|... published under the terms of the CPOPL (Code Project Open Poetic License), copyright William Woodruff, 2013 ...
Going through the attic in your father's house, you open a dusty trunk with the stenciled-in name of your great-uncle barely visible in corroded letters: the uncle who disappeared in mysterious circumstances, somewhere in the north of Iran, around 1922.
You accidentally find a bronze oil-lamp: it looks ancient, the bronze encrusted with a light green patina, brindled with on-the-borders-of-turquoise hued areas.
You hold it up in the vague light streaming through the one attic window that happens to face the sun now, that dingy window clotted with dust, and dried-ghosts of ancient webs' geometry, streaked with mementos of rain and bird-spatter on the outside.
Without thinking, your mind musing back to when your mother read you a story about Djinn, you rub the lamp three times, and (not that amazingly), a cloud of smoke swirls out of the spout where, once-upon-a-time, a wick once stuck-out and hosted precious flame.
That cloud suddenly spins itself into a wandering tornado's shimmering finger, and then, with a "whoosh," collapses and expands (at the same time) into the form of: a Djinni ... who has to bend over in the cramped wedge of attic's space.
From somewhere far-off you hear a voice ... that sounds like your own ... that voice is speaking:
"Okay, I get three wishes, right ?"
The Djinni laughs so hard the attic shakes, and dust rains down from the ceiling, and, after you finish sneezing, says:
"Wrong: with my race of Djinn, you don't get a "wish:" you get two specific choices; the first is freedom from guilt, regret, remorse, and the ability to do whatever you want to do, at any time, without giving a damn about other people."
"And the second choice is ?," you ask, a bit nervously (already wondering if there is a choice available to not make a choice: to somehow get back to the reality that existed just a moment ago when you first picked up the lamp).
"The second choice," the Djinni says:
"Is: that you will always be wise enough to know the right time and place for saying anything to anyone, and you will know, in advance, how they will react, and how you will react to their reaction."
Then you hear yourself (this time as if the voice ... you now are more sure is your own ... is speaking much closer to you) saying:
" mmmm ... well, look, I need to do a little bit of cost/benefit analysis, here ... mmmm ... could you just clarify the choice a little more for me: I mean what's the downside of choice one, compared to choice two, and what's the upside of choice two, compared to choice one ?"
The Djinni (the voice now adding a tinge of slight sarcasm to its resonant basso) replies:
"By the damned souls of the Ifrit: one of those. Oh, well, look: if you pick choice one, your life probably's essentially meaningless, but, perhaps, extremely enjoyable: because you'll never be troubled by ... by ... well: guilt, among many other things that make a lot of people miserable.
If you pick choice two, your life will probably be meaningful, if, perhaps, much less enjoyable, possibly filled with remorse and regret, but also filled, at rare times, with the most subtle and sublime joys."
Now (realizing you do hear your own voice speaking), you say:
"Well, okay, but what do you mean when you say: 'meaningful' ?"
The Djinni (a top-note of irritation now scenting the sardonic intonation) replies:
"Well, goodness: to understand that: you'd need to choose choice two."
Trying (frantic) to buy time with out-of-circulation currency you say, hesitantly:
" ... mmmm ... this is a damn difficult choice; can I have some time to think about it ?"
With a loud snorting "harrumph" that causes more dust to fall from the ceiling, the Djinni says:
"Here: take an eternity, because: your failure to spontaneously choose based on what your heart told you: has destroyed my power to give anything to you but fare-thee-well."
"Sh*t !" you scream, as if you'd just fallen down stairs:
"Come back here, damnit: you didn't say anything about my having to choose right away !"
As the Djinni disappears, reversing the process of his appearance, when his last wisp of smoke disappears back into the wick-spout, you hear his voice echoing, as it, too, fades:
"Find another kind of oil-lamp to rub, bubba ... or, learn to listen to your heart."
As the beams in the attic quiver in the aftershock of the disappearing-act's turbulence, and a rain of dust falls over you: you can't stop sneezing.
"We should totally focus the vision of the natural intelligence on the smallest and easiest things, and we should dwell on them for a long time, so long, until we have become accustomed to intuiting the truth distinctly and perspicuously."
modified 20-Mar-13 10:47am.