Let me tell you about the man-child I met at the park. I call him the man-child because he looked like a boy, but spoke like a man, albeit, a strange one. Small and rotund like a new-born infant but articulating like an old man, he seemed to have got stuck in a limbo of development. He was standing by the fountain with the two dancing cherubs, singing an odd rhyme –
Two angels pour Aqua on the floor The lord makes a plan But the devil and his clan Bring tears to the eyes of man.
He smelt of some rare and exotic coffee and had the wild energy that comes from the excessive consumption of that dark stimulant. His ditty was so infectious I joined him in the singing. Together we had a boisterous time crooning that chucklesome jingle.
When we finally stopped, he said, “Every morning the matutinal mumble of the ding-dong cocks wakens me from my salubrious slumber. The twitter chitter of the birdlings keeps me awake through the dull doldrums of dragging days. I walk in the park so that I can hark to the trill and troll of the lark.”
He had the weirdest manner of speaking I ever heard in a man or child. Every now and then as he spoke, he made notes in a book he carried. I slyly took a peek and noticed a diary with multiple half-finished entries, all quirky and unconventional in their wordings.
Presently we passed by a row of flowers, with numerous butterflies hovering over them. The man-child proceeded with his zany observations. “Flutterflies with their butterylies steal nectar from flowerets in their minarets. Pollen dust on painted wings, the piquancy of paradise, carried in the air everywhere.”
I was completely fascinated by his idiosyncratic statements, however incongruous or off-center they may be. The manner in which he combined words had a certain charm in them that was irresistible. Though much of his utterance was absurd and farcical, they had a magical ability to hold the listener in their spell.
We passed by the fountain with the two cherubs again. It began to drizzle. The man-child looked at the sky and announced, “Rain is pain. Crying clouds, cormorant crowds. Black pinions, harbinger of minions. When it pours, company sours.”
I never gave much thought or importance to what he said before, but suddenly somehow his last lines unsettled me. We soon parted and the man-child walked away into the rain. I gazed at him silently till he disappeared among the trees. I remember him singing as he walked away –
Rain or shine, Some always whine While others rejoice, Without the need for toys If you ask me why I can only reply Very few lead a life that is no lie Most lives are already over before they die.
The lines had a haunting melody in them. I stood there sad and alone. I never saw him again.
An occasional writer but a regular thinker, Beryl sometimes fiddles in speculative fiction. He sees both humour and tragedy in everyday events and is extremely concerned with the fate of other creatures trapped in the monstrous march of 21st-century human civilization.