession he thought it best that his son realize what he could never possibly accomplish in his lifetime. In Yerevan, Hagop encountered scorn and jest from people he came into contact with, including classmates and some professors, for being a Russian speaker, as his Armenian was poor.  At the end of the semester he left Yerevan and returned to Baku to continue his education there. After a short stint in the military, which was obligatory, he went to Moscow to complete his studies. Then his mother called him back to Yerevan to be with her and find a wife. He quickly found a job and soon settled down to have a family. Unexpectedly, the Soviet Union began to crumble and he found himself out of work along with millions of others shortly after Armenia declared its independence.

It was January, 1994 and the war in Karabagh was raging. Due to the brutal cold, there was no ability to heat the home properly with the absence of natural gas and unpredictable allocation of electricity. Hagop’s family wore several layers of clothing to safeguard them from the numbing chill. By chance of luck he was able to land his hands on a wood-burning stove though a personal connection, but since there wasn’t a consistent supply of wood to be had they also burned old newspapers, cardboard boxes and books he deemed to be of little personal value. Special padding prepared from old clothes and odd pieces of fabric was used to completely close the gaps in door and window jambs. They all huddled around the stove in the living room where it was installed and only left that room to go to the toilet or outside the apartment.

Hagop had thought about going to fight as a volunteer soldier but he thought it best to stay put and care for his three young children as best as he could manage. Work was virtually non-existent as the state architectural firms had closed three years prior. Joining the army was not an option for him, whether or not it meant defending his own people, as his ancestors were from Karabagh. He could never muster the courage to kill a man. His conscience would never have allowed it, and he thought he would probably go insane if he did not heed its demands. He still had Azeri friends in Baku. What would he do if he encountered an old pal on the battlefield, he thought? Would he be able to kill him? He deduced he could not, that it would not be possible for him to even wound another man. Besides, he had never handled a rifle in his life. When he served in the military during the Soviet area he was part of a special intelligence unit and was not required to wear fatigues or train for war. He practiced shooting a pistol—that was his only experience with a gun. Perhaps, he pondered, he could manage to donate some of the money he made from selling dollars on the street, which was his only source of income. It was a long shot, but nevertheless it was the only thing he believed he could do to participate in the war effort.

With the little profit he made from the currency exchange trade he was able to buy a kilo of cheese, a kilo of sugar, a box of tea, some bread, assuming it could be found, cigarettes for himself and other essentials on which his family could survive for an entire month. If there were more foodstuffs to be had in the markets or stores lined with empty shelves for most of the week, he bought them. Given the situation the country was in, in the midst of a bitter war with a trade and energy blockade imposed by its nemesis to the west, he was bestowed good fortune to place that much on the table. 

The spot where he chose to work was on the stairway at the foot of Gassian Street leading into the underground circular passageway at Paregamutiun Square. He stood on the steps about 20 feet below the initial decline downward to stay out of sight from policemen walking the beat.  There were others doing the same a few steps below him as well as in the adjacent stairways. Once in a while he would be detained by the police or even the KGB as the national security service was still commonly known, but he was always released within a few hours after they determined he posed no threat and persuaded him to be back with a carton of cigarettes. It was a routine procedure. But the streets were practically devoid of men as they feared being suddenly whisked away while out and about and sent directly to the front lines. It was not a rare occurrence. There was always the need of fresh soldiers. Men who knew how to actually hold a rifle properly and shoot were few in number. Save for some specially trained regiments of volunteer soldiers, many of whom made the long trek to the front from abroad, the men were generally unprepared for combat. Their courage and determination led them to battle. Their legs simply put motion to the purpose of their convictions, gun in hand, motherland to protect. One way or another they would eventually learn to fire straight. They had to. It was a struggle for self-determination.

Hagop arrived at his spot every morning at eleven, then he would wait. There were days when he didn’t sell a single dollar. He waited in the scorching heat or in the bitter chill of late afternoon. The climate meant nothing to him, he became impervious to temperature fluctuations. He was able to tune out discomfort because it didn’t matter. The family needed to survive. He channeled his energies to the task, lingering in the moment.

But he didn’t want very much from life. In a perfect world, he would sit and draw, that’s all he cared about. Just sit and draft architectural plans, with the hopes of being able to support his family in the process.  To him it didn’t seem to be an unmanageable demand, but given the circumstances before him at the time, he would have a while to wait before he could turn his fortune round.

One winter morning as he walked up Kievyan Street towards Paregamutiun Square, managing as best as he could with his tread-less rubber-soled shoes to stay erect along the ice-coated sidewalks, he saw from a distance a primer gray school bus with its windows painted. He suspected what was waiting for him but he was not about to run back home. He had a job to do.  The bus had parked in the middle of the square. It was silent, no motor running, and it seemed that there was no one about or even on board it.  He stopped on the curb and studied it, listening carefully for the slightest proof of life, but there was nothing, no sound.  He stepped off the curb and began to walk across the street, which was void of any other vehicles. There was something not right, he was sure of it, but he went along with his business as if nothing was unusual.  Three officers emerged from his stairway as he approached it and grabbed his arms, the third held onto the back of his wool coat and inadvertently tore a portion of the center seam that ran down the middle. They forced him towards the bus and when they approached the doors folded open. He was pushed up into the bus and landed in a seat at the front. About 20 men were seated in the rear, completely motionless and mute, gripped in terror.

“Where are your papers?” one of them asked him.

“In my coat glove pocket.”

“Give them it to me.”

He reached for his passport in which was inserted other bits of identification papers with seals stamped on them. One was an invalid driver’s license, another was his architects union card.

“Let’s see here… Mkrdichian, Hagop of Vartkes. All right then, Mkrdichian of Vartkes, what are you doing out here, anyway?” the officer asked.

“Going to work.”

“To sell dollars, right brother? We know all about that, we’ve been watching you for some time without you having a clue. Well, we’re here to officially inform you that those days are over. You’re off to Stepanakert.”

A vision of Hagop’s children shimmered before his eyes. He began to panic. “I hold a PhD,” he blurted.

“Bullshit.”

“I do. I swear it.”

“Prove it. I don’t see anything in your papers that indicates you have a higher education.”

“I can show you my diplomas.”

“Then give them to me. Why didn’t you show them to me before?”

“I don’t carry them around, they’re at home.”

“At home? That’s useless to me. We’re here together, now,” the officer smiled. “In another 10 minutes I think we’re going to be great friends. We’ll probably figure out that we’re related somehow. I bet you’re from Mush. And I bet your grandfather was born there, and kept chickens in the garden, planted vegetables there and made a nice little home for himself and the family. Am I right? My grandfather was from Mush, too.  In fact, his wife’s maiden name was Mkrdichian. You see, I told you we’re cousins, if not by relation then through association at least.”

“Too bad my grandfather was really born in Martuni.”

The officer’s tone suddenly changed and his brow tightened. “Now I’m going to tell you like I would my dear brother—sit down and shut your mouth. I don’t care about your motherfucked diplomas, sisters or whatever else.”

“Look, I only live a short distance away, on Kievyan Street. I can call my sister, she can bring them here to show you.”

“How are you going to call her, pal? You see any telephones around here? Or do you have one up your ass?”

Hagop pointed out the bus doors, which were still open. “Listen, that grandpa over there… you see him? In front of that green kiosk, selling cigarettes. He has a phone, I can pay him to call my sister, and she’ll bring the diplomas. It’ll take five minutes for her to come here. I swear it.”

The officer gazed at him for several moments and frowned. His voice relaxed and the arrogance faded.  “Alright, Mkrdichian, let’s call your sister. Come on.”

They made their way to the kiosk.  The old man stared blankly at Hagop and the officer, wondering what they wanted from him.

“Is your phone in order?” Hagop asked him.

“Yes, sure it is,” the old man said.

“Then hand it to me. I want to make a local call.”

He looked at Hagop, then caste his eye on the officer again before passing the Soviet kitschy, blood orange-colored rotary dial phone to him.

“How much for the call?”

“Ten dollars, brother,” he said.

“What? Wait a minute… why so much?”

“Seems you need to make a very important phone call by the looks of things. My service is presently in high demand, so you have to pay more, brother. That’s the way it goes.”

“Man, will you look at this? Capitalism is in full swing in Armenia. How sweet,” Hagop retorted. “Here’s your ten dollars. Now I have a phone call to make. Hand it over.”

 “You tell her she has ten minutes, no more. Then we get moving,” the officer shouted.

Hagop tried the line twice before the connection was made. “Hello, Hasmik? I’m fine, but listen to me carefully. Bring my diplomas to Paregamutiun immediately. Don’t ask questions, just do it.  Be here in five minutes, you understand? That’s right, in five minutes.” He hung up.

“She’ll bring them, she’s coming now. You’ll see, in just a few minutes now,” Hagop confirmed.

“Yeah, alright, I’m sure she will,” the officer said patronizingly. “Might as well smoke while we’re waiting, right? Give me a cigarette, Mkrdichian. You light up too, you like you need one.”

Hagop put a cigarette in his mouth and offered one to the officer from the pack. The officer grabbed it from him, placed one cigarette between his lips and pocketed the rest. Hagop lit a match for the officer before lighting his own cigarette. Then the officer snatched away the matches as well.

“So tell me something Mkrdichian, did you ever serve in the Soviet army?” the officer asked.

“Yes, of course.”

“Where did you serve?”

“Kiev.”

“What regiment?”

“Special intelligence unit, third department.”

The officer studied Mkrdichian’s eyes. He sensed no fear in them. “You better not be bullshitting me, you understand?”

“Yeah, I know….”

“I’ve never done this for anybody, I want you to know that. For no one! I can’t figure out why I’m even doing it for you. It makes no damn sense at all. If it turns out that you’ve been messing with me you’ll be dead, got that asshole?”

Hagop looked at him, but said nothing. He smoked and looked the officer in the eyes. Zen had taken hold of his senses and thoughts. Every pore in his body was dry, his eyes were vivid, gleaming like diamonds, conveying assurance, in full embrace of his destiny.  There was no indication that he felt anxious or was in distress.  He was in communion with the moment.

“There’s something about you I just can’t place. It’s obvious you’re not like those poor saps on the bus.  I can tell just by talking and looking at you that you sure as hell are different from them. And right now I’m dying to see why. You don’t seem very scared for one thing, which is strange considering that those bastards are shitting their pants.”

The officer looked at his watch. “You don’t have much longer to show me what you need to. You’d better pray that your sister shows up in the next two minutes, let me tell you something.”

The wait was agonizing. He was suspecting that his sister was not able to find all the necessary documents as she erroneously fumbled through the wrong piles of papers. By the time the week was out he would be dead, he thought. It was a morbid moment he found himself in. He imagined his weeping children who went malnourished and lived uncomfortable, wretched early years of their lives. An irrelevant, absurd formality would deliver that horror to them, he guessed.

They were standing close by the bus and the officer was getting agitated. He was fidgeting and looking at his watch at 10-second intervals.

“She hasn’t shown up so we’re out of here. Come on, get on board. We’re late as is it.”

Just then Hasmik began calling out to Hagop from the far side of the square. “Wait Hagop, I’m coming. Wait one minute!”

When she came up to them the officer roughly took the papers from her. “So these are the diplomas? Thank you very much. Now you may leave.”

Hagop looked at her and nodded his head to indicate that she should walk away, fast. She knew he didn’t want her to interfere, and in any case, it may have made more problems for them if she opened her mouth. 

The officer examined the documents carefully, reading each line of text and scrutinizing every seal. A lit cigarette hung from the side of his mouth, and some ashes dropped onto the diploma he had been examining. He did not brush them away. 

“Let’s see here. A PhD in architecture… and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, some other uninteresting papers….” he said, shuffling through the documents between his hands. 

“Wow, look at this, there’s even an award certificate for a youth piano recital competition. Man, you certainly loved to study, didn’t you? What a smart boy we have in our midst, it’s amazing. Indeed, very impressive.” the officer taunted. His peers looked on, snickered and smoked. 

Hagop remained still and said nothing. His diplomas and identification papers were handed over to him. The officer stared into his eyes again. He saw that the captivating brilliance of them was still there.

“Go home, Mkrdichian.” The officers boarded the bus and it departed the square.

***

On his way home his conscience became strained and he felt a tightness in his abdomen, the same he endured during times of acute stress. He pondered the incident with the officer, and the circumstances that led to his salvation from ill circumstance. The discomfort persisted for several days while the memories of that fateful day were still fresh in his mind, despite his contentment that he, after all, would not be separated from his family. But by end of the week he was concentrating on his business affairs.

The only thing that Hagop appreciated from Levon Ter-Petrosian as a president was the man’s insistence to prevent any intellectuals from going to war. In that way, Ter-Petrosian, whom Hagop hated passionately for the wartime blunders he believed the man was making, was oddly his and his own family’s savior. Yet for years after that episode he felt an gnawing sense of guilt that started to plague him immediately after he had learned that the other lost souls onboard the bus had all been killed in battle, including the very officer who spared him.  

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Musings of Love and Loneliness

Why do women betray me? What is it about me that spurns women, that drives them away, leaving my heart a dull, decrepit husk of nonexistence? The heart is volatile, it cannot suffer the shocks of the woman who repeatedly aims to nullify the essence of life. The life force is ultimately depleted of the essential elixir which must retain the goodness of the soul. If the soul is decimated then the life force is left struggling to reason, for purity. Man is dependent on women, to fortify the hearth, to bear the children, to sustain life. And if the woman rejects the man repeatedly, so that the man is left in a raging life of suffering, however momentary, then the man is a wretched being, a fool. I am that fool as I depend on the woman to guide me, to inspire and instill warmth, solace and ecstasy. Where is the woman now? She remains alone as do I. Her uncertainty of the soul and deceptive feelings misled her. She feels lost, without purpose, because her emotions have contradicted her innermost, primal reason for existence. And she has left us both alone in our own personal hells.

On a wonderful Sunday afternoon, I sit and ponder the woman, her wants and needs, her purpose, her innermost perplexities that plague not only her but me, the man, who needs nothing more than her touch and her love. But I am left in a precarious state, one in which I cannot live wholly, in full earnest. I perform my routines—I clean the home, wash the dishes, do the laundry, eat and spoil myself with trivialities and nonsense which last from moment to moment to moment. I cannot fully live to my potential because I feel the plague of the soul, the soul is depleted, and I am left alone in a state of mourning, my heart mourns for the absence, the utter rejection of the woman. For without the woman, what man can indeed continue through life’s tribulations fully, in earnest? I confide in a peculiar mixture of alcoholic and acidic liquids, tingling with the spices inflaming the esophagus and throat, which mingle with the gastric juices and are thus digested in flames of torment, the aftereffects of which will be detected when the bowels contract and they leave my body with diligence yet an abhorrent, fiery pain. I smoke the dreaded, poisonous tobacco, and although its fumes are filtered, the smoke enters my lungs only to char and cause decay. Yet despite the poisons that wreak havoc on my system, on the life force, I care not. Instead I sit and ponder why the woman leaves me in such a tormented state. I urinate and empty my entrails, yet I feel no loss, no regret from my actions of folly, instead I rejoice in my absurd existence of the moment, ceaselessly waiting for the caress which may never come. The caress is what I confide in, it projects its talons into my soul only to reinvigorate, not to decimate. It is the caress which I long for, to soothe, to instill solace, to make me a whole man. Yet the woman is treacherous, she is despicable, and the very moment when I fully devote my confidence in her and my ultimate undying love she deceives me, she leaves me in a state of both ecstatic promise and depression.  The woman does this to me, she decimates my heart, she strangles the soul, and I am left empty, wanting the love that she withholds, which she refuses to give as sustenance. The woman does this to me, she leaves a shell which has been invaded by the merciless beak of the seagull seeking its own sustenance. I am left alone in this strange world, alone in my preposterous state of seeking that which will propel me forward into the raging tumultuous battle of life, the victory of which cannot be forecasted, as it is only the heart which determines the victor. The heart and the soul reign supreme over mankind. The man is wholly dependent on the woman, he is nothing but a petty, useless slave to her. He needs her caress, her life force to propel him, her womb to comfort and invigorate. The womb is above all the most disastrous demon, it can bring a man to his knees to pray with all convictions he can gather. The man’s essential faith is dependent on the womb, for the womb is the entity which ensures prosperity of the life force of every man and child in this omnipresent world. Yet the bond of the woman and the man cannot be severed ultimately. Both entities need one another, they depend on each other’s life force. The elixir of life is created by that entity of the union between the woman and the man. The elixir is not only fortified, it is born from the love that the woman and the man share, for without that love the elixir cannot be formed. The love between the woman and the man cannot be jeopardized by any physical force, it can only be destroyed by unforgiving emotions. The mind will always preserve the love, it will never turn against it. But the emotions, the feelings of an individual, can easily destroy love if they are not kept at bay. Emotions are the most dangerous force which can deplete love. Emotion can slice the love between two persons, it can rage its own scathing, demonic temperament. Emotions are what come in between two persons who once cared for another, who once truly depended on each other, they can come between their love and cut the union into ribbons, so that the man and the woman are victim to the calamities of the moment.

Ultimately love reigns supreme. Love is supreme over all characteristics of the life force. Love dictates how the life force is to conduct its essential chores, it steers away the life force from entering into a calamitous torment. Love is the essence of being, the love fortified between the man and the woman must not be jeopardized, it must be eternal. It is only emotions which decimate love, which can destroy love. Thus emotions must not be allowed to encroach upon what makes love last. Emotions can accent love, but they must never be allowed to overpower love. The love of my woman for me was exploded by the emotional dynamite which found its way to her feet and forcefully placed the matches into her palm. Her emotions took control of her, and unwittingly she ignited the fuse. Now we are both alone in our own personal hells. I long for her, but she remains shocked by the damage she inflicted on our love, and she will not repair what she has destroyed as her emotions deceived her. Now I lay and wonder whether she will ever take the putty knife to the karma plaster in an effort to repair the holes which riddle our destiny together. I wait in agony, but my hope cannot dwell there, for my heart is compelled to continue its search for the one to sweetly caress….   

I love you, my sweet absinthe-infused serenity, come back to me, my melodic, mystical muse. You are my delicate joy and inspiration. Let us simply and sublimely live and love together in esoteric ecstasy. 


Copyright © Christian Garbis 2008

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What Is Love?

The mutual respect and admiration between two people, particularly between a man and woman, is the most sacred bond of life. The union ensures that life has meaning, that interdependency forges the advancement of society with the birth of offspring. But the concept of love is abstract, a subjective notion that differs from person to person based purely on emotional sentiments. Love between two people who wish to dedicate themselves to one another is a unique concept in that no two couples can experience the same feelings and emotional nuances that comprise the state of being. Yet marriage is not dependent on love, as in some societies culture and tradition dictate how and sometimes which two souls will be united. In such instances love gradually becomes the means to propel the union.

Love cannot only be experienced between a man and a woman but can naturally be shared by members of the same sex. The love that a parent has for his or her child, for instance a father for his son, coincides with the character and temperament of that parent, in that emotions largely determine to what degree the love will be transmitted to the child. Love is not based on chemical interactions of the brain or induced by medications, rather it is inherit in the psyche and either exists or does not come to fruition from within. Love defines one’s admiration for the loved one, the respect and dedication which exudes from the pores of the lover.

Yet the concept of having love for a fellow human being and being in the state of love has different connotations; nevertheless both are undoubtedly subjective concepts that are only felt by the person who is suspended in the state. To love is to horde limitless longing, when a person feels a closeness to another regardless of the emotional or characteristic faults the loved one possesses, if any. Love is transmitted by actions that exude the love in one form or another. For children it is expressed though nurturing and rearing, while between adults love is relayed through specific actions and expressed sentiments which are beneficial to the loved one in that the receiver of the love is touched by the motions of respect and also feels a sense of strong tenderness for the person who loves. In this sense love instills trust between individuals and is a substantially large stone in the foundation for the establishment of a civil society.

The notion of being in love is entirely dependent on the individual who finds himself or herself in the state, which is purely based on emotional tendencies. Emotions dictate how “in love” an individual can be regarding the one he or she is admiring intensely. The state is usually accompanied by spoken promises and touching, compelling compliments to the one who is receiving, willingly or not, the transmission. To be in love has no boundaries, it has no expiration date, it is limitless in scope but its nature is wholly subjective and is specific to each person nurtured in its cradle, yet similar traits could feasibly exist. For instance, when a person who is indeed in love feels a sense of tranquility, of solace as a result of the bond that has developed with another human being, when that person finds himself strengthened by the notion of love shared with the partner, this situation could indeed be a trait of the in-love condition. An unwavering desire to share the life with the loved one, to spend nearly every free moment with the partner irrespective of personal health or social status, may also be a characteristic of being in love. A constant, perchance intermittent, flow of communication is maintained throughout each day between those in love to express thoughts and desires that must be shared and in turn positively received. There is also the relentless, undeniable lust and infatuation that is synonymous with the in-love phenomenon. Yet the state of being in love can be a brutal, damning experience if the one being admired is not cognizant of the emotional burden that the soul afflicted by the condition endures as the result of the unappreciated love. Thus if two people are not mutually in love with one another, the one-sided state of being is a futile, worthless means of existence which only brings miserable folly to the victim, and in some instances even premature death. Not only can love linger across a beautiful, ecstatic plane of idealism, love can also be cruel and merciless, wreaking havoc on the emotional state of the soul who endures it. Love should not be made to dictate the means of existence for mankind, yet the circumstance of being in love can be inescapable, as the malady plunges its burning talons into the naïve psyches of individuals made to endure the life-threatening sickness.

Love is a blinding beacon illuminating the path to radiant destinies. It binds mankind, it strengthens its will to persist and to provoke its intellect and the creative process. Its power of peace and projected harmony rivals the calamity that 10,000 atomic bombs could ever inflict. Love indeed cannot be conquered, it can fill one’s soul with euphoria and ecstasy or it can bring him to his knees in violent agony. It is the ultimate force that fuels the essence of being, that gives relevance for the triumph of the will to survive. Yet love, which assumingly inflicts immaculate serenity in its very concept, can just as easily deliver contempt and mental confusion.

We as human beings are slaves to love. Our resistance to it is insignificant, utterly useless. Love hails supreme, and its affect is unpredictable, certainly uncalculating. It can swoop up a hapless victim into a cutting sandstorm or rain delicate raindrops of caressing comfort on the forehead. Love has no mercy, it has no remorse, and is indiscriminate as to the manner in which it will do its bidding on its awestruck beholder or tormented fool. Love can be an angel or demon, it can bring deliverance or abhorrence. Love is the magnificent master of the misfortunate masses.

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Disconnected

The man sat in the dark alone. He smoked while thinking, occasionally out loud to no one’s attention. At times he walked about in his apartment, switching on a light in another room as he entered in search of the explanation. His thoughts were often muddled, yet there was a central core to them, a theme that was not easily dismissed.

“I am doing everything I can to be a good person, to be a good human being,” he repeated at least once daily. “But it’s still not enough.”

He occasionally recalled past events in his life which he regretted, when he behaved badly and spoke inappropriately to others. There were times when he shouted at people he loved, and in retrospect he felt that his abusive words were uncalled for. Some relationships became irreconcilable due to mutual misunderstandings, and the realizations still hurt him although several years had passed.

The good person was a being that was inaccessible to him, a foreign persona that no one else could conceive but himself although the conception was unreachable, because he could not comprehend it. He did not understand what exactly would declare himself a good person in the eyes of others or by his own heart. His faults, not to mention past follies, clouded his judgment. There were too many incidents that occurred which he now found absurd, and the very fact that they came about in the first place persuaded him to believe that the concept of good may not be attainable. Yet he wrestled with these thoughts that plagued him at odd, random moments each day.

He married for love, but it would be revealed that it was one-sided. The woman to whom he would dedicate himself was obliged to marry by the gentle coaxing of her parents, who fancied him as a husband for their girl. She was told that he was a righteous man, with a steady job and ambitions to start a family. But their girl was restless and entered the union with reluctance. Although on the surface she showed her undying love, repeating her words of conviction to him often, she secretly resented him and all that he intended. Her independence was being sacrificed, something she could not tolerate for any one or any thing. There were no children conceived for this reason as she made him take preventive precautions, proof of her inadmissible desire to form and foster the family. She loved him enough to live with him, but not enough to commit herself, so she left him alone.

“I am doing everything I can to be a good person, to be a good human being.” After some time he no longer knew what he was talking about when reciting this phrase, what he intended to accomplish. What did it mean to be a human being, he mused. Were not all people in society human beings? What did it mean to be a good one? The concepts of good or bad are subjective, he believed, ideals dictated by morality in accordance with the laws of religious practice and doctrine. Yet he did not feel affinity to any one religion, thus there was a detachment. “I am trying my best to be good…” But where was the faith, he wondered.

He worked as an office administrator for a start-up software company, a comfortable, well-paying job. The employees liked him and he them. Virtually no conflict existed in the office, save for a couple of disappointed workers who wanted extended vacation days but were refused by him. Company outings were organized; they celebrated their firm’s success with toasts and feasts. There were no indications that he was not liked by any one of them. Yet he felt out of sorts amongst them, a disconnect.

His friends were dedicated. They conveyed several times their appreciation for him, their admiration for his kindness, his warmth and wit. He sought their companionship often after his marriage was destroyed. They never refused him, always pleased to assuage his solitude. But he was not convinced that he had anything to show for the compliments he was paid. He was not confident that he was good because the negative points of his past plagued him. The memories of various blunders haunted his soul, they taunted his conscience. He regretted being far away now from those he had slighted some years ago-he wanted to reach out to them, to find reconciliation, but he could not. He felt that they would not accept his overtures even if he tried.

Loneliness had followed him his entire life. He dragged his loneliness behind him by a tie forged with guilt, shame, and longing. Romanticism was his downfall; he dreamed of ideals, of lofty professional successes, grandiose expectations, and of nurturing offspring with a faithful, devoted wife to guide him. The romantic obsessions of life would cruelly scathe his inner essential being, unexposed to common sight.

While his marriage was crumbling and the inevitable conclusion was forecast he did all he could to convince his wife to stay, but she persisted to pursue her own life-dreamt career. She left him with no remorse; a man who had shown unwavering love for her but was a protruding obstacle along her path that had to be exploded for allowing safe passage. He was a threat to her survival as a free soul fated to wander, and he was killing that will in her mind. He wept bitterly the day she left him, but several days later managed to collect his faculties and persist forward. Some time passed. There was no recoil; she was part of his past and would remain cast into his memories dangling on the chain of inconsequential grainy obscurity.

“I am doing all I can to be a good human being…” but there was nothing more left for him to accomplish than he already had. He had not committed murder, never inflicted severe physical or traumatizing psychological pain onto others. There was not anyone he believed in his life who scorned him, who secretly wished for his downfall in health or fortune. There were only the past interpersonal mistakes, the actions that caused him his anguish which could not be revealed to any other fellow soul. They were collectively his secret torment. But he yearned for freedom.

Copyright © Christian Garbis, 2007

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They Taught Me Not To Cry

Life is not hard to manage

when you have nothing to lose.

–Ernest Hemingway

… They taught me not to cry.

It was late night. We were sitting in the kitchen, smoking and he was telling me about his life. Then the boy stood up nervously, went to other room and came back. He had some papers in his hand.

– Take it!

– Do you want me to read this?

– I gave it to you…

Honestly, it was a dull question. Why did I ask? Why did I pretend I did not understand that he wanted me to read it and know everything?

Certificate of death…

– She was in a psychiatric hospital. You know, all these pills… she would not be able to survive after…

– What about your father? You must have relatives?

– I never tire anyone. If he’d like he would find me.

At this moment I felt all his solitude: he was all alone in the world.

He had never known his father. The boy was seeing his mother only when she was coming back from a psychiatric hospital for a day or two.

– She loved me a lot but she always was mad.

The boy adored her.

He also had an uncle: his mother’s brother.

– Once he told me that we would go to his friend’s home. I was six years old. It was a big house… He asked me to play with children in the other room while he was talking to his friend. I never saw him again. This building was an orphanage where I spent four years. They taught me not to cry. They were beating me and repeating that I should not cry. I never cry…

I remembered another day when he asked me.

– Why do you smoke?

– I smoke because sometimes I feel bored with people. Smoking isolated me from them.

– Why don’t you just leave…?

It was always hard for me to leave.

For the soul, seeking for love, to leave was life: interrupted relations, killed desires and solitude. His wolf’s eyes were looking into your soul and asked: why are you scared?

Do not be afraid, all is just a moment…

Anush
December 2007

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Tell Me My Story

 

 

Don’t give up
Because you have friends
And believe
There will be place
Where we’ll be loved
I am digging in the dirt
To find the place
Where I’ve loved

     – Tell me my story…

     She is twenty years old now. It is already seventeen years that she lives in the children’s home. For me she is a girl who has never had a childhood.

     – Your mother and father have met at a psychiatric hospital. They probably didn’t realize what they were doing or maybe they wanted you in their life passionately; although the doctors have forbidden her to give birth to a child. Craziness and desire of a man and a woman gave birth to you. I do not know anything about your father, except that he was Jewish. Your mother was an artist and she has committed a suicide after you appeared to the world which became too cruel for you. Three years you were living in a dark room which had never seen a sun…

     Is this the story which I should tell her even if it is true? Is this what a young “crazy” girl should know about life and past of her parents?

     All children in the world dream about one thing: caring and loving family.

     Someone says: “The best a father can do for his children is to love their mother”.

     The fairy-tale which will help her to live, believe, love and trust people will be a little different…

     – Tell me my story…

     – All children are born because once a man and a woman meet and love. You came to this world because your parents loved each other and wanted you to be born… Just remember always: you are a creature of your parents’ love and desire….

Anush
December 2007

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