Max Gillepspie

The Circus of Souls
(an extract)



Sometimes…in order to keep people alive, and to assert an un-provable faith, that life has value, even when it has been striped to the brute fact of bare existence, one has to do things beyond who we hold ourselves to be, committing acts which transgress the beliefs one holds as dear as one’s sense of self: Yusuf came from a machismo culture, whose central god was a stern father.

A life hating god, who bloated his progeny with feeble lies before sacrificing them, as war-fodder, against other ‘war tribes’; in Yusuf’s time, Iran, and then, the USA and the United Kingdom. And against the black rock of the war tribes lies and euphemisms, lived, a not fully invisible, ‘small flower’; a single female, one single mother. A ‘small flower’, its imperceptible tremor a truer register of the cost of war; hurricanes against the fragile human truths of singular human stories:

Borges said (and this is me using what may, or may not, be his words to tell of one such fragile human truth) “There are no genocides or mass killings, only the story of each man living and dying, alone”, and so with Yusuf’s mother, Miriamma, who, as Yusuf once told me, had been taken by Yusuf’s father as a ‘slave of war…for her beauty’ during one of the many genocidal campaigns against the Kurds. With the Aramaic songs, pass down her maternal line, she had try with all her heart, and everything she remembered, to shield Yusuf from becoming just another incarnation of his father’s god. – And as if a mother’s charge has been passed to me, that I was his therapist, I felt responsible.

No, more than that, I felt his mother’s eyes upon me. I felt her eyes more after she was killed in the noonday market suicide bombing. Hearing the whisper of her voice saying Save my son…my last child. But what was I to do? What could I do? I was not a saving people type of person. Saving people was something I had given up on long ago, during my time in Clowns Against Atrocity. There, coming to know of the sheer amount of people who go into the ground unnoticed, or if they are noticed by the singular eye of the world’s powers, then, as during Saddam Husain’s An Anfal genocide where many were put into the ground alive…the realpolitik of genocide; ‘business is business’, was so clearly exposed, that even we Clowns Against Atrocity, no strangers to horror, were speechless at the shamelessness of it all.

Witnessing over time, the fiction of my personality, all noble sentiments, became not even a joke. Or maybe only a joke against the brutality of fear and greed; a joke not ‘sick’ enough to stand against the madness and the mute witnessing of the sheer endless streams of humans born into systems of violence, and the mendacity of the lying tongues, lashing the centre of the human heart which needs truth to sustain it…well, it had long since beaten all such inflated nonsense out of me, forcing me to accept, and abandon, but only after a false-heroic struggle, the lie that any of us stand apart; even those who avert their gaze, believing that the distance from another is not, in reality, comparable to the distance from their own soul: Which soft creaturely body is immune to fate?

But Borges wasn’t mistaken, Yusuf’s mother had lived her life, and even though she died amongst others, in the outrage of a suicide bombing, her life…her death, resulted in such specific and particular consequences…Miriamma beget Yusuf and Yusuf is real!



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