Nam June traced two figures along the flower lined wallpaper with his finger. They pulled him in till he could see them moving and something unfolding in the mind of a young girl called Garima.
“Through a clearing in the forest I met with the jet black eyes of an Indian boy. He placed a white piece of paper into my hand and wordlessly disappeared back among the trees. I unfurled the piece of paper which read ‘Listen to your voice’. I stood in silence hearing the forest breathing. I stared at the paper a long time. No one had told me I had a voice before at least not one I could use.”
The picture began to fade and Nam June started to trace another figure from the flowers on the wall. It was a tiger and it appeared suddenly in Garima’s path. Nam June held his breath as the tiger stalked the girl. She held out the white piece of paper in defence. To Nam June’s surprise the tiger lost interest in his dinner and no longer made an approach. The picture began to fade and by now it had begun to captivate Nam June as he busily traced his finger further along the wall.
“I could think of nothing else in this world but to display the white piece of paper to the snarling cat. It could have killed me. My paper was no match for its teeth. The Indian boy appeared again. He told me I had passed the test of courage by using my voice and that he was the tiger. I looked at him for a long time and wondered who this young boy was. We walked further through the forest. A cry struck the heavens above us.”
Nam June could hear his sister Eunsuk calling him downstairs and left his dream on the wall. “Let’s go” she said. They both grabbed their bags in the hallway and skipped along the brick path and into the city to catch the bus. He looked up at the sky and wondered how long it would take to get to China. He sat on the bus and began to run his fingers along the patterns of the seats. Eunsuk watched him and tried to understand his gross involvement with an inanimate object. She couldn’t decide if he was in a perpetual state of listless boredom or involved concentration. The lights on the bus jerked themselves into being as the dusk closed in with the arrival of black night sprinkled with neon lights outside. Garima’s voice caught Nam June’s attention.
“We pushed our way through the leaves and bursts of coloured lights flooded our vision. There were merry go rounds, big wheels and candy floss glittering in a wide open space of the forest. The cries we followed had dissipated into the darkness and the desertion of the forest loomed all around us. I turned to look for the young boy but I could not see him anywhere. I felt an eerie sense of dizziness invade my sense of location.”
Nam June leaned in and smiled as his eyes flashed with new pictures rolling in like waves upon the sea. He looked across at Eunsuk. She was fast asleep.
Lena O’ Connell
Lena O’ Connell graduated from the Limerick School of Art and Design in 2009. She is a qualified art teacher.