Whispers of truth and lies. (Hospital)
The dreams were more of a sensation than a playback of memories. Marthinus could first recall the feeling of soft, water colored butterflies that seemed to grow bright with each touch. He ran his fingers through the air and they fluttered, reflecting an unseen light source till suddenly he was alone.
Standing in a large room, he could hear voices floating from down a corridor. He took a step and realized he was barefoot and wearing a tie strung pair of linen pants. The floors were Italian tile but more importantly, they were familiar.
'This is...my father's house?'
Marthinus felt the warm tiled floor and realized he was in South Africa. He walked the familiar path to the kitchen. It was 800 square feet in size and the one place his familiar always gathered. The voices were louder as he got closer to the L shaped corner that turned into the kitchen.
He peeked slowly around the corner and saw his father, standing proudly, looking down at someone seated at the dining room table, but blocked by his family of aunts and uncles. Marthinus took in the design of the kitchen and could not recall when it had ever been in the style it was in. That's when he heard the familiar laugh.
There she was, seated beautifully in a red wrap and tiny gold diamond shape print, holding a young male toddler. She held the boy in her lap and was cooing over his smiles, making him giggle. Suddenly he felt someone behind him and he turned.
Simon was walking in and stopped several feet short of where Ellis was with the child. Marthinus came closer, standing next to Simon and they both watched Ellis with the baby.
Ellis picked the baby up and gave him a zerber on his neck, causing another fit of giggles.
'Oh...god.' That baby boy was Marthinus and he so recalled this moment. He never remembered it with full clarity but remembered soft black hair and being tickled. He turned his gaze to Simon who's face had tightened.
'Even as a child, you felt akward around me, Simon.' Marthinus said. Simon made no notice of Marthinus speaking to him. Why would he, he wasn't old enough to comprehend just what the woman was holding him.
Just then Ellis looked over at Simon and winked. 'Babies taste so delicious, dearest.'
Simon paled and took a step back. 'Yes,' was all he said and turned to go further into the kitchen and away from Ellis and baby Marthinus.
Ellis turned back to the baby and spoke to him, 'I'll be back, dear Marthinus. You and I will be very close and someday you'll run my multi-million dollar company, just wait.'
Marthinus felt his heart pang with remorse. Even then, as a wee child of barely one, she had his fate planned. The pang shot through him again. Reaching down and touching his heart, he felt it seize, the muscle that it was had started to tighten and he knelt to the floor in the agonizing pain.
His last vision was of Simon, standing in the darkness of the kitchen watching Ellis hold his newest kinsman with veiled, hate filled eyes.
The butterflies were back, this time mixed in with the soft aroma of orchids. They were recently brought in by the night nurse and they filtered into his labored dreams, but to Marthinus they reminded him of the rooftop nursery of his head master in New York. Ellis had seen to Marthinus education and spared no cost in seeing that he had learned from the best.
Dr. Oliver was one of the very best minds in philosophical and psychological treatise on strategy. Dr. Oliver was a trained swordsman and taught Marthinus to defend oneself against an opponent. That it could be applied with equal success to many types of conflict, from sword fight to political struggle to business competition.
'The final state of any discipline is where you forget what you have learned, discard your mind, and accomplish whatever you set out to do without being aware of it yourself. You begin by learning and reach the point where learning does not exist.' A famous phrase from 'The Sword & the Mind', a favorite book Dr. Olive constantly quoted from.
With Dr. Oliver's guidance, Marthinus became a skilled business competitor and a reasonably effective swordsman.
Marthinus stood in loose slacks, scuffed dress shoes and a exquisitely tailored shirt. It did not surprise him that even in his dreams, he was well dressed. Looking across the rooftop, he could see the nursery that housed Dr. Oliver's orchids and saw the American born Japanese man toil with his prize.
'Marthinus come here.'
Marthinus looked around and realized Dr. Oliver was speaking to him. He approached the older man and out of habit, bowed slightly to him. He grinned at the old habit.
'In swordsmanship, always train and discipline yourself, but don't show it - hide it, be modest about it...'
Marthinus nodded and then realized Dr. Oliver was again quoting from 'The Sword & The Mind.' It was an argument that swordsmanship is meant for disciplining oneself and attaining virtues which in the end might help keep the world peaceful.
Dr. Oliver looked at Marthinus with his unusual blue eyes. 'Have you lost your path, Marthinus?'
Marthinus opened his mouth to speak, but curiously found himself at a loss for words.
'Why is it again you came to me to learn? To be a better businessman or to know when to do the right thing?' Dr. Oliver paused, looking at Marthinus as he held his orchid pots in his hands. 'Do you remember, Marthinus, what the right thing was?'
Marthinus swallowed hard. He had not seen Dr. Oliver in at least 30 years. He died about 10 years prior and Marthinus went to his funeral but here he was, talking to him and much to his dismay, did not have the answer he had for so long prepared for.
'I'm afraid...I don't remember.'
Dr. Oliver put his pots down and approached Marthinus. 'Well then,' he started, 'I suggest you try and remember, Marthinus. Remember the man you were meant to be, not the man you became.'
Suddenly the pain in his chest was back. He stumbled to his knees before Dr. Oliver who put his hands on his hips and watched as Marthinus crumbled onto the gravel roof top and fell back into the darkness.
((Quotes shamelessly stolen from 'The Sword and The Mind - translated, with an introduction and notes, by Hiroaki Sato' - Marthinus Out))