Red, red lights simmer all along the street sending omens through the windows. They are scattered like blotched beads against the gritty backdrop, a broken string of prayers. After leaving the lottery place, a man stands stooped at the bus stop. His drive and eagerness lies dormant, coiled inside. Calling out, distant and distorted, his yearning translates into a confusing sorrow, lamenting the love he knows nothing of within his own heart. Where he is heading, he is not quite sure. But he knows it potentially leads him to single-malt-season-eight-stupor back at home.
He has zero messages but proceeds to rifle through his phone regardless. Phone blanking is both a daily struggle and a bright, shiny substitute for smoking. The man-sized ads behind him more or less blare “you ever thought about ending it all?” in pitying tones.
(Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us).
Strangely complacent, he has not made any real friends for a very long time. The bus arrives in two minutes.
Another man waltzes past him. Observing him, he appears youthful and he seems to float on air with poise and dignity. He crosses the hot tarmac road with confidence, the heat rising and carrying him up on a cloud. Where he is heading, he is not quite sure. But he knows it is past the horizon and far beyond this place. Although he has recently experienced the misfortune of betrayal from an untrue lover, his heart remains full. It overflows with the stories a good mother tells their children before bed. These are stories that guide everyday heroes. The words lend a helping hand, pulling out the most unlikely people from the Mirror of Black, and then proceed to offer instructions on how to navigate the world, using the stars.
He has followed their directions to this moment. Opposite the stop, on the other side of the street, there blooms a Jacaranda tree. He removes his shoes before it. The flowers are painterly fireworks imbued with the joys of Dante’s Paradiso. As if by that ever-elusive miracle floating in the breeze, a shower of colour tumbles from the branches. And for an instant, it is all colour. The purple burst accompanies the sound of laughter chiming, as the kids play in the city’s water fountain. The petals are satin and gently scatter, shimmering across the sunlit road, where the smell of hawker stalls linger along the way. All is brought to life. The galaxy gleams in his eyes. Calm and recessed in the wonder of the world, he appears as a lord against the chaotic dystopia. With a determined smile, he moves slow and deliberate, out from the purple puddle of petals and ties his laces up before continuing his journey into the royal sky.
The man at the bus stop cannot believe his eyes and stares after the mysterious man, watching as his silhouette ripples out into the enveloping distance. The Jacaranda tree remains bright and portentous. The glowing beauty makes a mockery of the heavily crafted billboards around it. All other figures on the street seem to be on Pacman missions. They don’t cast a glance at the meaning before them. It is not their meaning to behold. But the man at the bus stop, for a fleeting instant, felt the tangled wires of life ripped from his sockets and saw the true structure of all things that remains forever constant.
Nothing but a natural blessing; the Fall and the Spring, and the brevity of an ordinary hero set against time. The consequence and calamity of his life streams before him like falling flowers. For a second, he embraces himself with tender understanding.
“I too, will stand under the Jacaranda tree.” his heart says.
The bus roars in front of him, blocking the tree from view. He is flooded with the imagery of a movie about a mumbling man that, no doubt, ends in an excessive crescendo of an action scene. Immediately, this character steals his destiny from him. His concentration is broken, the build-up is lost and he forgets. Heroic stories do not belong to the average man, they are for morale and entertainment, he remembers.
“I too, will stand under the Jacaranda tree.” he chants.
He crosses the street and stares up at the blossoms but only his tears fall. This is not his meaning to behold. There, lost between the buildings, he still waits for that serendipitous moment when the world answers his wishes.
🎨/📷 by Tokuriki Tomikichiro, Lake Kawaguchi - New Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji, c.1950s