“I ought to be,” she said to her naked self. She yearned to stand up but her legs refused to obey her commands. As she was trying to stand up, she felt a huge burden weighing her back down. “You ought to be,” her legs said. While every part of her body rebelled against her, she collapsed and let go of her will. “You! Naked self!” yelled the tree of a thousand eyes at her. “Your time has arrived. You shall stand in front of all mortals. You will answer all of their questions. The thousand eyes stared at her; not one eye blinked and all of them carried the same judgmental look. Her gaze flew away out of fear and she laid her sight at her fragile feet.
She gradually stood up like a lazy water fountain dancing for the first time. The earth was shaking under her as if monsters were racing.
She immediately realized that the earth was mad at her.
“Hush!” the tree of a thousand eyes ordered the earth to stop shaking. “They are waiting for the naked self. For the last time in her existence, allow her to ride you.” The earth obeyed and so she walked.
It was nighttime. Her only source of light was the light coming out from the tree of a thousand eyes. She knew that the moon had refused to appear; she had heard him say, “She ought to be.” She sneaked a look around her to find emptiness. All mortals had travelled to the court arena to witness and participate in the First Trial. It was the greatest day of their existence. Whenever anyone had passed by the court arena, they were told that someday, a naked self would be trialed here. With every step she took, a part of her clothing fell down. She was about to be totally nude, so she started running to preserve what was left of her modesty.
The tree of a thousand eyes looked at her in disgust and ordered her to enter the arena. She covered her body with her hands and stepped inside. She heard a lot of screams and shouting. All the voices were calling her “The naked self.” All of a sudden, every mortal started to throw apples at her. “Taste it, taste it, taste it!” they all shouted simultaneously.
The tree of a thousand eyes looked at everyone in the eye and ordered them to be quiet. “The trial shall begin,” it said. She was the convict and all mortals were the judge.
Up until she had arrived at the arena, she had wished for nothing but to die. Shame was her new name. She couldn’t forgive herself for eating the forbidden apple. She detested her soul and believed that life wasn’t worth living. She had ought to have been what she was expected to be. All mortals, animals, plants, and even demons expected her to be the moral self. They had served her and worshipped her as long as she had preserved her sanity. But now, every being hated her and disrespected her. She was no longer her moral self.
For some reason that she herself didn’t know, her shame vanished away. She found herself looking up and facing them guiltlessly. For the first time since she had eaten the forbidden apple, she spoke.
“So I ate the apple! Yes I ate the apple! Who of you haven’t? Tell me, Judge! Haven’t you eaten it before? Haven’t your lips kissed its soft surface? Haven’t your teeth crafted through its many layers? Haven’t your juices swum with its juice? Yes I ate the apple. I never asked you to name me the moral self. You hung on me your disability to be a moral self and expected me to fulfill your lazy dream. And now, because I ate an apple you call me naked? I refuse your judgment.”
As her eyes challenged theirs, she realized that they were all naked. She remembered that they had always been naked. Animals, plants, and demons don’t cover their bodies. As a matter of fact they don’t do anything at all. They don’t feel sad or mad or happy. They don’t love or hate. They don’t sing or scream. They don’t learn or teach. This thought scared her. “If this is the price of sanity, then I give it up,” she murmured to herself, then repeated her words loudly and firmly.
“I ought to be what I already am and what I want to be.”
All artwork is courtesy of Reda Khalil.