Thursday, 12 July 2018

It’s Really All About the Right Key

by Riham Adly

The congregation of metal clanked with her every move in an inconsolable jingle. Farrah got used to the sound of her burden as the keychain, toiling above the hill of her breasts, got heavier every day. Everything and everyone in Farrah’s life had a key. The key to her husband’s heart was his stomach. The key to his generosity was her obedience, the key to his pleasure was her vagina. Her kids had keys too: hugs, praise, and that firm voice of hers. Her parents, her friends, and even her employer had their own set of keys. One day while Farrah counted her keys, she realized, that one, very important key, went missing.

Farrah looked for it everywhere, under her bed pillows, in the wardrobe closet, in the drawers of her desk. She even looked inside her fridge, in the kitchen cupboards and in the belly of her stove.
Where could it have gone?  Farah looked down at her left breast behind which her heart lay shielded in its ribcage, unreachable, indestructible.  She remembered a time when her heart was a room without any trapdoors or contraptions--a time when it could skip and sing before reaching the outskirts of childhood and growing into the curse of womanhood.  She tried to quiet and shush her heart, but it pushed and punched its every beat a cry, a plea.

There was only one place left where she dared not look. The chest of drawers high up in the storage room where her most painful memories sat, neatly folded and pushed away.

My key, her heart demanded, find my key. 

When she reached the top shelf she found her book of secrets, and inside the book she found a map. The map led to a cottage nestled in the depth of pocketed time. She walked the length of her shadows, traversing the recollection river. Aubergine-hued Lily thickets lining the path with their black devil’s tongue stood like infantrymen ready to shoot.  When she last saw them a lifetime ago they had had soft petals of white and pink.  Her skin pricked and she felt a fever burn inside when she stood in front of the unlocked gate.  Inside the cottage she glimpsed the keeper of her heart’s key. Not much had changed except for the silver that adorned his beard.  His eyes still held the saddest shade of purple. Time lay curled in his lap like a cat. She watched the man that was not her husband cradle his pain and play with his own key chain.

Grief spilled in torrents when their eyes met.

“Did you come back for me?” The keeper asked, “I still have your key.”

She remembered their deep passion, how he filled the dead space of loneliness in her heart, how he watered the dead flowers once blooming with her youth. She remembered the hushed calls, the secret letters, and the cloying sweetness of roses.

“Adultress,” they had called her. “A sinner.”

She remembered the whiplashes, the cries, the pointing fingers, the accusing eyes, and the weeping of her children pulled from her grasp. If only their love hadn’t been a sin. She held the keeper’s eyes and let him see all she could not speak.

“I’ll sit here and wait then, till you’re free.” Her keeper said, “you still have my keys. You will always have my keys.” 

So she left the cottage and abandoned her key, letting her heart sit in its prison, but was her heart really imprisoned? Did it need a key? 

The inconsolable jingle of her chain guided her back to the sound of her children playing hide and seek. Time with its lancinating edges walked her back to the high shelf in the storage room. 

“Hi Honey.” Her husband chimed, his fingers wrapping her waist in a tight grip. She stood taller, her head held high. He must be proud, she thought. For people bless him even when he’s hit her/ cursed her/ belittled her, even when he has sinned.

She smiled at him, letting him hear the metallic tinkle of her key chain.

His grip of steel tightened.

“Darling, what would you like to have for lunch today? Would you like the lamb and lentil soup with rice pilaf and some Tzatziki?” She reached out and kissed him full on the mouth, “Try to come home early today, I’ll be wearing your favorite dress.” His grip relaxed. She smiled again.

She smiled more and more every day, enjoying the sound of her keys’ clanking jingle.

* * * * *

Picture used with permission of the Artist, Nikolay Reznichenko.

Nikolay Reznichenko was born in Saratov region of Russia, in 1958.
From 1982 Nikolay had lived in Karelia (Russia), where he taught painting and graphics. It was in Karelia, in 1986, where his first exhibition took place. Its success determined the future success of his works in many other exhibitions.

That same year he moved to St Petersburg. From 1989 Nikolay Reznichenko was a member of Free Arts Association where he permanently participates in all exhibitions. To a considerable extent his art was influenced by the Russian Orthodox tradition of icon painting; he has direct experience in working with icons and restoring them.

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