"Jasminum officinale - Bot. Mag. 31, 1787" by Botanical Magazine - Botanical Magazine 31. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jasminum_officinale_-_Bot._Mag._31,_1787.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Jasminum_officinale_-_Bot._Mag._31,_1787.jpg

“Jasminum officinale in Botanical Magazine, 31, 1787. Licensed for use under public domain via
Wikimedia Commons

A short story from some time ago:

It is a long climb up the stony mountain, through biting mists and pounding midday sun. From the crevices mountain flowers cheer the weary and tumbling water droplets happily refresh those travellers who whisper of their thirst. The higher the climb, the more the climber’s bones and muscles groan and yet everything sings until the oxygen needed for breathing is taken up for singing.

Here stumbles another traveller, lightheaded with a promised view that is always but a few more steps. She stares ahead on the path, turns a bend and there before her looms a vast pair of doors across the path. They are heavy, imposing wooden doors with large hinges. The doors open. Since there is no other way around the path but to climb up the mountain, our traveller takes off her hat, wipes her arm across her face and wanders tentatively inside.

The darkness is cool. The air is freshened by a faint smell of jasmine. A warm light pulses at the end of the walk. A figure sits in the light-

Our traveller approaches.

“Good morning, but may I ask, What are you doing on my path?”
“On your path? Hmmmm,” pontificates the figure. “Am I on your path? Are you on my path? Are we perhaps just meeting?”
“Well,” puffs our traveller, “You look as though you have answers.”
“And why do you say that about me?”
“The doors, the light, the Hmmmm-ing”
“What are your questions for me?”

Our traveller scratches in her bag. She pulls out a dog-eared notebook and a red-and-black striped 2B pencil.
“So you are a list writer?”
“Aha,” she replies absentmindedly as she inscribes.
She finishes one page, then a second. She pauses to think, then scribbles out a third. She tears all three pages from the ring-binding. As she hands over the demands in a flourish and a triumphant “There,” the little tear tassels flutter in the jasmine air.

“Are you in a hurry?” asks the figure.
“Well, I want to see the view.”
“Hmmmmm.”

There is a pause that lengthens into awkward silence. Our traveller shifts her weight from right foot to left, left to right.
“Well, I hope you going to read my list of questions.”
The figure looks at each page very intently, very carefully. He squints, he stares.
“And?” asks our traveller.
He turns the pages upside down, vertical, horizontal. Our traveller begins to tap her impatient foot a little.
“And?”
The figure continues to scrutinize the pages, as if he is trying to see between the fibres.
“And?”

Finally the figure holds out the pages.
“What? You want me to take them back? But those are all my questions. About everything. I thought you had answers.”

Another of those pontification pauses.
The figure replied, “But where is the question for me?”

Our traveller turns over the pages before stuffing them into her bag. She turns to leave and try her luck climbing up the mountain. As she turns, she notices that the figure is no longer in the light but is standing next to her asking –

“What is your name? How are you? How can I help you?”

And the air was still fresh with the faint smell of jasmine and questions.

March 2007

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