The healer

The healer

The news came in a crow’s song and on a butterfly’s wings. Have you heard he was in town, they asked each other excitedly. He came to us, he came to help, we have to go see him. They scurried across the bare plains and empty streets, regardless of what they were wearing, not caring about their appearance or what they had to stop doing. Rushing to get there first, each and every one of them thought about their respective maladies: sore throats, numb limbs, weak hearts, hurting skins. They were thinking, today is the day I will finally be healed. They knew he had magical healing powers, and they thought themselves privileged and almost chosen: why else would he have been sent to them just when they needed him most?

She stared at their racing figures which looked like horizontal lines of coloured flesh; she felt the wind on her face, and their scents so different from one another, so particular and quaint, their faces blurry, their eyes rounded in surprise and hope. The sight was scary and delightful and she stood there with her basket on her arm, watching the neverending flow of humans dash by. She tried to read their lips but all she could sense was their hot breaths, sweet and hot and spicy and dirty, all mingled together in a tornado of air.

A little boy stopped to pull her skirt, and his mouth opened and closed in a frantic exaggeration of excitement: she stared at his rosy lips and his untainted tongue, and she discerned the word healer repeated over and over again, like a precocious mantra. He jumped up and down before her, and tugged at her hand to make her follow him. She gently shook his tiny hand off hers, and smilingly pushed him back into the flood of people. His minute head disappeared in the tide before she could make up her mind whether to go after him or not. Seeing that they were all so excited and buzzing, she decided to plunge into the river of hands and legs and become a creature of horizontal lines herself.

Their bodies were soft and pushy, the feel of their bones through their flesh demanding and hopeless. She sniffed into the air around her, smelling men and women, children and elderly, newborn and dying. She marvelled at the unity with which they trodded on, trampling over fields and valleys, mountains and brooks, pavement and pebbles, over what seemed like an eternity. She saw from the movement of their hair that they spoke to each other in an agitated tone; their wrists were telling about anticipation and hope, their feet creating a floating cloud of dust around them. They roared on and she marched with them, expecting every instant to melt into someone next to her, a rotund worker or a wise-looking old woman. She felt her own thoughts disappear and make way to ideas coming from all angles, words of bliss and freedom, songs of eternity and purpose, memories and dreams not yet come true, whole new worlds of the unknown. Without knowing why, her heart beat in wild expectation.

Suddenly she halted with the crowd around her. Before she could lift her eyes up after the loss of balance, they had dispersed, kneeling, lying down, sitting on the empty ground or in each other’s laps, standing with their hands clasped in prayer. Some of them swayed gently in the afternoon breeze, others stood motionless as trees rooted centuries before. She saw tears, she saw smiles, she saw teeth revealed in laughter, and souls naked in pitiful abandon. She lifted her glance and searched for the one who had made them all come this far.

He was short and very young, with waves around his face and a soft wind in his eyes. He stood there simply, clad in brown, as inconspicuous as the small oak tree nearby. She saw him and wondered why they had thought him capable of anything more than what they themselves could accomplish. She almost felt sorry for the little man, knowing how much they expected of him, how much responsibility he had to shoulder. She had travelled so long with them that she felt their demands crawl through the empty space between their lips and him. As the words reached him, he could barely stand without stumbling. But he stood and with smiling eyes, he opened his mouth to speak to them.

And then she saw the man lying next to her slowly get up on his own. He stood with shaking limbs and teary eyes, his whole body thanking the healer profusely. The old woman on his right threw away her walking stick and black glasses, falling to her knees. The little boy had two hands once more, and his mother squeezed him to her bosom affectionately.

She stared at the metamorphoses around her and then looked back at him, who stood there alone in the midst of ailing humans, speaking and speaking, never for once stopping to rest. His hair was dancing with butterflies, his hands caressing the soft curves of an invisible lover, the wind. She stared at the beauty that was shown to her and as she thought he was growing taller and more powerful, she heard something.

Startled, she grabbed at anything top rop herself up on, but she only grabbed the empty air. The shock of the sound growing louder and louder in her ear pushed her to the ground, and as she sat there with trembling hands, she lifted her burning face to meet the eyes of the stranger who was now standing right in front of her. It was then that through the maddening screams of noises: wailing, blissful chanting, guffaws of satisfaction she discerned a soulful melody, that of a beautiful voice, rich and deep, soft as the murmur of everlasting woods, and trembling as the limbs of a newborn calf. He was singing- he had been singing all along. With each note she heard him more clearly, and with each gentle soaring of his voice she thought her heart was beating louder, her soul was stretching further into the realms of the unknown, and her eyes were seeing beauty never seen before. Her tears felt warm and sweet on her lips, and as she clasped her hands together he saw him smile at her. He smiled, and his smile had the world in it, his eyes lakes of black bliss, his mouth a pool of promise, his cheeks soft beds of happy abandon for everyone. Who are you, she wanted to ask but could not, as her spirit was numbed by the joy she felt; I am no one, and everyone, he replied in his song, sending waves of warmth to her. I am that which everyone needs, I am that who is sent to carry your burden, I am the one and the many, I am you.

She wept then, grateful and feeling puny, leaving a world of grey silence behind, embracing a life of happy chatter and loud noises and gentle crooning and hurtful screams. She heard it all, and she felt complete. She knew she owed it all to him, and wished dearly she could thank him somehow- but when she looked up from her tearful reverie, he was gone. She looked around, listening to conversations, fragments of speech and emotion, listening to not only her inner thoughts but a loud, audible, intoxicatingly noisy jungle of sounds; she stared ahead and around her, realizing in a stupor of thankfulness that she had been healed. He had healed her, and she couldn’t even thank him. Tears of sorrow flowed down her cheek as an unexpected emptiness hollowed her heart; she felt new, she felt perfect, she felt isolated. The echo of his voice reverberated in here ars, and with each stinging memory of sound she felt a pang of pain; oh, why did she have to hear him? She knew she would never hear anything as perfect again.

She scrambled to her shaky feet and through the blissful crowd she started walking back to a life of clarity and sound, one of hurtful loss and emptiness. He healed her, bereaving her of what had been the most previous to her: the hope that one day she would stand face to face with perfection.

That moment was gone, and she had nothing left.

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