With a heavy heart, Isabella hurried home through the cold, windswept streets of New York from the Italian restaurant, where she worked as a kitchen hand. This was not the life she had envisioned for herself less than a year ago, back on her family’s wheat farm in Arkansas. As she shivered and pulled up her coat collar a little higher, she wondered how she could have been so naive to have believed she could have made it as a professional ballet dancer on Broadway. Lost in thought, Isabella almost failed to notice the old man huddled in a cardboard washing machine box in front of the rolling shutter of a second hand furniture shop.
Passers-by ignored his outstretched hand begging for money and some food. Isabella would have done the same if he had not addressed her in a surprisingly clear and powerful voice:
“Pray, sweet child, can you spare a few coins or a morsel of food?”
Surprised as she was, Isabella was not shaken from being spoken to on the street late at night. In fact, she felt perfectly safe. As her heart began to glow, she placed her right hand on her heart and looked deep into the man’s dark eyes. It was then that she noticed how they sparkled like stars in a desert sky. Before her mind’s eye, appeared images of Arabia in times long gone by.
“Yes, I can, sir,” she replied, reaching into her bag for the leftover lasagne that her employer had given to her.
A warm and grateful smile appeared on the man’s face as he held out both hands to receive the meal that was still warm. He had not had a decent meal in weeks.
George Benson – Down Here On The Ground
“My gratitude extends beyond the heavens,” he spoke, repeatedly bowing his head to Isabella. “Please tell me, what is the name of this merciful angel who acts with such pureness of heart?”
Isabella smiled. The compliment made her blush.
“My name is Isabella. May I know what your name is?”
“I go by the name of Khalil.”
“Well, you’re very welcome, Khalil,” Isabella said. “is there anything else I can do for you?”
“There is one thing,” Khalil replied. “Please allow me one request.”
“Name it and I will do my best to grant it.”
Khalil then got to his feet in a startingly nimble way and held out his hands to Isabella with such a compassionate look in his eyes, that Isabella readily placed her hands in his.
“Well then, tell me Isabella, what is the cause of your troubled mind?”
Isabella sighed and thought for a moment whether she should tell this stranger about what was troubling her. Then she looked into his eyes again. It felt as if the whole universe was holding its breath in expectation of what she was about to say. So, she told Khalil in great detail about how her dream of becoming a successful ballet dancer had led her to New York. She also told him that she was a member of an amateur ballet society and that she jumped at every opportunity to audition for ballet companies, but that up until now, no one had been so enthusiastic as to hire her. It was this that made her feel so downhearted.
All the while, Khalil listened attentively. When Isabella had finished speaking, he gently smiled at her and simply said:
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”
Although Isabella could not yet grasp the connection between her story and Khalil’s poetic reply, she felt deep down that in front of her stood someone who sympathized deeply with her. She felt comforted.
“Thank you very much, Khalil,” she said dewy-eyed. “I barely know you, but already I feel as if I have found a friend.”
“Friendship comes in many forms, my dear,” Khalil replied, “and regardless of the form, if it is true friendship, it will endure the test of time.”
“Then I shall find you again one day, my friend.”
“Yes, you shall. Maybe sooner than you expect.”
Khalil then bowed by way of reverence and gently touched both of her hands with his lips.
“Goodbye, sweet Isabella. May your dreams be blessed by their manifestation.”
“Goodbye, Khalil,” Isabella replied.
She then turned around and continued on her way home. Just before she turned the corner, she looked over her shoulder for one last glance at her newly found friend, but to her surprise, he had vanished.
That night, she fell into a deep sleep and had the most wonderful dream. She dreamed that she was a little girl again, walking barefoot through a wheat field and picking cornflowers. She giggled while the wind tugged gently at her hair. It was such a thrill to be alive and free. Then a man’s voice sounded in the distance. His words, spoken in a foreign tongue, seemed to be carried to her by the wind:
“Abracadabra... You shall create as you speak...”
Isabella was woken early the next morning by her cat Nuri, who she had admiringly named after the ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev. Nuri was softly pawing her nose, as if to say that she had to get up and give him his breakfast.
“Good morning, Nuri,” Isabella yawned as she put her arm around him and kissed him affectionately all over his head.
She then looked up to see the gentle rays of spring sunlight shining through the opening between the curtains. Last night had brought some early spring snowfall, but those welcome sunrays, together with last night’s dream and her encounter with Khalil put a joyous smile on her face. Then she remembered what day it was.
“Oh, Nuri,” she cried as she sat upright, “today’s the day!”
Nuri did not understand what she meant, but was glad that she was finally getting out of bed. Today was Saturday, and this evening, she would take part in the premiere of a ballet performance that her ballet society was staging, inspired by the Earth Wind & Fire song ‘Fantasy’.
Earth, Wind & Fire – Fantasy
Isabella and her fellow ballet dancers had been rehearsing for nearly four months and they all looked forward to this day in great anticipation. So, she wasted no time in getting to the theatre on time for the final rehearsal that would take place at one o’clock that afternoon. As she cycled through the small park on her way to the theatre, she sang the lyrics to the song:
“Every thought is a dream, rushing by in a stream, bringing life to the kingdom of doing...”
In doing so, she forgot everything for a while and did not pay attention to her surroundings, until a flash of bright red caught her eye. It made her slam on the brakes and come to a sudden halt. There she stood face to face with a robin that sat on a flowering cherry tree twig no more than two metres away. Straight away, she sensed it was trying to tell her something. There and then, in the middle of the footpath, she closed her eyes and tuned into the robin.
“Let go of the past and move forward unhesitatingly and with great confidence,” a voice that sounded very much like her own said. “Remember the power of your voice. Express out loud that which you desire, and it shall appear before you.”
When the voice stopped speaking, Isabella opened her eyes and smiled.
“Thank you, robin.”
From its chirping sound, Isabella took it that the robin understood her. She got on her bike again and continued on her way to the theatre, only this time she spoke out loud, over and over again:
“I am a successful ballet dancer, dancing to the delight of people all over the world.”
Vroege Vogels – Zingende roodborst (robin singing)
In the preparations for the performance, Isabella was filled with a deep sense of calm. Whereas everyone around her was feeling excited and nervous, she felt perfectly confident.
“Bella, my tummy feels funny,” a little voice sounded behind her.
She turned around in her chair away from the mirror, in front of which she was putting on her makeup, to see six year old Olivia, who had a look on her face as if she was about to throw up. Isabella regularly spent extra time on Saturdays to help the little girl to practice her steps.
“Come on, sweetie,” she beckoned with both hands. “I’ve got a great remedy for that.”
Oliva’s face lit up and she jumped onto Isabella’s lap.
“I’m so proud of you, Olivia,” Isabella said, holding her tightly.
That evening, Isabella danced like never before. She moved gracefully and with great ease. Above all, she felt a warm and joyous feeling deep inside. The audience loved her, and when the performance was over, they could not stop clapping for the ballet dancers that stood hand-in-hand on the stage, all of them smiling radiantly. Then everyone returned backstage and congratulated each other.
“Bella, my mommy wants to speak to you,” Olivia said, tugging excitedly at Isabella’s arm.
Isabella turned around to see a woman standing there with a friendly smile on her face.
“My name’s Julia Harrison,” the woman said, holding out her hand.
Isabella shook Julia’s hand and smiled.
“Olivia can’t stop talking about you. You seem to have made quite an impression on her. And I must say, I’m equally impressed. In fact, I would like to invite you to an audition for our ballet company.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Isabella said as she brought her hands to her face.
“Say yes!” Olivia shouted, literally jumping for joy.
Finally, Isabella’s dream had come true and she danced all over the world for that same ballet company. One Sunday morning, while she was sitting in the park, she felt a sudden breeze blow through her hair. It felt familiar and conjured up fond memories of a cold night in April many years ago. It made her heart glow with gratitude to the old and wise man who had helped her to turn her life around. Remembering the warm tones of his voice, it almost felt as if he were standing in front of her again. Suddenly, a flash of colours distracted her. She looked to her left. There stood a handsome man dressed in colourful Arabian robes smiling at her.
“Khalil,” she gasped and tears of love poured from her eyes.
“Abracadabra,” Khalil whispered and then, just like all those years ago, he vanished into thin air.
First when there’s nothing
But a slow glowing dream
That your fear seems to hide
Deep inside your mind
From: ‘What A Feeling’ by Irene Cara
Irene Cara – What A Feeling (Flashdance theme)
Abracadabra: From the Aramaic phrase ‘Avra kehdabra’, meaning ‘I will create as I speak’.
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair – Khalil Gibran
‘Dancer’ by Adina Voicu on Pixabay
‘Homeless’ by Leroy Skalstad on Pixabay
‘Wildflowers’ by LUM3N on Pixabay
‘Cat’ by Adina Voicu on Pixabay
‘Spring Bird’ by Jill Wellington on Pixabay
‘Pretty Woman’ by Jill Wellington on Pixabay
Robin: Growth, love, compassion, faith, the power of the voice
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Sat, 23 November