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The Reunion: A Creative Essay by Seotsa ‘Soh’ Manyeli

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It is a line; small and tentatively drawn by a young soul. I see this line from above like as if I am flying. It is a straight line with no borders, no colour.

I know what has just happened. I know I am now the spirit with the mind. There is no body attached to me. I can feel myself as something that is different from what I have always held as the reality of the person I. Even though I see this line, I know it is not of the world, of the physical reality. Everything that is happening is not real, neither is it an illusion but all that I see are from a different perspective that viewed the world, the reality of time and space as I had come to accept it. This new concept of I that I have to embrace is definitely fresh and free.

Through this new perspective of seeing a different world I look again at that line and see it still there even though I have shifted from that place, that ideal. But somehow in this new perspective of a new ‘I’ I feel happy. There are no borders, no weight made by the body that I was carrying during the days of my life. With this idea of me carrying the body I felt a new shift that took me to something that looked like a gate. There was no one at this opening but it was opened by some idea that comes to one’s mind. An idea that came to my mind was one of the bright sun; with also no borders and no light. But the light that was given by the sun was from the soul that was witnessing the sun in itself. With that ideal that presented itself to me the gate opened and the game started. It was also a thought that the game had begun.

As I moved inside this place, having passed the gate I saw far in the world – a house. It was beautiful traditional Sesotho house. The door was opened but a little. Since I was only but a whisper of thought I moved inside this house. One could see that it was from ancient times but I saw it like as if it was today. Behind the door was a large container of deep thought, of endless narration to the sensations of time and space. I could not see what was within this large container, it looked like water, or mist or a wool of something alive but invisible. Even though it was invisible one could see that the container was full of something, but this something was not physical. At the base of this large container was a band of beads.

I saw this from some place I was occupying but on the same like as if I was actually there. I didn’t know what the vision was for. I knew and had accepted that I was dead. I didn’t know what was happening to my body in the world at this time, but I knew that I was about to see something important. I didn’t even have regrets about this life; only thoughts that I didn’t entertain to the full. I kept where I was and continued to look at this vision of a large container.

The next thing I saw myself standing naked in the middle of the room and there is a man with an ox tail. The large container now has been moved from behind the door to the centre of the room. I do not see inside this container but I can tell now that what is inside is the blood of a sheep. He dips this ox tail into this large container and sprays this blood on me; on my body. As he sprays this blood on me he is making some prayer. I cannot exactly tell what he is saying but it’s like he is asking for my protection; for me to know that I have to work harder to fulfill the prophesies that were made for me in this lifetime. He has long hair like Rastafarians and through that I deduce that he is a traditional healer. I do not know him but I sense that he is one of my own clan; one of my family.

He sprays this blood on me and keeps on moving around me and I stand there doing nothing. My hands are raised but not high; about 90 degrees to the body. He circles around me many times and he keeps praying and chanting some songs. Then he dips his hands in the container and comes out with that band of beads. At the centre there is a diamond attached to them. He takes this band and puts it on me. The diamond is the size of my fist. It is heavy but beautiful. I still stand naked with this band around my neck.

In looking at my self from that perspective I realize that I had not loved and taken care of my body the way I should have. It was a beautiful body. And the man had disappeared. The blood on my body had dried, but there was still the smell of it. But it was a nice scent that was cleansing, healing to my spirit. My feeling of the whole thing was okay. I was not regretful, neither was I happy. I found myself moving through some space that had no floor to a place I do not know. But even in saying I was moving can be considered a lie because it was more like the floor moved and I remained stationary at some point of existence. There was no time, no space. There was only me.

As I was there I realized that I was in some sort of a valley. It was a very big valley. It was dark. I could not see anything; only two lights that stood on opposite ends of the said valley. I was told to go to a place that I thought was fitting for me, depending on how I had worked in the world. Whoever said those words could not be seen; he was more of a feeling than a person saying the words. I could not even see the road to where the lights were. The place was dark, and quiet. The things I saw that seemed physical were made of some stuff I could not figure out. Even trying to explain them would be futile because they were new to my eyes and somehow their touch was unique to my experience.

On choosing which light to go to depended on whether there were things in the world, on earth that one regreted leaving. Were there things on this place that one was eager to see. Even the knowledge I have just shared came to me from my own person, my own spirit. For me I didn’t feel I had any regrets – only lonely moments that were spent in want. The questions were still there of my previous life but it was more about what I was going to see; the people I wanted to meet when I got to the other side. And now I was on the other side.

I walked to the light that was on the extreme left of myself. I moved to it through some motion of a cloud. When I looked down where there would be the floor I saw that line drawn, like as if it was moving with the thoughts of my mind. I felt I wanted to feel the sensation of walking; as I have walked here on earth. With that request I found out that I could walk. In walking I saw myself at a river. It was a river of clean waters, colourful flowers at the side. But to say this was a ‘river’ also would be a lie; but a river is the closest thing to it. I crossed, still wondering on the magic that has done everything. I was mostly amazed at how weightless and unrestricted I felt. It was at that time I acknowledged that having a body was the most difficult thing the spirit had had to endure. Carrying this thing around everyday was the hardest and the most demanding thing for the spirit. It must have been a burden to it. The demands of the body that go with how people perceive it and how it is to be taken care of were a thing of the past.

I stood at the ‘river’ for some time just thinking about the magic and the power that had done all these things. This was a new world. It was a different earth from the one I had known, and accepted. Life was different here to how I had known life to be. I was different. Most of my life I had lived with the thought that I was the body, then through learning I knew that I was not the body, but I identified more with the mind. Then now as I sit here I realize that the I that has resided here is neither the mind nor the body. It is something that is different from them. I thought of the women who had loved me. I thought of the bodies I had entered and realized that there was nothing to it. It was at that time I realized that it has never been about the body. The “I” was something very different from what I had thought it was. The place was still as dark as my imagination could allow it. But I could see where I was going. It was like I could only see the things my mind wanted to see. In paying attention to something I put it into being.

There was something that was more important than anything I had seen, before or since. There was one person I wanted to see. I wanted to embrace her, give her a kiss on the cheek and tell her I love her. I wanted her to know that she is loved; she has always been loved. I wanted her to know that her presence even though it had been for a short while was acknowledged – by me.

With that acknowledgement I think I changed direction to the other light. I could tell that I was deep at the foot of this valley and beneath me where it was something like a river was a soft voice that remained hidden but eloquent. It was eloquent in its wonder and quietness. The waters of this ‘river’ were not transparent like the waters here; they were colourful with beautiful pictures within this water like as if they are part of the water. The creatures that looked like butterflies seemed to fly and float in the water; but they were part of the water that hissed to nothingness. As I moved to the other side I saw her. I saw her standing some distance away looking at me. She had tears falling down her cheeks and I thought she looked radiant. My awareness of her was not of sight, but of warm breath: the consciousness, not of a visual existence, but of some melody far in the wilderness. She was more beautiful than these ‘flowers’ at the side of the river. She was more lovely than these plants, butterflies that were part of the waters. Yes, she had the grace of an angel. She was holding something in her hands and I wondered how she managed to hold it so easily because it was big. It was some composition of some letters written on a tablet of innocent miracle.

Her brilliance shone, having no substitute, on the nothing new. She smiled and motioned me to stop when I took steps towards her. She came holding some tablet of pure sensation and we sat down on some rocks. I hugged her and told her that I loved her. She smiled and told me that she loves me as well. She asked me whether my thoughts of her meet the reality of what I see. I told her she looks more beautiful than she has always been in my dreams. She asked me what my reality is on that day. I told her everything is still surreal but I’m glad I have met her. I told her she is the only person I have always wanted to meet because the other it was like we have already met. She said she understood what I meant. She held my hand and started talking about my life; her life. She told me of the different but shared emotions we had during my stay on the planet. She said sometimes I was too hard on myself not knowing that there were more forces at play than I realized.

As we sat there the world around us was changing. As we sat there the moments hissed into something that remained like the same voice talking to my heart. It would seem like we are in the natural world where wild animals move around intending no harm to humans. The ‘river’ beside us was also changing as well, but it still had those beautiful creatures within its aura – but as part of the waters. They moved, they flew and sometimes they sang, but all were in the water; were part of the water. It was like we were not talking, but we seemed to share each other’s hearts and the conversation was shared by them hearts. And the sun kept shining, having no alternative, on the nothing new.

As with the centuries, the men who are my children today stand in isolated integrity that brought tears to my eyes; and whatever feeling I had in that moment I had to say, “…there is a new clan behind me”. We were one person but she had lived her whole life on the other side of time, of space. I had lived my whole life within the constraints of time and space. I had been a prisoner of the body, of the subconscious mind. But now I was free. And for a moment I permitted myself to look back on my body, take a glimpse in the world and see what was happening. I saw them children sad that I have left; somehow blaming themselves. But they had grown, with the children of their own. I knew they were going to do okay. They were going to be fine. But there was a battle around the rights on whom is going to bury me. My children were divided. But to me it did not matter, because I was not there; what they were fighting for was a mere body, nothing more. I realized then that one can’t escape from what he has started; the people change, times move on and on, but one will always look within and there his name will always stand, unchanged.

As we were sitting I looked behind me, and to the top of some hill I saw a head from behind the shrubs. It was a head of a male lion. It was watching us with envy of some sort. I looked at him and he disappeared like a naughty child. Moments later he appeared again, this time from some road leading to us. The floras, the birds, the sky, the air around had changed to some dark blue. And but like a whisper he strolled towards us – quietly, almost obediently. It was a large mammal of dark mane. But I could see it was happy to be with us. It roared and the whole valley was filled with its sound. As it roared the flowers changed, those that were pink changed to yellow, those that were red changed to olive and the waters of the said river also changed as well. At first they were darkish, in grey manner of butterflies, this time they became yellowish, pinkish and I felt like I was a part of the whole orchestra of time still. I gave this huge mammal a hug and I for the first time as a spirit felt whole and – me. I felt as a spiritual being that I could love and be loved in return.

We sat there with him still taking the shape and form of a lion. I cannot even remember what we were talking about but what I realized was that it was one light composing the three of us. It was one voice spoken from the deep waters of the Heavens. It was one truth expressed as the undying love from the three who had finally become one. Maybe the essence of the bond between the three of us was the fact that neither of us had ever desired to settle for anything less in the world as existing and given by the powers that be to each of us separately but together in spirit. She asked me whether I expect to see God. I told her I do not for God is all of us. She stood up and came to me; she stroked my head and told me that she will tell me a tale about God and man. She said she is proud that the lessons that they gave were never in vain. But if I could have given one moment, one time to give attention to Religion I could have learnt some valuable lessons. I asked her which Religion is she talking about. She did not answer and he also looked at me and yawned and I knew. I knew that they were talking about Taoism.

I did not ask about the man who was spraying me with blood; nor what the band of beads meant. I did not look around to see where the two lights were. But I felt that we were deep in the jungle of pure spirituality. I did not ask about this huge pertition she had that was written on something that looked like a stone. But I knew it was the same essay that I am reading today. The words were the same but they seemed to change with the changing world around us. The impact the words had, the emotion attached to the same words was amazing. She did not ask about the woman she had wanted me to marry, who was supposed to take her place in the world. Perhaps it was because she knew my thoughts about her. I did not ask whether I did marry her or not as the reality of that time was hidden from me. I did not ask for warmth and did not ask for sympathy. I asked nothing of months waiting and years lingering from the past, pulling into it all the memories of my days, weeks, years spent alone – in solitude, in loneliness. I could tell she was thinking of all those things as well, as she glanced at me, a glance of gratitude that was almost dear. I did not ask about the many other things that I thought had ebbed into a dark hole of forgotten dreams and maybe permitted time. But I was happy to be there and not questioning where to from there was also as brave as standing here today with nothing but my love for the two that were a part of a life that almost refused to unfold.

He did not talk much but he seemed to be content with the two of us beside him. We did not talk about the future, neither did we discuss the past but we talked of life in both realms of reality. She then looked deep into my eyes and told me that there was a time when they made a vow, that I should never ever feel pain again. She told me that they loved me enough to let me enjoy my life more because I had gone through a lot of grief. I did not ask where I was going; and did not care. He sat silently beside us. I felt shared, most of my emotions were swept by a wish not to be anything different than what I was, and a small part of my heart left to wonder about the whole experience I was going through. Everything felt so real, more real than anything I have ever felt and seen. I had a desire to let eternity carry me—it was a feeling of assurance without judgement, not a joyful belief, but a silent certainty. But I told her I still feel I suffered more than I should. I went through a lot of things I didn’t deserve. Maybe it is true that to be human is to be divine; and death is just but a step into an alternate reality. Sitting there with my two talents, the best of my life was for me a prize into a life I did not know.

As we sat there I remembered that I had reached the goal of my long struggling years; because I was giving birth to some truth I had sought over the years. I remembered that none of this will matter, because I will be the presence and the love of my children. But the story will remain because it was written on some big and heavy rock that only she could take. I found that I could not when crossing take anything from the world and from myself as a token to the other side. I could permit myself some luxury of stealing from saints only faith I could muster merely because it would be my own. But however it started, so new like marsh, charming and yet natural, with not a string of sound one can notice or question I had built my world around them so easily. By the time I realized what was happening, it was way too late because I had built my life around the love, the trust and – faith of those I could not see; but who were a big part of me. But in all respect I know that I have done all I could with the time and the resources that were available to me. My body had been heavy, had been a burden to carry around. But I am glad that it did not let me down during those times when I did not have enough to heal it with love. I do not feel much for the others except to be who and what I am. And today as I sit here I remember that the self that has been carrying my body around does not stay here, it resides somewhere. The self that is the master is anything but the things I can identify with. This is for the first reunion and the last for after that we were one light, one truth and one shine as we have always been. In sitting there by the ‘rivers’ we had stolen a portion of time that had brought us together as the same light that shone through our hearts.The light will keep shining, as if it has no alternative, on the nothing new. And to them I said “you have both seen me swim and sometimes drown through the river of life. You have seen all my steps and all my struggles over the years. You have seen and felt my pain as I swallowed the tears, the blood, and the mucous. If I have failed, it is you that I have betrayed; for I was born to be one of you”.

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