The Blue Bull And The Lion
Survivor story by Manya
I'm not sure how old exactly I was when this story started. We had a dark and narrow hallway, back home where I grew up, and my father, an art critic, hung these two prints there, to lighten things up a bit. At first I found them strange. But hallway was where I was sent on timeouts, and soon I grew to appreciate the solitude, lack of distractions/supervision, and freedom to just sit quietly and think my sad thoughts in peace. While occasionally glancing at the prints.
The Bull seemed friendlier. More approachable. His small feet suggested vulnerability. He also had stars all over his body, and a silly crown on top of his head, not to mention the flower at the tip of his tail – seemed like he didn't mind simple fun, and wasn't afraid to risk looking stupid in order to cheer me up. And black beard and teeth and mustache and horns – well, that's what bulls have, it's their nature, what's there to fear? I liked to pretend he was my mother.
And the Lion was certainly a father then. First of all, he was laying in bed. That's a 'father' attribute right there – my dad also laid in bed when he wasn't feeling well the morning after, and I knew not to bother him when he felt this way. And then there was certain aggression in Lion's small narrow eyes – also a fatherly characteristic I was all too familiar with. I was pretty sure they communicate with each other though, in ways I don't understand yet, mother and father, the Bull and the Lion, so if I can get the Bull on my side – he'll get the Lion to forgive me, or at least back off and not hurt me too badly. So, while being scared of the Lion mostly – I communicated more with the Bull.
There are many things a child wonders about. Sometimes one needs just to sit quietly with someone who understands what it's like – to be seven. The Blue Bull seemed to understand, so I liked to sit on that bench in the dark hallway, look at the Bull and the Lion, and try to make sense of what was happening in the world around me.
One thing that was really confusing was - what's wrong with me. Why do other kids have such drastically different lives than I do. Their homes are open, and other people (both adults and children) frequently step by - for a visit, or to borrow something, or to ask something, or to invite them somewhere. And nobody comes to our house. Other kids often receive gifts, at random, and give them, at random as well - and I only receive gifts on holidays and birthdays, and those are educational or practical, like a dictionary or new schoolbag, while other kids get hairpins or a records of their favorite music or a book of stickers. I never got stickers. Other kids homes are full of music and laughter and noise children make when they are running around - and ours is silent like a grave. Sitting in that hallway, on timeout yet again, told to think on my behavior - I pondered these things a lot.
Another thing I wanted to understand better was sex, but that topic surely wasn't safe while the Lion was watching. With his narrow aggressive eyes focused on me, and his claws clenching the bed, ready to jump any moment. If he ever looked away though, I might have gotten the courage to ask the Bull a couple of questions. It wasn't the technicalities that confused me. Those I knew. And what small gaps I had - I was sure I would figure them out when the time would come. Sex didn't seem like a rocket science to me, more like an unpleasant routine. What confused me was the attitude I was supposed to have about it. Not now, but in general, when I grow up and get married. I don't know if I would ever tell anyone, even the Blue Bull, but there was a certain pleasure in the fact that sex was so humiliating and degrading. I understood it. And I understood that it was a secret nobody cared to talk about. What I didn't understand was - why did people joke about it then. Why did they hint at this secret pleasure nobody wanted to discuss. I certainly wouldn’t want to discuss or even admit it. But why the jokes then? The limericks? But yes, this was something I couldn't discuss even with the Blue Bull, especially in Lions presence.
And then I also wondered about religion. If Jesus Christ died for our sins – why am I still being punished? Is it because my parents don't believe in Jesus Christ? Are they more powerful then him then, if things happen they way they say, not the way he said? Are they really the absolute authority then? Is it always going to be this way, even after I die? Speaking of death – I know Jesus Christ doesn't like suicide, but if he isn't really the boss, maybe I should find out how parents feel about it? I bet they wouldn't like it if I killed myself, I bet I would be in a lot of trouble, if they found out – but if I'm already dead and they are still alive – they can't really do anything to me, can they? Yet - what if I'm mistaken, what if parents aren't the absolute authority, what if they just high jacked the power, and God will eventually take it back? Maybe I should wait till that happens? God said he was the boss, and suicide was a sin…The Blue Bull was looking into my eyes, subtly waving his floral tail, telling me it's going to be OK, things will work out eventually…
I am 35 years old now. Mom is 67, we exchange emails sometimes. Dad passed away last year. The prints are on my wall, by the bedside table. I'm an adult now, and no longer seek emotional comfort from my imaginary parents, my elderly prints, the Blue Bull and the Lion. They didn't provide me with answers to any of my questions of course. But they comforted me. Some of those thoughts were just too much to keep in one head, and I am grateful I had the Bull and the Lion to share those thoughts with. So I dust their frame, and occasionally wink at them, telling them everything is going to be ok, just like I imagined they used to tell me when I was a child. This time I know it will be, because I am in charge.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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