Saturday, August 9, 2008
Do Geese see God?
I could count the veins on her face.
Her skin glistened with a mixture of body oils and sweat. She had been screaming obscenities for half an hour but the last one minute it seemed like her voice had gone unbelievably higher. Her eyes were red with the fury, strain and pain from her exertions. She didn’t even have the strength to cry anymore.
She looked directly at me and screamed one loud word.
I felt my face go flush.
It started from my neck and crept into my head before settling itself firmly on my cheeks. I didn’t have a mirror but I knew how I looked to all who could see. My pale face was a perfect canvas for the bright Rudy blush on my cheek. I sighed sadly to myself. This wasn’t working out very well. I seemed to be making a mess out of everything.
I didn’t need to read the manual to know this was an uncalled for reaction.
I was not supposed to blush.
Angels didn’t blush.
“She can’t see you, you know.” A voice said from behind me.
I didn’t turn around to look. I knew already who was speaking. There were only two angels in the room. One was blushing and the other wasn’t me.
I felt him glide and stop beside me. He watched the screaming woman with a soft smile.
“Enjoying yourself, Mourinho?” Angel Legna asked with a chuckle.
I turned even redder and closed my eyes with irritation.
For those of you new to my world the following gleaned information is correct.
Yes I am an Angel and yes my name (as far as this story is concerned) is Mourinho.
The following though is incorrect.
I wasn’t enjoying myself.
I looked at the straining woman in front of me and sighed. Being an Angel was hard enough work.Understanding humans just made it a lot harder.
“She’s in pain.” I observed.
The Angel standing beside me nodded.
“She could die.” I said.
“Yes. It’s a possibility. We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen.” He raised his eyes to the skies. “Unless otherwise ordered.”
I stared at the groaning woman in confusion. Her pain was so strong it seemed to take a viral life of its own. Infecting everyone around with some degree of her torment. I wanted it to come to an end. Soon. Even if it meant us taking her home early.
“She could have avoided this.” I asked quietly. “She actually chose to go through with this?”
“Yes. “Legna asserted. He placed a comforting hand on my shoulder. I had only recently been transferred to earth. Nigeria to be exact. Legna was my Orientation supervisor. For the next one week he was supposed to put me through the basics and help me adjust to life with humans. He had been really patient thus far.
“You don’t understand I see.” He said.
He was correct this time.
No, I didn’t.
I had only been on earth for a week and already my head was spinning from the weird traditions and decisions of humans. This was one of them.
Why did humans enjoy smoking knowing how dangerous it was?
Why did some humans like Dogs and others love Cats?
Why did they laugh and cry at the same time?
And just who exactly voted Obasanjo in as president?
Humans were a confusing bundle of exhibited oddities which lasted only long enough to startle you before they were replaced with even more startling displays of quirkiness.
“The last one week, can’t have been that bad” Legna said with a laugh.”Surely you’ve come across something that you enjoy.”
I brightened at that.
“Well. I did come across a delightful little creature. Every evening when I’m free. I sit down with it and I listen to it sing. It’s got one of the most beautiful voices I have heard. Almost as nice as the voices I sang with in the choir.”
“You’re exaggerating.” Legna said with a laugh.
I smiled. Admitting that I was.
“But it does have a lovely little voice. I could listen to it forever. “
“FUCK. FUCK.CHRIST. FUCK!”
We both winced.
I looked up quickly expecting to see a thunderbolt. The ceiling fan remained undamaged.
Across us one of the Midwives rubbed a Damp flannel cloth over her face. She softly brushed her hair back.
“You’re doing okay.” She crooned. “We can see the baby now. Take a deep breath and push.”
“It’s going well” Legna said in a satisfied tone.
I looked across at the straining woman surrounded by a Doctor and Midwives. It didn’t look like it was going well. Her breath was racing. Her face contorted in reflection of her pain.
And what was that between her legs?
“Palindromes.” Legna said.
“What?” I said in shock.
“Palindromes.” He repeated. He flapped his wings and floated softly into the air. “Do you know what they are?”
I looked up at him uncomfortably. He was dangerously close to the fan. Although I knew I was being unreasonably, I wondered what would happen if he flew into the fan.
“Of course I do. They’re sentences that read the same way forward or backwards. Like the sentence. Dennis Sinned. It’s the same thing if you read it backwards.” I said.
“Dennis sinned”. That’s a nice example. Almost as nice as “Madam. I’m Adam!” Although in that one you have to take the spaces into consideration. No X in Nixon. That’s another nice one.” He thought for a second. “A Toyota. Race fast. Safe Car. A Toyota.”
I looked at him
“A palindrome. That’s another palindrome. Read it backwards and it still means the same thing.” He said explaining.
“I know that.” I sighed. Just because I was formerly a seraph everyone thought I was slow. “What’s that? A Toyota?”
“Oh…Right. I forgot you’ve only been on earth for a week.” He slowly soared down. “Well. A Toyota is sort of like a Chariot. Without the flaming horses. But it moves. Really fast. Human speed that is.”
“A chariot without horses?” I asked slowly.
“ Yeah. It’s called a car actually.”
“Oh!” I snapped “Why didn’t you say so. I know what a car is. I had an orientation class before coming to Nigeria.”
“My sincere Apologies.” He landed beside me and we watched the woman for a while. I looked on with rising concern. Whatever was between her legs, it was growing. Her screams were unbelievably loud now. My feathers twitched nervously. This was going on well?
“You were wrong you know.”
“What?” I asked startled. I wondered how Legna could remain so calm. The woman was being killed right in front of me by that….thing!
“About Palindromes. They’re not just sentences you can read backwards. They’re can also be words. Like the word Gag. Or the place Aba.”
“Aba. That’s here in Nigeria right?”
“Yes. Interesting place. It’s close to Port Harcourt which is another interesting place. The way things are going over in Port we might send you there really soon. Last week local Militants kidnapped an Angel.”
“What?” I gasped out loud. I looked around quickly. The doctors and Midwives hadn’t heard me. The woman seemed to be looking at me though.
“FUCK ME!” She screamed.
“I’m joking about the kidnapping. “ He said.
“Er…. Okay.” I said. My face was doing the red thing again. I looked nervously at the woman. I wondered if…
“She can’t see you.” Legna said again with a chuckle. “You’re just in her line of sight.”
I nodded wearily. I didn’t want to move. The view here was fantastic. And whatever that thing was it now had hands.
I sighed to myself and looked at Legna.
“You were saying? About Palindromes.”I muttered.
Legna nodded in approval.
“Right. It’s not only words that can be Palindromic in nature. Numbers as well can. Like the sequence 1234321. That’s a Palindrome. Same thing in Music.”
“Ah! Music.” I said delighted. I had been a member of the Seraph choir for the last five thousand years before my sudden deployment to earth. If there was anything I was good at, it was music. At least I thought I was. I didn’t know who the singer Lil Wayne was or why he would want to sing about his Lollipop but I did think the music was Catchy.
It was strange. But Catchy.
“Yes Music. Do re mi fa so la ti do. Do ti la so fa mi re do? That’s a palindrome right there.”
“Yes….Er… Yes it is.”I said. My feathers had gone from nervous twitching to full out vibrations. I hoped I wasn’t shedding. Legna could chat all he want but I was beginning to freak out. There was half a body hanging out of the woman. This was more depressing than watching Abraham try to count his children. I closed my eyes.
Lena’s soothing voice came into my ear.
“It’s okay Mourinho. It’s almost over now. Calm down.”
Calm down. I told myself. Legna was right. There was nothing to worry about. If anything bad was going to happen. We were here to stop it. We were Angels. We were here for a reason.
And then out of the blues the reason cried.
I opened my eyes.
The Doctor had a baby in his hands. A beautiful beautiful baby. Her eyes were closed but her mouth was wide open as she screamed her first words. I listened to the baby cry and I knew without looking that my face was bright red again. I hoped I didn’t break out into happy tears. I seemed to be breaking all the Angel laws.
I looked at Legna. He had a satisfied smile on his face. His face looked like there was a blush on it but that was probably just my red haze confusing me. He bobbed up and down in place. His wings flapping slowly.
He nodded at me and pointed to the woman.
I looked and I saw.
I saw a Miracle.
She was beautiful.
Beautiful. True; her face still glistened from the sheen of her exertion and her hair was a tousled mess where it wasn’t plasterd against her skin. But in the center of it all was a lovely smile. Her eyes shone with incredibly warmth and her face which minutes before had been contorted in pain was now trapped in a loving stare. Her skin glowed with love. Oozing care from every pore. I stared at the Butterfly that had lain beneath the cocoon of pain and obscenities and for a second my gaze dimmed.
“If you cry, I’ll have you sent back to heaven on the next Chariot!” Legna’s voice broke into my reflection.
I looked at him and laughed.
We both laughed.
It seemed everyone in the room was trapped in the same heady sense of Joy that we all were. The doctor was beaming with restrained pleasure in the corner. The midwives were clucking their contents in a corner and the mother, so beautiful, who minutes before had been begging a sexual alliance with Christ was now content with simply staring at her baby. In truth the only person in the room who wasn’t crying with joy was probably the baby. But she was crying so she half qualified.
“They’re like Palindromes.” Legna said.
“Humans. They’re like Palindromes. There’s rarely nothing straight forward about what they do. It’s easy to misjudge them based on their actions but that would be a mistake. They are multidirectional creatures. Granted there are occasions were their actions can be judged on the surface of it but more often than not. If you look the other way you find that there are other things to read. Too see.”
Legna looked at me.
“Take war for instance. It’s a horrifying debacle of man pitted against man in a sludge fest of manic gore. They die. In their millions. In thousands of terrible ways. But the purpose of war oddly enough is to bring about peace. The reason behind the slaughtering of millions is so that billons may live. And live better lives too.”
“Do You see what I mean. You have to look around with humans. Never be quick to judge.”
“You see a woman hanging on the corner. She is selling herself for money. Deplorable you say. And then you find out she does this to fend for her three children back at home. All three are in school and because of her sacrifice they stand a chance of having a better life.”
“Or you see a woman willing to go through nine months of back aches, sleepless nights, nausea and eventual labor woes for just the opportunity to see a baby. Her baby.” He smiled at me. “Now you understand.”
“I think so. Human emotions aren’t an exact science. There’s nothing precise about them or their actions. It’s inexact. Never odd or even.”
Legna smiled at me.
“That’s a palindrome you know? Never Odd or even. It can be read in either direction.” He looked at the cooing mother. “It’s a fitting definition of human emotions or the human race. Never odd or even.”
Never odd or even.
He soared slowly into the air.
“I must leave now. I have another assignment. Some mother has asked for guidance over her children while she is away on her business trip. They are about to watch Basic Instinct 2. I might have to knock down a power pole to stop them.” HE chuckled and then looked at me.” If there is nothing else, we’ll continue your lecture tomorrow.”
I raised my wings and dropped them.
“Angel Legna. That’s a Palindrome isn’t it?”
“I’m impressed.” He said.
And then he was off. He shot off into the air. Vanishing through the ceiling.
Left alone,I took a walk outside leaving the mother with her child. Despite Legna’s assurances I wasn’t convinced the mother couldn’t see me. I left her to breast feed her child in peace.
The night was warm with the faintest of breezes in the air. As I made my way down the street the lovely singing creature flew by and filled my ears with lovely music. I closed my eyes and enjoyed its symphony.
I thought about what Legna had told me. Never odd or even.
Nothing in life was as it seemed.
I was learning.
I for instance knew that my new singing friend was called a Mosquito.