Friday, May 23, 2014

Lohbado in the gardener's pavillion

ink on paper

colourized Lohbado drawing
Lohbado moved into a gardener’s cabin on an estate partially ruined ten years ago during the Apocalyptic War. A gardener used to live there, in a white washed cabin with a green shingle roof, surrounded by a stand of fruit trees, crabapple, plum and a mountain ash. It attracted song birds in the summer and crows and bluejays during the winter.

Some roses still remained from the golden era, before the war. It seemed golden to the Goldini family who had lived behind guarded walls until the old man died of a heart attack shortly after being arrested for overdoing it with the advanced interrogation. He tortured a few too many people, as part of his self-centred investigations. They found his diaries. There’s always a fatal flow. The narcissistic bastard kept a detailed account of how he enjoyed feeling his power, the immediate response he got from inflicting pain on a victim. He did it under the guise of national security, to protect the country. Democracy was being threatened. Somebody had to do something. It had to be done. That’s what he wrote in the journal, “It had to be done.” That statement meant, as far as he was concerned, there was nothing more to say. Anyone who argued was an agent of evil, opposed to the forces of goodness and freedom. The old representative of freedom died of heart failure in jail. His journals let the cat out of the bag.

A seventy year old woman bought his property for a song and invited Lohbado to move into the cabin. Since the age of fifty-five, after being expelled from the Dome, after crossing the Plains of Radiation, Lohbado received a small veteran’s pension, enough to live a subsistence life style, minimalist cuisine, no frills. Lohbado enjoyed the peace and quiet. At sixty, nobody bothered him. His main responsibility was to stay out of the way, to be invisible, to not bother anyone. He was socially dead, which suited him fine. He kept in touch with a handful of friends he’d known over the past forty years, from the good times, long before the government ceased being for the people and by the people.

Goldini, had he survived the investigation and trials, would likely have been released with a rap on the knuckles. Too bad they found evidence that couldn’t be ignored. Inside the Goldini walls, during the war years, he was free to satiate appetite, to explore new sensations. the body was a treasure chest of pleasures waiting to be explored.

Goldini owned a mine in the territories. The estate was a summer retreat. Goldini spent an average of five days a year there. The rest of the time he travelled and lived in a chateau overlooking a river valley. His country estate was sacked during the last days of the war. The back section of the main house had to be torn down. The front section was in tact. It contained three bedrooms upstairs, a large kitchen, dining room and living room and library downstairs. 

Outside in the garden pavilion where Lohbado spent a few months, he enjoyed the fragrance of apple and plum blossoms in the spring and lilac. Even the herb garden continued to grow. Lohbado was free to stay as long as he liked and to contemplate the riddle of the universe, or to make texts and pictures.

The library in the house contained a few thousand volumes of literature and philosophy, mostly in French. Lohbado was fluent in French and English. A forty-two year old woman and her sixteen year old daughter shared the house with the seventy-year old woman. The mother didn’t die her hair. A lot of people gave up cosmetics after the war, when the rate of cancer shot through the roof. People avoided anything that might be vaguely related to risk of cancer. Sometimes they overdid it. It was almost like to pay for their sins, people felt the need to return to a simple life. Lohbado had always lived a simple life, out of necessity, since he’d never held down a regular job and had spent much of his life on the move. He felt very relieved to finally be sixty, with nothing left to do except relax and wait for death. 

To wait for death sounds pathetic, as if he’d given up. That was far from the case. Lohbado meant to use his final years to take a look around, one last time, to try and wake up or to understand the act of being alive. Much of his life was spent in a whirlwind of hope in fear, on a wheel of alternating drowsiness and agitation, boredom and stress. So much pressure had made it difficult to slow down and question what exactly was going on. What was the fuss of life all about? Finally, he was blessed with the good fortune of being able to contemplate the situation. It was like being at the airport, going through security check and finally relaxing for a final cup of coffee in the boarding lounge, before being called to board the plane leading to death. He realized death could happen any time. It was no long a remote possibility. The thought of death sharpened his wit and helped him pay attention.

Lohbado found grey and white hair very attractive, probably because he too had grey hair. He enjoyed reading the lines of a woman’s face and gazing into her eyes. He loved all three women who lived in the house, the seventy-year old Agnes, the forty-two year old Emily and the sixteen-year old Julie. Agnes, Emily and Julie filled Lohbado’s mind when he wasn’t focusing on other things. He loved the warmth and relaxed spaciousness in Agnes eyes. She was beyond petty concerns and had surrendered to enjoying the beauty of the garden. Agnes was still passionate. Her warm eyes yearned for love, beauty and truth, to find peace and rest. Julie was all wonderment, playfulness and curiosity. Millions of men had died fighting for a pathetic cause. Nobody won the war. After half the world’s population was wiped out, the war ground to a halt. A series of truces were drawn up. Each country returned to pre-world war borders. It was in everyone’s best interest to make peace and to tolerate each other.

Lohbado spent the five years of war in a temple of prayer. He was too old to be drafted into the army. However, to ensure that he would have no part in the absurdities of the war machine, he entered a monastery. Since religious conflict was such a big deal, Lohbado decided to never talk about religion. If he said he was from such and such a church, people from another church would, for the love of God, be angry and want to either convert or kill him. He literally saw how love of God could commit religious fanatics to acts of extreme cruelty and violence. He vowed to never talk about religion, until, during his time in the Secret Desert, he encountered Oogah, who showed him the way of The Great Nomroh.

Ok, that’s enough for today. I’m getting tired and need another coffee. Stay tuned for more.

The main challenge with the memoir is age. One’s life force diminishes. The body wears out. One has less energy. Lohbado’s mind was clear, but he suffered chronic fatigue. He worked in short bursts. If he pushed too hard, his body would collapse. He’d spent many a day, incapacitated, unable to do anything except lie on the sofa, or look out the window. He learned to take things slow. The doctors did tests after he broke out in a rash, after crossing the Plains of Radiation. He’d suffered exposure, enough to weaken him, but not enough to justify the side effects of medication. He was in the grey area. 

So that’s the catch. Life is never without challenges. When young and filled with ideas, one has no time. When one finally has time, after fifty or sixty years, one runs out of steam. That’s how it goes, the human condition. Do the best you can. Don’t think too much. Plunge right in and create. Don’t limit the imagination. Have fun.

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