The moon shone through the open windows of the villa, illuminating the small bedroom. As I sat up in bed, I saw my little sister’s still figure silhouetted against it. Wrapping a shawl around myself, I slowly approached her. She looked dazzling – an angel with starry eyes and the moon shining on her face. Outside, the world that had looked grand and majestic in daylight had turned magical.
The little angel radiated magic and as I draped my arm around her shoulders, I felt bewitched; I saw the fairies with their silver wings, the pixies with their little ears and the dwarfs with their impish grins, all descending from the moon to pay homage to the great and mighty of the past. As the first ray of moonlight caressed the snowy peaks of the mountains surrounding the castle, everything seemed to come to life; all the windows of the castle lit up and the sound of music and people laughing drifted towards us. The procession, hidden by the fog, was crossing the bridge towards the castle; and as it reached the grounds, the statues of the great king, his wife and daughter came to life, stepping forward to welcome them. Bells were tinkling and colorful fireworks frolicked in the sky and golden light spilled out as the castle doors were thrown open for the king and his guests from the moon.
Suddenly, an owl hooted and the spell broke. I shivered in the cool night breeze and wrapped the shawl tightly around both of us. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the night. It was divine. I looked at the backs of the statues of the king and the queen, of the long ago past and the silent castle. The people to whom these things had mattered were long dead. The sound of the waterfall and the rushing water seemed a part of the still night. The smell of orange blossoms wafted in with the breeze and I inhaled deeply. An owl hooted in the distance and then another.
Leaning out of the window, I saw the solitary figure of the keeper step out of the front door and tread down the stone path towards the statues. Every full moon, at midnight he would silently step out and go down to sit among the statues. His words echoed in my mind and now I understood what he had meant when he told us that he had been there since he was a boy and he could not, would not, leave this place for the world. He could not leave behind the castle, the statues, the lake, the waterfalls and the teasing smell of orange blossoms in the air. Above all he could not break himself away from the beautiful days and the magical nights.
“Miracles they are”, he had said.
“A shooting star!”, my sister breathed. I looked up.
“Make a wish”, I whispered, afraid that the spell would break and the beauty, that had taken hold of us and had made us forget everything, would vanish. Staring at the reflection of the moon in the lake below, I suddenly thought about the leagues and leagues of people who had looked at the same moon for centuries. The faceless ghosts of those unknown men, women and children – of the child with his fantasies, of the young girl with her dreams, of the man with his hopes and fears, of the mother with her love and the father with his cares, of the old man with his adventures and the old woman with her regrets, all loomed in the dark depths of the water below.
Time had merged all their faces together and swept them away until there was no sign of their having ever existed except for those lonesome structures they had built, stripped of the glory they had thought was theirs and the pride they had shown over it.
I sensed the presence of someone, someone possessing God’s love and beauty, in the room even before a soft hand touched my shoulder. I turned to look at my mother who, with the night breeze softly caressing her long curls, seemed a being sent straight from heaven. Quietly, as if not wanting to disturb the quiet of the night, she kissed my sister and then me. A sigh of contentment escaped me and I closed my eyes, capturing the moment forever.
By Guest Author: Malala Umer
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