We have a dreamy little piece of fiction for you this week from Ethiopian-born writer Sophie Jama.
‘Soul Child’ is a metaphorical imagining of a child’s internal process when facing a traumatising experience. “It is a way to show how the wise and resilient soul of a child can wisely detect how to survive during times of difficulty,” says Jama, whose own experiences living apart from her parents as a child give her a unique insight into coping with separation and loss. The result is a series of lovely images haunted by oncoming tragedy.
I was five when my soul left. I was not surprised. I let it go, for safekeeping. It was destiny. We forget that as children, we already know the answers to life’s deepest questions. That is why at five I knew that something was coming. Something big. What it was, I did not know. But I needed to protect my beautiful soul.
My soul existed as a colour. It was shapeless. But it had a light that looked like a glimmering moon. It flowed like a waterfall and yet it sat still like a mountain. Unmoved and unfazed by changing seasons. It was a wise soul. I sat near the water as I prepared for the ritual of letting my soul go. I whispered gently to her and promised that I would let my adult-self know how to recognize her. It would be difficult. But I would guide her. She slipped off my fingertips and into the water. I gave her a gentle nudge and watched her float away, farther and farther into the moonlight. I paused and closed my eyes. I was trying to capture the picture in my head. I opened my eyes and with sadness I saw her white light sparkle in the water. She drifted towards the moon until I could not tell where my soul ended and the moon began.
I sat for a moment longer and drank in the gentle dusk. The sun had almost fully gone down. Night was approaching but I was not scared. I relished the quiet. The only sound was the gently swaying waves and sound of a cooling breeze. I welcomed the night. Even as a child, I knew solitude was a time for the soul. A time when the stillness of the night quieted our mind such that answers came easily. Finally, I walked away from the edge of the water without looking back. She was better off now. I had to get back home before anyone noticed I had gone.
Beautifully mournful, ‘Soul Child’ speaks to everyone’s need to protect themselves from the traumatic experiences life hands us.
Stop by next week for a change of pace: our end-of-summer reading list!