Her face was like a river bed dried and cracked by unrelenting heat. Sitting there, beside the church on streets bleached white by sunlight, she made no statement, but still I felt I knew her. This other soul. This old soul who like a breeze drifts in and out of history. Light on comment, and asking no quarter from events, she raised her eyes to mine. A man who had no offering but coins, a nod: the corner of a smile.
A mother, sister, someone’s victim she’d reached a changeless time and space. I felt the bustle of events fall away as I looked on this life lived without a sense of pity. Acceptance was her only weapon Her wisdoms were like hidden treasures buried in her life. She knew what ‘Now’ meant. Lived in it for many years and silence was her only comment.
I watched her, looking for a response but I saw none. Her garb, black and medieval, offered few glimpses from her past. I searched in vain for understanding and then I saw it. Hardly larger than her palm. A small doll, dressed in faded clothes. A fragment of her history.
Child taken from her life? Husband lost in some forgotten war ? Who was I to guess. She lived on coins dropped in moments of empathy. These other lives, lived in other places pose questions I can’t answer. Some of this world we dream of as a village remains unmapped. Lost to public gaze where forgotten souls live out something called existence. Refugees from tyranny.
So now in Syria lives are torn from hope, driven from their village and drying in some barren camp . Sometime in a future I won’t see, you might find them sitting in a corner. Living on the fringes. Beggars without explanation. Victims of a man’s conceit.