It was a mistake .It was indeed a mistake .He had underestimated the burden of absence. There was always a placid, not so perennial, pulsing often muted by the sweetness of circumstances and sometimes conscientiously muffled- an element of internal clairvoyance which he did not heed to. Had he heeded he wouldn’t be haunted by this nocturnal, metaphysical universe-a vestigial residue of the years of bizarre optical phenomena, banal inventions, and amorous meetings. The origin can very well be termed ‘Big Bang’, it never existed three days back, and never had he imagined that the darkness of his external world could illuminate another miniature universe, possibly something as nascent as three days doesn’t require much light. It was distinctly burdensome, left him almost sleepless for the last three days; he suspected if his eyes had a functional mutation overnight, they were now the receptacles for his new universe.
Now, let’s reserve our omniscience to his present, past and future and faithfully not breach the privacy of his dreams in the night until they get decimated as part of a ‘ yesterday’. But then, we would certainly take some liberty in performing the trapeze act between his present, past and future-a trisected trapeze act breaching the rectilinear, vectorial characteristics of his time. So, three days is certainly good enough time for autopsy of a dream, preserved and frozen in the neuronal caverns, but only vaguely remembered.
It was when slowly and steadily Monday’s promises were trickling down to Tuesday. She was there, caught between the concavity and convexity of his eyes as he had seen her the last time .She is standing naked in front of a refrigerator-a red one, the entire setting is illuminated by an invisible source of light, her shadow is filling the room diagonally, if the setting sounds quite static for a dream, lets carefully watch this: The door of the red refrigerator is being opened and closed continually and her shadow across the room sharpens then blunts; blunts and then sharpens; grows and then dies; dies and then grows .The speed at which the door is closed and opened is steadily increasing ,quite steadily and then builds to a crescendo – a crescendo whose possible existence can hinge only on a dream ,the source now operates so fast that the shadow is no more static to the perception of his vision ,it has acquired an animated characteristic and moves across the room but she is unmoving and standing in front of the red refrigerator her back facing him .Adding to the dynamism of the setting is the appearance of floating one-dimensional objects .Let’s have a closer look at them: They look like alphabets ,but written in a certain undecipherable but distinctly familiar yet unfamiliar ,vaguely unfamiliar and not so distinctly familiar pattern .There are forty one of them .On closer examination we would also find that are eighteen distinct ones and the rest a repetition of one among the eighteen. Any attempt to decipher them would be in vain, now they are slowly drifting to one end of his eye, waiting there for some time, move to the other eye and the movement characterized by an osmotic fluidity. Left to right and then right to left, then left to right and right to left simultaneously.
Doesn’t it sound more like an anatomical eccentricity? The eyes beholding image of her standing naked, shadows and alphabets moving like cartoon figures and then she moving along with the alphabets and moving between the eyes – left and right. Time has injected a sense of undeniable movement to all objects in this setting now. But the refrigerator-the red one is the only object not moving and that denies a symmetry to the setting. The red refrigerator always lies in the place of origin, might be left, might be right but three days back it was left. Consequently, this setting which could have acquired a possible fleeting symmetry when everything with the exception of the refrigerator moved from left to right or right to left and the possibility of a precise geometrical bisection thus was denied. This turns out to be a monotonous operation once things are in motion, happens all through the night: Left to right; right to left; left and right; right and left – like a meaningless rhyme that was never written and passed across generations in the form of a folklore.
Tuesday morning was filled with a sense of optical exhaustion .He called up ‘The Historian’ and asked them if they would still offer him the post in one of their teams, the one that he had rejected a couple of months back. This was an anthropological journalistic assignment, which worked on finding the ‘Efforts put in by King Ashoka to spread Buddhism in Africa’. He did not want to take this up then, as he knew his knowledge on King Ashoka was remarkably limited and he was called only by the virtue of his master’s degree in History. Besides this his depth in Buddhism was almost non-existent; and on Africa was absolutely non-existent. The one thing that really deterred him from taking up this position was, his certainty that Africa was impervious to both Ashoka and Buddhism. But now, if dreams can be osmotic, if alphabets can acquire chromosome like characteristics and float, if a red refrigerator can become immortal by becoming the immutable cyclorama then Ashoka could have very well made efforts to spread Buddhism in Africa.’ The Historian’ readily accepted him and he was to join them in another three weeks from today. He resigned from ‘The Neo-Historian’ and was filled with a sense of relief, a mechanism to exorcize the ghosts of dreams, burden and burden of dreams. He readied himself for the night by quitting his job with ‘Neo-Historian’.
He spent the entire driving in the newly bought car. The reflections of women on the road, each noticed in a different posture, bringing up the predicament, the predilections over the last two years – numerous snapshots and he struggled to chronicle them. He looked at the rearview mirror again, with no one to reflect at the rear the mirror mirrored its own undisclosed role in this series of episodes.
Three years back, in the second month of the year, on the first day of the second month, on the third working hour of the first day of the second month three years back he was standing on the portico of his office building for reasons which he never recollected all through is life and he could spot her at a distance. He was aware of the fact that she would be joining their team. He had chanced to meet her during one of the several rounds of interview. Today, as she was driving on her bike to the parking lot there was something distinctly odd about her attire. She was wearing a pink T-shirt, and she was trying to make a statement with something written over the frontal portion of her T-shirt. She was quite close now and still driving and still the oddity persisted .He couldn’t read a single word of what was written on her T-shirt. It possessed the semantics of a long learnt language but the script, the individual letters looked maligned and oblique and obtuse in a way. But then you see, all this had happened in few seconds .The totality of the writing was vaguely familiar but it consisted of undecipherable but distinctly familiar yet unfamiliar, vaguely unfamiliar and not so distinctly familiar letters. While he stood there waging a linguistic battle with his entire faculty of syllables and consonants she moved past him in the portico. Now he noticed that her attire had nothing. Just nothing, it was a simple T-shirt with nothing written on it. Syllables, consonants and now confusion was playing its role in the linguistic battle. He slowly moved towards her bike in the parking lot as though it had the answers to his few minutes old optical riddle.
The bike stood there dead as a stone, unaware of the fact that someone was attempting to collaborate with it to solve a linguistic cum optical puzzle. The bike stood there motionless and as useless as any beautiful object of creation. He looked at the rearview mirror grinned and had closer look at the twenty five year old enamel with a sense of aging concern and moved towards the office . Huh, then it struck chord, the aging enamel helped him in finding the answer for his puzzle, the whiteness of his enamel had the answers hidden. As he was examining his enamel he looked at the label stuck on the rearview mirror “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”. Some kind of optical phenomenon, might be just reflection; might be refraction combined with reflection; might be even diffraction, well might be a possible combination of all of this had mirrored these letters on her T-shirt, faithfully reflecting the semantics and the white spaces as in the label. Now the elation of solving the most complex structural and optical puzzle filled his senses.
Let’s all comprehend and confess: Read out “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” – A combination of forty-one alphabets constituting a dozen syllables. Do you think it takes more time to fall in love with a woman than reading out a dozen syllables? Well, it doesn’t. But let’s all confess: it never works out that way. After all, what does it take, in simplistic terms time lesser than to pronounce twelve syllables, for any precise expression of the emotion shall be shorter than a dozen syllables. If it takes more than twelve syllables for any of you to express your love then reconsider it and if it had taken more than twelve syllables in the past for you to express your love, then, this moment, declare it null and void and attempt doing it in less than twelve syllables .It ought to polysyllabic but never exceed a dozen, for women, let’s be considerate and take the baker’s dozen into consideration it’s thirteen for women, but then you might attribute any form of failure to the ominous ness of a dozen plus one , so let’s make it fourteen. But, as said earlier it isn’t as simple as this.
He took precisely a year, precisely is precisely here, nothing more; nothing less; three hundred and sixty fifth day since the day he solved his optical cum structural cum linguistic puzzle. During this one year, he spent around a thousand and twenty hours with her in the office; Approximately, around two hundred hours in the restaurant’s, another thousand and odd hours in the form of phone conversations, which was punctuated with the banal inventions of secret onomatopoeic words, the usage of which was certainly limited to the conversation’s of invention alone and was never reused, So in totality that would round to a year, if you identify deficit in numerical fill them with interludes of poetry writing ,but he would never realize that universal fate had sealed his fate when he stood there in the parking lot reading his enamel and the twelve syllables.
The next one year he persecuted a quarter century of loneliness on the altars of time with her companionship. Life started possessing a musical undercurrent – preludes of poems and solitude, interludes of secrets, flowers and fairies and no coda visible in the musical realm .It took some time but then had to happen, their meeting in loneliness was more physically desirous and punctuated with amorous touches evoking the twenty five plus twenty four year old sensuality. He always wrapped his arms around her hip and fumbled with the thin layer of lipid around it and beneath it .She played with his hair that covered the nape of his neck. A love story of Lipid and scalp and melanin and no anatomical discovery besides the layers of lipid and the female psyche contained itself to the hair at the nape of the neck and an attempt in vain, to rub off the pigments from the hair. Half a century of sensuality was contained by the sociological mores invented by their forefather’s who would have ever known that it takes anything less than the time taken to pronounce twelve syllables to breach their meaninglessness.
We had decided not to breach the privacy of dreams, shouldn’t we place love in a far higher pedestal than dream? And we shall. We shall not perform a clinical postmortem of their love .Let us limit our liberties to lipid and pigments.
Apparently, nuptial bonding should have been the next consequential arrangement, which, by this time, you the reader, should have discerned that it never materialized.
The arrangement had to have the stamp of recognition from the elders on both the sides. He visited her house and spoke to her father, her overture on her polysyllabic love affair to her father the day before, saved him from the embarrassment of a stranger in her typical Indian domestic middle class setting. Her mother looked like an aged and plaintive midwife carrying too many obstetric secrets at her heart. Her father had the habit of wetting his spectacle by blowing air on to the lenses, and then talks as though it was all written on the lenses and every time he had to read it before talking it out. The bearer of the obstetrician secrets and the decoder of secret scripts on the spectacle lenses politely disagreed with his moments of reading of enamel and the label on the mirror, attributing their negative stand to the two families belonging to different castes, they being relatively less polluted and ritually more purer than him.
Purity, pollution, polysyllabic (strictly less than or equal to a dozen) , pigments – a love story dominated by too many P ’s. . Are all love affairs this way; someway are the other unknowingly predominated by a single alphabet?
That was the first and last time he visited the bearer of secrets and the anonymous decoder. For the next one year she waged a battle, fighting the dual P’s of the decoder, fighting for the memories of L and P – Lipid and Pigment and fighting with an armory, that looked well equipped but proved insufficient. They only had O, b, j, e, c, t, s, h,, m, r, a, p, l, t, h, a, y All this was powerless against the decoder and the bearer of secret’s dual P’s.
He could never discern her strong disposition towards filial inclinations. She was not ready to make a choice of living against the mores and filial fancies. So, he let fight her battle, he watching and she fighting, he trying to convince and she denying. During the process of exhaustion of her armory she had rejected a dozen and a half of men whom her father her chosen for her to live with, and who were on par with her in terms of pollution and purity. He could see that she was losing, which meant he was losing and which also meant they would be losing.
It was on one of such days, a Friday, marked with the travesties of P’s she came down to his desk and asked him to wrap up things, reserving their evening for quite a serious discussion. They went down to the park where they had discovered the sensuality off pigments and lipids for the first time .She handed over to him the photograph of a man, a photograph shot specially for matrimonial purposes, which tries to show a spruced up version of the person but brutally betrays, merely venting in an air of artificiality. She said that she has decided to get married to the person in the photograph, he tried to convince her of he talking to the bearer of secrets and the decoder again, but then this time still his dual P’s of purity and pollution hadn’t had an elevation, so certainly would be in vain, she said. Losing is contagious she had lost and now it was catching up with him. His understanding of her for the last two years showed that her decision making mechanism was controlled by a internalization which was impervious to anyone, he inclusive and sometimes she inclusive, an independent mechanism the dynamics of which was more mysterious than anything he had ever known. This time he knew that he could get nowhere even closer to the penumbra of the internal monster. She asked him to spend the next week with her and bade him good night and left the park, the smell of disturbed lipid and pigment still hanging around him.
All through the weekend, day in and day out, he tried to reproduce, with various permutation and combination of scenic settings, the moment when she should have conclusively reached this decision. All attempts of rationalization failed but then all attempts of irrationality failed as well for, it can be applied to truth and not for facts. . Monday morning was nothing new: mundane and disturbed. The evening was reserved for their amorous encounters. When it was time for her to go, she revealed her plan, smiled, winked and tousled his hair.
They went to her friend’s place, who was incidentally sent to Sudan on an assignment last Thursday and this time they left their coefficient of amorousness at the park. The house was poorly lit with lights of remarkably low wattage and everything and everyone cast a sense of shadow inside the house .She stood there in front of the mirror and traced her reflection on the mirror with her right index finger. On closer examination he noticed that her trailing of the reflection was quite odd. She was not touching the mirror, placed her finger a few centimeters from the mirror as though her reflection had acquired a solidity of sorts and she was attempting to give, the empty space between the finger and the reflection, her shape.
She turned back towards him leaving her structuring of the empty space midway and moved towards him and embraced him. The amorous wave running through there nerves momentarily transposed to trembles of her lower lip. From now it was tacit. She all set to shed her sociological mores, devoid of her burden of pollution and purity. She undressed and so did he and he made love to her; she to him and they to them.
Monday was followed by ‘no words spoken’ Tuesday night where the pattern never changed- he to her; her to him and they to them and so were the next four days. Sunday had a light prelude of reminiscence and then they moved to the bed. The bed stood opposite to the mirror and their reflections had a ghostly effect. As you see , this time it was all tacit and it was not written on it but that’s what the mirror meant: “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”. The next morning she was gone.
Even a maximalistic retrospection of the life of two individuals doesn’t take more than a evening. He parked his car in the garage and started the groundwork preparation on his new assignment- King Ashoka.’The Historian’ and with the aid of King Ashoka, Africa and Buddhism he could redress the wounds of the lost battle. She never got back to him and had intentionally closed all forms of proportions that existed to reach her. Ashoka, Africa and Buddhism could save his day but not his nights. He rarely garnered sleep during the nights even if he did he was filled with a sense of optical exhaustion the next day. She was there, every night, acquired the fluidity of a unicellular organism and floating in him, floating for him, floating with him.
Let’s not let our omniscience roll along with time. Let’s stop here and trapeze to the future before it gets morphed to ‘the present’ or ‘the past’. In the course of time, King Ashoka’s project fails miserably and he would possess an invaluable experience of knowing Africa, Ashoka and Buddhism would still be a darker side, and Africa wouldn’t be. He would move to the UN and work for them in Africa.
On one of his visits to Europe he would meet him in the Airport. Now the UN representative being our ‘HE’, you can certainly discern who the ‘Other’ he could possibly be. Our’ he’ had seen the other ‘HE’ only once, that too in a photograph, but then some people unknowingly leave trail marks in the minds and the other ‘he’ is one such mark for our ’ he’.’ Our’ he would get introduced to the ‘other’ he and they would seat themselves next to one another for the entire course of the trip.’ Our’ he would ask the ‘other’ he about his family and would find that his wife had given birth to twins three years back.’ Our’ he would explain his concerns for the progressive degeneration of humaneness in this world and would attribute that as his reason for chalking out a career in the UN. They both would go to sleep some point of time during the travel, one of them successful and the other failing in his attempts.