Saturday, October 25, 2008

Portrait of the Self-Nemesis

By Ruhudeen Ali
I met him on a cold night on a train.
A gentle stranger staring out his window seat.
Mild in appearance, calm in exterior.
A youth who could pass for my brother, yet frail in face.
His eyes spoke of a rage within, a chaos which none knew.
Suddenly a voice whispers in my ear, telling me of his tale:
“He is a cowardly man who is slowly, reluctantly, yet surely
killing himself.
Amusing himself by living life’s amusements
he forgets his suicidal path to numb the pain of his self-hatred.
His memory fades while he forgets who he was.
Two-faced, he smiles at the world and bares fangs at his own self-image
he plays the folly because he is unwilling to tell anyone his tale
and thus his misery is dragged on needlessly..”
Indeed, he doesnt know the tale himself but somehow I knew
that one day his story will come to an end...inevitably.
As these thoughts crept in, pity overtook me.
Then he looked at me and I read words in his eyes that sent shivers down my spine:
“What’s the value in years of creation when it doesn’t amount to a moment’s worth of destruction?”
That’s when I realized that he knew what I knew of his story.
And so I was reminded of a poem by a friend which brought me to tears as I got off the train:

“When he does not press forward
he becomes a timid light
seeping through the mesh of night
much paler than the moon
that history has muted
what brilliance could have been
such radiance in him
will die out much too soon.”
-Patricia Paul

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