The year is hurtling towards midsummer and I am being dragged along – reluctantly – like an obstinate mule, digging my heels into the earth and uselessly hoping that it will grind to a halt. Slow down, slow down, I whisper to no one in particular, this ride is way too fast. The coachman does not heed my fretful call. I am not in command. I feel giddy, unsafe, trapped in a vortex that is madly spiralling out of control. But through the chaos, a voice bids me to calm down. There is time, it says, time to breathe, time to learn, time to write about the permanence of this transient life. But surely, I thought, that is an oxymoron. Then I reflected; and finally, I understood - that we are all invited to leave an indelible mark. We can write our stories in sand and let the tide wash them away or we can carve them painfully, but permanently, in stone.
And I looked around me and saw an island whose history is etched in the limestone blocks of our buildings. The stories of our fathers are intricately bound to the stone walls that surround us. Almost reverently, I reach out to touch their golden faces, gently caressing the marks left by the winds; left by time. I lean forward, let my forehead rest on their pock-marked surface and shut out the world.
Then I hear it, the hum as of a thousand muffled voices, telling me their stories, their triumphs, their tragedies. There were tales of love and despair; of hatred and death; war and disease; of pirate raids and a fervent Faith. It seemed that I had finally understood. This, then, was my calling, to give a voice to the voiceless and a history to the nameless. It was up to me to discover the patina of ages; to unravel the mystery of doors that led nowhere and to tell a tale that would have been lost in the mists of time – were it not for the stones.
I smiled. The spinning had stopped. The coachman had finally come to a halt.
Location: Mdina - April 2013