I remember the leaves of the trees sang in the soft breeze and sometimes it was as if the flowers joined in the chorus with tones that had all the colors of the rainbow. The melody suited the mood of the entire garden, soft, mellow and utterly beautiful. It was an existence not suited for human beings, I guess. Who can endure such harmony?
But you might also point out that we who lived in the garden were no ordinary people. I’ve lived long enough to realize that. We were, and are, a bit extraordinary, godlike in a way, though I would never, ever, compare myself to the great creator. We were more like the religious deities people sometimes cling to, a bit beyond mere human beings, although still quite human in our feelings and desires.
The first thing I remember is sitting naked by a small pond. There was a small frog sitting on a big leaf beside me and I sat there watching it for a long time, until I noticed there was someone standing beside me, hovering over me.
He watched me in awe. He looked at me with eager, but kind, eyes and I saw anticipation in them that surprised me. He expected something from me, right away I was meant to know exactly what to do and how to behave. And in a way I guess I did.
But there was a something lingering in me that just wanted to sit there and watch the frog leap from leave to leave. I wanted to sit there and explore the inner world that was awakened by the soft sounds of the life around me. I wanted to sit there and get to know who I was before I was required to react, or do anything.
I often wonder if things would have been different had I just been allowed that time for myself, had I been allowed the time to become what I know I could have been. What I was supposed to become, but he was impatient, he had waited so long and when he saw me beside the pond he knew that his prayers had been answered.
I guess he was wrong, though.
Memory is a curious thing, sometimes what I remember from the garden is just him, the other. Sometimes I remember the daily life though. The way my husband and I gathered fruit and ate it underneath the palms. Or how we would laugh at the silly looking animals we saw roaming around the forest, chattering monkeys and colorful insects made us giddy.
We were such good friends, my husband and I, such great friends and had we been allowed to grow into our parts I’m sure everything would have been fine. I remember when it started though, the anticipation in his eyes, that later turned into demand.
I wasn’t ready, but he was, he had waited and he was, in fact, perfectly happy with the situation as it developed until he realized just what it was. He liked it that way. He didn’t mind that my heart wasn’t in it. Actually, I don’t think he ever really noticed.
I met the other underneath a strange looking tree. It had its fruits, but they were different fruits and I know my husband had told me, fleetingly, that we shouldn’t eat from that tree. It hadn’t occurred to me then to ask why.
He was such a handsome man, the other. Or maybe man is the wrong word, he was an angel, after all, though you might call him demon. I, for one, will never see him as anything but an angel. He was bright as day, his hair and his eyes, his entire being seemed to glow with beauty and light.
How can you not fall in love with such a creature? I never stood a chance.
Not that I blame him for anything, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Even after all these incomprehensible years I wouldn’t change a thing, not really.
I never understood what he saw in me. The tales always tell of his jealousy towards the human race, but he admires us endlessly as well and when our eyes met I saw the same kind of awe in his eyes as I’m sure he saw in mine.
It wasn’t just passion, it was love so deep and so strong nothing could ever stop it. We tried, both of us, to stop it, for different reasons we tried to resist it. But we kept meeting underneath that tree. We were drawn towards it like moth to flame and when I finally did fall into his arms it was as if the entire earth sang with a different kind of passion than it had sung before. The songs were true and hopeful and there was such power in the entire affair that I never wanted it to end and we ate of the tree. The fruits were delicious. I believe I took some home too.
When my son was born I was sure my husband would notice. The child was bright as the day. My husband had dark hair, and beautiful brown eyes, very different from the child. He didn’t seem to think about the differences though, but reveled in the fact that we had manage to do something extraordinary, that we were populating the garden as was our holy mission to do.
I loved my son. We named him Kain and he was a beautifully happy child. When his brother came I was relieved too, because Abel was as dark in hair color and eyes as my husband was. They were different, the two brothers, but they loved each other and for a while we were all happy in our own way.
Until my husband discovered that I had been deceiving him. He was wandering around when I thought he was gathering fruit in a different part of the garden and he saw us underneath the tree where we used to meet.
His wrath was great. For a long time the garden sang of anger and resentment. I knew he would never forgive me for my deception, he would never forgive me for the love I felt for the other.
It was as if the garden changed hue in sync with his mood. I guess there was a bit of magic in it. The garden was created for him, it was supposed to be his kingdom and now I had jeopardized it. I wasn’t the first one mind you, but my deception was greater than hers, the one before me, because she had loved him, with all her heart but refused to bow under his rule. She had refused to be anything but true to what she felt she was and so she had been cast out and a new one, me, created.
And there I was completely in love with someone I shouldn’t love.
I tried to explain my agony to him. I tried to explain that I couldn’t help my feelings, that it had all been so overwhelming and that I never meant to hurt him. His words hurt me more than I thought he could and the entire garden sang of dissonance and anger. The flowers seemed to change color, become duller, darker and I often found them almost hostile. And then my husband started bringing the fruit from the tree home for us to eat, claiming there was nothing else. I made things to cover myself with, for the first time in my life I felt as naked as I was.
The other was banned from the garden and I was left there alone with a man that resented me and would start to hate me with time, and with my sons who were young and didn’t know what was happening around them.
I did my best to make up for my mistake. I tried so hard to be everything that was required of me and more. I tried to be the woman that he wanted, but nothing was ever enough. Not after that.
And then my oldest sons became adults and the inevitable happened. The garden had lost its initial luster, and my life was a routine I largely resented. My husband was out a lot, doing who knows what and Abel was often with him. One day when they got back I noticed the same kind of resentment in my sons eyes as I so often saw in my husband. Right then I knew that my husband had told him something, perhaps it wasn’t intentional, perhaps my husband was just the loneliest creature on the planet and needed someone to talk to, but Abel realized something his father never did.
What happened was unexpected and awful. The fight, I learned later from Kain, was vicious and hard but Abel never stood a chance. Kain was after all not entirely like the rest of us. There was something about him that resonated in everything he did. He told me that when Abel turned on him, started accusing him of being the devil’s offspring and wanted to cast him out of the garden he saw red. He said that every plant in their vicinity started to hum violently and that the vibration all around them had been hostile, evil almost. He said he’d never seen or experienced anything like it. He said he’d felt strong and righteous when he spouted evil words at his brother, words of superiority and hate.
The garden changed, slowly but surely. Abel pulled a knife and the knife rapidly changed hands and before Kain knew it the knife sat stuck in his brother’s gut.
He repented and he cried and he apologized to my husband, his foster father, and then he left the garden before any of us had the chance to truly react. Something incomprehensible had happened. I couldn’t understand it but I missed my sons endlessly. I mourned so heavily for the one who died. I thought the flood of tears would never end. But I also mourned for the one who left, although I knew he was alive, he was far away, unreachable.
The garden was never the same again. In fact the garden hadn’t been the same since my husband caught me with the other. The changes had happened subtly, but the fruits had become harder and harder to find, less sweet and we had to labor more and more to be able to survive. After Abel died and Kain left life became even more difficult. The trees didn’t sing the same songs, the breeze wasn’t a breeze anymore and we suffered droughts and extreme weather. My husband came up with the grand idea that we grow the things we needed and so we started to labor even harder for our daily bread. It kept the hunger at bay but it made the agony of what had happened all the more apparent.
One day my husband told me that the garden wasn’t guarded anymore. I don’t know why he told me this. If it was just a slip of the tongue, or if he actually wanted me to take action and do something about my situation. I guess I’ll never know. His words grew in me like the weed we needed to keep in check in the fields, but these words became like an inner song, like the one the garden used to make except this one was within me. And one morning I woke up and realized what I had to do.
I left and the gates were unattended. The angels we had seen standing tall outside these gates before were there no more. I remember those beings as tall, gracious and otherworldly. Back then the word otherworldly didn’t mean too much to me, but it does now. Sometimes I wish I could go back to ask all those question that the other and I sometimes whispered to each other in the dusk while sharing the fruit of the tree we so loved. Sometimes I wish I could go back and ask the questions I never dared ask. But it’s too late, of course.
When I exited the garden the harshness of reality hit me. Was this the place my son had turned to after he killed his brother? Was this the punishment we got for disobeying those who were born to lead us?
It all seemed so harsh, but my betrayal was big and so my burden.
It took an eternity to find my son, but when I found him I found him well. The halls of his castle were dark but it didn’t really matter to me. I don’t even remember anymore how I stumbled upon his stronghold. I was exhausted and beside myself. I had searched the barren lands for so long. I saw civilizations built but knowing these were my grandchildren didn’t help. I was lost in a large, cold world that had lost its song and I had no home to turn to and I know now that even if I’d wanted to go back to the garden it would be closed to me and mine forever, whatever it had become.
I do remember seeing the mountains from a far. There were giant beings circling high above the mountains and when I got closer I saw wolves as large as horses roam the lands. These wolves didn’t hurt me, but growled at me when I walked by. I saw snow surrounding the dark, spike-pillared towers and I saw dark creatures, shy of the light, hovering in the shades. I heard ghosts whispering seductive pleas and I saw pale women screech as they flew up into the air to search for pray.
When he saw me he just nodded his head and offered me his hand. I didn’t take it right away, I just looked at him – he was larger than life and more beautiful than I had remembered.
He smiled and there was love in that smile, but also wickedness and he told me that he knew of his father and that he might have found a way to reach him. And I long for the day we can be together again, the other and I. His fall was larger than mine and I do not understand his agony fully. I lost the songs of the beautiful garden, but he was cast down from heaven itself. The loss creates agony, but it also creates love larger than anything we thought we’d get to experience and together we will find a way to built dark bridges between the worlds created for us and we will find a universe, or hell, call it what you will, and it may be full of darkness and abandoned by that we used to call hope, but it will be ours to roam. Home is where the heart is and mine is with him. I may not have stood a chance at the life that was expected of me, but who does? What I can do is create that which is in my heart and even in this dark place I see the light I know he creates and I see it around my son who prays every night for his brothers forgiveness.
I am Hawwa. I am Ninti. I am Eve. I was created to be second and whatever spark of life I got from the songs of the garden still resides in my heart, and with it I will built that bridge, and with my son beside me I will swipe down all who try to hinder me.
I have all the time in the world.
You just wait and see.