The more we veer away from our true nature, the more unhappy we feel. When we align with our better self, we feel happy and content again.
Chapter 47: Cat Fights
“You’re a jealous cow,” screeched the black cat to the tabby cat that was cornered on the thin end of the branch.
“The Great One is not jealous of the gods you make,” said the tabby with the tenacity of a worthy opponent, “and neither am I.”
Gabriel heard the commotion not far from his window in the middle of the night. As it was not subsiding, he got up in exasperation, pulled on whatever clothes were at the end of the bed, and went outside to search for the source of the untimely disturbance. He shone his phone torch into the tree but neither cat moved. The tabby couldn’t move and the black one refused to. After assessing the situation, Gabriel threw some sticks towards the black cat who conceded temporary defeat and retreated. The tabby could then escape.
“Have your arguments somewhere else,” Gabriel yelled at the cats, probably, waking up the neighbours as much as the fighting had.
Amira had hardly been back to Darnall in the last few weeks. Teresa had been taking most the shifts at the Curiosity Shop and Amira had been helping the new shop assistant, Dayne, in Teresa’s Waldmeer bookshop. He was a delightful twenty-two-year-old. Home-schooled by a religious family, he was unconventionally polite, hard-working, humble, and good.
As Amira wasn’t travelling to Darnall, she wasn’t meeting up with Mullum-Mullum in the old rose garden. He had, originally, told her that she would no longer be night-travelling as she would be seeing him every morning. However, since being back in Waldmeer, her night travels had recommenced, although, they were contained to the Waldmeer/Darnall environs. She had witnessed the catfight and Gabriel’s intervention. She knew who the cats were. The menacing black cat was Great Aunt Evanora and the tabby was Evanora’s little sister, Rose. Evanora was rather fond of taking cat form. Rose followed suit to keep an eye on her.
Amira had, also, been night-travelling inside the old house and had seen the four sisters and their mother, Mercy, at various stages of their family life. Rose had a lot of light. Evanora had a lot of dark. The two older girls, Melba and Pearl, were more conventional in temperament, interests, and life direction. Unlike Rose and Evanora, they both married and had children. There was, often, tension in the home. It tended to come from Evanora. Rose would try and counteract it. Evanora was, particularly, jealous of other people’s relationships. She desperately wanted to be loved but was poisonous in relationships and quickly destroyed them. Out of revenge from her own bitter emptiness, she actively sort to destroy other people’s happiness.
As the cat-ladies were parting company, on the evening of Gabriel’s intervention, Amira heard Evanora hiss at Rose, “If Amira returns to Gabriel, I will kill him.” Amira woke in a sweat and gasped. She instantly remembered that Evanora had killed her adored German shepherd back in Eraldus, a few years ago. Now she had two problems. The first was the broken-down state of her and Gabriel’s relationship. The second was the dangerous energy working against its healing and Gabriel’s growth.
Chapter 48: Someone is Missing
When Amira walked into the Dementia Unit for the dance class, she could hear one of her class participants complaining to the carer at the desk. “My mother said she would come and see me. She hasn’t been for ages. I miss her and I think something must be wrong. Can you ring her?” She was, clearly, upset. She would have been in her early nineties. The carer was trying to ignore her as it was, probably, the twentieth time she had come to the desk that day. An experienced carer came around the corner and summed up the situation in the twinkling of an eye.
“I’m so sorry, Mavis,” he said. “I forgot to tell you. Your Mum rang a little while ago. She’s on her way.” The carer at the desk looked at him with raised eyebrows.
“Thank you so much,” said Mavis who was already relaxing. “I was worried. I haven’t seen her in a while and I wanted to make sure she was alright.” Mind you, “a while” would have been thirty years.
The carer patted her on the back and said, “She’s fine so you go with Amira and enjoy your dancing.” Amira took Mavis’s hand and they waltzed on into the class.
Last week, Gabriel had taken the class on his own and Amira was taking this one on her own. Both times, the Dementia Unit residents kept saying, “Someone is missing.” However, they couldn’t remember who the “someone” was. Amira didn’t know how Gabriel went but her class hadn’t gone that well. There were only a few weeks left of the classes. The College Psychology Department would be finishing with their Dementia Unit test program and that would be the end of the classes. Amira decided that next week she was going to take them to the city to see the ballet.
Chapter 49: Swirling Hems
The ballet company had a popular pas de deux couple, Clayton and Kristel. Clayton was a vibrant, outgoing dancer whose big leaps and entertaining stage presence had won the hearts of his followers some years back. Kristel was a newer star. In fact, her normal demeanour was far from that of a star. She was reserved and preferred her own company. She was the opposite of self-promoting. It was a wonder that she was given the prestigious lead role except that when she danced, she could be captivating. She had a purity about her and, in dancing, it translated into a fragile, enchanting beauty. The Directors of the ballet company were not unanimous in supporting Kristel. Many preferred the more dominant, exciting dancing of some of the fiercer female students. If it was not for the insistence of the most senior Director, Kristel would not have been given the lead role.
“Kristel has dancing in her,” said the senior Director quite adamantly. His fellow Directors wondered what he thought the other students had in them but did not question him. He continued, “Our job is to protect it. If we try to mould it, we may destroy it. Just protect it and make it feel safe. It will come out. You will see. And then,” he added with a sly smile, “everyone will thank us for giving them a gift.”
The partnership of Clayton and Kristel had its ups and downs. If Clayton pushed too hard or ignored Kristel’s gentle presence, the duet became unbalanced. Kristel would then underperform and look less than the corps de ballet. Clayton would end up looking like a self-absorbed show off which he, probably, was but isn’t it the task of art to bring out our higher self? If they got it right, Kristel forgot herself and became entrancing and Clayton became the strong and brilliant dancer that he was. Today, they got it right.
Amira had to keep her people quiet. That was, somewhat, like keeping a pre-schooler quiet. It was risky. However, they were attending the matinee and there were children in the audience. The tolerance for audience noise was higher than normal for the ballet. Clayton and Kristel were so together and absorbed in the dance that they became much more than their small, individual selves. The audience felt equally included in the whole magic of the moment. Everyone, including the children and the Dementia Unit folk, was spellbound.
After the performance, two of Amira’s ladies said that they rather fancied the good-looking, male dancers with their bare, toned bodies. Amira smiled. The ladies, often, forgot their age and had no concept of what they looked like.
“We want to go backstage and meet them,” said one of the ladies who thought that they had a fighting chance. And so they did. The ladies flirted their petticoats off and the boys, to their credit, got on board and flirted back with a vengeance.
Remembering the Dementia Unit dance class, one lady said to the dancers, “We have our own training.” Amira nodded in affirmation.
After consideration, one of the men said, “The famous actress, Rita Moreno, is still out there doing it at eighty-five so you keep on swirling those hems too.” The women looked momentarily confused as to why Rita Moreno, at eighty-five, had anything to do with them. “We have to go see our other girlfriends now,” the dancer continued, kissing the ladies’ hands in turn. “Keep swirling those hems, ladies.” The dancer lived with his grandmother who fancied a twirl or two, every now and again, and that is how he knew about Rita Moreno and swirling hems.
On the long drive back to Darnall, in the country bus, everyone was content and talking about the ballet and the gorgeous dancers. That is, until they forget where they had been. The memory of the event may have drifted into the ether but the feeling of beauty and hope remained inside them.
Chapter 50: Losers
On Amira’s next shift at the Curiosity Shop, she stopped by the old rose garden in the hope of seeing Mullum-Mullum. He was waiting for her. “You have to stay out of the game,” said Mullum-Mullum. “It’s deadly and no one ever wins. Everyone is a loser. Even seeming wins are short-lived and have the taste of bitterness mixed in with the satisfaction of personal gain.”
Mullum-Mullum bent to touch some of the early flowering bulbs; brave, little things announcing the way to warmer days. “The ego is exclusive by nature,” he continued. “While the spirit seeks to include, the ego is unashamedly manipulative in its culling of people. The intention of self-aggrandisement is barely even covered over. The soul does not see people in terms of what it can gain. It seeks to share. It seeks to create by extension of its own and others’ true nature.”
Pulling out some weeds that were choking a clump of freesias, Mullum-Mullum continued, “The ego is extremely changeable. It has no stability. Constantly guarding against attack and looking out for its own advantage, its perceptions and thus feelings towards others are ever-shifting. This creates unhappiness. You have, surely, noticed how unhappy people are?”
“Yes, of course,” said Amira. “It makes me sad to see the extent of unhappiness and how much people are suffering.”
“Do not be troubled by it,” said Mullum-Mullum. “It is how humans learn. The more they veer away from their true nature, the more unhappy they feel. When they align with their better self, they feel happy again. And so the process continues until the spaces between happiness are not as long and arduous. The presence or absence of personal peace is our barometer. It will guide us even if we are not sure of the way.”