Finally, Femina gives up to stare at the empty wall. Pulling up her legs, embracing them with both her arms, she rests the head on the knees, and closes her tired eyes. She inhales the silence in the room like the fragrance of a flower and immerses her thoughts in it. Trickles of springs that disappear in rich mossy soil only to be collected in clear waters underground. She must have fallen in just the same as she finds herself in a wooden boat in the middle of a lake when she opens her eyes again. The oars lay at the sides and the water gleams silvery smooth as if it was a mirror. A warm sun brushes over her cheeks and the water gurgles and splashes in laughter when she moves to stretch her limbs. It is a very quiet morning, like one that follows a sleepless night and nobody seems ready to get on with a new day. She certainly is more than happy to stay and indulge in this peaceful calm, bathing in sunlight with the lake as her mirror.
A strange noise puts an end to this idyllic scene. The lake is gone in a sudden and she sits again on the wooden bench in her waiting room. But the door to the room is wide open and the person in the entrance, only briefly stopping before entering, as strange and unbelievable as it may seem, is BABA!
Femina stays still not knowing what to make of it. Is this a hallucination or is he real? She watches him walk over the floor without making a noise being barefoot after all. In fact, she feels him moving rather than hearing him. In the middle of the room he puts down his bundle and unpacks. Her doubts begin to disappear. He cannot be just imagination because she perceives him with all her senses logically and accurately, and the noises he makes are clearly caused by his actions. Having spread out his blanket he sits down and invites her to join him. She slips off the bench placing herself right opposite him. He looks at her, somewhat curiously, inquisitively, somewhat concerned. His eyes are something to behold, shining as if they were illuminating moonless nights, and then again, glowing like warm burned down coals. After having investigated long enough he seems to be satisfied turning his attention to other things.
Femina watches in silence as he rummages through his belongings, picking out an old tin container from which he takes a few little paper wrap ups and his in cloth covered shilom, unpacking it all, and slowly mixing the content of two tiny parcels together. He fills the pipe with it, covers the mouthpiece with a piece of cloth and then offers it to her. Kindly she declines taking the matches instead and gives him fire after his symbolic gesture of offering and honoring Lord Shiva.
As always, Baba’s presence fills her with deep joy. But suddenly, without warning and for no perceivable reason, something extraordinary happens. She feels it literally physically with every fiber, every cell of her body, on every level of her being, fast and unstoppable. It does not leave her time for protesting or even reacting. Not that she would like to, because whatever is happening is neither unpleasant nor alarming. To the contrary! It is as if a strong gust of wind was sweeping through and over her, changing wildly whipped water into billows and waves, twisting and turning them around to a current that flows in one direction, strong, powerful and unified. No matter how big or small the waves are, they follow one after the other, certain of their way and sure to make landfall some when, even with no land in sight. At once Femina becomes very certain about what she wants and what is important to her.
Sweet wisps of smoke fill slowly the room. She realizes that she has been swept on a new road from which there is no turning back or leaving. Her metamorphosis is now complete, having gone through the prerequisite stages. And with that, all and everything is suddenly different. Her life, her world, - nothing is what it once was, nothing can ever be the same. Though it was only her that changed, all else has to follow suit, including Baba. She sees him differently now too. He had been her very special friend, exotic, mysterious, and as an example of personified freedom she always adored and admired him. But he was also always a question mark for her as there were never discussions or teachings nor any answers to the many inquisitive questions she sure had. Naturally, this was very intriguing, and certainly the reason for her affection as well, but she was never sure about what she really felt f o r him. She only knew how he made her feel in his presence. Now she has no doubt. It is l o v e ! Uni-vocally and without reservation. And it is by no means the fleeting love of a pupil who adores a teacher. No! She is an adult. They are man and woman. Now she sees in him a partner, equal to each other, and independent from another with no demand or expectation on each other. Looking at him thoughtfully she smiles about herself because she cannot deny that she still adores him. He is too beautiful a man and truly worth all her admiration! Nothing can change that! He is perfect, in the true meaning of the word. But no matter what, it is love! She loves him, limitless and unconditionally because there is truly nothing in him or on him that she could not love.
Phil pops into her mind and his question of what the purpose of his life was and his desire and his struggling for completeness and ultimate accomplishment. Only too good does she understand his uneasiness. Without evidence one may just as well sail the open ocean without a compass. However, that applies only to Phil, and her, not to Baba. He needs no compass, he is at home anywhere!
But how is it with the purpose of her life? How is it with her intentions to cut it short? And did she ever have the wish to feel complete, be accomplished, if not perfect? The answer is yes, indeed. She has, though rather unconsciously, sought completeness, even if it was only to find her memory. Though it requires the look back into the past, not the future, and despite not being the same thing, the past is never the less important. A perfect mind or consciousness has after all no holes of any kind. Apart from that, she did not really have a choice either. What else was left for her to do, being caught without memory in a strange world, in stifling circumstances like this damn house, all by herself, and with nothing to go on by?! Sadly, her search had not been very successful, but when she finally started to accustom herself and make the adjustments, somewhat pleasantly side tracked by wonderful and happy experiences, she was stopped in her tracks altogether by the occurrence of the devastating illness. It forced her to face the core questions of her existence. Once again, she had to look for answers, but of a different kind, and for one in particular, namely the one of ‘life and death’. Though being very much of interest, neither the past nor the future take center stage in that matter because everything pales in the presence of the question: “Be or not to be”? Particularly when it is no rhetorical question, demanding a decision and action instead. She sure was not equipped nor ready to deal with such truly elementary confrontation. It struck her like an earthquake with a force so strong that it fragmented the foundation of her ‘Conscious Being’, bringing down its pillars and leaving nothing but rumbles and shells. But behold! The destruction freed Phoenix, helping him to unfurl his wings. Yes, her existential self-understanding had been broken but not her internal ‘Self-consciousness’. That unfolded!
Femina is also amazed how effortless she found her answer after all, just as if she had never fallen into the coal-black darkness where not even a spark of hope could survive. And to top it all, the answer is just as simple: She has only this life, only this mind, only this knowledge. It is precious because it is unique, never to be repeated, a onetime event. Her existence as part of the overall scheme must suffice, be enough as her purpose. And so it is! Never mind the ‘Being and Not Being’, ‘Evolution and Nirvana’, or ‘Differentiated or Undifferentiated Omnipotence’! She also understands now what freedom is and what it means to her. Indeed, it was all about freedom: To be free; to be free of everything!
It implies, that she is not free if she makes herself dependent on her mobility. After all, it is of no more than a serviceable purpose. She is also not free if she allows her desires to rule, living life to her measures, and if not met ending it, instead to enjoy the world as it is and all it has to offer, including the illness, not excluding it. She may not be able to enjoy the same things but there will be other things as diverse and beautiful as the world is. Last but not least she is never free if she cannot let go of her autonomy, because some when down the track she will need help just to manage every day life. To lose her independence is the worst and most difficult she can imagine. But who knows! Her mind may be resourceful enough to help her stay independent as long as possible; and death is a given, one never knows anyway when the end will be. Besides, should she really refuse to or not even be able to find help, death will just come earlier than it is anticipated. So! Why bother about dying now! To preempt death does not really make sense, particularly not at present having still all her faculties. To go out and enjoy life, more so now than ever before, is the most logical conclusion because tomorrow may never come, and everything she does may be the last time she does it. Of course she cannot ignore the resentment of how much she has to pay for her freedom. The price is exorbitant in her opinion. She sighs. Baba would not agree with her on that matter. He can give up everything. In fact, he already has let go of most things, definitely owning nothing more than a blanket and whatever can be carried in it. He even gave up communicating, for at least some time if not for good. A thundering thought rumbles through her mind: “Damn it! He has after all Shiva!”
Baba pauses, lowering down the brightly lit shilom. He looks at her with his eyes questioning while he points at the pipe. She nods and takes it off his hands, and while she inhales she continues to look at him. He begins to smile and then laughs and no noise comes with it but his whole body laughs with him. It is contagious, chasing away all her grumbling moods. Truly, it is of no significance if Shiva sets him free or not. Baba does not care or worry. He lives and that is it; freedom or dependency, even that is irrelevant. It brings her back to the meaning of her life: It is not Shiva, it is not Allah, not Jesus nor this or that. It is just “Being”, her unique and one only being. Exactly like Baba, even though their lives are very different indeed. Her life, his life or any life, none is a “must”, but it is a chance, and each is a one only, a unique and solitary event.
Femina’s thoughts backtrack to Phil because her mind wants to reflect to ensure no confusion remains before moving on. Yes, she too believes in progress and a destination just like Phil. She also finds it difficult to accept that nothing would ever change. And she sure would like to reach her full potential, just like him. But this is nothing but desire, and day-dreaming is no more than idle thought. One thing however she finds just as important as he did, self-determination and having the freedom to choose. Now, being unable to wait for the collapse of the universe, or its complete differentiation, only she and the present time remain that allows her to make decisions regarding herself and everything pertaining. In fact, that is exactly what she has done when she was compelled to face the ultimate question of being or not to be. Under close scrutiny, she fulfilled Phil’s theoretical concept on a smaller scale because she herself is indeed her very own universe, which, just like the cosmos, is ever unfolding.
She has finally made her decision for life. And though suicide remains still an option, it has lost the quality of being a solution. It would only be an incomplete resolve of her problems.
As she exhales the smoke, her thoughts fly away too. Nothing is left behind that reminds of melancholy or sorrow. The pleasure to be with Baba fills her instead. As always, they understand each other without talking and they are happy in each other’s company.
Baba takes off his turban. He gathers up his many strands of hair, rolling them skillfully into a knot on top of the crown of his head. Then he stretches his arms over his crossed legs closing his eyes half way.
While watching him affectionately she wonders. How come that he found her in this room, that he actually found her at all? So far, it seemed to be rather a lucky co-incidence when they met up. This was certainly no chance meeting! As happy as she may be it leaves again more questions, but in the end it is just a reminder that she still is in this weird house that has its own rules, which she cannot figure out, and which keeps her hostage. Or maybe, as everything has changed for her, may be this has changed too?
Femina is alerted by a feeling of movement in the air. It seems to come from the wall that served as a screen before. Not having it in her sight she turns her head, and sure enough, the wall is gone, replaced by what appears to be a stage, closed by a heavy blue velvet curtain that was billowing softly as if there was a faint breeze coming from somewhere.
Theater curtains not only have the purpose to shut away the stage, they also spread magic as they fill everyone with anticipation. They move ever so slightly, to make sure the auditorium knows there is something going on behind.
Femina is no exception, falling immediately under the spell. She adjusts her position and waits patiently for the curtain to open. She does not have to wait for long. Suddenly and without a noise it swings apart uncovering a blind made of a thin translucent material, allowing the first glimpse on to the stage but only outlining shapes and shadows of the general scene. In the middle big letters convey:
GAME OF CHESS
(In three acts)