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May 20, 2024

After He Lost His Soul 2.0

By Pranab Ghosh

After He Lost His Soul 2.0

He sat on the garden chair in the park by the side of the river and asked the evening breeze, "When did I lose my soul?" He got no answer. He then asked the rolling river, "When did I lose my soul?" The river smiled, but did not answer. Then he looked at the setting sun and asked, "When did I lose my soul?" The setting sun said, "The day you met the ocean, but did not realize what you have done." "What do you mean?" He asked. "Did I meet the ocean, but did not know that it was the ocean or I did not know that I met at all?" The sun did not reply.

Then his lost soul reappeared and sat beside him and with imploring eyes said, "Why are you asking everyone where you did lose me? Why don't you ask yourself?" And as he was about to answer his lost soul became a nightingale and broke into a song. A song of yesteryears that his father admired, as his mother used to smile approvingly. "Babuji dhire se chalna. Payer me zara samalhna." (OH! Man go slow. Take care when you are in love). "Love?" he murmured. The nightingale then began to hop from one twig to the other. And then became his soul again and sat by his side. "I have nurtured you for long. Protected you. Tried to be your guide, but ..." his soul seemed to lose its way in some labyrinth that had been his abode for all these years. "But what?" He asked.

His soul disappeared.

He sat alone in the garden chair with the breeze keeping his company. He looked at his front and then behind him. He looked at both his sides. There was no one he could ask. "But what? What did you protect me from and had you been so kind why did you have to leave?" His growing impatience was ruffling the feathers of his mind and he closed his eyes. Composure is all that can solve the problem -- he was taught when he was young. But there should be a limit to it, he thought. Quietly, he kept on turning the pages of his memory and came to a dead stop as his mind poured on to a forgotten episode, the events of which took place perhaps some millennium ago, or so he thought!

Millennium! "Count your minutes as days and days as months and months as years and years as centuries," as someone had said some time ago. He thought. Millennium could actually be some close by yesteryears! He remembered a year. He remembered a war. He remembered when he fought his soul. Did he win? Did he lose? He failed to remember! His mind turned numb. Is it an external or internal influence? He asked himself and could find his relations, his friends, even the people who stayed in his neighborhood jostling for a space inside his brain, digging away the gray matter, as he tried to dig away the dull memories out of their existence. And then there were those dead too inside his brain, waiting eagerly. Some trying to rebuild a lost citadel, some trying to carry away the debris of the broken fortress and make even its remnants invisible!

The tug of war. His numb mind was regaining life. Slowly, but surely. The tug of war. But? But? But?...

When did it all begin? His mind was now going steady as he trudged through the quagmire of time scattered all over the place! She was a woman? Or was she? She was a man or was she? She was a eunuch or was she? Was she in the final count a mere puppet or she was not, dancing to the tune of men and women, who controlled time then and were lost now with the magic wand shifting hands and throwing their times and our times out of gear?

She was there, yet she was not, a character, an actor, a puppet in the hands of the scriptwriter, the director, the cinematographer, the co-actors and finally even the spot boy, who kept the focus steady on her ... Steady on her. But did the cameras roll? Did the sound track come to life? Did the action begin? It was no director's call as co-actors lost their script and triggered in an anarchy where characters went berserk, trying to write their own script, trying to press their own footprint on the sands of time. But the sand shifted ushering in an ocean of quicksand that devoured her and her and her and him and him and him ... and the time itself, giving birth to an uncertain age that could hold no one accountable, but those who created it, but had gone overboard, denying any responsibility and lodging counter accusations to wash the blood away from their hands in a bid to pretend that there was a cleanliness, a neatness, about it, however unholy!

Yet there was love. Yet there were aspirations, hope and a sense of win and loss, however untimely. But above all there was love in his mind. In his mind ... In his mind. The time pretended. She pretended. And that pretension put his mind off and finally put him off track. He forgot some pages of the books he had studied. He forgot some moments he had lived. He forgot that there was pretension all around. He forgot his times. He forgot his purpose. He forgot to 'live' and ended up just 'surviving.' Surviving the onslaught of ambitious minds to all of whom she was the touchstone ... he was the touchstone to riches. Many had even dreamt of rags to riches story. Many had even, though in dream, slid through the rabbit hole to reach their own wonderland, their very own Disneyworld.

But what about him?

He went on surviving. He survived his 'love' and was survived by his soul. His soul took flight, leaving him behind. Now he has remembered everything! Everything ... Everything!

But now ... today ... in this pandemic-afflicted world even surviving has become difficult, he thought as he remembered his 'lost love'...

* * *

Love Statue!

The script is written on the air
The trees have heard the
Sound of love
This is no poetry
Love had tiptoed many lives ago
By gleaning life itself.

No epic has ever been written
On that untold love
Yet there is no denying it
That love had arrived

She had lived many years ago
And so had he.
I have travelled in the mountainous North,
In the Ganges valley, the sea shores in the East,
The valleys of the South, in search of that love.
I tried to remember her face in the
Sleepless nights, but could not recall anything!

You talk of that love. You gossip.
But I don't. You guys search for it,
But I search the time. I have
Touched that time by reading
The script written on the air.

You are a thief! Statue!
No one is a thief anymore
All have turned into statues!

Article © Pranab Ghosh. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-09-27
Image(s) are public domain.
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