It was finally the weekend, he and his friends planned a night out. They were all senior students, they needed that kind of break. They had dinner in a humble restaurant and decided to walk back home since it was a radiant, full-moon night.
Khalil’s house was the farthest of them all, so he ended up being the last one walking back home without company. His footsteps were not in a rush, he walked calmly as he glanced up to the sky every few minutes. He passed by a bench where a man was seated, and sat beside him. He soon realized that he was his Physics professor, greeted him, discussed the weather and conversed a little bit afterwards, then allowed awkward silence to invade the atmosphere.
The street lights were off, except one that was many miles away, and the moon was reflecting bright light on the street.
After about two hours of absolute silence and a cigarette tip burning after the other in the hand of Khalil, his professor broke the silence and said, “son, it seems to me that there is a war inside of you.” Khalil was shocked by that absurd remark, then he laughed sarcastically. And before responding, his professor continued, “I know you must be thinking ‘what is this crazy old man talking about?’ but the look in your eyes reminds me of my youthful self. It’s that look you hold that screams of all the things you struggle to hide from people because you are afraid to express your weakness..” he elaborated, and told him that he sees how Khalil is always burying himself irrationally in things to keep him busy and never having the time for himself. Given that he instructed him for a year and developed a friendship with him, it wasn’t so hard to notice. He told him that, we know we are not at peace with ourselves when we are unable to sit still in one room.
What scared Khalil the most is how correct his professor was, how was he intelligent enough to pin point what was obviously hidden-or that’s what he thought-?
“Life is short” the professor said, interrupting Khalil’s thoughts, “which is why I decided to speak my mind to you without even thinking about it. I want to pass on my experience to anyone-absolutely anyone I see, even that homeless guy over there” he pointed at a man who was sleeping on the pavement with a coat barely covering his body. “You need to understand that weakness is humane, and it is not true what our grandparents told us; that men don’t cry. But on the contrary, only the brave-hearted are strong enough to cry and hit the bottom rock of the sea, for a visit to the dark side helps us appreciate the light.” He paused for a while, took a deep breath, “You need to understand son, that true power is not preventing yourself from falling, but knowing how to get yourself back on top of the mountain whenever you fall. Because every time we fall, we get a clearer understanding of our weak points, and by understanding ourselves clearly with all our faults and virtues we get power- the power to overcome any obstacle we face, not by preventing it, but by getting through it without losing our souls.” Khalil let his professor’s words sink in his brain, slowly, to a place deep down where they won’t ever be forgotten. “‘Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. How do they learn it? They fall, and falling, they’re given wings’ as a wise man once said. Never forget that” Those were the last words he said before he got off to leave Khalil in solitude in that empty street where only few lamps were lit. And that was the last time he saw him.
Many years later, Khalil would sit down in silence reflecting through life. He was seated in his living room reminiscing that night when they conversed and when his professor triggered power Khalil never thought he had. So he remembered, it was his responsibility to pass on the professor’s words that many may not be aware of-the power that hides in weakness. And suddenly, he turned to his youngest son and said :”Hey champ, a man once told me that birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. How do they learn it? They fall, and falling, they’re given wings…”
© 2013 ALIA SULTAN