Midnight Ride [September 2010]

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

Midnight Ride

The well-maintained 250 cc power plant burbled deeply through the twin mufflers, as the carburetors breathed in the cool dark air of the wet midnight. Brand new tires on time-tested alloy wheels swished solidly and sweetly as they gripped and then quickly released each little concrete block that formed an integral part of the road. A thunder-crashing, gutter-filling shower had soaked them earlier on, making it difficult for them to drink in the light drizzle. As a tire pressed each little block down and tried to push it back forcefully, it clung to its supporting neighbor for support and succeeded in doing so, leaving the bike with no choice but to move forward, carrying its rain-jacket-clad rider further and further into the night.

Four years ago, he had made an unscheduled visit to the dismally cold, dark depths of a hell never described in any books held holy by man. He had seen the depths of human despair. No fire and brimstone burned as scalding as the cold ice in the abyss of human depression from which he had thought he could never claw his way back. He had come very close to that fine little line drawn in the frozen dust of the treeless desert of desolation which separated sanity from insanity, faith from blasphemy, life from suicide. And time carried him further and further into the uncertainty.

And then, old man Time himself decided to save him. It did the only thing it could: It simply stopped for him so that he did not simply and willingly heed the siren call of that line.

The earth had to turn on its own axis or its own atmosphere would scrape off whatever was not firmly pinned down. And the world, that sweet little state of existence for which we had made a permanent-sounding name, would simply come to a grinding halt. So the earth kept rotating, the world kept going, time regulated all moments, and life went on or was permanently turned off, for the many individuals that perceived the entire continuum as being real. Except for the midnight rider of assorted bikes. For him, time stood still as all around him others built careers and destroyed them, fabricated huge buildings and demolished them, brought children into this world and alienated them, made pink milk sherbet at home and drank whisky and soda at the local tourist traps. Where the night rider dwelled, it was permanent midnight.

And then came the vision: into the wild, starless skies of the dark knight came an angel so sweet, so alluring, so beguiling even, that the man bound to two wheels and an engine almost missed that lifetime connection. A devout Christian would have called her the very essence of the Pearly Gates. Where he was rude, she showed him politeness. Where he practiced, fed on and even subsisted and survived on hate, she preached a message of such simple love that he started feeding his very soul with it. Where he used to spend hours grooming the living engines of his bikes while artfully keeping them old and rusty-looking to the untrained eye, he now started spending more and more time in communion with his very own angel. Little was he to know that that angel was an illegal alien, an escapee from a prison far darker than his, even though it would appear to others at a distance that she herself had no complete knowledge of it. The only giveaway was that she had a most disquieting habit of appearing and disappearing at will; someone else’s will if one looked carefully into the darker corners of the nights.

Old man Time saw the bike rider recovering. He let go of the time-freeze button and the rider of bikes developed a forgotten hunger not only for love and happiness but also for forgiveness and the good things in life as prescribed by the world. He subscribed heartily to love, to politeness, and to a healthy forward-looking attitude on life itself. And above all, he wished and started working hard even for material prosperity and security not only for himself but for everyone around him.

And then came the nightmare. A real, living, breathing nightmare, as in its linguistic definition. The rider of bikes was told in a bad dream that his vision was no more than just that – a vision! So, on this particularly dark and dreary night he began calling for his angel with all his heart. He called; he prayed; he cried; he asked the powers that be to put his redeeming angel by his side so that he could tell old Iblis himself to go and get gainfully occupied where he personally belonged as barman behind the glasses of zagoom. But the angel seemed to have deserted him for a greater happiness, having strengthened herself with his soul. And so out came the old 250 cc and our night rider hit the roads in the dead of a night just after a thunder-crashing, gutter-filling shower had soaked the roads slick.

As the bike gathered speed, Night Rider turned it into the darker lanes of town, less traveled by the more enlightened and happy. He did not want them to see the tears of grief and desperation on his face. And when the drizzle started he was happy for clean waters coming down from the heavens made not only good camouflage but cooled his brows as well. And so he rode on into the night.

Suddenly, there she was in front of him. As a ghostly apparition, barely visible against the night sky, just above walls of the cemetery, there she was in all her pearly glory – food for his hunger, salve for his wounds, cure for his ailments, palliative for his aching heart. She floated in the air, appearing to hold him in her arms and yet so far away. She reached out long, tendril-like fingers like a blossoming vine and caressed his face with love. And then, to allow her to fold him in her arms, he tore off the mildly rose-colored riding goggles he had worn all night and on all his midnight rides.

And that was when he saw the truth! His rose-colored goggles had hidden the ultimate truth from his foolish, foolish eyes. Angel that was never his, would never be his, angel that was no more than a fugitive from her own personal hell, a hell of her own self-made and self-perpetuated permanent choice, was burning, burning herself slowly, crashing down to earth in flames, slowly self-destructing as she tried……. to do what he would never know as he screamed at nothing in particular, perhaps screaming for old man Time to put on some powerful disk brakes.

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Comments

  • Naseem  On September 28, 2010 at 12:51 am

    tugs at something deep within

    • ldive  On September 29, 2010 at 9:36 pm

      And sometimes you have to bring up the dregs from the deep…. don’t you think so?

      • Naseem  On October 24, 2010 at 2:30 pm

        yes we do…

  • kaiydha  On September 28, 2010 at 2:11 am

    Very meaningful…

    • ldive  On September 29, 2010 at 9:35 pm

      Thank you, Hajja!

  • silentfingers  On September 28, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    : )

    “We are each of us angels with only one wing, it is only by embracing each other that we can fly” – Lucretius

    I’d like to call this a ‘beautiful’ story!

    • ldive  On September 29, 2010 at 9:35 pm

      Thank you. Perhaps he should try that! Try to save his angel and learn to fly…

  • mysterystar  On September 28, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    The angel love is nice!and just mesmerized of your work!. Beautiful story …. please Keep posting and bless you for the time you take to write. Mean time waiting for the next one……

    • ldive  On September 29, 2010 at 9:34 pm

      Thank you!

  • shifa  On September 30, 2010 at 12:16 am

    very meaningful. it seems that these beautiful stories are comming from the bottom of your heart……………thank you and God bless you

    • ldive  On September 30, 2010 at 10:04 pm

      Thank you, Shifa! May you be a shifa to a lucky man one day!

  • Hasan  On September 30, 2010 at 8:23 am

    Very nice piece of work..

  • Norman  On September 30, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    The drawing is Wondrous ! this work is awesome. You are a gentle man with a khalil Gibran’s heart. Salute to your writing……… Would love to see your work more… Thanks

    • ldive  On September 30, 2010 at 10:01 pm

      Thank you, sir!

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