Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Light

The flickering tube light brought him back to reality, the power had returned after a gap of 8 hours. As his eyes slowly opened, he disturbed the pools of sweat that had been formed and wiped his face with his sleeve and got up from the board. It had been 3 weeks since he had felt the feathery touch of a pillow. With his mouth parched and throat dry, he hopelessly searched for any source of water, he forgot what water tasted like. As he scratched his unshaven beard, he dragged himself out of the room and to the toilet. The smell of ammonia and waste flooded his nostrils but he didn’t show any signs of disgust. He was immune now. This was his aroma, his essence, his odor. To give him company, came his roommates, they had met on the first day, and despite their differences and fights, he learnt to live with them. They never used to bother him much but always got on his nerves whenever they tried to steal the food that he had managed to accumulate. Dwelling in the toilet bowls and hovering around the light bulbs, they came to his feet and head as he stomped on a few and fisted some more. He walked to the urinal and began to do his job, his thoughts of water were flowing into the drain and so was his life.

Glancing at the window, the evening sky was a deep red, birds were flying into the nests as the last rays of the sun faded into the night. He always hated dusk, it always created a sense of sorrow in him and he would even cry at times. But today, he did not care, he was now free, free from debts, free from the income tax, free from his loved ones, free from sorrow. He was free and yet he was not happy. As he walked out of that hell hole, his thoughts diverted to food. The bread in his pocket had been there for 2 days now, saving it for the ‘right’ time, and yet he felt now wasn’t it yet. His body was weak and frail, his hair had grown to his shoulders. He laughed to himself, thinking that the last time he grew hair this long was during his days at college. How he would imitate being a rock star with shining cars, blazing guitars and pools of money to swim in. The nostalgia crept back to him and the tears began to form at the corners of his eye. He wondered where the water for his tears came from. He was never like this, he had been happy once, he was fat, with a wife, with kids, a house and even a dog. He had everything that a man could wish for, everything except enough. Greed is what took over him, he wanted nothing else but more. It became his food, his sleep, his love and his life. Misfortune was never far from him and one day it rained down on him. The tumultuous downpour stripped him off everything he ever had, even his self dignity. The rain did stop but the clouds never parted, leaving him begging in his tracks and today, begging on the roadsides.

He walked to the balcony and looked at the world beneath his feet, he was on the top one day and today he was well below rock-bottom. As the sun finally set, the entire sky flooded with the noises from blaring loudspeaker of the nearby mosque. The evening prayers had started and he by his religion, was to sit for his prayers as well. But he chose to stay still, he chose to stand and not utter a single word in the name of God. All his life, he had prayed and prayed, but what was it all for? Where was God when his cheques bounced and his company faced losses? Where was he when he found out that his wife had betrayed him and departed with his kids without a note, a letter or even a phone call. He had prayed through these times, pleading for mercy and sympathy but all he got was silence. His vision was now blurred with the tears, he couldn’t control it anymore. He ripped open his shirt and screamed out curses to God and to life, at first people looked at this hobo with surprise and disgust and sometimes even pity. He screamed and screamed till no one noticed him anymore. His throat was now completely exhausted, he was still waiting for that glass of water. His wait lasted for a few minutes, he walked into his room,took his begging bowl in his hands and walked out into the open.

This was what happened everyday with him, he could have given up on life long back, but he chose to wait, wait for his glass of water and wait for God to put a hand on his shoulder and lead him into the light...