The Soul Prism
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
It is as though a part of us was handed over to us at birth.
„The soul is healed by being with children. - Fyodor Dostoevsky”
I’m always amazed at how leisure days often hold more than we initially anticipate. In the course of one of those days in the recent past, during a serene afternoon, I was just lying on the couch. Nostrils filled with the scent of a book. It was a quiet, almost trance like reading session, and beyond question bad preparation for what was to follow. Out of nowhere, an erratic jingling snapped me out of my reading, sounding as if someone was dumping hundreds of letters through the letterbox. It was a hallmark that I fondly recognised. I knew that my sister and her daughter had arrived in visit, unannounced as usual. Asiyah, the five-year-old little girl that is my niece, followed her obsessive play with the metal slit with greetings of love and excitement. Shouting Abti, Abti (uncle in Somali) as she ran in the door when I opened, she charged inside with her typical hyper-active nature. Delightfully beaming with a bright smile, Asiyah presented her new scooter, a birthday gift from her mum, before pushing her way through the entrance area as though she were a medieval princess on a pony.
Once again, she had a million and one questions for me; and one grilling followed another. Things were different this time, leaving me dumbfounded, pondering in thoughtfulness. It was the mist of divine nature in the air that hinted at the uniqueness of our moment. Immediately upon entering the living room, she looked around with a perplexed facial expression and proclaimed: “Everything looks so different and changed!”, giving me an opportunity to see what she thought of change in general. So, I asked her: “what do you like more Abti (uncle), when things change or when they stay the same?”. Deep down, I was hoping that she’s not a nostalgic kind of soul that clings onto things and wished that my gut-feeling about her answer was wrong. But alas, she said it, uttering: “I like it when they stay the same.”, whilst attentively staring at, and fiddling around with one of her dolls. Then, just as I had predicted, she suddenly turned her face towards me and reciprocated with the same question: “Me too Abti, I also like it when things stay the same”, is what I responded with. The scene was right out of a movie script and would’ve been a perfect occasion for the melodious chorus of Pac’s ‘Changes’ playing in the background.
Anyways, I somehow find it eerily strange when you see your own traits in close family members. Thus, I wondered and thought to myself, “how come one breed of children takes delight in variety and constant novelty, whereas another tends to favour particular activities that they like to engage with in a routine cycle”. Apparently, as it seemed to me at the time, I figured that some souls were just configured to love a specific palette of colours, while others were made naturally eager to explore the entire spectrum of hues. Readers who reject creative design and have no faith in a creator god may find my musings silly. But they evoked old memories and as I tried to make sense of the character peculiarities of children in general, I remembered one of my crazier childhood friends.
His name was Dogan, a Kurdish kid from Turkey who lived down the block in the same social housing quarter as we did. A nuisance to the entire neighbourhood, he would always get me in trouble. One day, during the sunny summer months, around 95 maybe, I even became his accomplice and partner in crime when he decided to set a playground ablaze with newspapers. Confessedly, hanging around with him was a perpetual adventure full of childish fun. Dogan could just not stand still for longer than a few minutes, “tixiri ayaa dabada uga jiro”, as mother used to refer to it. Oddly, his mother and mine eventually became friends too, not long after meeting in a local facility in which the city council taught German to neighbourhood women of foreign origin.
There also was another kind of friend that I occasionally kept company with. My spoiled buddy Christian, a blonde native kid who lived in a more affluent area nearby, was the complete opposite of Dogan. Christian was a quiet and reserved one, preferring to limit himself to playing around with miniature railways and toy cars inside his mansion alone. Chris was the only child in a nucleus family, and of wealthy background, living it up in a spacious, detached house with garden. Being the lucky fella, his parents bestowed him with a games room full of toys, besides a well-decorated bedroom that he had all for himself. As much as I appreciate the time I hung around in his mansion, I must admit, though, that I’ve never befriended a dude more boring than him. Truth be told, Christian was also the only German kid in my primary school open and inclusive enough to receive a black African boy as friend, which is why I kept it loyal with him until our paths separated.
In any case, up to this very day, I remember how difficult of a task it was to get him out of his little bubble at home. In stark contradistinction to him, I had a hyperactive disposition and used to hate staying indoors, which probably was also the root cause for the fleeting nature of our friendship. And when mother finally succumbed to my pleas of getting me a bicycle, nothing except the brute force of parental violence could prevent me from freely racing around the neighbourhood. My restlessness made me incur many scars and fractured bones, with incidents ranging from a broken nose, sprained legs and a concussion that once resulted in me awaking in a hospital bed shortly after the school bell ended an ordinary week day.
Yet regardless of all this, I completely failed to notice, prior to that brief question and answer session, that the personality of my niece is strikingly similar to the personality I had as a child. It was as though I had a diamond clear vision into the dynamics of intertemporal genetics. Seeing for the first time the inquisitiveness of Asiyah in regards to observing and knowing about every one of life’s phenomena, the imaginative mind that makes up scenarios, and, of course, the true extent of her hyperactive disposition. As divine destiny has willed it, the poor girl broke her arm on a playground not long after our get together. She broke it upon falling off a climbing frame that no one could separate her from. What struck me the most was the spirit of strength she displayed when I visited her in the AE hospital. Remarkably, not much of tearfulness could be seen on her eyes as she withstood a load of pain whilst waiting for the NHS doctors. By God, I saw a reincarnation of the strength of my mother.