=1 "Little Alif"

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Little Alif

One day when Little Alif was looking at the sky and its clouds as they were reflected in the polished surface of a table, Big Alif loaned him his eyes. With them he could get a very close view of matter in slow motion. Then as he came nearer and nearer to the table the polished surface disappeared and in its place was an ocean of dancing waves. As he came still nearer the waves dissolved, jumping like soap-bubbles vibrating with life. Everything was in motion, and every little soap bubble was playing a marvellous game, jostling with the other bubbles and catching the light which fell softly like golden powder. Then, even closer, he saw little ping-pong balls which the wavelets of matter threw at each other or absorbed or passed on to other waves as they leaped towards heaven again.

Little Alif was enraptured. As he watched this spectacle of matter he became one with the ecstasy that made it dance; he was himself that player with light, one of those little soap bubbles, every soap bubble. He was hearing a delightful tune which was the voice of all the little waves of matter singing their paean of happiness. He even went inside a bubble which had become transparent, and penetrated the mysterious inner spaces which became more and more vast until suddenly matter disappeared entirely. No little waves at all any more. Instead of that violent play with light he saw something quiet like a star shining, solitary and far away, silent, a simple point of light in the immensities of empty space. That was the mystery of matter. This table, which had seemed so solid, so familiar, had disappeared, and what remained was an enormous paradoxical question mark.

Then Big Alif explained: The emptiness inside matter is so enormous that the material of a whole planet could be compressed, in the supergravity field which some stars possess, into the space of just a few cubic centimetres. And just as an immense cloud of moisture can be condensed into a little puddle of water, so a whole planet with all its oceans, mountains and rivers, its forests and animals, can become as small as a bouillon cube.

Another day when Little Alif and Big Alif were lying in the sunshine on a huge rock, they were invited to come inside it and to explore that castle of matter which a rock really is, that little paradise in the midst of our big paradise of manifestation.

There they learned that the solitary luminous points in the dark emptiness of a stone are related, each one to every other, in an invisible way like the branches of a Christmas tree when you can see only the lights on it. They are related not only to those of the same stone, but to those of all stones, of all the rocks in the universe, and to all living beings.

Each one sang of its being, of its happiness, to all the others, and with the ear of eternity Little Alif could hear them. He could see them dance and gravitate about one another. And when he came out of the stone he could feel, in each one of his own cells, the loving pull of his mother planet, carrying him, keeping him warm, preparing his food, giving him a drink, teaching him, guarding him, loving him.