Seeker and Useless

May 5, 2011

The Seeker asked the Useless:
What’s your use? You are useless!
That’s my use – being useless, – said he. – How else would you find your generosity?

“What a fool! Useless fool!” – thought the Seeker and rushed off in search of use he can bring to the world, while the Useless remained there, under a tree, in idleness.

Marina Kim

Marina Kim original prints. "Generosity"


Stories have many layers. Recently, I realised that the meanings of my dreams revealed to me in layers, in time. Same goes for artworks and stories.

Creativity is like dreaming aloud, or dreaming materially.

A layer of this story openned up to me right now: don’t be affraid to be useless.

Big Issue

May 5, 2011

Fist time he appeared on the High Street, the town felt sympathy and bought a few copies. It is a charitable town. His face was round, rosy-cheeked and looking towards building a new life.
– Big Issue! – deep pleasant voice boomed up and down the street effortlessly. It sounded the way a butler would announce the cocktails – perfect pronunciation, but he didn’t speak English.

The town run out of interest quite soon. He sat on a plastic box, dosing occasionally – the epicentre of the pedestrian-free zone – us, the towners discretely crossing over to the other side.

Marina Kim

This story is really about one day. A sentence even, which caused a change in me. But it is necessary to start a few years earlier, when I was 11.

The secondary school. Autumn term started with 4 classes in our year. Soon after the beginning of the term one of the teachers left, and her class was split between the remaining three. We had the intake of about 10 extra pupils, and on the day they were brought in I fell in love.

He was the handsomest and the most charming boy there ever was. His mother was an actress, a beauty with black hair and brown eyes. Marat was very like her in features, but he had soft wavy blond hair and grey-blue eyes. He was the only one of that colour in the family. His step-dad was a typical Uzbek of dark complexion, as well as his little half-brother. Marat once told me, that he took his colouring after his real father, whom he never met.

He was The Popular Boy of the year. All the boys wanted to be his friends, and all the girls adored him. I loved him.

And I never even thought of hiding it. I asked teachers to be sat at the desk with him, which they gladly did. During the tests, I’d work on my own sheets, and then help him with his variant. If we were sat apart, I’d throw the answers inscribed on tiny bits of paper across the classroom when the teacher wasn’t looking. He knew I’d try my best to help him, if he had to answer the lesson at the blackboard, and looked out for my help. He got used to rely on me. My devotion was apparent, quiet and unquestionable to the degree, that there was never even any teasing me among the classmates.

He was friendly with everyone, and very entertaining. He told jokes, made funny impersonations, clowned about on every break-time. He was happy and adorable. He was handsome and funny. He was supple as a snake and loved acting. One enjoyed simply watching him move. He was quick-witted, always up for a laugh. He was good at sports. Not brilliant academically simply for the luck of interest. He was interested in attention, which he had plenty.

Wasn’t long before he made his preferences in girls clear. I didn’t expect it to be me, and it didn’t change the way things were. I still helped him unconditionally, and was the same with the girl he liked.

In general I am and always was a quite sort. A thinker. Which externally might have looked like I was sad, or even sulking. Perhaps, I was. Until one day three years later.

It was a school outing, and at the end of it we were allowed a free run in the park. I was as usual on my own, sitting on a bench. For a minute, on the bench opposite landed Marat with one of his friends, who might have had a soft spot for me. At least couple of times I saw boys teasing him and pushing him towards me, when I was passing by. But I might have been mistaken. At the moment the two of them were sitting three meters away, facing me and the other boy whispered something in Marat‘s ear. In reply he got an irritated: “To heck with her, with her ever sulky face!”

I cringed as if slapped and longed to disappear on the spot. They could only be talking about me.

A sulky face…

I didn’t want to be a sulky face. I wanted to be happy and fun. And that’s what I became. A bit of a shock for the teachers though. Always a good example and obedient pupil, now I was skipping the lessons with the others, sometimes even initiating the escape, talking back, behaving arrogantly. But I became popular with my classmates.

That didn’t buy me his love, but at least he joined in the things we did with the other pupils, which I now usually lead, and he never again said that I was boring. I became a mate.

In a year time, I returned to the school after Summer holidays completely cured. I had a new sweetheart. I even had had a kiss. Marat had changed too. He wasn’t a happy lovable boy any more. He became kind of angrier, edgy. Smoked a lot, often the pot. The boys, they all did, but he was the one who really meant it.

His love turned to another girl too. By the end of the high school I guess the two of them were more advanced in the practical knowledge of love-making, than any of us. Their relationship, I heard, lasted after we all left the school, but he was becoming increasingly difficult.

When we were 20, all of a sudden he turned up on my doorstep with that very friend of his, the whisperer on the bench. Asked me out for a walk. I was surprised and intrigued. Somewhere along the way we lost the other boy. Marat didn’t bit around the bush, and bluntly said, that he wanted to make love. After a short reflection I went along with that. I wanted to know how it would feel, making love to him, after I loved him for so long, even though it was in the past.

Perhaps I knew, that it was going to be a disappointment. Yes, I knew. Strange though, because he still was a handsome boy I used to love. And here I had in bed with me the supple body, the blue eyes, the delicate hands… Something was dead. That part of the boy, which used to illuminate him was dying out for a long time now. There was just a tiny bit of the real him left, which was crying out, trying to survive, to put the bits back together, but the voice was hardly audible.

We mechanically made love for a long enough time to call it a session, our souls searching in vain for the crumbs of our past selves. We parted that day, without saying much. He came again later for the last time, was being persistent and even aggressive, but it was over for me.

Five years later the girl who was his first school sweet-heart phoned me to say, that he died of an overdose of heroin. She spoke through her nose. It was appropriate in given circumstances and she was always good at doing the appropriate thing. I had nothing to say. Nothing moved in me.

Some weeks later I met one of his close friends on the street. He was drunk and cheerful. “Maratka, huh… Clogged it, didn’t he?” – said he grinning.

He surely did.

Marina Kim

Two-sided Tale

May 5, 2011

Three butterflies were resting on the flower. After a long play in the air and a drink of nectar they felt like sitting quietly for a moment, enjoying a sunshine.

– Look at those thick prickly funny wriggly worms down there, – said one beautiful butterfly to another.
– Oh, yeah. Look at them crawling, chewing on the leaves.
– They are so ugly. Ugh…
– But!.. That’s what we were! – the third butterfly exclaimed.
– What?!
– Who? Us?..
– Were those?..
– Are you mad? He is mad.
– Oh, just ignore him.
– Waah-ha-ha-ha! Look at that one, the fattest one, it fell off it’s leaf! Must have eaten too much! Aha-ha-ha! Gready guts!The two butterflies laughed. In their butterflyey elegant manner they took off the flower and flattered away, chatting:
– Imagine! Us and those!
– Absolutely. He is out of his mind!
– He is weird, so unlike us.

The third one stayed behind. Still in disbelief he said, not addressing anyone in particular: “They don’t remember!”

A caterpillar sat on a leaf. Normally a caterpillar would be eating. This one, however, stopped for a moment. Something very beautiful distracted it’s attention from the caterpillary duties. Somewhere up high, on the prettier end of the plant he was sitting on, the caterpillar sow three unknown creatures. They were utterly handsome – slim bodies with long curling antennas crowning their heads, but most importantly – the wings. Those were simply magnificent!

“What are they?” – he thought in admiration.
– What are they? – he shouted to another caterpillar two leaves away.
– Dunno… – munch, munch…
– Excuse me, – he asked another one, down below, – do you know what are those creatures up there?
– Which ones?
– The ones with the pretty colourful things on their backs?
– Where?
– Up on the end of the plant.
– Where? I can’t see…
– Up there, – he shouted down, trying to point up with one of his little legs and… fell off the leaf.
– Ow! Ugh!

He sighed.”I am so… ugly and clumsy,” – thought he in despair, looking himself over. A little tear rolled down his fat fluffy cheek.

“Oh, well,” – he muttered and chewed on a leaf.

Marina Kim

Poetry Chaikhana blog (one of my perennial favourites) sent today a post with a poem by Farid ud-Din Attar. It says:

“You can never see your own face,
only a reflection, not the face itself.”

Self portrait half-way through


…and I had a little recognition moment – “That’s what it is!”

That’s probably the reason I am obsessed with portraits. They are also reflections. And so are we for each other. When we face each other in conversation, or conflict, or play, or any other interaction – we become reflections of each other and for each other to see.

Is that why it is always an effort to be with other people (well, it is for me), because one turns one’s gaze outwards and allows one’s own “face” to assume the reflected images of what one can see rather than being an authentic self? Is it even possible to stay authentic in interaction with other people?

Self-portrait. Drawing. 17x21cm

And is my making portraits of myself and others is a superficial (and, yes, futile) attempt to see myself, while actually, it hardly shows even a little aspect of the other? Arrrrh!..