July 3, 2014 by Bongani

There is a Joy. He sits by the river, his arms stirring up the crystal water, his eyes trained on its depth, his smile brighter than the sky. His skin laps up the rays of the sun like the ground after the first rains. He sits alone but not lonely. He is not large but by no means weak. He is what he is. Joy. He looks into the water and sees the many examples of himself in the world and his smile turns into pure mirth.

There is a joy of the mother as she holds her newborn baby in her arms. Unable to believe that her body has done that most mystical of miracles, that most sacred of biological functions, that mystery above all mystery: create life. And here is the life in living, breathing flesh. Its eyes screwed shut against a world it has found itself in, uninvited, a world it did not ask for but nonetheless a world that has welcomed it into its family. A world it shall know, a life it shall live with all its attendant joys and sorrows, all its pains and lows, the highs and the peaks of ecstasy. It shall know the joy of eating, the joy of learning to walk. It will feel the pain of falling from its feet to the ground and from its dreams to reality, the crushing pain of a broken heart and the sweetness of watching the sun set on a day well spent. But for now it knows nothing but the fact that it needs to cry. And announce to the mother who will hug her to its chest and feel her heart burst with a love she shall now spend her life giving it.

There is the joy of art. The joy of the writer as he bleeds his life onto the page, the musician as his spirit is picked up in the arms of his music and flung into the higher reaches of heaven. There is the joy of the poet that most subtle of beings, that being whose heart has found the pulse of the universe beating to the same rhythm. The rhythm that the dancer dances to as she lets her arms soar, rise and fall following the pulsating joy that is found when humanity and art meet. Oh there is pain in it all to be sure. What part of being human does not capture pain? Surely there is pain in the hands of Michelangelo as he silently chips away at the marble to release the figure buried within or the pain of the photographer who has missed that perfect shot. But there is joy in the end, such sweet joy when life lies captured in ink, in stone, in words, in music, in the arms of the stage.

He smiles, his eyes lighting up with the happiness of one who has heard a music that only the Wise can hear; the sound of the universe singing your name. Now he sees two figures in the flow of the river and recognises the joy of young love. Not the flames of passion, or the dangerous scouring heat of lust. No he sees the pure tendrils of young love spread themselves softly, silently around the hearts of two people who in each other see the being that they had glimpsed only briefly before they were born and spent a lifetime looking for. And now have found. And they have found more than that haven’t they? They have found the one in whom they can let their hearts repose, the one who can carry their secrets and their burdens, the one who will carry them when they can no longer walk the tortuous path of life, the one who will still be there when Beauty has moved away and left Age to take her place. No need for words for these. Silence is enough. No need for diamonds or trips to Paris, the clasp of their hands transmits a joy which makes Joy’s muscles tense up as he sits and regards them in the waters flow and soon he breaks into laughter.

The one in whom they can let their hearts repose.

And what is laughter than the noise joy makes when it is can no longer take any more of itself. It rises on itself, into the air around him, tiptoeing over the corners of his mouth as it pulls them into the most genuine of smiles, unlocks the reservoirs of his eyes and lets the tears run freely down his cheeks and into the air it lets out a sound of such sweetness, a scandal of joy, a peal of happiness, an unashamed pleasure in the act of existing. He laughs and bends over himself as he dips a finger into the river and looks deeper into its depths, his eyes bright and clear through the film of tears.

He sees the small joys of a million billion people. The joy of a father as he receives a letter from his son on the battlefield, the joy of a couple as they untangle themselves from the throes of lovemaking, the sweat on their backs not yet dried but something beautiful stirring in their hearts for each other. He sees the joy of two best friends who have discovered that the flame in their hearts burn with the same colour. He sees that infant born to its mother as it returns her hug decades later, the joy of a prophet as he hears the Voice call to him to silent worship, the first drink of water of a thirsty biker, the first step of freedom of the prisoner, the first pay cheque of the new grad, the child who finds a toy it thought was lost. Millions upon countless billions of tiny joys that make the troubled existence of these humans worth it. Joys that can illuminate the darkest of cells, salve the deepest hungers, calm the most turbulent storms that trouble the souls of so many of them. So many examples of himself in their world looking back at him through the troubled depths of the water but still he stirs the water and stirs, his legs cutting through its icy depths until at last he sees what he is looking for.

He sees her there. The most beautiful form of joy there can be. A joy that has found the secret of existence, has transformed life from an act to a sacrifice, to a worship of each passing second, a love that has spread beyond just those around her and has grown to embrace people she has never met, the Joy who cannot sleep while someone she knows goes hungry, who agitates for those she does not know and feels their pain deeply in their heart as the cutting of a knife sharper than the spears of demons. A love that does not know the colours of any flag but simply the colour of the blood that runs through the veins of every person who breathes in their world, a love that realise whether the Others worship snakes, or monkeys or the Son of a Virgin they still share the same humanity as she does. A humanity as sacred and as powerful as the stars that burn in the heavens for every human who ever had the chance to make their mothers sing for joy.

He sees her and smiles. She sees him and for a moment, a moment ever so brief, spliced between the fingers of time herself, she smiles at him and disappears. Even he Joy has seen her rarely in all his centuries by the riverbank. And even less people have ever known she exists. But for them that do, their Joy was complete and when the day came for them to breath their last they did so with the knowledge that he stood waiting on the other side of the Gates of Death. With a smile on his face.

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