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Stories

Sixty years of the rule of the one ruler

While I am writing this, the sound of boat whistles and bells comes from the Thames, just a mere ten-minutes walk from where I live. In the street, hundreds of people are walking back under the rain after seeing the Queen cruising the river on a boat. It’s the celebration of the sixty years of the rule of the one ruler, also known as British Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Let me share with you a little story to “celebrate” such an “important” event…

Once upon a time, in a small village lived a little girl. When she grew up she wanted to do great things by helping everybody to have a better life. Her father always told her that she was capable of doing great things if so she wanted, and so she wanted to help all people. One day in school, the teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she said “I want to do great things and help people.” The teacher looked at her with a smile and said, “and how are you going to do that?”. “I will be the Queen”, she replied. The teacher gasped in surprise and said, “…but there is already a Queen, you cannot be the Queen, darling.” “Why not?”, asked defiantly the little girl. “Because it will be her son who will be King after her.” The little girl frowned to what her teacher was saying, since she was born she had been told that the Queen was great, that she was making her country be together, that thanks to her people were better off, and now she couldn’t do the same when she grew up. Puzzled she asked to the teacher, “does this mean that your son will be our teacher after you?”

Categories
Creative Life Stories

A comet of fate (‘Connected’)

Mikhail could see the sea in the horizon. Darkness surrounded it. Street and appartment lights broke it. The air was cold, his bare feet could feel the humidity of the stone floor of the terrace. His curly undulating, light brown hair waving in the breeze. His hands gripped the black metal of the fence. His eyes looking far, farer than the horizon, towards one single point he only could see, he only could feel. Mikhail gripped tighter the fence with both hands. He pulled himself up over the fence to the edge of the terrace. He looked again at that single point far, far away. His eyes brigthen. He loosed his hands, smiled and jumped…

Mikhail Bolgevich died of an unnatural cause, suicide. This could have been another person jumping and killing himself if it wouldn’t be for what it was found on the floor of the living room, next to the sofa. It was a small plain black Moleskine notebook written in blue, red and black from the first page to the last. On the first page written: “In case of loss, please return to Mikhail Bolgevich, miguelbolgevich@gmail.com. As a reward of $: 5000”. On the second, “This is the story of a comet of fate”. In this notebook, Mikhail have written the story of the comet that came into his life. She opened to him a shining darkness of the meaning of life. It was because of this comet that he jumped from a 7th floor, giving to himself a new life.

Time is relative. We all have felt those moments when clock hours seem like minutes, and those other when clock minutes seem like days. But fewer of us have felt those exceptional moments when time is eternal and brief simultaneously. It is in those paradoxical times when magical things happen. Thirty something years passed in Mikhail Bolgevich life, but to him they went by without much to tell. He said once that all those years he had been a hedgehog rolled into himself, just showing his soft but spiky spines to the world. The last six months of his life were longer and shorter than all those years. All started when he opened himself to the world and let it rain on him for anything to happen. And something happened.

He saw her for the first time in Moscow. It was in one of many talks he had given all around the world about his book “Connected”. In the clearing of the shadows of his hedgehog life he had written it inspired by the gradual awakening around the world. Prove of this awakening was the quick success it had everywhere. The premise of the book was that the Internet was facilitating the emergence of the part of our human nature that craves sharing and emotional connection over accumulation and materialism. Connected people were already sharing emotions and making a difference in theirs and other people’s lives. Mikhail’s book showed how it was happening, but it also warned of its dangers. It sold by the hundreds of thousands. It was downloaded in its free format by millions.

During the talk, she was sitting in the front row. Smiling, her blue eyes looking attentively Mikhail’s while he talked. He couldn’t ignore her penetrating stare. He succumbed to it.

While I was talking an immense silence fell between her and me. I was aware that my lips were moving and even of the meaning of the words I was saying, but I couldn’t hear any sound. It was like a tunnel had emerged between my eyes and hers, and that tunnel was muffling the reality outside of it.

In ‘Connected’ Mikhail explained how emotions could be expressed on the Internet through the means of words, music, images or video. The Net had created a new sphere in human life, a space where individuals could connect in many different ways by expressing their feelings and talents, sharing their emotions. “Thanks to this new emotional space, and contrary to what we were saying in the early times of this technology,” he said in his book, “physical encounters have become more frequent, more intense and more meaningful than before.” His talk in Moscow was about this emerging emotional space.

“I started ‘Connected’ from my own experience and ended it sharing the experiences of thousands of people. The making of this book is in itself a proof of concept of the amazing transformation we are not only witnessing, but also living. For the first time in history, we are all part of change…” The sound of ‘…nge’ resonated in the room, silence fell and the clapping of the public gave the ending note to the talk.

Mikhail stood up to arrange his Macbook Air, he only had time to close the lid. A few people had already time to get to the speakers’ table. She did too. Waiting in line for her turn, Mikhail could see her touching her dark blonde hair, smiling, her eyes still on him. ‘This emotional space could be short-lived, just something brief based on the consumption of emotions, what would you say?’, a thin young man face staring Mikhail’s, waiting for his “wise words”, ‘Could be, but then, what’s brevity? there is always something that remains of everything. Even if the intensity goes away, a new way of relating to each other has already opened to our eyes, minds and hearts. As for the consumption, yes there might be some of it, but not all, there is a sincere avidity for emotional connection beyond hedonistic consumption.’ The reply seemed to satisfy the young Moscuvite, or perhaps he just wanted an excuse to approach and talk to the author of the book, one or the other he said thank you, good bye and left with a timid smile.

‘Mikhail, I was wondering whether the origins of this book lie on your own need to connect to people. You seem to me a person who likes to feel close to people, and I’m not referring only to physical closeness.’

‘Wow’, this is the only word that came out of my mouth. ‘Who is she?’ I thought. ‘Why do you say that I like to feel close to people?’ I finally said. ‘Well, for once you are standing just two centimeters from me, and it’s not me who moved when I was talking to you. Also, while you were talking you touched several times Sam [note: my editor in Russia] and, finally, your grey (slash) blue eyes say it out loud.’

[audio:http://www.aribo.eu/wp-content/audio/brokenplaces.mp3]
soundtrack #1 of this story

(To be continued…)

Categories
Creative Life Stories

Some Kind of Life (5)

Geert van Hurck, Flickr

Continuation of Some Kind of Life (1), (2), (3) and (4)

You never know how it is going to go in Moscow Domodedovo airport. Sometimes there is a long queue full of Caucasian families in front of the passport control booths waiting to be questioned and requestioned, other times it is just you and a a mixed of a few tourists and Russians. Michael was lucky this time. It was the second.

Michael’s ‘Dobroe utro’ is received with a mumble from the guard in the booth. The mumbling guard takes Michael’s passport. He looks once, twice at his face. He puts his passport on the reader, and waits. Michael considers whether to smile at him or just look straight. The second. His passport is duly return to him. He is now officially in Russia.

No surprise. His usual driver, Igor, was waiting for him with the sign “Michael Forsyth-Demtri”. Wrong. It was actually Forsyth-Demetri, but this is the price of willing to keep his mother’s name in his surname. She made for a big part of what he was. He wanted to reflect that fact somewhere in his public identity. ‘Privet, Igor’, ‘Privet, Mr. Forsyth, how was your flight?’, replied the driver with an obvious Russian accent. ‘Bumpy, but it got here. Never guaranteed.’, ‘Sorry?’, ‘Never mind. Let’s go, I have a busy schedule today.’

Monday, Moscow, morning

Categories
Creative Life Stories

Some Kind of Life (4)

Recently, she had thought many times of quitting. When she started, it was as she had imagined. She fondly believed she was using her female attributes for a greater good. She lived in movement and dangerous liaisons. She worked for her country, doing what she believed to be good at – mischievous seduction and meaningful action. Now she was still doing it, even though she didn’t know whether it was for a greater good anymore. Carla joined the Spanish secret service pushed for a very personal interpretation of idealism, which now seemed to have crashed into the ambiguity of reality. Her teenager doubts about her future were back again in her early thirties. Yet, the inertia of her work kept meaninglessly pushing her.

Sunday, Madrid, morning

After her early morning jog, Carla was glancing at the online newspapers, sipping green tea from her Caravaggio mug in her flat in the wealthy Calle Lagasca in the centre of Madrid, when her work Blackberry rung. After her ‘¿Diga?’, Jorge, her colleague at the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia, talked hastily about the murder of someone very close to Carla. He said that Dario’s body had been found in the centre of Moscow. The preliminary forensics indicated that he had been strangled with a thin rope. Carla was in anger. Last week, she had warned Dario about travelling to Russia again. She knew they were going to find him if he did. Find him and kill him.

Categories
Creative Life Stories

Some Kind of Life (3)

‘Michael? Michael?’ big blue eyes were looking at the sleeping face, lying on the soft cotton pillow, ‘Michael, a phone call for you. It seems important.’ Michael woke up. Half still in dreams, replied ‘Yes, yes. I am taking it.’

Sunday, Brussels, early morning.

Michael raised up slowly, letting his blood recirculate through his veins and get speed pulled by the gravity. Feet seeking the slippers, when found and feet comfortable inside, Michael stood up. He picked up his mobile phone in the living room. He didn’t want it in the bedroom, health and noise reasons. A good sleep is a sleep without technology around, he thought.

‘Hello? Yes it’s me’, silence and phone whispers , ‘no I never worked with him,’ phone whispering continues, ‘sure, sure, I understand, I’ll do that,’ just silence. ‘Silvie?’, Michael called his wife. Silvie appeared through the door connecting the kitchen with the living room, ‘yes?’, replied looking towards a Michael still holding his mobile phone in his right hand. ‘I’m leaving tomorrow to Moscow. Someone that worked in our unit was killed yesterday night.’ Silvie gasped, ‘who is he? do I know him…or her?’. ‘No, you don’t. I don’t, either. We don’t have much information, but they want us to help in the investigation.’ ‘Michael, You don’t seem surprised.’ ‘I know. It’s strange, but I was expecting it. Don’t ask me why, but I knew something like this was going to happen.’

***

Categories
Stories

Some kind of life (1)

Twenty-three steps. This was the number he had to go up to get to his office on the second floor of a three-storey building on Brussels’ expensive Avenue Louise. There, his personal assistant always waited for his arrival in the morning at 8.30 am to brief him on the day’s agenda and remind him of the most important commitments of the week. His PA’s name was Jean-Marc. Efficient. Handsome. Young. Single. French.

Forty-three years. This was his age, not Jean-Marc’s, Michael’s. Black hair. Grey eyes. Handsome. Intelligent. Ambitious. Rational sometimes. Emotional often. Bored easily. Married. Two daughters. British father. Italian mother.

Fifteen as a corporate lawyer. He was good at his job. Clients appreciated his work with expensive fees and gifts. He gave them back one of the best lawyers in European competition law the European education system can get. That is why he could afford having his own firm. Alone, against the Baker & McKenzies or the Freshfields, Bruckhaus, Deringers that populated the trade. Big law firms with dozens of lawyers. He, only him.

Seven days a week. If Michael would have been just a lawyer during all this time, he would have probably killed himself. He had not. Nothing of the sort. He had another life besides being one more puppet of the multinational legal system in which he navigated in his dull life. A life that provided him with the thrill he needed to keep his body and mind on this earth. A second life that was going to change his first life forever.

***

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Stories

Some Kind of Life (2)

Moscow, Saturday, late night.

The drunk man stumbling and running into anything that was slightly vertical. In contrast with its day buzz, Arbat street was at this time empty. The man’s linen, light brown jacket on his shoulder. His beard white with strokes of black. His body fumbling from left to right, from right to left. Until he rose his eyes and saw a figure turning the right corner of the next street. He gasped, turned first his head, then attempted to turn his body, and fell for the speed of the movement onto the ground. The whole of himself on the pavement, he extended his arms and hands trying to get enough surface to push himself back on both legs. Unsuccessfully, he fell again, hitting his cheek. He could hear the steps of the person he knew very well getting closer to him. ‘What can I do?’ he thought, ‘sooner or later I had to bump into him’.

Steps closer. A thin voice breaks the street light silence. ‘Dario, shouldn’t you know better?’. Fast and short breathing from the drunk man. ‘You know you shouldn’t be in Moscow, streets are dangerous at this time of the day, especially for a drunk man.’ This drunk man raises his eyes and sees him. The person he didn’t want to meet again. ‘Why did I come back to Russia?’.

The standing figure kneels down next to the drunk man. Puts one hand in each side of his neck, movement over the drunk man’s head. A thin string between his hands. Pulls towards himself with force. The drunk man feels the threads cutting his skin. He can’t breath anymore. He gasps, moves his arms, hands and legs. Resisting with all that’s left in him after a night of vodka, rum, beer, wine and more. His sight is blurred. He is saying his goodbyes, for he can’t resist anymore. His face hits the pavement. The figure’s face approaches the drunk man’s face. Listening. Feeling. Stands up. Leaves.

***

Categories
Stories

Some Kind of Life (3)

‘Michael? Michael?’ big blue eyes were looking at the sleeping face, lying on the soft cotton pillow, ‘Michael, a phone call for you. It seems important.’ Michael woke up. Half still in dreams, replied ‘Yes, yes. I am taking it.’

Sunday, Brussels, early morning.

Michael raised up slowly, letting his blood recirculate through his veins and get speed pulled by the gravity. Feet seeking the slippers, when found and feet comfortable inside, Michael stood up. He picked up his mobile phone in the living room. He didn’t want it in the bedroom, health and noise reasons. A good sleep is a sleep without technology around, he thought.

‘Hello? Yes it’s me’, silence and phone whispers , ‘no I never worked with him,’ phone whispering continues, ‘sure, sure, I understand, I’ll do that,’ just silence. ‘Silvie?’, Michael called his wife. Silvie appeared through the door connecting the kitchen with the living room, ‘yes?’, replied looking towards a Michael still holding his mobile phone in his right hand. ‘I’m leaving tomorrow to Moscow. Someone that worked in our unit was killed yesterday night.’ Silvie gasped, ‘who is he? do I know him…or her?’. ‘No, you don’t. I don’t, either. We don’t have much information, but they want us to help in the investigation.’ ‘Michael, You don’t seem surprised.’ ‘I know. It’s strange, but I was expecting it. Don’t ask me why, but I knew something like this was going to happen.’

***

Categories
Creative Life Stories

Some Kind of Life (2)

Moscow, Saturday, late night.

The drunk man stumbling and running into anything that was slightly vertical. In contrast with its day buzz, Arbat street was at this time empty. The man’s linen, light brown jacket on his shoulder. His beard white with strokes of black. His body fumbling from left to right, from right to left. Until he rose his eyes and saw a figure turning the right corner of the next street. He gasped, turned first his head, then attempted to turn his body, and fell for the speed of the movement onto the ground. The whole of himself on the pavement, he extended his arms and hands trying to get enough surface to push himself back on both legs. Unsuccessfully, he fell again, hitting his cheek. He could hear the steps of the person he knew very well getting closer to him. ‘What can I do?’ he thought, ‘sooner or later I had to bump into him’.

Steps closer. A thin voice breaks the street light silence. ‘Dario, shouldn’t you know better?’. Fast and short breathing from the drunk man. ‘You know you shouldn’t be in Moscow, streets are dangerous at this time of the day, especially for a drunk man.’ This drunk man raises his eyes and sees him. The person he didn’t want to meet again. ‘Why did I come back to Russia?’.

The standing figure kneels down next to the drunk man. Puts one hand in each side of his neck, movement over the drunk man’s head. A thin string between his hands. Pulls towards himself with force. The drunk man feels the threads cutting his skin. He can’t breath anymore. He gasps, moves his arms, hands and legs. Resisting with all that’s left in him after a night of vodka, rum, beer, wine and more. His sight is blurred. He is saying his goodbyes, for he can’t resist anymore. His face hits the pavement. The figure’s face approaches the drunk man’s face. Listening. Feeling. Stands up. Leaves.

***

Categories
Stories

Some Kind of Life (2)

Moscow, Saturday, late night.

The drunk man stumbling and running into anything that was slightly vertical. In contrast with its day buzz, Arbat street was at this time empty. The man’s linen, light brown jacket on his shoulder. His beard white with strokes of black. His body fumbling from left to right, from right to left. Until he rose his eyes and saw a figure turning the right corner of the next street. He gasped, turned first his head, then attempted to turn his body, and fell for the speed of the movement onto the ground. The whole of himself on the pavement, he extended his arms and hands trying to get enough surface to push himself back on both legs. Unsuccessfully, he fell again, hitting his cheek. He could hear the steps of the person he knew very well getting closer to him. ‘What can I do?’ he thought, ‘sooner or later I had to bump into him’.

Steps closer. A thin voice breaks the street light silence. ‘Dario, shouldn’t you know better?’. Fast and short breathing from the drunk man. ‘You know you shouldn’t be in Moscow, streets are dangerous at this time of the day, especially for a drunk man.’ This drunk man raises his eyes and sees him. The person he didn’t want to meet again. ‘Why did I come back to Russia?’.

The standing figure kneels down next to the drunk man. Puts one hand in each side of his neck, movement over the drunk man’s head. A thin string between his hands. Pulls towards himself with force. The drunk man feels the threads cutting his skin. He can’t breath anymore. He gasps, moves his arms, hands and legs. Resisting with all that’s left in him after a night of vodka, rum, beer, wine and more. His sight is blurred. He is saying his goodbyes, for he can’t resist anymore. His face hits the pavement. The figure’s face approaches the drunk man’s face. Listening. Feeling. Stands up. Leaves.

***