A Mad Dream on Immortality

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Some mornings, I feel waking up in the arms of a fragile ghost, which covers its subtle shoulders with the weight of thousands of years of lives. Through his sheer body, like from a glass window, I can see everything that has happened before and everything that will happen later. His heart, tinted faintly red, beats and beats and trembles under my right hand. His vaporous voice has told me, many times, about all my pasts, each of my histories.

Centuries earlier, I was the woman before woman, looking down on an earth that existed below my eyes, always below my eyes, from the top of the Sinai, where I received the Decalogue, not from God, from Kieslowski. I stayed for long, watching on the sky all the films of the future, in the stars all the unborn faces, all the deaths that were then being written. It was a time before predictions, a time when the future was still uncertain.

But in his arms, I can go further and further back, in a time before time, in a world without history, in a planet that existed in this one and I see myself in the Indus valley, a girl about fifteen years old, dancing while a sculptor cast me in bronze. For me, thousands of years later, an archaeologist would write: “She’s about fifteen years old I should think, not more, but she stands there with bangles all the way up her arm and nothing else on. A girl perfectly, for the moment, perfectly confident of herself and the world. There’s nothing like her, I think, in the world.”

My fate was to be immortal. I was, unfortunately, to escape death each time. My soul, like plastic, could never be destroyed. It was after looking at me that Krishna had told Arjuna: The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can it be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.

My name was once Mary Magdalene. It was in front of me that Christ was crucified, and before me he lived again, suddenly, strangely. I declared the resurrection. It was me who had whispered the question into his ears: Is God a woman?

Many centuries later, in another life, I would bow down in front of my own skull, preserved in a basilica in a small town somewhere in France.

Once, I was finally to die and be forgotten but while travelling in the desert hills of Missiminia, I saw a man, who kissed his cup of black tea as if each sip was the memory of a woman whose lips he had never tasted. And I wept and wept. At midnight, haunted by that image, I’d looked at the pale moon and had said :

 

“Some men say an army of horse and some men say an army on foot

and some men say an army of ships is the most beautiful thing

on the black earth. But I say it is

what you love.”

 

Someone must have noted it down, for I remained forever, again, on this earth. Mirza Ghalib had written that he wouldn’t have minded death if it was only once. But, immortality? Isn’t it the same as death? Which soul can bear it repeatedly?

What will happen to this life, my last, and so my last chance to be forgotten? Will I finally be able to break the curse of an endless life? Someone, after looking at my small hands, has predicted my age : 1100 years.

But I refuse to believe, I cannot believe. Each night, after a distant kiss, I want to fall asleep, finally, an eternal, deep, undisturbed sleep but the silence of the nights of Jaipur is sometimes disturbed by the cries of animals and the sounds coming from nowhere, sounds sent by the gods, perhaps, or those lives that nothing can destroy, neither time nor the wind or water, and that only further support the kisses of the living.

 


This was first published in Kindle Magazine, where I write a monthly column on cities, memory, etc.

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