Between the skies’ spittle’s; barely visible downwards spay, and the pimpled droplets of dewy grass tears, I stood nursing my fear. Nima had been missing all night. My search had been, not long but hard and daring. Like they say, you pocket caution and prudence thrives. I never was the one for hiking, but after I had won three gruesome hills, conquered a full stream and reached this vast rich valley, I see what I felt like I never knew I could;

“Alone I roam with the air
The wild administer to me fair.
People all make you only sin
This is the truth I’ve felt and seen”.

Still this war raged in me and I was not winning, fear was.

We went to the same good schools, Nima and I. “I never wait for time,” he boasted and tried. Time is that bountiful bondless chain that is ever shortening man’s reign. It is not an entity to touch and own. It is all around like the air, which Nima is so full of.

And mocking his bravado I ask him, tongue in cheek, ‘When will you grow up?’ “When the clouds mix with the silver lining in my hair,” he will reply with that infectious grin of his appearing like a white cut at the base of his sooty dark face.

He wasn’t to be seen in our bedroom when I retired for the night. We had quarreled all afternoon, before lunch. Like the only other gender, he again wanted to share and conquer my body. We had never quarreled about that before because this was the first time it had ever come up. After so many years as friends, we had never quarreled, Nima and I; not ever. But this last decade or so, Nima was touchy when the adoption issue came up. And it did more often when Ladi, he and I were together, and that was quite often.

These many years I carried and paid all he willed and I was billed; for him, then his wife (Ladi) and others. I paid with as much love as I should and could. I could afford to, with the amassed wealth I had at my disposal and eventually inherited. Later I made more as I wrote my many thoughts, disguised as fictions and made even more money. I wasn’t quite generous, it just came to me naturally. Every moment we ably blink, yet it is some deal to wink in philanthropy. Why? But while lots of other people just wondered why it is so, I just blinked. Our lives became one long holiday.

As young men we had agreed that it was human but selfish to owe who you own, like children. Their wants, wishes and needs are lost in the realms of nothing before they even exist as perceived visible entities. Their hopes are those they are born into and they did not know real choice. They didn’t have the choice to conform and concur to the idea that conceived them. They are creations of a notion that isn’t even helpful to their reason for existence. The choice to be helpful rests on subtle selfish options too. The most helpful people are those who give assistance not because of someone else. Thus someone always gains from the helpless.

Ladi ate our fruit and being the pampered child too, she loved our endless holidays and joined the long cruises. I wasn’t as lucky as Nima was, but I doubted if Nima totally agree. Anyway, they got married and still tagged along with me, their most dear oldest bachelor forever friend. But I waited for them to tire. They were more whiners than warriors and were therefore prone to become quitters subsequently. So I simply waited for my inevitable peace. I couldn’t sleep last night. I stayed up all night clasping the warm darkness, shutting out the lonely silvery glow of the fractioned moon smile. The frogs’ cantata contest invades with its happiness, carried in the still air of their moist mating mile. How simple was their peaceful revelry, my ears had wondered the vastness of it all? And I wished all love melts into that one simple serene moment.

As the last three fun-filled decades passed by and age crept up our guts, bones, flesh, skins and minds, Ladi threw up the fruit. Though they couldn’t have children in their early sixties, Ladi still wanted a child so much. She started to discredit our notion with a barrage of academically dressed daunting questioning. Then as a prelude to renouncing our old principle, she babbly confounded our resolve as well. First were the suggestions, which we followed. We got shares and properties. We made some huge investments in our separate individual names. “We could leave much more for our favorite charities,” she had convinced us.

Then we made the choice of a healthy and friendly, violence free and naturally safe city to live in. “Ageing folks should make plans for when they cannot party around the world any more,” she convinced us. It sounded very plausible and not even her plain countenance gave her up. Our inner liberty of trust failed to recognize and quench her early plot. We succumbed, took drastic measures by the liberality of our usual standards and bought the big houses next. Then it all fussed into place as lastly she wanted us to adopt children. “Someone to love and cherish as ours,” cooed the Dove she is; but she didn’t convince us this last time.

We talked about it thoroughly like literates would and should, but never really could. It didn’t add up, because convinced by our opposite ideologies each, we only agreed to disagree and our passions with us. Ladi’s demands on our opinion got higher with each inconclusive debate. But still with the wider rotation of regular time and the pressure of age increased, not a single thing was changing. Not as baffled as confused, she set out to diffuse our grit resolve. We weren’t astonished with the much work she had done collecting material for us to see, hoping to touch us. It didn’t work still. We were stale and musty in our stance. Nima even had temperamental difficulties for continuous patience.

“I am nothing but an embodiment of someone else’s convinced notions. If I please them, I fail myself,” Nima argued heatedly and clearly impatiently. ‘And if they please themselves; your children, would you say they failed you?’ I asked Ladi. Inwardly, I felt they had to reconsider the situation in the light of the new development. Her mindset was a key prerequisite to the idea in the first instance.

“Certainly not,” she gleefully replied, sensing my premonition with an evident overflowing of relieved joy. “But that wouldn’t be true, would it?” Nima quickly asserted. “You must have dreams of good things for the child; things that are in your view quite good for the child?” I tried again with tiny prowess.

“Yes Of course I do, but the child is free to select a path, choose its own way of life.” she clarifies. “But not life.” Nima concludes and sternly adds, “That ultimate choice, you have already made for the child. Or someone else had.” He touched the very core of our misgivings with the age old very erroneous idea that has been so misconstrued for so long, that it had simply established itself and became the most conventionally accepted human value yet. Procreation has been corruptibly demeaned to wealth creation.

Ladi searched in the darkness of those libraries we call minds for the shelves for compassion, but found instead farms only we could harvest of the yield we sowed as best as we could, as we saw best. We were not reaping children because we had planted none. But humanity still is, with such selfish and shameless ease.

I remember Ladi’s tears as she yelled her frustration. Suddenly it dawn on her that in her earliest youthful perplexity, she had been fraternizing with the enemy. “I respect you!” Ladi called out. “I want you to love me,” Nima returned just as loud. “If I didn’t, I would have cheated. I could have had your children without your consent. We had no official premarital agreement. What would you have done? What would you have told ‘Our Children’?”

“Oh, I will let them grow first.” he replied calmly. “Then I will read them a speech I wrote at their birth, but only when they are old enough to comprehend it fully. It will go something like this; ‘Ever since; Your Mama, conceived you; My Children, I had fears for all these ‘not fair’ things that you will experience. Things like disappointments, betrayals, pains, ageing, death and all that sort of thing. I know I can’t protect you from them, not even take a tiny bit of them from you. So I considered my true love for you and decided what you don’t have can’t have you. So I never wanted life to have you. If it was my decision alone, that is what I would have chosen for you.” Our silence wasn’t tasteful.

I ran away naturally, not wanting to participate further in this academic debate that had naturally been emasculated of its initial detached logic by its integral emotional realities. I wasn’t married, Nima was. He stood his grounds and all hell broke loose on their married earth. Abused and he got stronger. In tempests of flooded words, blazing outbursts of rage, vacuuming raids of malice and ravenous fights. But he stayed good, fair as the first day we met.

Nima followed me, occasionally. Not on more cruises, but to my one bedroom cottage away from civilization, where I write as I quietly listened to only birds talk and not pesky nosy people. I’ve long tired of persons who surround me with fake affections, when there wasn’t a single selfless word of truth in all they said, but they are easily believed because of how they speak. It is my place of quiet peace, away from my fears of man and his continuous unsolicited intrusion that never surfaces even if necessitated by his own discomfort, but always ever forged by another’s.

I never ever gave my body to Nima like the world is doing to everything else now, with its submissions to logical fairness, devoid of the basic elementary comprehension usually required of all biological entities, which man professes to be the best of.

My father told me the ‘Common Story’ long before I learnt everybody else had heard it before finishing elementary school;

“In days old and long gone by,
A young Goat still with speech
Asked humans as he went by
Their old time wasting pitch.

“‘Have you seen my wives go by?’
‘Wives?’ They jeer and returned.
Enquiries to, the grown kid comply.
‘Wives,’ he so proudly confirmed.

“‘No laddie,’ their answer did fly.
‘We only saw your full mothers
And so many sisters walk by.’
‘But they’re all my wives, my brothers.’”

Such beauty in sweet soft words speaks to minds. It fires up situations with limitless wood of hope, as it seeks to show the enjoyment partaken in the matrimonies coupling the unglamorous unwedables. The adulterous flesh of the Goat man is; grown up and unethical. His very nature is truly that of the animalistic dope’s. In Nima’s case he just wanted to experiment with the most subtle and submissive person he knows. And hoped by mischievously pestering me, he can create ways to accommodate our principled stance, he wasn’t willing to unequivocally forgo. He was unsuccessful though, some times hilariously so too.

Some years back, Nima and I had gone to an invitational retreat for retired military officers, where I was to give informal talks on; Writing as a career. It was for a weekend at a beautiful ranch resort with great views. There were lots of domesticated folks with their animals free to roam as they wished. It gave the place an African village setting. I remember a young goat erroneously assuming a friendly urinating six years old nude boy for its mum.

In the difficult poor blue indigo light of the evening twilight, the kid snuggled in-between the standing boy’s legs and suckled on his dripping protruding male organ, like it would its mum’s tit. We laughed our heads off and Nima got so drunk that evening. Nima and I never drank alcoholic beverages. But that once, he got so drunk that he stripped off all his outer clothes and jumped into the resort’s pool in his loose fitting under pants only. A waiter followed him in immediately and with much difficulty pushed him out without the only piece of clothing he had on, because it had been easily flushed off his body as he sank into the water.

Nima staggered out of the pool nude as an egg and ran towards the poorly lit mowed Golf fields with his manhood dangling in front of him like an accusing fore finger, shouting for a ‘lamb suck’. Nima wasn’t gay. He was just too much mischief, principle and fun rolled into one. The brevity of that vivid display of his puzzled state explicably manifested the malady his mind was in, it showed. When he came to my cottage after their latest quarrel, it was clear their worries had remained irreducible and unresolved.

After a hurried lunch we calmed down to some light civil chat, but he just went on about, “Ladi and this talk of child adoption.” I only said, ‘She might have a point.’ And he felt betrayed by me as well. “Come on chum,” he thundered. “One baby is no different from another and the accompanying responsibilities aren’t too!”

‘But have you considered a grown up; late teens or early twenties? Befriend them, let them choose you. They have a choice and are alive. Their wants, wishes and needs are at their finger tips; real and communicable.’ The betrayal he felt showed on his lined brows and wrinkled neck as he stormed out, his smoking pipe clenched in a fist. I let him be as he walked away from me into the vast beautiful land that was hiding me. All night and the noon that preceded it, I waited for Nima’s return.

I waited no further at the first sign of the next morning’s radiant early sunlight. I locked up and took off after him into the late dawn’s chill and dim. Walking the luxurious lands, conscious of the breathtaking sights that had informed my seasonal sojourn here; even as my mind is marooned by the fear of Nima’s unclear sudden prolonged intolerable absence. I stared at the heart warming view before me with the impartiality of what effectual general attraction it has and I reaffirmed my knowledge that the wisdom in beauty is not buried within its scenery, for its goodness and overt sincerity consoles all forms of misery.

That is why I can hate a beautiful thing and see it is ugly in my hate. The sights soothe my immediate worries, I lost all enmity, love the sheer holistic sight and merry. The land inhabits me and I acknowledge that it didn’t seize my joy. I returned late in the brighter light. The eastern horizon had fully revealed the heavenly judge back from its one night abroad. From its lonely pedestal it casts lukewarm rays and dares me, all seeing, uncompromising. As an impure witness, I never looked back. The eye of its truth sees through me. Silence is my right, the loot in every man’s fight. Passing beneath the trees’ shade, I pause to talk back to the birds;

‘Flew your thoughts with a breeze,
With a sharp whistle and ease.
In the simple flight you all live,
Winds are harsh and rain a thief.

The woven nests top your trees,
Eggs your chicks and roofs peace.
Living is one brief lonely courtship
That wings songs it just must keep.

So Birdie, play your own flute
Like nature does to only you.
Life leaves me in my ugly soot
And I just can not be like you.

These repertoires are just you
As I continue to thrive on my loot.
Amazed why ironically unlike you
To my endowed peers I am a mute.’

When I tired from my search and flitted backwards home, I found Nima was under my bed all this long while. He must have sneaked in and hid there sometime the day before. The sight of him all tranquil was sweet; that haste of taste too late to waste.

He was too still and it wasn’t from straining to shut me out. Right there beneath me, time embraced my best friend and stopped all its worldly rummaging along with him; for him only, letting me continue along alone, with these cherished sounds we all call life.

Letting individual faith be;
Carry its soul to its own sea,
Stupid perspectives as all too.
It speaks only when spoken to.

In its peace it rows its boat
Sweetly to an abode it thought
Ferries revelry ever so new,
Or simply just as it chooses to.

When, if or whether it matters;
Over everything the mind falters.
It waters sand and dry up dew,
It heard and does as it wished to.

Up high in vague divine quests
Or down in worldly conquests;
But versed and tensed it knew
Sounds of life we’re just all up to.