experimenting with boats and ropes

Prelude: Many a times my blogs are stories that have developed over time. Ideas and snippets of inspiration speak to me and tug at my mind until I structure them into a story of words. Many a times the snippets start with the metaphors and musings my mother is thinking about. So here’s to you mum, and to cutting the ropes; and as you pointed out “they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders.” (Acts 27.40)

Snap shot:  Sun-burnt sail boat, burnt wood and burnt red sails against an Indian Sunrise. The sunrise is what you can imagine, magnified. The sun is one hundred times hotter, one hundred times redder. The air is tangible; one hundred times more humid and smells one hundred times more volatile than the smog in the back of an old pub. The colour is loud, angry and drunk against a tired arabian sea. Ankles fill the frame as they drag the sail boat out til they reach their knees. Skirts lifted; veils dragging, then tossed and twisted around their necks through the breeze. They’re waving off those on board, those deemed lucky enough to go. Orange dust fills the air; thrown as confetti over their beloved travellers.

Cut, camera zooms out and pans left over water; Omen and the Saudi Arabian desert. Stop, zoom forward; softer now over to the banks of the red sea. Papyrus reeds are swaying to the silence of the breeze. Three old men, turbans tied and tucked resemble those three kings of Orient from my childhood christmas mind. In fact, they are singing too. It is an arabian chorus of nights and dreams. Camels are mounted and dark royal robes attempt to dominate the previously warm magenta scene. The pink mountain horizon across the water is spotlighted as the sun moves over, higher. The kings, what we should call them for now, are still dignified as they meander the papyrus reeds in a cumbersome effort to reach the salty water. The camels are cartoon-like; awkward, friendly and strong. They wade their way in; til thighs are submerged and the kings raise their legs so ankles are not touched by the dirty water. They did not leave voluntarily, they were called to go. And they obeyed.

Cut, pan north over the Gulf til we approach the Mediterranean. It’s typical. A sea of boats; I half expect a sailor to be in his outfit from Brittany. But instead one old man, his name is probably Jack, is wearing a cap and navy coat. He sits alone in the harbour with the boats. And his resting place of choice is an old dingy. It is as if he is the shepherd of the boats, holding them anchored and locked with a secret. The afternoon sun is the boat’s shepherdess. It is quiet, a solitary place for our Sailor Jack.

The noise of the Indian morning, the song of our Indian trio has transformed into the quiet of the Mediterranean. But something is stirring. Something in the water. The boats begin to dance. Swaying back and forth more rapidly; I half expect some green waterdragon to emerge from Greek mythology, out of the water.

The noise does not come from beneath the water, it is the boats themselves. They are crying, stirring, itching to leave. Our sailor is confronted. His solitude has been disrupted. He jumps overboard and doggy paddles, pipe still firmly set in the left hand side of his mouth. He is determined and fierce. As the boats bounce, he’s busy cutting the ropes. He’s cutting and swimming, waist-deep. He cycles his legs with ‘egg-beater’ kick as he secures his hat in place.

The boats dance all the more frantically, the most part have been cut from buoys, rocks and piers. But they aren’t free yet. The motors are roaring. They dingy’s are paddling themselves. The sight is almost ghostly. Our sailor man has to go deep. He must dive underwater and pull the anchors up, signifying the end of their bondage.

He didn’t want to go. He didn’t even want to wish them well. He didn’t want to say good luck. He didn’t agree with their story. It just wasn’t right. He didn’t want t hear songs about dreams and stars and the night. But it had been long enough. Indeed the boats cut off their obligations and were determined to leave.

Their freedom was still up to Jack. Jack had to let them go. He was the only one that held the anchors, the ropes, the keys. Sure they caused a scene, and sure it would be all downhill from here if he held them back now. But it was still up to him.

He climbs back on board and grabs the ropes. He heaves the anchor up. The boat moves forwards, then upwards. It journeys to the sky. Jack dove deep, and the boats could now fly high. The boats swayed softly like helium balloons into the heavens. The secret was out, and everyone could see.

He knew they could fly. He kept them at bay. Now it was his time to show himself. It was time to tell his story. Those who did not see might not believe him. They might think he was a heretic. But he cut the ropes. He was no longer stitched up, locked down, hemmed in or tongue tied. He would tell his story. And he would hear theirs. He was in too deep to turn back now.

 

 

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2 responses to “experimenting with boats and ropes

  1. Pingback: Why I like Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities | she, the sojourner

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