We pass through the fields, the rain is shining down, like silken drops of silver. And we make believe.
We make believe because it’s easy, we make believe because it’s simple.
Shades of grey, shades of silver, blood that spills, like wine, that’s crimson. We talk and we laugh and we sit on the grass, we watch the sky get dark and dark, and we make believe.
He said he’d stay but then he didnt, he said he’d never let me go and then I saw him leave. Life flashes by, we’re in a field of gold and the memories are vintage ivory.
His promise meant nothing, words difficult to remember. And now I’m alone and the world is so big.
I’m afraid and I’m unstable, I’m frightened and then again, who isn’t? The silence around me, deafening, storms around me, marked for death and marked for dust. So I make believe.
I make believe.
I’m on my way to a better life, I’m on my way to a door that opens, I’m on my way to the place with the picket fence and I’m on my way to the garden bathed in sunlight. I’m walking to the edge of the pond, I’m looking over what’s mine, I’m looking into life.
And then I make believe, make believe. He comes back and he’s mine, he comes back and we’re there again, no more hazy lies, no more barricades, no more barbed wires between us. No, he comes back and I make believe. A kiss in the rain, a touch of the wind. A dance of the swan and a cry of the wolf. The moon is full and the air sultry, the face of this cliff, rock solid, maybe like us, maybe like us.
I dreamt we were at the edge of a rough blue sea. I dreamt of a storm. I dreamt of your storm when I looked in your eyes. I traveled so far, I saw your pain. I saw my pain, reflected there, and I drowned in your depths. I drowned in your depths. Through the spaces of my heart, and the races we run in our lives, I want to give you these words. I want to give you my words.
Don’t be sad, my dear.
Don’t be alone, my dear.
There is more to life, my dear.
It’s not over yet. It’s not even begun. Let’s start it together, let’s set fire to things, let’s erupt, let’s sleep no more, my love. Let’s walk, let’s run, let’s fly on the edge of our wind, let’s make it an eternity, an infinite time and space, only ours, that’s only ours. Let’s lose ourselves. What is time, what is time but a fleeting illusion? What is time when you and I can live forever? What is time when you and I can set fire to the things around us, make us breathe, make us see, make us drown in the passion, in the promise, in the everlasting? Make us bloom like the cherry trees. Make this color spread across our sky, make this color spread across, like the blue of the open ocean, like the red of the ripe, ripe berries, like the glitter of the morning dew, dew like diamonds, grass so green, birds that sing and notes that weep, weep, weep. We can sing, we can dance, we can live. Live this night, you and I, like we did, like we did. We can ache like the song of the wave when it leaves, when it moves, and it kisses and it says goodbye. The song of the wave, the song of the wave.
Will I be the boat that left this harbor? Will you be my anchor that held me true? Will I be the ship that set sail, so long ago, so long ago? Will you be my beacon, will you be my light, will you be my haven? My safe haven. What am I, and who are you? Who are we, do you want to know? Do you want to drown in the mystery, do you want to drown in our story? Do you want to set sail, set sail for that island where no one can find us? Do you want to lie on the hot sands of the secret beach, do you want to bathe, bathe with me in these pools of sacred water? Is this our oasis, is this our deliverance, tell me, tell me because I ache to know. I ache to know.
Do you want to leave, leave this world behind? Do you want to fly, fly with me, climb with me, see the world from my eyes? Do you want to leave this world behind, do you want to leave this world behind?
Then come with me. Come with me.
Just come with me.
Crash with me, let’s play like waves, let’s be the water that brings, brings life to everything. Let’s bring life, let’s walk on water, let’s turn it to wine, let’s turn it to wine. Let’s be the wings on which the birds can fly. Let’s soar like eagles, like eagles, let’s hunt in the night. Tell me, do you want to leave this world behind? Tell me, do you want to see the world from my eyes? Tell me, tell me your secrets and I’d tell you mine. I’d tell you mine.
It was a fight to the end. I stood in a timeless place; a motionless place. Around me, all stilled; the air, time and space. In my heart, there was a darkness, which slowly crept and moved, stealthily, gaining with every breath. What would be, what could not be? I lost this fight, I lost it. The swings went back and forth, pushed by the wind, the noise started, getting louder, that persistent climb into consciousness I tried so hard to deny. It wasn’t reasonable to suppose this time the steps would reach the same conclusion. It wasn’t reasonable to put myself in someone else’s hand. It wasn’t reasonable to depend, to repent, to scream out loud, to make this noise. It wasn’t reasonable to have those dreams. Surrounded by the crowds, drowning in the sounds of the carnival; laughter, the smell of fresh popcorn; the clink of glasses coming together; the rising swell of music as I leave, leave it all behind. Leaving the garishness, the bright lights, the mockery, the life I lived; leaving it all behind; every single step, every minute resolve, strengthening; there is not a shadow of a doubt in my heart. There is not a suspicion or a dark cloud blighting my horizon. The way is clear, the path is drawn and behind me I’ve left shards, shards and blades and stones; each one has a face, each one has the face of my fears- all left behind, suspended, halted, contained. Notice my footsteps, notice my breath. Notice, my decision. Finally, I’m free.
This moonlit night, I made a long journey. A storm was on the horizon; a sadness crept up, the night I wasn’t prepared for. It would rain, I knew it. You see, connections hold us to places, strange and unexpected connections. If I’m lucky, you may wonder what holds me to Basel. I can write you a long story, I can write you a long truth, or I can lie to you. It’s true that the first day I was ever there, it rained. I walked along the Rhine, I seem destined to walk along the riverside. It calls me every time I’m in the city. Its vastness stops me in my tracks. Over the sunlit tops of factory spires, there are always clouds of smoke heading in the same direction. Such is the stability of Basel. It has held me into a solid state of reality and wiped the illusions from my eyes; the eyes in which I viewed the world. I never knew I would return to this city; I never knew I’d be connected to this city; I never knew I’d make my way back here in so many different ways; I wasn’t looking for anything but the openness of being away from my cloistered and suffocating existence; it was a time during which I had forgotten myself and I was only trying to find my way back.
So that first morning, I woke up early; I felt an excitement in my dried blood, an excitement that had left me entirely. You know those times in life when everything you have cared about is lying in a pile of ash in a shoe box you hid under your bed? Perhaps you don’t, I can see that it’s slightly specific. Nevertheless, that first morning, I was making my escape for a few hours. I won’t deny it, I was extremely vulnerable. I was like an open shell, you could reach in and pull out my heart, you could hurt me so easily; that’s the condition I was in; everything was so raw. So I dressed, I had my tea, I had some breakfast and I got in the train to this place, to Basel. My blood was starting to drum slightly; after so long, I had the space to just be myself, vulnerable or not. I remember getting off at SBB, the central station. I remember thinking hard about the direction I had to go in; knowing myself, my sense of direction is absolutely convoluted. I had to find the way, I didn’t want to be late on my first day. After so long, the bright sun was reflecting the mood of my mind; the wind was a little chilly but nothing more. But I made it, several twists and wrong turns, and I was there. In this green and white building, away from my reality back home; living my escape. It felt so good and so simple. That’s when I first met you. I remember, I wanted coffee and I didn’t know this place, and I was determined to be myself; outspoken and loud and free; I could talk to whoever I wanted to; this is one place where what haunted me couldn’t chase me. So I asked you, I recall, if I can find coffee somewhere in this place and you laughed. Out of all the rest, I just remember this first laugh. Was it my undoing? No, I wasn’t undone but I wanted to cry because I could feel life returning to something I thought had died within me. A spark, something, a reaction, some dregs of a lost magic. You see, when you love someone and they betray you, you question many things. But the worst is when you question yourself. These doubts, they circle around you, they echo again and again, they make you believe them, they make you believe in them, the lies, the reflection, the demons and the illusions. My personal thought demons, you see, I had them surrounding me when I first met you. But your laugh, your laugh broke through, just for a few seconds; clearing the mists of self-doubt and vulnerability, it broke through. How could you know? How could you expect to touch somebody this way? You can’t, how can you tell? You can’t. We don’t know how we may or may not influence people’s lives around us. And you certainly didn’t ask to do something like this, you certainly didn’t care, how could you? But you see, you did something.
After that, everyday, I had the courage to leave my bed. After that, every morning, I had the expectation of living my escape. After that, every second, I felt my power returning to me. After that, every moment, I gathered some strength, some remnants of faith I had lost along the way, the ones that were beaten out of me. After that, a new reality began to emerge, a new bravery, a new force. How could you tell you were the undoing of what I wanted to feel so badly? You couldn’t. But this story is about me, it’s about me. Your words, simple, little; your presence, silent but overwhelming; this was what I felt, this wasn’t something you intended, this wasn’t something you even knew. But drowning people grasp at straws… I had to live for something again, I had to live for someone again or I wouldn’t live at all. I wanted to feel strong so I borrowed your strength, I borrowed you for my one escape where monsters couldn’t chase me. There was no connection,there were no links, there were no bridges connecting Basel and my demons. When I was there, those 2 weeks, they were blissful. The clouds were so far away, I knew I was safe, I couldn’t see the demons, I couldn’t see the darkness, I couldn’t smell the fear, I couldn’t despair, I wouldn’t despair, I walked and walked and walked into you every morning. I needed something, I needed your illusion to keep me going; I needed it, and it kept me walking, it kept me going on.
For me, this is Basel. This is the place, these are the moments, this is the eulogy, this is the speech, this is the aftermath, these are the fallen leaves, embedded with memories of a sunlight chasing away my demons and reminding me of laughter. For me, you are Basel.
I took the night train to nowhere. And I arrived in Freiburg, the city I came to, the place that lived in my dreams. The first time I set foot in this town in the middle of the Black Forest, I got lost on my way between the University and the Hauptbahnof (central station). They are less than a kilometer away from each other. It was my first landing in Europe, my first day in a new world. From Lahore, where I never walked, where I couldn’t walk; everywhere I went, I drove. Where the heat was too much, the people even more and the world different in its entirety. But now, I was here. Dear old Freiburg… If you were my love, I’d tell you I miss you. They said I would and I didn’t believe them. The last day I was there, the sky gleamed gold like the hilt of a royal sword. It was a clear, gleaming gold; in it reflected every single day I had spent in this place; in it reflected every memory, tiresome, old, lover-like, happy, wicked, sorrowful and joyous- in it reflected every single day of my life so far. For a moment, as I walked on the trails I will now remember forever, for this moment I thought it was a dream. And I was afraid I’d wake up.
That night by the lake, when the fireworks lit up the sky like a thousand fairies; walking in the tall grass, drunk, stumbling and laughing; those days, when summer had started to whisper sweet words of hope; the cool evenings; bulbs illuminating the graveled streets; the footfalls as we ran after the trams before the last ones left. Those were the footsteps of my freedom; it was my dance in the rain; it was the first glimpse into a new world of magic I couldn’t predict would affect me this way. It was the expression of my belonging; it was the start of a life I never thought I’d have.
A smell of coal and fire hangs in the air even now. Summer is approaching in Freiburg; people litter the streets, in their shorts, their caps, their backpacks. Some are casual walkers, some are climbers. The children run, trailing their little wooden boats in the Bächle (canals) behind them. The world is different when I look at it from the top of the Schlossberg; Freiburg shines and glimmers and beckons. The Münster watches over everything; the homes with their wooden windowsills; the shops with their hustle and bustle; the old facade standing proud, right where it belongs, at the center of everything, in the middle, like a throbbing and pulsing heart, giving power to all surrounding it.
In the morning I leave, like many do. Freiburg’s always been like a train station, the station where you get off only to take the next train. Life takes you places; you arrive in Freiburg and everything is a bit of magic, a bit of luck. You make friends and these friends become your family. You make a home for a couple of years; you learn to live, you learn to love; you work hard and you take your happiness and grief in stride; things change, they always do and time is but one step forward in the steps of life. And the ones who come after me, and the ones who stayed behind, I will tell them all how much I miss it.
It was a festival of lights, of laughter. It was a celebration of friendship, of love. It was where the lovers met and the crowds cheered. There was smoke and there was fire. There was an onslaught of cold wind but no one gave up. There were echoes in the arena, there were blasts and bangs and booms. The lights popped and flashed. There were drinks and long walks. It was easy to hide among those people. I was nobody, lost in a reality I didn’t wholly own. Behind that laughter, there were tears. Behind the cheering faces, there was truth and the truth was sadness, the truth was loneliness. On the journey on a stolen pathway, there was no one, there was emptiness.
A foreboding sky hung in its entirety, threatening a storm, threatening rain. People began to disappear, one by one, the crowd grew thin. The rides were rolled away, the stalls closed down, lights went out, slow and steady; one, two, three… Then all. A darkness descended. The sounds of the storm grew louder, the lightning glowed from afar, the shadows thickened. It didn’t last but it ended; the laughter only ghostly, only in my memory. Everything stopped. Trapped in time, I stood while everything went still around me. It was yesterday and it was today. No time ruled here, no hours passed. There was stillness as the images flashed and burned; opening and closing; rushing in and rushing out. It was only alive in my dreams, and the rest was gone; time had frozen and the rest was gone.