Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Moth and the Pictionary man

            He was a man who mastered the game, Pictionary. Communicating his thoughts through cryptic messages, he gave only clues to what he wanted to say. It drew to his side people who liked the challenge of figuring out his intentions, and occasionally reveled in the thrill of discovery when they thought they got it right. He alienated those who needed things spelled out, who lacked the ability to analyze his expressions and the self-confidence to accept their conclusions.

Did it affect him? Not one bit. He was set in his ways, solid, immovable.
Did it matter to him? You bet. Feeling superior, above the norm, and lonely as hell.

There’s a certain kind of pleasure one draws by being different. Don’t we all need to be set apart in some way? Being funny, or kind-hearted, or trust-worthy, or generous, etc. Of course, there’s the other side of the spectrum, where some people stand out by being mean, or offensive, or too selfish.

For our Pictionary friend, he stood out by remaining a mystery. And who doesn’t like to solve a mystery? Agatha Christie’s widespread books are a testament to that side of human nature among numerous works by masters of the written word.

So naturally, she was drawn to him. Like a moth is to an outdoor light fixture. She zoomed in on him, fluttered her wings and circled his attractive ambiguity. Others joined her, perhaps even preceded her, colliding with the intensity of his glow and eventually dropping to the floor, spent and burned. Not her, not our patient moth.

She found a spot on the ceiling far enough for her antennas to pick up on his signals, yet close enough for his incandescent heat to warm her wings. Patiently, night after night, she watched from her spot and learned to distinguish the subtle changes in his radiance. Did he notice her? Did he want her to come closer? Did he find ways to increase his luminosity to lure her to his side, knowing he would scorch her once she did? Or did he do the opposite, dim the light that drew her to him in the first place? Did he articulate his interest clearly, letting go of the game he had mastered? Was she patient enough, her antennas finely tuned?

Whenever I come across a man like our Pictionary friend, and I see a happy woman by his side, I know the answers to those questions. Which one are you? A Pictionary man, or a patient moth?

Lilas Taha is a novelist, winner of the 2017 International Book Awards  and is the author of Shadows of Damascus and Bitter Almonds.


  1. Ali
    In an answer to the question: "What advice would you give to someone writing a novel?" Joanne Harris replied: "Just do it - (self-consciousness and worrying about the blank page doesn't help the process at all....)If you're having fun with it, the reader will probably enjoy it too." I for one certainly did, a lot !! Magical.
    Your inspirational source, would it, per chance, be autobiographical ? Rhetorically speaking, of-course?! Happy contentful Eid to all.

    1. Ali, Rhetorically speaking, my moth found her Pictionary man a long time ago.


Thank you for your comment. A moderator will post it once approved.