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  • Pierre Smith Khanna

Lila


She had great big attentive eyes like a deer's. Hazel-coloured and wide open like a child's. The eyes of someone who is open to the world, receptive of all the little gusts of knowledge, wisdom and experience its winds and currents throw up to us as an offering. She would ask questions - all sorts - to anyone she happened to be with, seemingly content with their answer; or if not she'd ask another question, but never pester anyone with them. Enigmatic in the face of those who sought to understand her, place her into a social compartment of some sort - in reality she simply was a young girl curious about life. What brought her here to our little village no one knows. But all value her presence and a few would probably cry and veritably feel her absence if she were to leave one day.

Not that she does anything remarkable. She spends most of her time in school and the rest of it working in the garden, spending time with her friends or going for walks. She seems to have a particular interest in gardening and is fond of helping out our gardner with whatever needs doing - harvesting some parsley, seeding lettuce, weeding the paths, shovelling earth... One can often see her working out there in silence, asking a question every-so-often like "Why do we turn over the earth before we sow more seeds?"

Apparently one of the young lads - a fairly handsome one too - asked her out on a date once. She politely refused but suggested in return they go for a hike together. The boy hesitantly agreed, unsure where that left his amorous ambitions, and the two went for a whole day, crossing the valleys and forests that dot our landscape. It was said the boy returned somewhat tired, and was never seen to approach her again. The girl seem unbothered by this, as she did to the taunts other girls made about their hike. It seems like she had had a great time herself.

One day she asked the gardener why there was so much violence and destruction in the world. Despite being a mere gardner, our gardner was also looked upon by those in the village as someone rather wise and often people would go to him when at a loss with themselves. Thus he replied simply that men conceal a lot of hatred and anger, which they direct against others.

I don't see any hatred in me though. I can see confusion inside, but not hatred.

Well, perhaps your confusion will lead to anger.

Why's that?

What is confusion?

It's things I can't explain - like trying to solve a riddle and not knowing which voice in my head to follow.

Does it make you unhappy?

I guess.

Is it frustrating?

Oh, yes. Terribly so!

Can you see how that frustration might build up and become anger?

She paused to think this over a while.

I can see how that might be the case. But it's a long way from one to the other. And, even if I did get angry through my frustration, it would be at myself for not understanding the problem, not at anyone else.

Whether the anger is directed at yourself or not doesn't change the nature of it. Does it?

When I'm frustrated with something I usually see it and take it as a sign to stop whatever it is I am doing for it clearly isn't leading anyplace constructive.

Well that's very good. But what if you didn't see it, or simply didn't want to leave it? What if you had a problem that nagged you so, you went at it all morning, through lunch and past dinner. Even as you go to bed it's still with you, turning around your mind, with the handful of answers, opinions and judgements you collected throughout the day endlessly repeating themselves, throwing themselves back at the problem to no avail. Have you ever had a problem like that?

Her eyes glistened as she looked him in the eye as he spoke, attentive to each word he said.

No. That's dreadful! How can a thought become so persistent? It sounds like the naughty child in class who disturbs everyone else and doesn't stop even once the teacher's punished them.

The gardener let out his deep cheerful laughter and looked at her benevolently. "Quite the attention-seeker these problems are!" He quipped, and broke off and settled his gaze onto the horizon. They stood there in silence for a while, until she lifted her little head up to speak:

You see. Now I am thinking how it can be that a thought might take on such proportions; and in doing I try to imagine how it might be so. But seeing as I've never experienced it, how can I know? This here is my confusion, do you see?

Oh yes, I can see it. And I hope you never will experience what it is Lila. But it's precisely a thought like that which takes on a life of it's own. Perhaps it is not important enough for your mind to pursue. But there comes a point where some thought, some quandary will be seen as crucial to you. And so long as it remains unsolved, so much more will the mind multiply its efforts to get at it, tripping over itself in its excitement and haste. The excitement dies out, disappointment drifts by, and before you know it anger is all that's left. Because it’s still there, all these thoughts are still there, at the back of your mind, working like a machine without you even knowing it. And then you’re made aware of this activity, this screeching machinery, and it annoys you - you want it to stop. But you no longer have control over it, somehow that control eludes you. So you try and solve it. You go back to the original problem, and over and over this process repeats. And it’ll keep doing so, until the day you let go. Until you can get past the anger, past the effort, and accept. To surrender.

#Essais

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