Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1392136-Abstract-Blue
by Raitei
Rated: E · Short Story · Friendship · #1392136
There are vivid, cold and above all, blues of peace and unity. The battle against racism.

Abstract Blue


A little more blue here, perhaps. No, more.

I sigh in frustration. I am never content with my work, no matter how many times I repeat it. My passion for perfection in art is hard to satisfy. My sky is constantly tainted with shades of gray, and my earth is the dye of claret.

The colour of blood . . .

Vexed, I rise from my seat by the window and stroll outside, out from the ramshackle house and into the open sky. It is a lovely daybreak, but my left hand denies what my eyes see. The brush strokes are painful, bitter.

Even if Malaysia has bright, blue skies, I have too long dwelt in the past. My paintings continually portray cloudy skies, polluted with gunpowder, and the ground tainted with human blood. Although I escaped from that terror, its waves always drown me.

I learnt life the harsh, cruel, unforgiving way. The cold, monotonous shades of blue I paint remind me of that always. The memories are still fresh; how we lived in fear of death's scythe everyday. Incessant bombing, wicked landmines lurking everywhere. Deaths piled up faster than garbage. Uncountable innocents died. Those alive suffered endless nightmares.

It was just . . .ghastly.

I touch my cheek unconsciously before adjusting the veil to conceal my face, leaving only my eyes exposed. It was mere luck that I escaped the colossal fire and my hometown altogether, but it left scars that would never heal. Physical, emotional scars.

Slowly, I drag my feet along the ground, barefooted. It hurts, but there are greater sorrows. I am an orphan, lacking friends to rely on; I live in my own desolate world. As I wander streets aimlessly, I feel lost. I had fled with my companions desperately to go anywhere, anywhere isolated from war. I had escaped Palestine for freedom, but I wonder . . . have I really escaped its clutches? My scars tell me otherwise.

Time feels infinite. Somehow, I find myself staring at the sea. Dawn broke about an hour ago; there are few people. I am pleased; I love tranquillity. The sky and the sea are my favourites too. Back in Palestine, the sea is bloodstained and ugly. Here, in Malaysia, it is pure and beautiful.

That blue calms me, seeming to convey a message to me. Everything will be all right, it says. Dare I believe it?

Instinctively, my feet bring me closer. The rhythm of the dark, dazzling blue waves beckons me. It is too divine to resist. I feel my feet submerging into water. Cold water lapping against my scarred legs, progressively rising to my waist. I do not stop.

I am very tired. Oh, so tired . . .

"Hey!! You!"

It startles me. How annoying. Voices rise, feet rushing in the sand. In the distance, I hear murmurs. Thick, blur voices. I cannot recognise many words; I am not proficient in English, even less so in their mother tongues.

An exceptionally shrill shout infuriates me. I finally turn around and see more and more people running towards me. Their hands are outstretched, their jaws dropping. It looks almost comical . . . until I suddenly find myself swaying, losing my balance in water.

Splash! I cry out. I am no swimmer! I gasp and choke in water. I feel myself carried away by the current, pulling me deeper in.

I am tired of struggling. I am going down . . . deeper, and deeper . . . ah, oblivion is bliss.

When my eyelids flutter open, I see the sky staring right at me. Sea of faces ogling at me. I vaguely identify Malay and Chinese faces, one or two Indians even. They are talking among themselves on tenterhooks, pointing at me every so often. Clamouring. Why are they crowding around me?

"Are you okay?" a Chinese young man asks fearfully. I manage to catch the words 'help' and 'hospital' from a Malay girl as well. The rest nod their heads eagerly. I feel a hand on my stomach. They are so busy doing things together . . .

Together? That is a word I am not familiar with, for a long, long time . . . They are communicating without strife. They are working as one . . .

"How . . . " I mutter hoarsely. But my clammy hand falls limp.


"She's awake!"

A young man and two girls peer at the bedridden raven-haired young woman. Her eyelashes flicker as her hazel eyes stare blankly at them.

"You're okay now," says a Malay girl. "Thank goodness Chen and his pals rescued you in time!"

The twenty-year-old Palestinian does not seem to listen. She suddenly sits up with a grimace, surprising the other three. Her hands fly to her face, and her eyes widen with dread as her coarse fingers feel the malicious, crimson scars. Her eyes are cast down at once.

"Don't worry, it's okay," comforted the Chinese young man named Chen, "the doctors are treating your scars. They'll heal."

The other girl, a dark Indian beauty, smiles reassuringly. "Yes, you'll be fine. No need to be embarrassed." She lightly pats the Palestinian's shoulder, and slowly the latter lifts her eyes. They are as terrified as those of a cornered rat, brimming with tears.

"Do you speak English?" the tall girl asks inquisitively. She points to herself, saying, "Sharifah."

Perhaps their friendliness eases the Palestinian young woman, for she somewhat relaxes and even offers a minuscule, shy smile. She imitates Sharifah. "Alena. Know English little." She speaks broken English with an odd accent.

"That's a pretty name!" exclaims the Indian girl. "I am Priya. Pleased to meet you, Alena. How are you feeling?"

Alena ponders for a moment, then shrugs. "Alena very tired. Hurt many. Where . . ." she trails off, struggling to phrase her question. Her eyes dart to the three people standing by her bedside, appraising them.

"You're in a hospital," Chen answers. He reminds himself of Alena's difficulty in understanding English. "People saw you," he gestures to her. "You in water. We save you, bring to hospital. You, good care. Understand?"

Chuckling softly, she nods her head. For a moment her eyes stray down again, hiding an acute heartache. Out of the blue, she points to all of them.

"Work . . . together? Save Alena?" she asks curiously.

"Yes," Sharifah replies, raising an eyebrow. "Why not? Must work together to save Alena!"

She learned that word a long, long time ago, but she hates to say it. It is a bad, horrible word.

"No . . . racism?" Alena persists, her voice trembling.

Sensing that their new friend endured many ordeals, Sharifah smiles suddenly. She walks determinedly over to the open window and indicates to a flag resting atop a flagpole afar, swaying in the breeze of a warm morning. Mystified, Alena cocks her head to one side.

"Malaysia's national flag. Name 'Jalur Gemilang' . Many colours," says Sharifah.

Alena nods. She cannot see the details, but she unmistakably discerns the colour of red, white, yellow and blue.

"Blue. In Malaysia, unity. Blue, unity. Me, Priya, Chen," says Sharifah, pointing to Alena as well, "and Alena, together. Live happy," she explains with a charming smile.

Alena's eyes widen. "Together? No war?"

"No war," Chen and Priya chorus.

Their confirmation stupefies Alena to a certain extent. She hangs her head down, fighting the urge to cry in front of these people.

The room is silent save for her stifled sobs. Finally she stirs herself with effort. "Alena very tired. Please, go," she says waveringly.

Priya assents understandingly. "You must be exhausted. Sleep well. Me, Chen, Sharifah go. Visit Alena again, friends. Yes?" She offers a grin.

Alena's head snaps up at once. "Will visit Alena again? Friends?" It has been long overdue since she felt an ounce of happiness. Her face lights up.

"Yes . . . yes!"

As her new friends leave her, her gaze never leaves the patch of blue on the flag in the distance. She whispers under her breath 'unity', and a smile makes its way to her scarred face.

Alena feels she somehow understands. Life is full of valleys and mountains. Sometimes it is cold and sad, sometimes happy and vibrant, sometimes calm and peaceful. Her blue was always cold because of her past, devoid of life.

But now, as she looks at the 'Jalur Gemilang' , she has that tiny ray of hope that her blue will finally be the hue she has always wished for, like the bright skies she sees and appreciates everyday in Malaysia. She realises it was unity of the people that saved her.

Unity, the blue of dreams, brings forth hope . . . and life . . .


Alena will now tell you that her painting, entitled 'Blue', is her masterpiece. She is proud of her work, and it is treasured among Malaysians as a magnum opus symbolising unity and faith in multi-racial communities.

'Blue' illustrates cloudy, gray skies filling a portion of the painting, but gradually fades into a clear light blue near the horizon. Alena will tell you that it denotes life.

But most importantly, there are four figures standing united on the beach, looking out to that blue horizon filled with hope and happiness, hand-in-hand.

© Copyright 2008 Raitei (raitei92 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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