The face of a 12-year-old Selina gleamed as the clouds disintegrated to reveal the moon in all its glory. This was what the little girl had been waiting for.
The Lunar Tantra, as she called it, was not merely a dance but a profound form of supplication towards the heavens. With the purpose of attaining serenity, each leap portrayed her desire of reaching beyond herself. The wondrous oblivion that Selina was bestowed with in regard to the art of performance had given her a unique opportunity to craft this utterly pure form of expressionism. Little by little she created it. Now, 40 years later, it stood the test of time and retained its ethereal pattern.
Born in an affluent family, Selina, the only child, grew up in utmost care and under affectionate supervision. It was here in these grounds of Hayder Manor, way out in the countryside, where she had for ever lived. Her father’s eccentric ideas and concepts led him to homeschool the little girl and impose a certain level of isolation from society. They travelled heavily but interacting with people had always been their pet peeve. While at home, Selina never longed for social gatherings, nor did she ever experience the trepidation of not receiving something she desired. But no matter how hard parents try to keep their children cooped up in a bubble, they will, someday, have to gaze into the abyss within.
At the age of the hormonal surges and imbalances, Selina found herself overwhelmed with all the new feelings and sensations she never knew existed. Her life till then being one of luxury and comfort, due to no choice of her own, had left her inexplicably unprepared and disoriented to the challenges of chaos. One night, wandering the grounds of the estate, she took notice of this bright orb in the sky, a very familiar sight, but one she had never properly paid attention to. It was as if she was gazing at it for the first time. Little did she know that her life would never be the same again. It was sometime after this realisation that she would start to formulate her personal homage to this ancient entity—something she would demonstrate every full moon. All alone on an empty terrace, basking in the moonlight, she would showcase this enigmatic act month after month, year after year, decade after decade.
Selina deeply believed in the propensity of this cosmic affair to help her restore inner balance. An unexplainable feeling which could never be conveyed in words. It was this energy that kept her feet grounded and her head towards the sky, and always in unison with the universe.
Along with the vast wealth bequeathed unto her, this ritual turned out to be the bane of her existence a few years after her parents had expired. Without her only friends to guide her and protect her, she became defenceless. This time she found herself adrift and delirious. The usurpers started dealing their wicked hands, and the moats the Hayders had built dried in the blink of an eye and their crocodiles were starved into submission and then turned against their masters. This was how one of Selina’s most trusted men stabbed her in the back by revealing to everyone her infatuation with the moon.
The usurpers with the aid of many of her people made good use of this knowledge and propagated rumours far and wide. Feeding the heads of superstitious countrymen with dogmatic notions of black magic and witchery, they provoked most of the villagers to join their illegitimate cause. Together, they tried her in a kangaroo court and passed the unanimous verdict of death by immolation. She was set to be burned alive on the day of full moon.
Selina, on the day of her sentence, seemed awfully calm and at peace. Much to the objection of many, the usurpers gave her one dying wish. So she asked for the moon to be the last thing she saw. They positioned her stake as she wanted, and once everything was set, they set it on fire. As the gruesome fire rose to engulf her, surprisingly, nobody saw or heard any signs of pain or discomfort coming from Selina. After her body was completely swallowed by the fire, to everyone’s astonishment, burnt particles started flying upwards, towards the moon, and a few of her people claimed to have seen the fire moving in patterns as if it were performing the Lunar Tantra.
Intifad Sayeed is an aspiring fiction writer.