She search the ground for it. The wings to freedom of speech. The key to atonement for being too naive. The door of happiness that everyone tries to find, realizing or not. But she just couldn’t find it. Or perhaps she had been looking at the wrong spots all this time? Or perhaps she just couldn’t see what she is looking for? What is it that she’s really looking for? She herself doesn’t know for sure.
It all started early in the morning at the breakfast table. Her father, known for his self-righteous act and strictness in matters others seem to care less, had spoken to her. And those words that sprouted out of his mouth came like razor sharp lemon grass, beautiful yet painful at the same time, with a sharp scent of anger and sadness. For her father knows the exact words to use to make her feel the guilt, feel the burden of living in this world. Only that he doesn’t use the word ‘burden’ but uses the term ‘responsibility’ instead. You’re a full-grown woman, a full-fledged lady. Don’t expect me to tell you everything that you need to do in your life. That’s how he usually says it, only in different prose and style each time. But the core matter, the important question that lies inside his words is always the same. And every session of his ‘talks’ would end up hurting her more and more. I’m still learning to be human, papa! Don’t you know what chance and tolerance are? Can’t you except imperfectness from a mere human like me, papa? Can you at least complement my progress in maturing, in becoming the perfect daughter you longed for all this time? Why can’t you understand me? Why can’t you see that I’m getting better? Those questions and hatred whirls inside her, magnifying after each passing day. And today, it burst open her door of rationality.
She ran away from home. A 20-year-old woman, longing for affection from her own dear father, ran away from home stupidly like a child. She ran into the woods, heading further away from civilization and the hassle that it brought with it. Ran into the woods… endlessly…. painfully…. until she ran out of breath. By the time, darkness looms upon her.
Now, darkness has a strange way of affecting one, especially those who are lost in thought and lost in essence. She, by chance and by misfortune, has lost both. In the strange and unsettling landscape, she tries to find something to comfort herself. The cold starts beating in, starts to sip into her skin and to her bones. She trembles. Then she started to cry. Disoriented she is, she began to ponder upon the words that her father always mutter to her. She, a woman known to be strong-hearted by her peers and colleagues alike, succumbed to the words of an old man. And now she began to acknowledge that as a fact. But all is useless. Acknowledgement can’t help her find her way home now. She falls to her knees, feeling her heart and her head pounding from inside. Remorse is but a mere word now, and that she knows for sure. But then, right when she was on the verge of giving up hope, she saw a flicker of light through the branches and mist and darkness.
Now, light also has a very strange way in affecting people. Light symbolizes hope, signifying found just by showing off. And she thinks exactly the same. She started towards the light, initially in little steps, then faster and faster, then running, then sprinting! Her feet then steps on something strange. Something cold that goes clank-clank-clank and has an awkward texture to it. But she cares the least about the strangeness the ground she stepped on has. All she cared is the light. Oddly, the light also became nearer and nearer to her. With its approach came a whizzing sound. She stops. Stands right in front of the light. The light is still approaching her. Then, the next second, her eyes widen. She now realizes that the strange land she is standing on right now are tracks. Train tracks. And the light approaching her is….
In that split second, she jumps to the side without hesitation. The train passes by with immense speed, missing her by the inches. She fell to the ground once again, dirt and leaves all over her. She lay still for a moment. Stare at the stars which she felt mocking her inability to stand up again. She feels that the stars are laughing at her for her shortcomings, her uselessness, and her dependency upon her father. And now she laughs along. A bitter laugh, breaking the silence the darkness brought with it. Self-loath crouch into her heart. She started to hate herself for her inability to stand independently without support. Become the woman her father ought her to be. Strong. A woman of substance. Responsible and knows what to do, when to do it. But now, reality starts kicking in. She realized that she is still far away from ideal. And she is on the verge of giving up a dream she deems hopeless. She decided to lay down there for eternity and let time seals her there without anyone knowing. Let time make her disappear.
Now, time is a very peculiar thing. It doesn’t always act the way people wants it to act, and it always surprises people. For in that short time of her being lost in the woods and lost in her own mind, an unexpected event occurred. The stars that she sees as mocking and laughing at her began to descend from their ephemeral plane. Her eyes widen as the stars came closer and closer to the ground. But surprisingly, those stars didn’t become bigger or shine brighter, which she anticipated would’ve become. The stars just…. flicker. By the time those stars are at the same level of the treetops, she realizes that those aren’t stars she’s seeing. They are actually butterflies. Butterflies, which have a strange glow emitted from them. A strange, soothing bluish white glow which seems so mystical yet so alluring at the same time. And now those butterflies flutter around her, flying ever gracefully and softly, not even disrupting the air around them.
She holds out her hand, hoping that one of those butterflies would land on her palm, and one did! The butterfly has a fragile frame, yet its wings compensate for it with its beautiful glow. And those wings help it to flutter gracefully with whole elegance and confidence.
Then, snap! Her eyes widen. Suddenly, abruptly, everything became clear to her. That butterfly….. is her. She is like those butterflies, fragile on her own, yet her father’s wisdom helps her to fly, helps her to become who she is. She won’t shine in the light, but she’ll be visible in the dark, trying times, thanks to her wings, her father’s wisdom. At that moment, it came to her mind that it is not her father who doesn’t understand her, who doesn’t tolerate. It is she who doesn’t understand her father, who does not know how to give chance, who doesn’t even stop to listen at the essence of her father’s rambles. All she longed for all this time is a visible hope, a tangible reward for her hard work to become human, without realizing that that kind of hope and reward is not the best nor is it sincere. Just like the headlights of the train, ramming one and obliterating one’s will to move forward by giving ease and comfort. Her father, on the other hand, gives her real hope and reward. A ray of light just enough for her to pull through the darkness. A light full of honesty. A useful light that provokes her to move forward, forever and ever, so that she’ll always be on top and be able to stand till the end. A pair of wings, which her father knows everyone needs, which she just realized. ‘Cause humans are fragile beings which cannot stand on their own until they build up substance. That, now, she knows. Now, she appreciates.
In the morning, she walks back home all dirty. In front of the door stood her father, arms crossed and a stern look on his face. Her little steps go on, until she stands right in front of him. Her father looks at her with strong eyes. A moment of silence lingers in the air. Then, he speaks.
“Do you know why I named you Rohayah, my child?”
She shakes her head.
“Because you are my soul. My ‘roh’. You are ‘Father’s Soul’. So be strong for me, because I am a weak person on my own.”
Then he turn towards the door and went inside. She still stood there, a smile on her face. Her father truly knows his words, and she is grateful that he does. Then she replied.
“Yes, papa. I will.”
23rd October 2010