>> Saturday, April 2, 2011

Here walked the great man, with one leg. Don’t mistake him for those mendicants or beggars strewn on the streets of holy cities, smoking hash and showing off their proud members to equally pious herds of worshippers.

No, Tobar wasn’t among them. He was greater, closer to enlightenment than priests who groped their young apprentices in frenzied closeted passion, women who silently prayed for a little private time with their brothers-in-law and children who gleefully tortured little insects. The chewed out stub of his old walking stick was testament of that. It accompanied him wherever he went; places he didn’t even take his god: the bathroom, the quiet hours on the river bank, the empty-fog-filled nights that slowly treaded from his ears to his head and the groaning, sweating lonely unregretful love he gave himself. You don’t need, or want, your god in these places. Tobar didn’t.

Tobar had loved, and how! He loved his house; the little ramshackle excuse for a residence. He loved the birds that noisily fluttered to his courtyard every morning with their expectant, beady eyes. If he were ever late, he could see them crook their neck at him and blink with annoyance. He loved the misshapen trees that squatted in his backyard and bore fruit whenever it pleased them. Oh, and there’s also the mad mad MAD sex that he loved, but he wouldn’t miss it if it weren’t there.

Everyone knew Tobar because everyone seemed to be born after him. They nodded respectfully whenever they saw him and wondering about this ageless handicap over steaming cups of tea was one of the pastimes. He taught little boys to use their slingshots but they knew better than to use their newfound skills from him. One whack from his angry stick and they knew their smashed skulls would be buried somewhere in his lazy backyard; and who knows, among many others too.

Then one day, just like that, they realized that he wasn’t there anymore. That the birds didn’t miss him anymore and had found other generous seed-givers. Then someone noticed a tree. Endless at both ends. What was curious about the tree was that a part of the bark near the ground grew almost parallel to the tree. Very familiarly. Like a walking stick.

Too bad Tobar wasn’t around to see everyone’s jaw drop open or he would have had the laugh of his life.