The armchair next to the stove
I had the best seat in the house — cuddled up in the armchair, next to the stove, all loved up and all warmed up.
Sometimes rain pelted the world outside, some other times the glass window would trap frozen moonlight, most times there was nothing noteworthy or extraordinary.
The vision was nothing extraordinary either — just three humans watching an old TV and exchanging pleasantries, the sweet perfume of resonance and belonging.
As the cold-light enveloped the room, you or her might even doze off, only to be awakened by the tiny human’s neverending questions.
I would ask a thousand questions, both impatient and querulous, would not settle for silence and inquired about everything that happened in the Realm I could not yet grasp.
You were both so, so, tired.
After finishing the works of the day, after the supper and the cleaning up, in the dim-lit room, maybe you were exhausted, worn-out. And the tiny human with her curiosity and nagging questions drained you out even more.
It didn’t matter.
Even tired and exhausted and sick, you would carefully read the screen.
Slowly, so I would understand every word, line by line, scrolling on the old TV, distorted by the static, you helped me make sense of the scenes unfolding in front of our eyes.
Each answer sparked another question, a web spreading around the tiny room, and the ritual went on every night, every night, every night, endlessly stretched across all those beautiful years.
As each day would go to sleep, the sun will make everything velvet, the poultry was tucked and locked, the animals were dosing off, until one could only hear the croaking and the crickets.
You would hang your hat — that looked like it had seen as many good and bad days as you had — and wash your face, always wash your face, then call us in and we would nestle there.
The gate was locked and the night was draping over the windows, I could hear the crackling noises and the voices of you and her reading to me the words that translated all that happened on the screen.
Line by line, line by line, line by line.
The pacing was fast, scenes moved quickly to make room for other scenes and I would fall off the track soon enough, actors would talk and fight and shout and punch through walls before you could catch up to them.
So I would ask and nag and cry again.
The two of you spent your life together, raised another life, brought her up and let her fly and be free and she would give you the gift of life in return, she would send back another tiny soul, to be raised and brought up and loved by you too.
And you would do it all over again, with grace and humility, with generosity and warmth, with teachings and with lessons.
You were two honest people enjoying the third act of life being tasked with the task of raising a tiny human and making her a real person, one day at a time, until she was ready to fly on her own.
That’s how I ended up in the armchair, next to the stove and be all warmed and loved up.
I would not understand why the big people were fighting on the screens and I could not comprehend why the adults at the table were laughing, but I could always count on you and her to read aloud and explain and make sense of what I didn't know back then.
Until the night passed away and the sun was making everything shine again and the air was cold and the grass was wet and you decided today would be the day.
So that morning, she sat me down at the big table, and my feet didn’t touch the carpet, but she took out the book and started to spell out every letter and gave me the power to make sense of the words myself.
One by one, one by one, one by one, syllable by syllable, I would understand why the big people were fighting on the screens and I would comprehend why the adults at the table were laughing.
And I would understand the worlds hidden inside your stacks of books and my own world opened up a thousand times and we never looked back at the times when you couldn’t enjoy the night’s rest because I needed help understanding your world.
Until one other morning, it was a Sunday morning, we just came back from Worship and she would go cook our lunch, mush potatoes and chicken stew, with potatoes from our own crop, and you sat me on the armchair and I would feel all warmed up and all loved up.
You took down the Big Circle, told me that was a clock and you told me that’s how people measured time and you showed me the big hand, and you showed me the small hand and I said I can count to 10, I can read it.
To which you replied don’t stop at 10, never stop at 10, but learn more, because you need to make sense of the numbers and understand why the big hand is sometimes zero, other times it’s a half, but most times it just shows how much you have left.
And you said go beyond 10 and learn more, because sometimes the small hand is misleading and you need to understand if there’s a lot of time left, or you’ve already run out of it.
You said I need to know where one’s at, or else you are a log and logs get carried away by water, but if you know where you are at and who you are, then you become an anchor and anchors don’t get carried away.
So I learned and I moved past 10 and I almost had it, but we were interrupted by laughter and a surprise hello and the smell of freshly baked apple pie.
Until, some other morning, you would say I needed to get out of the armchair and even though I was feeling all warmed up and all loved up, you said you have to teach me something and I would love it.
And I got excited and she held my hand and talked to me while you took out the old Renault from the garage — that car was my age but it arrived later than I did — and she told us to take care while waving from the gate, arms folded around herself.
So you sat me in driver’s seat and you showed me the clutch and the brake and the stick and said I need to be careful and mindful and I need to set an intention and be in full control and pay close attention, otherwise we would both get really, really hurt.
And I wasn’t scared, because you weren’t, but I got scared later, when you told me to let go and pump the gas and I thought of all the people we would meet on our way.
But you said I shouldn’t worry, they are on their own path and I only need to mind myself and the clutch and the break and the stick and pay attention, and let go and let loose, because I can do that and the old Renault can take it and so I did.
I steered us both into a beautiful meadow and we watched the sun making everything velvet and you said it was beautiful and you wouldn’t take anything if it meant leaving that view behind and I understood.
But then the sun was fire, so we drove back to the smell of apple pie and you cursed because I wasn’t going fast enough, and I wasn’t mad, that’s just who you were, and I wasn’t worried, because I knew we were safe and I would get there and I would drive us someplace beautiful.
I knew I could go fast, I just needed more time, but then I remembered about the big hand and the small hand, so I went faster and showed you I knew where I was at and where you were at.
And then it was evening again and it was time to go back to the armchair and feel all warmed up and all loved up and watch the old screen TV.
But this time I wouldn’t need you, I could make sense of the symbols scrolling on the screen by myself.
In fact, in the meantime I started to make sense of the strange Realm myself and on my own and it was my time to help you both make sense of the unknown and translate the world you grew out of.
And sometimes I was tired and other times I would’ve worked all day and maybe I was even sick, but I remembered about the times when I was a tiny human in your space and you would show me the Big Circle and the armchair was next to the stove and I was all warmed up and all loved up.
So I would talk and explain and tell you how I made sense of reality and you would listen and not quite understand, but it didn’t matter, because you would call me your child with a smile and a warm embrace and I could talk for hours and hours and hours as long as you would listen and ask questions, each answer sparking another question, the web closing us off in our tiny little world.
Until one morning, the armchair is empty and we are at the two opposing ends of life, and the Big Circle ticks softly and I ran out of time and I am no longer all warmed up and all love up, but it doesn’t matter.
Because I remember when you were a teacher, but also a learner, and we would both return to the same universe and you will laugh and remind me that I don’t need to stop at 10, that I am in control, that anchors don’t get carried away and you should not mind the people on their own path, but focus on being careful and not hurting the people around you.