Mr. Beenther lost his senses

Mr. Beenther sat on the rocking chair on his porch and rocked and rocked.. He rocked slowly in the morning, and slower in the afternoon, but almost not at all in the evening before he went to bed, just to get up and go sit on his porch again in the morning.

Sometimes there was wind, and sometimes rain, blue sky's and gray. Birds soared far overhead, and just there, far away by the horizon you could sometimes see a distant herd of sheep going by and hear the soft barking of the sheep dog.

But Mr. Beenther noticed none of these.

When people talked to him, as they had to sometimes, he would answer in grunts and growls and everybody knew what he meant: ‘Go way and don't bother me with your foolishness. I am thinking important thoughts.’ So they did go away, mostly.

He grunted like he didn't care and kept on rocking, and thinking his endless important thoughts which were like a great big ball of twine all tangled in itself. He kept trying to untangle it. One thought jumping to another. He wanted to find a little loose end somewhere, certain that if he could find that then he could unwind the entire ball. One day he almost had it, something about what happened long ago when he saw how beautiful the light could be. ‘Yes’, he thought, ‘that's how it must be. Like the time he drove around that curve and saw that lovely little isle covered with pines, sitting there like a mirage on the lake with the distant mountains behind, and his whole being had tingled with waves of beauty’.

He was so busy with the memory of it that he didn't notice that his eyes had gone gazing far up the hill towards the herd of sheep, and then over the top where they saw the sheepherder and his beautiful dog and then just following the curve of the majestic hills they flew up to the top and could see the distant line of blue sea, and there up high some gulls just soaring.

The ears then noticed that the eyes had gone and started following the sound of some birds chattering nearby, and then from that the baby crying in the house across the way, and further down the street a child was learning how to play the piano and the ears were delighted to hear the simple tunes, and then the playground where the children laughed, and then the crying woman in her house, and then the yelling of the market men. Further and further the ears roamed by themselves.

The nose started to feel all alone wondering where his friends the eyes and ears had gone. It was summer and the air was filled with smells of pine woods, and flowering meadows, and water, and from a church nearby the smell of incense, and the smells of all the vegetables and fruits in the market stalls. The smell was almost drunk with these.

Further and further the senses traveled, and Mr. Beenther didn't even notice they were gone. It was just like people sometimes said about him, that he had lost his senses.

What a day the senses had. Colors and sounds and smells. Bells: camel bells, temple bells, church bells, Swiss cow bells with their mellow clank and wooden bells in Africa. Gamelans in Bali, shouts and songs and Tibetan monks blowing on their giant horns, and didgeridoos. So many sounds, no end of sounds, beer barrels rolling on the ground and falling trees and everywhere the shush, shush whisper of the old women in the churches and the mosques.

Flowers smells and stable smells. The deep smell of the sea and of the river flowing into it. and of the fishes in the market stalls, and of the perfumes in the shop and of the leather at the shoe makers. The nose was in the seventh heaven,

What sights there were. A string of ants carrying their precious cargo, and the child just sitting there with wonder in its eyes watching fascinated. The dust motes swimming in the cathedral light beaming through the stained glass windows. The gleam of brass bowls being washed there by the well.

All day and almost all the night the senses roamed.

But with the darkness of the night, and just before the dawn, they all began to feel futile and empty. ‘What is the use of all this beauty?’ they thought, ‘with no one to experience it and no companions’.

And one by one they decided to return to their quiet life in Mr. Beenther.

They tried to come back into him as quietly as possible so as to not disturb their old friend.

But, with the return of his hearing Mr. Beenther heard the crowing of the rooster as he hadn't‘ done in years. He sat up straight and looking up saw the vanishing of the starry night and the glimmer of the sunrise tinting the sky pink. And with a gasp of joy the smell of the dew went from his nose straight into his swelling heart and he felt the ecstasy of life and as if drunk, he jumped up from his rocking chair and danced a welcome to the brand new day.

Everyone said that Mr. Beenther had come back to his senses.

But he knew better and was evermore grateful that his senses had come back to him.

The end
and the beginning…

[Sam Pasiencier - illustrations: Silja]