The Curious Case of Clemsey
“You are most afraid of the things you don’t know,” Uncle Gionne said, while putting random curiosities into my small hands. A dried pampas grass, a rough conch shell, a heavy leather bound book and something squishy and very slimy. What the heck is this object, I thought while feeling sick inside.
Uncle Gionne, his “guessing quiz” and randomness took a great amount of energy in me to get used to. He sets an hour of everyday, reading me books mostly about geography, botany and some scientific studies he himself is exploring. The capacity of my brain cells are always being put into test afterwards. He taught me to how write and to identify things, completely ignoring the fact that my eyes weren’t capable. There was a time when he even brought me a clay, stating that— “this is an imagination stimulating activity,“ and would ask me to create a clay sculpture of whatever object he would put in front of me. If I have to be completely honest, I find myself eagerly looking forward to his daily challenges.
I can always sniff his scent—fresh, almost reminiscent of a morning dew, looming in the air around me. One time, when I tripped over a kerb, he immediately caught me before I land face down. He protected me from a fall, like he did for so many times now, from when my soul first arrived. He’s a figure which I couldn’t match from anything that belongs to my original life. Like a missing puzzle piece I am yet to find.
It has been months now since this door to a new life opened up for me. I tried my hardest not to count the days specifically. Creating some sort of an anniversary doesn’t really sit right with me. It’s as perturbing as an unanswered question.
“Okay Clemsey, tell me your answer when you figure it out,” he said while taking the squishy, slimy thing out of my grasp. “For now, the Hajione is waiting for us at the Port. We shall leave forthwith.”
Back in Port Ami, I can’t seem to recall the last time I visited the harbour. I have always loved the fact that I live in a place where the sea can be felt in every corner of the town. But, over time, I deviated away from it. Being near the sea, induces a sense of drowning and helplessness in me. Staring at the vast expanse of the seascape, was one of the fears I happened to develop. My previous life, as I’ve now realized, had turned into a constant series of running away from one thing after another.
“Welcome back to the sea Clemsey!” Mom hugged me from behind, her spirit overflowing with enthusiastic energy. We have arrived at the Port town. The glare from the rising sun, strongly swirling and pulsating in my vision, as if demanding for attention.
Enthusiasm- a desire to be involved. I just needed to be reminded of that word, so as to lift the fog that blurs my eyes.
There is a cart of freshly picked flowers to my right. I am so used to the scent of flowers by now. There is a squealing toddler, somewhere at my back. Perhaps, asking his mother for sweets? There is a ringing bell not so far from where I stand, it reminds me of an ice cream vendor. Oh well, I haven’t tasted one since landing here… Someone with a cup of hot coffee passed by. It made me crave for one. Fruits stands, souvenir shops and bakeries, added layers of textures and scent and colors. The air is filled with pleasant greetings, brimming with endless possibilities.
In the midst of it all, I stand, impossibly unafraid. From distorted shadows, my mind sculpted familiar figures and strange emotions. Something inside of me felt a deep longing to truly belong here.
“Welcome back to my life!” I shouted to the vast horizon in front of me, that which I knew so well, not minding if I sounded like a soul who just got found. For a moment there, I was startled. The sea, in a blink of an eye, suddenly appeared as clear as the day.
Uncle Gionne laughed out loud at my unexpected outburst. Still chuckling, He held my hand and led me aboard the grand merchant ship that is the Hajione.
The vessel is loaded with crates of medicinal herbs, jars after jars of tonics, spices and herbal teas. I can hear the clutter of laboratory equipment being carried to the dock. At one corner, there is an exchange of conversation between associates. Beside me, sighing deeply while repeatedly flipping a paper from a clip board, is Uncle Gionne.
“Now, now what’s with you? Just awhile ago you look so happy, now you look like a lost child,” Uncle Gionne said with an obvious grin in his expression. I couldn’t say a thing, for he isn’t wrong there. Aboard the ship, with all its splendour and scale intimidating my mind, I felt like a book returned at the wrong shelf or a wrong piece in a jigsaw puzzle or a coffee with way too much sugar—which is also, wrong. Out of place—yeah, that is what it is.
That said, there is something about this reality that has been bothering me, ever since. As per my observation and assumption, this world isn’t in the same veins as that of the world where I used to belong to, in terms of technological advancement. I do wonder how the current state of things do not really pose any sense of hindrance in people’s way of life. It may be, that entirely different solutions were developed to address arising situations and inevitable changes, solely based on this world’s own character. It can’t be helped, I guess, that I imbued it with a sense of magic and fantasy, despite of how cliche that thinking is. I am somehow, an unreliable narrator in terms of articulating certain place’s geographical aspect, much more so, its economic and social status. Sometimes, if one is curious, one just have to ask even if the question is out of the blue.
“Uncle Gionne,” I spoke, adding thickness to my childish voice. “Since you’ve already been laughing pretty hard, I have a rather funny question to ask…”
“Clemsey, since you recovered, I can’t shake the feeling that you’ve matured waaay beyond your age. Are your parent’s medicine really that effective? Anyway child, ask away,” he replied.
“Say, Uncle Gionne, uhm.. do you uhm have… magic and p-power.. uhm special ability, you know… do you have something of that sort?” I asked. His shadowy figure suddenly appeared frozen. I felt a bit ridiculous.
“Clemsey, the last time I checked, I am completely and most certainly a normal human being. Everyone aboard the ship are, unless I’m completely oblivious,” he replied. Gently, he tapped my head with the clip board, then laughed his heart out.
“Anyway,” he cleared his throat and continued, “since you mean to ask it seriously, I will answer you seriously.” I heard the creak of the floorboards when he shifted.
“Me and your mother were very young when our father left. Hana is the only remaining family I have. Jiro is my closest friend from childhood. Them together, created you. And for the three of you—“ he paused for a moment. I heard someone called his name. “—For the three of you, I would give absolutely everything. Find people like that in your life. You’ll discover that within you, is a strength you never thought you have…, at the very least, that’s my own version of magic.”
He left to do a final inspection around the ship. I was left startled on my spot. I didn’t move, not until I heard someone shouted, “SET SAIL!”, along with the flock of birds taking flight. The Hajione, started to move towards its charted course.
“Dear!” Dad walked to where I stand and gently nudge my shoulders with his. “Clemsey, you all right dear?” I was staring at the horizon, shaping and rendering the seascape in my mind, creating molds out of my old life so as to translate everything into a much finer detail.
“Yeah Dad, just doing an imagination stimulating activity as per Uncle Gionne,” I said. My father let out a soft laugh.
“Look ahead Clemsey. I believe I told you before, this sight is like your eyes, golden and deep blue, like the land meeting the sea. But, from this distance, Gionne would always say that everything looks like a bleeding ink in a paper.”
“Isn’t it though?” Uncle Gionne interjected from behind, “I really hate looking at tainted sights like that.”
I fixed my gaze ahead. Behind the floating light orbs and shifting shadows, is a figure of a land that is getting smaller and smaller as we move further and further away. Alcione, a bleeding ink, a tainted sight, I thought. Ohh… suddenly, I realized something—Could it be that Gionne Adleigh doesn’t like being left behind? I can’t study his countenance, but I can look hard into his words which seem to bear a heavy weight on them. He, just like me, might be struggling to belong—to hold on to his position as a brother to Hana and a best friend to Jiro. I guess, when the two of them got married, he was left alone to carry the family name he seem to loathe in the first place. Anyhow, this is just me, plastering a reason behind my curiosity. Besides, Gionne is a person, I wanted to also welcome into my life, not a ghostly apparition I wanted to run away from.
“Hey, Clemsey, your challenge of the day is to navigate your way down to the Hajione’s Library at the lower deck. Got it?” Uncle Gionne stated.
“Challenge accepted. I shall navigate forthwith,” I happily replied.