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Eulogy to the Halcyon

Design source: Sweeneypen, Redbubble


F I C T I O N


Abrar Jamil


They say, “It flew here in the wind,

Disguised a zephyr before noon;

A calm before the storm,

Morphed which, into a raging tempest,

That played havoc with the Halcyon’s evergreen quietude.”

 

What used to be a vibrant precinct, teeming with the effervescence of shoppers, was now anything but. All that remained was an empty street — desolate and leached of life. In the bleak grey, I could make out a New Year’s lantern, hung askew, adjacent to an awning that marked the entrance to one of the most popular taverns in the city — desperately seeking attention. That teeny-weeny, uninvited visitor forcefully welcomed itself into a mob and cast a spell, powerful enough to cause objects of the same kind to repel. The spell made the visitor look like not one, but many.

 

“Some say it sourced from the land of the Dragons,

The prisoner of the dungeon feeding on isolation,

Its breath would pervade across oceans,

Enshrouding its wardens in a similar fate.

Shrine bells chimed from afar.”

 

The Year of the Rat was presumed to bring prosperity and peace with it. However, it decided otherwise and gave us the tail end. While fingers pointed towards the nation within the bounds of the Wall, no one really knew what caused it. Others claimed it was the anger of the heavens, damnation for our sins, the curse of the Cat of the Zodiac — but all that was really unimportant now.

As I was finishing the last bit of tea left in my thermos flask, I noticed a strange figure approaching me. It donned a dark jacket with spikes, typical of a goth. It shot an apathetic glance at me as I stared into its hollowed-out eyes. From its mere stature, it was indiscernible that it would be capable of such a cataclysm which would soon ensue.

 

“As the winds caught speed,

Pairings of lovebirds were rendered asunder,

Incarcerating them in aeolian cages

With deafening silence brought by claps of thunder.”

 

It was a matter of days after I met the strange figure that the world around me bore signs of battle-damage. Not battle-damage, but definitely a battle. It seemed to me that life forces now remained concentrated in the warmth of homes, contrary to the laws of diffusion. None dared venture past the barriers that immured them, unless they wanted a taste of their own medicine. Something looked out of place, since it had been pretty inconspicuous previously. I had never seen the postbox so full before.

 

“It’s November, 

The river is a white mirror

Vast spaces replace the crowded easel of Nature

One reaches for a palette

While the Pacifier of Winds remains poised for flight

Dirty snowballs pepper the midnight sky,

High time for nyctophiles.”

 

The unanticipated abundance of legroom injected fresh, revitalising energy into the fauna. Nature turned over a new leaf. The missing pages of a colouring book flaunted its new colour, while the rest got erased, like petals being buoyed away by the wind. 

 

“Yet another withered leaf descended;

A mighty gale raged past

The Lions of the Wind got robbed of their insignia

Like an exodus in the Ice Age

A desecration, verily.”

 

I found myself a spot under the massive oak tree. These used to be picnic spots. What I saw looking up confounded me. All I could see were the branches breaking the sky apart into a million pieces, like cracked glass. Not blue, brown, and green; only blue and brown. “It’s not fall yet. Where are the leaves?” That mysterious figure leaned against the opposite side of the trunk.

 

“The enigma brandished a scimitar,

Its sheath obscured its true colours

When revealed thyself, appeared 

A double-edged claymore.

A fool sees the pointer and misses the moon.

The sun’s corona in an eclipse

Obliterates the darkness enveloping from view.”

 

Sometimes blessings come in an ugly wrapping paper. We, as humanoids, condemn its appearance and pour scorn on its blemishes. Just like how the beauty of the dark side of dawn never catches our sight, blanketed by its ostentatious, brighter half. Apparent judgment is injustice.

 

“The gusts pushed us farther, closer yet

Fraternity would no longer

Be taken granted

Since the Grasshopper now spirit bonds with the Ant;

The rainbow now,

A mediator of sentiments

The sequestered kite, forsaken ere

Caught wind today

Soaring across the horizon, against the headwind

As Eurus meets Favonius.”

 

A fruit basket stands on the front porch of the house by the cul-de-sac. I noticed, as I went near it, a “Get well, soon” card accompanied the basket. The dwelling’s Venetian blinds, once never opened, were suddenly an anomaly. It was the same as every other house on the street. The vegetable patch on the front yard told me it had been taken good care of all this time.

 

“The insect that shakes the oak tree,

Ludicrously overestimates its ability

Stands before it

A resilient foe

That takes over, like poison,

Slowly, but surely.”

 

The spell started to wear off about as soon as it had been inoculated, and it felt like it was just yesterday that it all began. Ice left in the sun wouldn’t last forever, slowly deliquescing into the surroundings and revealing its cryo-preserved, delicate core. If the cause of this catastrophe assumed such a weak blow could trample us humans, it had better think again. Its half-life was surprisingly short, like the penumbra cast by Luna twice a year, I thought, as it slowly dispersed into thin air before me. An ox bellowed in the distance. The tea tasted slightly less bitter than before.

 

“However, winds change their course 

Someday

They will blow towards a brighter future.”

 

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