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Tell Your Story

The Woman on the Moon

Photo Credits: TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS

Are you familiar with the woman who lives on the moon? I am pretty sure many of you may have never even heard of her up until now. I was introduced to her when I was seven. What I found particularly enamoring about this forlorn character is the ambiguity and mystery that she imbues through her existence. See, each character we have come across, from fairy tales to folklores, carries with them a specific weight of virtue or evil, whether it be the plump yet angelic Santa Claus, the petite yet dazzling Tooth fairy, or the vile ghouls and monsters, in the shapes of witches, demons and phantoms. Every creature exists in our realm with a unique set of traits. Even a creature like a dragon, though may not be pigeonholed as good or bad, is attributed to ferociousness and destruction. The lady on the moon, however, is associated with none of such characteristics.

“So, is she a witch?” I recall asking my grandmother, who introduced her to me.

“No, dear, she isn’t a witch.”

“How about an alien? Like E.T.? She lives in space, no?” I followed up with another on-point question, having watched the movie E.T. at the time.

“No, she is neither that. She is a lonely, old woman who lives on the moon, all by herself, looking down at Earth each night, silently observing what we all are up to, and occasionally coming down on Earth to spy on some special people closely, who pique her interest.”

“It doesn’t make any sense. How can she be a person living in space like that? How does she breathe? There is no air. What does she eat? How did she end up on the moon? Has anyone seen her? How do you know that she is human? I just don’t get it!” I pelted as many questions as I could in a single breath, but before my grandma could patiently answer each of my questions, my mother barged in with her typical, ‘time for bed’ charade. And that was that.

I forgot about this intriguing woman the next day. My cousins were coming over to stay with us over the summer break, and I could not think of anything other than that. It’s a pity though that I forgot about the woman on the moon because the next time I came across her was three years later, a few weeks after my grandmother had passed away. During this, I got to witness the lady myself.

This happened during our flight to Bangkok. I was sitting by the window, fortunate enough to have won that seat over from my elder brother, who sat begrudgingly beside me. It was way past midnight as we flew over the Indian Ocean, and while everyone slept peacefully inside the flying metal tube, I anxiously stayed awake, dozing off every now and then, but not being able to properly slumber along with the flight. In between my back and forth dwindling, I remember looking far into the dark abyss outside the plane window, unable to see anything but the periodic flickering of the plane lights. This time, however, I could not help but notice a silhouette by the edge of the plane wing, standing stubbornly erect in the abyss. As my eyes adjusted to the pitch darkness, momentarily lit by the flickering, the silhouette manifested itself into a rather uncanny figure of an old woman, possibly in her eighties, standing by the edge of the wing of the plane, staring blankly at me. Her unblinking stare sent a chill down my spine, and I leaped with a loud yelp.

The next thing I saw was a horde of people huddled around me, seemingly concerned. I saw my parents leaning over me, worried, asking if I was okay; the beautiful air hostess who stood beside them, trying to hide the irritation that seemed quite evident on her face; my brother who, though sat beside me, dug deep in his seat to hide away from the unwanted embarrassment, and other passengers sitting across the aisle, snickering after witnessing the commotion. My parents explained how it was all just a dream, when a hysterical me told them about my close encounter with the woman on the moon, hushing me as they did. But my brother believed me (or so I thought) and bravely offered to exchange seats with me. I now realized how that dream provided him an excellent opportunity to claim his rightful spot on the plane.

Now, as I find myself thinking about that dream, and about the woman who lives on the moon, I cannot help but wonder why I had that dream then, despite almost completely forgetting about the existence of that old, lonely lady. They say dreams are manifestations of our thoughts, memories, and desires. So, what were my thoughts back then that led to that sudden encounter? I do recall how dearly I had been missing my grandmother after her passing, and how I had been longing for her. I now think it was all of her memories, manifesting in their own erroneous ways. In fact, it all adds up. Why did I end up seeing such an old woman at the edge of the plane? My grandma never specified how old the woman was, yet I saw her as an aged woman, almost the same age as my grandmother. Maybe, it was my grandmother who I was imagining.

The sad reality, however, is that I have flown over the Indian Ocean numerous times after that, yet I failed to encounter the old woman again. It’s almost fifteen years since I saw the woman on the moon. As I once again fly over the Indian Ocean tonight, I cannot help but glance at the window repeatedly, hoping to have that second encounter. I wish to meet her again, for I fear my inability to see her again would mean that I do not miss my grandmother as dearly as I once did. I wonder whether I still miss my grandma to the same extent. They say time heals wounds and fifteen years do seem quite a lot of time, but is this the healing of wounds or fading of memories? I wonder. But wait… all those glancing back and forth, all these memories gushing back in, they do mean something, right? As I recall the detailed description of the woman on the moon, I feel more and more reassured. I can still recall all my memories with my grandma vividly. I remember each of her tales and stories with complete clarity. Does that mean she is still strongly etched in my memories? I wonder.

There are still six more hours left before the flight lands. Maybe I will get to see the old, lonely woman again within these next six hours. I wonder and I hope.

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Saad Ali Faizi

Saad Ali Faizi

Engineer by day, writer by night, thinker at all times