“Have you ever heard of the tree of life?” I
asked my new comrade. She shook her head. “It’s a
big ass tree in the middle of the desert
on an island called Bahrain in the Persian
Gulf … or Arabic Gulf. Whichever you like.”
The woman nodded and narrowed her eyebrows
slightly. “You’ve been there?” I nodded. She smiled.
“Tell me about it,” she said. “I would love to,”
I replied. “But be forewarned, the story is
longer than your lovely legs. It goes like this:
“There’s this place … this legendary garden. In
the West we call it Eden. The first book of
The Bible tells us that Adam and Eve lived
there. It was bliss, then along came a snake and
bang, everything changed. That doesn’t matter.
In the East they call it Dilmun. Gilgamesh
went there to find the secret of eternal
life. He met Ziusudra, lone survivor
of a ‘Great Flood’ after he built an ark on
instructions from a deity called Enki.
Gilgamesh dives in the sea with rolling stones
on his feet and meets up with Keith Richards and
Johnny Depp. They tell him about the ‘Flower
of Immortality.’ Old Gilgy finds it
and hands it over to the first sea snake he
sees and there you have it: it’s Adam and Eve
all over again. Eden. Dilmun. Bahrain.
The Tree of Life? God only knows how its there.
It’s surrounded by sand, but still it stands,
proud and leafy … covered in graffiti in
languages ranging from Greek to Swahili.
It’s surrounded by a small wrought-iron fence
that keeps nothing and no one away from its
massive branches. I climbed in it and had my
picture taken. Ever since then, life’s been odd.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. When I
was in the tree I saw smokeless fire off
in the distance, atop one of the sand berms
and it reminded me of that scene in the
movie Jarhead, where they’re walking through the flames…”