A novel by Sophie Nougué
See the source, bathe … I’ve been walking for hours repeating these words, I don’t think of anything else. Like a powerful Mantra, they keep me awake at every step. Source, bath, go, go ahead! I encourage myself. I knew that at another time, there would be a difficult course to pass, that fatigue would be felt. I get hydrated, I grab bananas from my backpack pocket. Eat without stopping. Breathe, put one foot in front of the other, do not fall. It has been dark for a long time, only the light of the stars through the tops of the big trees. When I asked Yellow if I should take a headlamp this morning, he whispered to me. His eyes shone as if he were revealing a great secret that no one other than me should hear:
– The forest gives you everything you need to live. To eat, to drink, to smell, to touch, to listen. At night, do not disturb the forest. At night, it’s like day, everything stays there. If you can see the day, then you can see the night, walk with confidence.
From time to time, he stops and waits for me. The agility with which he has been moving since this morning speaks volumes about his connection to the forest. The ground carries it, lifts it, propels it forward or to the sides. The branches do not crack under its weight, the grasses straighten up after its passage, each of its steps testifies to this magic link which unites them. Harmony is in him at every moment of his life, here and elsewhere. No false notes, no lag. Everything is fluid.
He picks leaves while advancing. Barely time for me to catch up with him and already he is leaving. He is right. He knows that if I stop with the secret hope of resting for a few moments, it will be even harder to leave. Stay in the flow of energy that flows. Sometimes he waits for me, invites me to listen to a night owl.
I swallow or spit out each sheet he hands me. Some are very bitter, they immediately give me a boost of energy. These are not my favorites, I swallow the juice and spit out the fiber residue. The inside of my mouth and my tongue feel a mild paralysis, the blood hits my temples suddenly.
I have no idea what time it is, the night seems less dark to me. Sometimes I hear wrinkles in the leaves very close to me as if an animal was scurrying at my approach. I still let myself be surprised and immediately in reaction, I accelerate the pace. It is all the more surprising that I have nowhere to flee. I imagine this is a test. When I no longer feel fear, I will be able to welcome everything in harmony.
I have been walking for hours in the dark without bumping into any tree. I do not know how such a thing is possible. Returning to the forest, Yellow asked me to take a tree in my arms, I stayed like that for a long time, feet on the ground, arms embracing the trunk. I felt a crazy energy go through me. I didn’t say anything or move. Yellow spoke in his shaman’s language. He was singing and I could feel the sap of the tree seeping in, I saw my father smile at me. I cried, I felt his hand land on my head.
– Yellow said: let’s go!
I walk fast and laugh alone. I imagine the moment when my forehead will come into contact with the smooth bark of a giant, I will knock myself alone, carried away by my momentum. The trees here are different from my home. They have a rising trunk and webbed roots that anchor themselves in the ground. To go around some, I have to take thirteen steps. I cross the roots, and count until I return to my first imprint. In the afternoon, during a short break, I tried to measure a few trees with this technique. I understood that this game amused them.
I started to count by turning around the trunk and in a few seconds, I did not know where I was. I started again. I felt them vibrate and twist with laughter. I used a trick to trick them. I put my bag on the ground and turned slowly around the tree until I came back to the bag. He was no longer there …
Yellow laughed, I of course thought that at the speed of lightning, he had intruded to steal my cue.
He was shaking his head looking at the sky, my bag was hanging on a high branch. It was impossible for him to climb and descend as quickly. He clapped his hands and the bag fell off.