Once upon a time, in the Maravi kingdom, a great affliction occurred. Intentionally cursed by the great evil witch, the kingdom, led by queen Lizsad, just coming to the throne after the death of her father king was infected by a plague that corrupts the souls of the livings. Society was collapsing and all values were starting to fade away.
Hunger’s ravaging land, the suffering plague
Poverty spreading fast, people wearing masks,
Smells of hatred blood putrified from carcasses,
Homes ravaged by accursed earthquakes
At that time, there was a toad, likely a descendant of ancient dragons who dreamt to save all the people of Maravi from diseases, hunger and poverty. Endowed with a big heart, she couldn’t bear the condition of others suffering. Her dream, so simple yet so generous and formidable was to bring simple reassurance to all living creatures.
I wish I could change the world
But why is it so tough?
I wish I had magic powers
But why am I so useless?
I wish I could walk away
But why can’t I live peacefully?
I wish I could save others
But why are people drowned in plight and poverty?
That’s why I want to change small things first
Can I really do it…
As a last effort to save her kingdom from catastrophe and the flea, the queen made a call for help by organising a contest to find the most talented builder of the kingdom to rebuild the society. The subject of the contest was to invent a symbol incarnating the most beautiful values of Maravi so people can inspire from to face the curse, acting as a moral repellent to the plague inflicted by the witch. The prize was to become the most renowned creature in the kingdom and will open doors to opportunities that can shamble the whole world. Lions, leopards, elephants and all other majestic and powerful creatures of the jungle took part in the contest. Giant castles, golden statues and other grandiose projects were erected.
The toad, with her persistence and her desire to change the world in a modest and simple way also became involved in the contest. She buried herself down in the meadow at the bottom and took in oxygen through her skin, dug the broken tiles from the pond and brought her up to build a beautiful mosaic. The process seemed quite simple but it happened in a magnificent way. Flows of imagination came out of her, she selected meticulously and carefully each piece of material used in a mosaic called tesserae. Those can be glass, stones, porcelain, seashells, or anything else she could find in the mysterious pond, the same pond where her ancestors used to keep treasures in the old times. Then she gathered the broken tiles into color categories waiting for the right time to put them together when harmony inspired her. Why a mosaic you would ask. Her idea was to assemble, reunite people in times of chaos and division. A mosaic was the mix of ethnic groups, languages and cultures that coexist within society. Such creativity and grandiosity coming from such a small animal and small project.
Near the pond, a black cat was passing by and met with the toad on occasions. They bonded over the fact that they were outcasts in the animal kingdom. They shared little stories about each other and chanted their fears, regrets and dreams. Little did he knew then, but the black cat was drawn to his daily companion. Usually arrogant and over his head, he swore in the past that he would never be attracted to toads due to their lack of ambitions and absence of grace. He used to despise toads because of their usual ugliness and inelegance. He was used to be seduced by swans and peacocks. But somehow, there was definitely complicity and self admiration between them.
The cat had a dream to travel through vast oceans and see the seas, the mountains and the plains of all continents, ideally with a companion that could understand him. He also wanted to change the world on his own. He was a free thinker and a solitary wanderer, adventuring through mysterious lands. That was the reason why the cat made a stroll to the mystical pond and in some sort of destiny made acquaintance with the toad. Deeply seduced by her passion, her kindness to others and her burning desire to make the world a better one, he was determined to help her without hesitation. His passion for her was like a curse from the gods, as an irresistible and violent inclination that cannot be stopped. She reminded him that no matter which animal you are, there is beauty in you. In a sort of way, by inspiring the stubborn cat, the charming toad had already changed the world as it sometimes only take to change one being to impact on the course of things. Day to day, the cat helped the toad to believe in herself as he saw unlimited potential in his salientian companion.
Everyday he miaowed her meaningful melodies and sweet words to keep her motivated in her quest of saving the kingdom of Maravi from self-destruction. He showed her that there was more to life than symmetry and order. Art was his life inclination. He brought her to see and feel the birds singing anthems of life, hoping for her to open her eyes to the invisible beauty of art.
But then one day she was assailed by jackals, sent by the witch and erring around the pond to satisfy their thirst of blood. They tried to rip her apart but she managed to escape. Still the pain was so deep and real…
Many wounds in my skin,
On a leaf my body lay still,
I want to bite my tongue and face the pain,
But desolated by the crimson rain.
In each step of agony
Through the pain that shoots through me.
But forward I must go
Even if it’s slow
Wounded, immobilised, flattened down,
Sometimes scared and drowned,
Cold feelings haunt me.
Walking alone, on a path I can’t see.
Traumatised by the pain and the suffering caused by her aggressors, she was depressed to be alone in those dark moments while having a big mission unfinished. The black feline saw clearly what she was going through. A touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which he could think of to potentially turn her life around. There was a primal reassurance in being cared, in knowing that someone else, someone close to the toad, wanted her to be safe and to live a blossoming life. There was a constant feeling of security with the knowing of being cared, a silent, reflex-driven affirmation that someone was nearby and always watching for her. It was perhaps what made her realise that she does exist after all, at least in someone else’s mind.
On his own adventure to find the truth, he was used to being carefree and careless. All that mattered was his freedom and how he would change the world. Although during the time spent with his friend, the cat could not eat well, could not sleep well. All sorts of emotions flooded his brain. Love was such a drug to him. He became infatuated with the toad. Even though infatuation could not quite compare to love, but it was something real, perhaps seeds of love were present and it might become something bigger. He had realised that the feeling of love was that moment when his heart was about to explode and his stomach squeezed in pain. He was in different states each minute of a day, from heaven to sinking deep down into dark oblivion. That emotional fluctuation was just unbearable.
Strange feelings seems to grace the evening fall.
I want to be free dreaming,
But slave to those feelings…
I wish to know how to caress your soul…
Like a tidal wave in my oceans,
You rise out of nowhere…
The sky darkens when you’re elsewhere…
Forgive me, my toad, you are the only thing that’s present.
The day is tearing now,
The earth is dry and torn.
I know you’re tired from the violent storms.
I do love you, and to thee I bestow.
Without you, I feel tired on my feet.
The look in your eyes has made me slave for eternity.
Without you I am speechless and empty.
I feel you slipping from my reach.
But, but I still wish I could purr in your arms…
For the cat, the toad had the greatest soul, the noblest nature, the sweetest, most loving heart he had ever known, and a loving association could only increase those values in him. But was he damned to be one of those thinkers who failed at love? It all started with deep and stellar friendship, but where will it lead to?
Reckless as he was, the cat couldn’t put aside the fact that the toad was engaged to a cobra from the Sahara desert. She waited and lingered for years, remaining faithful to the serpent. She so longed for his arrival to celebrate their union. Yet the cobra seemed to be so deeply involved in his own quest that he sometimes forgot that the toad was still waiting. Would the toad let her heart run free and betray reasoning for a fresh dream, a jaunty moment or a spontaneous kiss?
Days passed, the toad completed her work and sent it to the palace. Again more days went by… Then one day, the mosaic that the toad conceived had been chosen by the queen as the symbol of the whole kingdom, humility and modesty were chosen to be the core values of the Maravi people. Not only the artifact reminded people of its values but it also repelled the wicked malediction of the witch. What a pleasant surprise to her and to the whole kingdom that the tesserae she picked to build the mosaic were enchanted. They were treasures of ancient times kept by her ancestors, the sacred dragons. Its powers made the evil witch trembled with fear and boosted courage in Maravi’s inhabitants. The toad was then destined to become the most famous and venerated builder in the whole kingdom. The witch was never to be seen again in the land of Maravi, people lived in peace and in unity since then.
Relieved and happy by the outcome, the cat was so delighted for the toad. Nevertheless, burden too much by the thought of being rejected by his own admiration, the cat decided that it was time to go away to continue on his lone journey to find the meaning of life. The only thing he could hope for was that he had achieved to take a tiny corner in the toad’s heart that could sparkle someday, somehow, some feelings for him… Before leaving, he whispered gently into the ears of the toad words that he will undoubtedly never say to her again…
“Would you like come away with me? Que Sera Sera…”
Disclaimer: this tale is a reality-based fiction
Żabka – Michael Garfield