Oh, Lord, give me power to withstand,
To survive when dreams are vain,
Inspire me; I’ll paint again
On mere canvas my Wonderland.
And now the airliner that kept me riveted to the seat all flight long, seems to land…
Heathrow Airport… Who on earth would have thought? The airport I dreamt of after having watched the film “Love Actually”. Here it is, here are people. Oh, my God! Here he is, a smiling man with a plate in his hands «Nauruz Bairamkulov». Exactly as I imagined it in my dreams!
We set out to Oxford.
Insensibly, the evening stole up, first lights hastily lit up the streets of the small town, as if hurrying to show me the charm of local evenings. The day was taking leave of people, embracing slowly rare lights, yielding up its watch to the night, and with broad strokes coloring the heavens in purple, imparting an incredible pleasure to the flashes of being.
The evening scents mantled quietly the tired town: slight, enchanting aroma of grass, fatigued breathing of settled down roads… All blended together composing a fabulous cocktail called “The Evening filled with Happiness».
At that moment it seemed to me I was a thread that runs through the night binding together all its elements in a meaningful and beautiful single whole.
Feast in my eyes, I roamed about the streets of the fairyland, accompanied by the breeze, admiring the day trying on dark night clothes.
The feeling of pleasure swept over me and made me feel dizzy. At that instant I was struck by a strange idea: it was an unreal sensation of detachment from my life. Or rather, from what I used to consider my life, from all that has shaped it: ambitions, plans, needs, obligations… Life became like it was when just got started.
Suddenly I looked at the trees and was amazed to find the woods! Heavy hospital odors assailed my nostrils. Recalling in my mind the missing fragment of the painting, I felt by intuition that some events spill over into others, I sensed the harmony in the air. Though for an instant, I acutely perceived the presence of the Almighty in this world. The silent grandeur and beauty around… Oh God, how vulgar are the words… Did I touch regularities established by Him? Everything was right, so right, that it was terribly hard to perceive the quiet fading of the bright emotional explosion, when the world suddenly became a single whole!
The evening floated through light, polite and a bit prankish smiles. All merged into a single vortex that raised me above my outer self.
Everything in its essence is one and the same, and has always been the same. When did we lose the ability to see it? When did we become insofar arrogant to give up such attempts? Did we forget? We are trying to answer unasked questions and to ask again and again unanswerable questions, bogging down in greater doubts, having finally wasted all our strength and will. And above all, why?!
But the Verity, the fundamental principle did not disappear! It was just painted in other colors or shattered into a thousand pieces. Anyway, we feel its presence everywhere: in all the beauty created by mankind and in the most awful things where the Truth was hidden under lie, but still has a spark of God, forcing people to do good.
Slowly the bus is approaching the city and my dreams, my delight and admiration are reaching their peak as London is becoming nearer.
A strange picture: medieval buildings, statues created in the giddy style of surrealism turn into modern edifices, shops what gives an indelible resonance of sensations.
People are strange embodiment and continuation of the architecture: mysterious smiles, glances a bit lost in time, profiles as if carved from the past and now people, squeezed in jeans and t‑shirts.
As it was promised, friends grasped me and in a whirlwind of joy took my human nature up to the thirty-third floor of an impressive edifice with large windows overlooking straight the Big Ben, London Eye and the Thames.
Oh, God, night lights, like a gentle song, spread over the city, and I am abandoned in the contemplation of London by night from the height of the bird’s flight. Isn’t it me this bird hovering high in the sky to the gloomy glissando of jazz?
I have to get out immediately. Clocks strike in my heart, on the point to break out the chest. I am standing on the bridge that crowns my sensations, I throw myself into the dark abyss of the Thames, trying to absorb the warmth of night lights reflected in the water. And I feel that life began, and free I am.
A powerful elevator uplifts me back to the top of London. I must dissolve this freedom in thoughtless and careless speeches.
Exeunt hours, slowly, swinging, taking the night away with them, opening the curtain and letting the dawn appear on stage.
The city saw the dawn and seemed to relieve breath. Daylights began to gradually erase the night from the streets and only my glasses gleamed softly in the predawn darkness.
With the blessing of the Most High, I am going to visit Stonehenge in company with Gulia — my new fellow-student, a native of Azerbaijan. The way didn’t seem to be very short: Oxford — Reading — Basingstoke — Salisbury. A total of almost three hours.
I did not dare to imagine that the classical British landscapes could so much impress me and light up my eyes.
What a huge step towards myself! Silent sights flash outside the window, always framed by the bright freshness of green lawns which are true pride of Great Britain. Cozy cottages lined up in a row, clouds give them smiles like good friends.
Station Mortimer… Station Brambly… — a feeling that England stuck forever to my soul and this amazing shade of primness will remain with me for life. Basingstoke is rapidly approaching, trains are incredibly fast. The cold glass kindly accepts my forehead, headphones whisper: «Everything is gonna be alright». I do believe.
Stations have a unique style, a huge hall filled with a multitude of others’ feelings. Everyone leaves here a piece of his dream. A piece of own self and a light, but slightly sweet, smell of joy. Step by step I surmount dozens, hundreds of happy moments gone in the past: reunions, separations, plans, first innocent sorrow. All this surrounds and envelops, tenderly touching the breast.
Got to Salisbury. A strange place — the air is stuffed with silence, which simply deafens, which makes conditions, orders and people meekly obey. This silence is filled with vacuum, with something grandiose and forgotten. What was here?!
What has made this city ever a quiet history?
I don’t know. Everything is closed.
Every day after 17:00 all is closed, except for some rare shops and sullen, silent English pubs.
The city overwhelms to the top of the head with its medieval streets, and apparently very ancient constructions. Everything is as though frozen for centuries, and people hide themselves, trying to avoid disturbing this severe peace. It gives the shudders. It sends a shiver down my spine and deprives of forces. As if it leans all its weight on the eyelids making of them mute participants of this ancient show.
I don’t understand.
I have to go.
I am not a part of this tragedy.
And here it is, Stonehenge. One look at these stones gives a wave of cold on the face, at absolute calm. Very heavy air. As if it’s here, the heart of this silence, as if it’s here the source.
The sky is clouding over. The evening stretches out its hands over the ruins.
It is inconceivable, as though a hard strand is tightened around the chest. The sole image glistens in the mind: a cold-blooded predator lurking in wait for the moment of violent attack.
Signs seemed to be scratched by the malice, but at the same time filled with frightening charm. What a beauty compressing the lungs, touching the vertebrae with a cold blade and what a fascinating perversity. Suddenly it dawned upon me.
This old town. These ancient ruins.
They turned out to be unbidden mirror.
They revealed all what I held back too long!
How painful it is. How disgusting, like to be choked with the own pus. All finds its outcome. All finds its answer. And the need to pander to. Harmony is indestructible. Just need for time to understand that you lead it by the hand away of the heart. As long as you are not crushed. O God, please, forgive me my weakness.
Like an invincible flint throughout the ages. Severe lone region, fascinating with its warm and its intimacy. One of these lands that were often in their history inflamed with riots. The white-haired, a proud old man, with the heart of a troublemaker. These correct and clear outlines of buildings that littered stepwise the way up to the mountains.
Aren’t these the brightest marks of the Most High?! — Majestic and enchanting marks.
And people are akin to their environment. People with broad smiles and firm intentions, with strict maxims, but softhearted. In sincere respect and admiration that their glances reveal when they cast over the mountains, I feel Caucasian tunes painfully near and dear to my heart and, as if accompanying the melody, a fresh breeze touches my face. This wonderful land resembles a wild horse, once captured and bridled but which at times tries to attack or to frighten, in impotent fury. And the beast has only its former glory and inner dignity left.
The hope faded over the years, but is not extinguished. And suddenly, when, after a heavy rain, sunrays touch the tops of the mountains, offering a majestic view, you feel to find wings and to fly up having straddled the gusty wind!
Quietly you open eyes; the grass gently tickles your neck, the sunray dazzles you. The whole world rises before the eyes. It requires faith, it cries about it illuminating the sunset with a piercing red shine. It stretches out the hand, the palm completely covered with scars. Still able to trust. Still able to open the eyes. Legs are trembling — this tired wisdom, genuine happiness, a great lesson.
I can see.
I’ll try to understand.
Slowly making our way through the heavy traffic in the streets, we began to explore Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city. Sharp outlines of buildings, their strict sequence and soft breathing created a very strange feeling, as if we were ourselves under examination. Here the first shop is. Having exchanged civilities and having bought a map of the city, we accepted with enthusiasm the messages about events that the past had left us.
We’ve seen these messages in the expression of the eyes of Scotsmen, in their movements, in their architecture, in this peculiar feeling that runs through all the links, that delights and leaves your soul embraced by the amazed smile.
Edinburgh Castle. The fortress is the pride of the city, its very center. Rise, endless rise. As if the city is a huge hill and the castle is a cliff dominating it.
The castle seems to be carved out in the rock. I get in.
Rooms are richly decorated, but what is strange, there is no idleness in this richness. The castle was given the same features that its ancient owners had: rigor and hospitality.
Leaving the lifeless walls of the old castle, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and, even if quickly, glance over the land called here «the Highlands». Having gotten rid of formalities, we took the bus that ran through this extraordinary land towards the lake Loch, widely known as the place of residence of the legendary monster «Loch Ness0187 that the scientists tirelessly refute and prove again the existence.
The movement started. The engine roared hastily and so we set out on our journey. Urban landscapes slowly began to get thin and gave place to primeval nature. Swallowing convulsively rising emotions, I slowly raised my trembling sight: endless forests and majestic mountains with upturned noses opened arms to embrace me!
Hundreds of birds were crossing the sky; clouds gathered in groups sending us their smiles and fatherly accompanying and encouraging us. It happens that a squirrel quickly climbs the tree and I feel that all around exists today solely for me!
Muscles filled with strange lightness.
I had no sooner thrown the rest of happiness that I received, than the driver announced the approach to the final point — the Loch Ness lake.
The whole lake of happiness stretched in front of me and it seemed the lake didn’t reflect the sunrays but a crystal pure light coming out from the withered hearts.
The first thought flashed across my mind was about gleams of Paradise. Paradise drops of the morning dew gave birth to this place hidden from prying eyes.
All the air around was woven from appeasement.
Now, looking back and remembering what I saw, what I felt, a feeling of lost reality unwillingly appears. Everything seems to be a figment of the imagination — a dream so insane that you refuse to accept its implementation.
I fulfilled a long-standing dream, I walked along a fairy-tale beach and a magic countryside called the Scotland and somewhere in the distance a melody of James Horner the «Brave heart» seems to be played on bagpipes, real Scottish bagpipes…
Happiness alike a dream. Maybe, I’ve lost the way, I’ve lost myself between the reality and the imagination, but at this instant I really want it to be true.
Now it was indeed true. Tears rolling down from heaven, whispered it to me, I felt these the tears, which, like molten lead, treacherously burned my face
I have to go.
On our return to Edinburgh we found it shrouded in darkness. Lonely lights lit in different parts, and we hurried to the hill, adjacent to the city.
We began our assault, filled to the brim with happiness, anticipating the apotheosis at the top, having a foretaste of enchanting views. Indeed, the view was beyond my imagination. True greatness. Silent greatness. My head is spinning, the wind whips across the face, but thoughts bring me away into the void above the city, drawing pictures in surrealistic style: now I fly accompanied by squirrels having fishy faces…
Ferocious centaur, befuddled by the evening, played the violin, weaving of strings the ode to its love, the eternal poem to the beloved holding his heart faraway. I know exactly it was he.
Everything comes to an end, and the end is always very painful. But the slow parting from Scotland was fairly sweetish, with a hint of fatigue, cold street, hot chocolate in the hand and gratitude in the heart.
By Nauruz Bairamkulov