Tripping down memory lane
©2006 K. Diab
Wafers of reality
There is something almost spiritual about revisiting a place where you spent a long chapter of your life. I was struck by this realisation yet again during a recent trip to London – and I feel it every time I set foot in England or Egypt.
To have lived in different societies at various stages of your life is probably as close as a non-Hindu is likely to get to Samsara, or reincarnation, particularly without the inconvenience of actually dying… and possibly discovering that all the religions were wrong – or, even more confusingly, were right – in their predictions of what happens next. To return to the scene of those incarnations is almost like transmigrating (i.e. being a migrant in soul as well as body) to another state of being or connecting to a former life. And as life’s wheel of fortune spins, you are left to wonder whether you have reached your ‘true self’ and, if not, when.
During a visit to London in October, I was struck by the layered nature of reality, of how the various chapters of life are not clearly delineated and separate entities. Being in that unreal city was quite literally a surreal experience, as different wafers of my reality piled up one on top of (sur) the other. The chapters of my life seemed to blend and overlap and flow into one another like some stream of consciousness storyline.
The scenery – particularly the unchanging buses and tube trains, the older black cabs, the zebra crossings and the fine drizzle – were largely from chapter three of my life but the people I was with were from various other chapters. Our bohemian retinue was one of contrasting boisterousness and calm, of scruffiness and elegance, of north and south, east and west.
There was the serene stylishness of my wife for most of chapter five and my girlfriend in the latter pages of chapter four. My youngest brother who, by pure coincidence, reflected his mixed English-Egyptian cultural pedigree in his pale skin and brown hair, Arab nose and rough North African hair. Although we had both revisited the UK on several occasions since our move away in chapter three, it was the first time we had been there together since the end of the 1980s.
One of my dearest friends, whom I have known since mid-chapter four, looked like a cross between a Chechen rebel, a Sufi mystic and an Indian fakir, while swearing like a trooper and pontificating like a preacher making earth-shattering pronouncements. His girlfriend was an Italian with pale features and blue eyes, and Mediterranean ways. Read on
ã2006 K. Diab. Unless otherwise stated, all the content on this website is the copyright of Khaled Diab.