I want to fly away. I really do. Someplace really special, and preferably with someone really special. Each day here feels like a curse. Optimists would say that it’s a blessing in disguise, but what do they know. They’re too busy feeling happy about things that don’t exist.
I feel like a bird trapped in a cage: limited to the metal bars that confine me to this minuscule place. It’s breaking me, and my spirit, day after day. I dread the day that I get so tired of it all that I pull out my feathers till I perish.
But that day is not today. And till that day comes – I’m in the only place I’ve ever dared call home – Kapci.
I put my hand out. When you don’t need a taxi, they’re everywhere. When you need them, they’re either occupied or nowhere to be found. Well, it is the end of the work week: the fifth day, the Day of Venus. Everyone’s heading home or going somewhere special.
Even me. I have someplace to be. I look at my watch. There’s still time.
A metal-camel stops in front of me. Of course it does. The beloved slow beast of burden. I would have preferred a metal-horse. They’re a little more expensive, but in this town, where time is money, metal-horses are the way to go. These metal-camels are almost obsolete anyway. The buzzword in this town is progress.
“Hey lady,” the cabbie yells out. “Where to?”
I don’t bother responding. I haven’t been on one of them since my childhood and I have no intention of reliving the leisurely ordeal that’s reserved for tourists.
“Beggars can’t be choosers,” the cabbie says. Well, he’s right. I’ve already waited for over an hour.
“The Garden of Razim,” I say.
The cab rider glares at me. What’s his problem?
“What’s the magic word?” he asks in a parental tone.
For the love of God. He doesn’t even look that much older than me.
“Please,” I add as insincerely as I can.
I climb up the mini ladder and get inside. There’s only room for three people in here – cabbie included. I sit down in the back.
The Powercentars proclaim that metal-camels are an inefficient form of transport. What the Powercentars don’t say is that this beast of burden needs very little darklight and one of their full tanks can last a fortnight.
“Where you from?” the cabbie asks.
His emerald eyes scrutinise me from the rear-view mirror. “I was born here,” I say. I wait for his surprise. One second, two seconds, three seconds…
“You don’t look like you’re from around here.”
Three interlocking lives. One shared destiny. It is as it was written. A mysterious man collects tales, songs and paintings to create coincidences, and by extension, fate. A peculiar woman preserves the ancient knowledge of the world’s ancestors. Together they are the few remaining survivors of the traditional custodians of Kapci: a materialistic city where the spirit world and physical world coexist in an uneasy harmony. With premeditated manoeuvring, they orchestrate a chain of events which forces a citizen, an immigrant and a traveller to play their part in a destiny far greater than themselves.
The Opening Paragraphs
These are the opening pages of a book that I completed back in 2013. It must have taken me two years to write it. When I first re-read it sometime last year, it sounded like a garbled mess. But as I re-read it, I found, buried deep within its pages; words, ideas and feelings that I was longing to express but which were perhaps too painful, too difficult and too ‘unacceptable’ to articulate.
For every word that is impermissible within the conventions of society will always seek to be born through myth. What are myths but an expression of the collective woes and worries of ‘average people’ going about their daily business? Something as simple as getting into a cab can become a wondrous and fantastical experience when it is viewed through the eyes of mythology, history and modernity all at once.
As I re-read this novel, I realised that embedded within its pages are a world that no one sees perhaps except me. Well, I suppose the time has come to let someone else see it.
Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, whether it’s reality or fantasy, whether it is the truth or a falsehood, has very little bearing on what exists and what doesn’t. As an artist, there is only one truth I understand: that once it has been created, it exists.