During one of the beatings that occurred when I was really young, I found myself looking down on my father screaming and kicking, throwing things, and there I was being lifted by my hair. I was watching my body trying to pull away, tugging and fighting, but not crying. Never crying; that’s not allowed. Weird, up here there is no pain. Up here I could watch and see the craziness. Up here I was free of my body, the pain and confusion. Up here I could breathe. Strange, maybe I’m dead. No I can’t be dead I can see myself fighting down there. Then suddenly I was jerked back down. Down to that horrible place. Are these really my people? Why do they hate me so much? Why am I here? Questions I asked myself daily. Why here in this hell living with the devil himself? Why?
I remember my mother giving me a bath. We were in the tiny bathroom, Mom on her knees beside the chipped porcelain tub. I remember the awkwardness of the moment. It wasn’t customary to really be touched much. There are about two or three inches of water in the tub, wouldn’t want to be wasteful. I tilt back as she pours the water over my head to rinse out the shampoo. The water filters down over my face. Her hands feel foreign as they skim my body. I was pretty young, my mother got out of this sort of intimate thing as soon as possible.
I lie back, saying, “I wish I could slide down the drain with the water.” I had no desire to die, just not to be here, in this place, in this body. I just wanted to be able to be free and go back to where I came from. The place before here, before this body, before these people.
Mother’s response was immediate, “Don’t ever say anything like that again.”
I just looked at her. As I lie back I get very quiet. She pulls the stopper and the water begins to drain. I shut my eyes. I can feel myself being released from the confines of my body and this place they call my home. As the water begins to swirl around the drain I can feel myself being pulled with the flow. What have I done? Where am I? Feeling afraid and peaceful all at the same time. I notice the buildup of minerals on the pipes around me as I am carried along swiftly with the current, up and down. Twisting and turning until things begin to slow down a little, when suddenly, as if being poured from a faucet, I am on solid ground, in a puddle. Standing, I shake myself off and look around, feeling disoriented from the ride. The sun is shining. The meadow I was deposited in was filled with flowers of all colors. A path ran along its edge. It didn’t look too different from home. It felt different though, or was it me that felt different? I must be dreaming, no wait, I wasn’t sleeping. I was getting a bath. I look myself over, everything looks the same here. Okay, am I going to be able to get back? Wait, maybe I won’t want to go back. A pretty good ways up the path I notice some movement. My first instinct is to run and hide, but running wouldn’t be smart, it could cover this distance in a flash. What is it? I crouched down low amidst the grasses and wild flowers. It looks like a cat. A really big cat. If it catches wind of me, that will be it. Oh my God, what am I going to do? He’s coming right this way. It took only minutes before he was close enough that if I reach out I touch him. I sat, not moving a muscle, trying hard not to even breathe. He stood there in all of his grandeur, long lean muscles, blue black coat, and those eyes. The most mesmerizing yellowish green eyes you can imagine. Our eyes met. I thought well this is it; I’m going to be his dinner. But those eyes, captivating, and kind.
“It’s okay June,” he said. “I’m not going to hurt you”.
What? I must be dreaming. I’m sure this is a dream. I should wake up now. Come on wake up. Why can’t I wake up? He’s talking out loud. Not in her head like back there. His voice had a velvety quality to it, you know the kind that makes you want to melt, that instantly puts you at ease. Pulling from my toes, I gather every ounce of courage I can muster and push myself to my feet.
“It’s okay June,” he said again.
“Where am I?”
“You are safe here,” he said.
“But where am I?”
“You will know soon enough,” he replied.
As I look around I see there’s no one else in sight. I have no choice but to trust him.
“How do you know my name?”
“I have always known you; we have spent many lives together. We have had many adventures, fought great battles, for the teacher. It’s time for another.”
“Wait, fought great battles? I don’t remember any battles, and the teacher who’s the teacher? My mind is searching.
“You will remember when its time,” he said with a finality that told me that part of the conversation was over.
“What about the teacher,” thinking maybe he might know where I am. Grandma is going to be worried about me. Mom will probably be relieved though, if she even notices.
“You will know,” was all he said.
I thought, well, nothing to do but ask him his name, so I ask,” What’s your name?”
“Tigua” he replied.
“Tigua, that’s cool, what does it mean?” Always with the questions.
“I was named after an Indian tribe that lives across the river.”
I loved stories about the Indians. “Really? There are Indians here?” Forgetting I was afraid for a minute, maybe I might get to meet one, for real.
“All in due time, June, all in due time,” he said with a chuckle. Followed by, “Some things never change.” What does he mean by that? I decide I should probably keep that question to myself.
“I need to take you to the teacher. We don’t have much time. Follow me,” he said.
“What do you mean not much time?” I fell in beside him on the path. “I’m not at all sure I want to go back.”
“Enough questions for now June, the teacher will ease your mind,” he said.
With that we fell into a silence. Looking around, I began to take note of my surroundings. I might need to find my way back by myself. The path ran along the meadow for a while. On the left was a boulder, compared to me anyway, that looked to have steps going up one side. That will be easy to remember. The meadow eventually fades into a grove of trees. Okay got that. To the right was a field of lush grass that went on as far as I could see, with the familiar sound of running water, or is it draining water? He came to a stop under this grand old tree laden with limbs that were bending to the ground with their own weight. I loved trees almost as much as animals. He told me to wait for the teacher. He turned back gracefully in the direction we had just come.
“Wait,” I said, feeling a little panic begin creeping in. “Don’t just leave me here. What if he doesn’t come?”
Looking back over his shoulder Tigua said through a chuckle, “He called you here June, He will come.”
I watched anxiously as he disappeared from view. As I turned to look back to the path, I was startled to see a man approaching, his long white robes flowing with his stride. Nothing to do but wait, I suppose. As he nears I can see that he has a very kind face. He has a beautiful peaceful glow about him and some sort of familiarity that I couldn’t quite place. As if I have always known him. I can feel myself begin to relax, his peace seeming to calm me almost instantly.
“Where am I?” I ask.
“You came here through the water. The water of life. This is a place where you can come to rest. A place where no one will harm you. You are protected always. Tigua will walk beside you. In this world and the other.”
“Oh, I’m not going back there,” I told him firmly.
“You must,” he said. “You have things to do, things to learn, to remember.”