Sunday, 7 February 2016

Redemption

****Symbolically, this story starts where "प्रतिबिम्ब" ends. There is a connection between the two but this is not a sequel to "प्रतिबिम्ब"******            

I had stepped outside to get some fresh air and the solitude I love in places crowded with unknown people. It was February, a month which I don't like much because my favourite season Winter fades away in this month. Yet, I wanted to absorb the remains of the peaceful chill for this season. The atmosphere was not at all chilled, but there remained a mysterious serenity even in the fresh Spring season that had arrived. It was soon going to be dark, and I wanted to enjoy every moment of the night falling in place. It reminded me of another night, when I had experienced an unforgettable incident in Winter. I had decided to find all the answers within myself that day.

And here I was, trying to find those answers, the questions for which seemed to haunt me inside. I wanted to know what remained, what I had to fight for and what it was that seemed to go unnoticed by me. The battle was not over, not for me. I looked around and saw people, still fighting. Some had already given up, others were not sure of how long they were going to fight. Still others were either unaware of all this, lost in this materialistic world, or too sceptical to realize that there remained a world inside them to be explored, that had to be nurtured, in order to find their paths and to follow their dreams. I had never felt strange, to contemplate upon those thoughts, but I felt that all beings had a time in their lives when they became aware of the fact that they were here to pursue a journey.

The sword in my hand lowered a little. I had not decided to give up, but the spirit inside me seemed to have become worn out. Not because of the vicious circle of events that had unsuccessfully, tried to pull me into darkness and failed to do so, but because after so long, my reasons to fight had not remained constant. I was, in the deepest of my heart, bewildered to understand what I was still fighting for.

                                               

It was the light inside me that kept me going on a path which I knew wasn't necessary to be understood in order to follow. Yet, something told me that I needed to contemplate upon an unnoticed aspect, that had to be taken along, in order to move forward. I needed to go back to a place from where I could find my reasons, I had decided, through that night which seemed to welcome a storm. Yet, I would not stop. The only thing that one needed to be afraid of was the negative energy built inside oneself. Nothing else in this world was scary, I had always believed.

The night was calm, with millions of stars twinkling in the sky, that reminded me of my quest and of my journey. Silence was the only dominant entity for me, on that road, even in a hustling crowd of people. I witnessed a turbulence around me. A hazy figure seemed to approach me on that faintly lit up road. She was a girl, probably 9 or 10 years old, dressed decently, and looked confident in her tom boy haircut. She seemed to walk in a rhythm, as if trying to dance to the beats of the crowd around her, holding a broken piece of a little plastic sword. She seemed to concentrate on the ground, and stopped in between, to look at the sky.

"Are you looking for something my dear?", I broke the silence.

She looked at me,"My little sword is broken."

"Can I help you finding the broken piece?"

She smiled and looked amused," No. I will build it again."

I felt surprised at her answer," Are you alone here?"

"You can join me if you want," she replied.

"But where are you going?"                                        

She kept smiling but did not answer me, and then started walking rhythmically again. As if spellbound by her mysterious presence, I felt protective for her. None around us, seemed to be her parents. I decided to follow the little girl. At first I thought, she was unaware of my presence, but a few seconds later, she asked me without turning back,"What made you think I wanted help to find the broken piece of my sword?"

"I guessed you would want to fix it", I looked at her intently.

"I want to, but without the broken part". I waited for her to add more as she kept walking, but she remained silent.

I decided to let her speak on her own. She looked at me and continued," Do you want to see how I will build it again?"

                                           

I smiled, so did she, and we continued walking, until the road became less crowded. Towards the end of this familiar road, came a turn I had never seen earlier. I looked at her, puzzled. She pointed towards a tree, which stood so high, that I could not differentiate where it got mingled with the sky. When I looked at her again, she pointed towards a narrow trail that seemed to be lit up by the moonlight alone.

"Are you sure you know where you are going?" I couldn't stop from being puzzled about her.

"Of course. I come here whenever I want to." She led the walk for me. I felt a change in my energy as I stepped onto that path.

"So what do you come here for?"

"To dream of anything that could happen", with that, she held her broken sword towards another path. But she did not go that way. She continued walking forward.

"Where did that path lead to?" I asked her.

"Anywhere, but I don't want to go over there."

In between, we came across several other trails, lit up differently, none of which she seemed interested to follow. Sensing my confusion she said," Those were places which I have seen earlier. I have dreamt of who I could be over there. I don't want to visit them any more. I want to visit unseen places."

She stopped at the foot of one of the trails," I will be coming back in a few minutes. You can explore the place around if you want to."

"Wait, but you are alone...", she didn't stop. And I was left even more confused at that place. On one hand, I felt wary of the place. On the other hand, I felt scared for the little girl.

I looked around to see if there was anybody around, but only heard the rustling of leaves by the breeze to break the silence. At a distance, I saw a lit up path. Out of curiosity, I decided to follow it. As I started walking, a gush of images, seemed to appear around me. At first, I had a creepy feeling about them and decided to step back. But on taking a second look, I found that they were images from various instances of my life. I decided to continue on the path.

                                               

A few steps later, I found an alley lit up by an image of mine from infancy, with my mother holding me gladly. The alley seemed to be walled by various other images of the same phase. I peeped into it and smiled at every image which reminded me of the times when I was a baby. However, I decided not to follow it, and continued on my path.

After every 10 steps, there were little alleys, lit up at the entrance by an image of mine from every phase of my life. Peeping into them, I felt various feelings rushing through me--mixed emotions of happiness, respect, love, anger, retribution, as I remembered each of those phases. I wondered why I was being made to witness them again, if I felt so exhausted by them. I kept walking, until I came across the images from my most recent phase. It seemed to intrigue a wave of anger as well as calmness of mind simultaneously. I looked beyond the image. There were two paths lit up with signboards, "Retribution" and "Redemption", respectively followed by a statement, "From here, you are what you choose to be."

I stood there, aware, that the one I choose to follow would decide the course of my remaining journey. I knew that I was certainly very strong not to judge others or to seek vengeance from the evil ones. I knew that the path ahead would reveal the images of what I choose to follow and will be the one that remains with me. I weighed the probabilities and consequences of each path. I wondered about the reasons behind my battles. I wondered why I was still in the battle. As I thought of the previous images of myself that I had seen, and of the direction in which I could steer my ship from there, I realized that the incidents that happened had not been my choice, but the way I carried their consequences had certainly been my choice. I realized that those incidents or their consequences, or the emotions that I felt with them, were not the reasons behind my journey, but had unknowingly become the reasons for my battles.

I realized that the innocence with which the little girl followed unexplored dreams every time she wanted to, was the same that I possessed deep inside, but was overshadowed by the load that I weighed upon myself, and changed the reasons which made me exhausted. I wondered if the journey till now could have been different, had I not steered my ship because of those reasons. And then, it occurred to me that the answer I had been looking for was here itself! I had started my journey for the quest behind my existence, and it certainly had nothing to do with whatever happened on the way. I had to learn, unlearn, re-learn and carry a part of each friend/enemy, good/bad experience as a story and forget it as I moved ahead.

I had my battles to be fought for my reasons, and everyone's actions decide the consequences. I was not meant to frame the consequences for the actions imposed by people/moments. That, after all was the essence of pursuing a journey, which was mine, to discover the world and myself. How could it be made to suffer because of anything that happened on my way to the destination. That was how I was going to win my battles. I made my choice there and smiled to myself, but decided not to follow the path. I had to experience it outside these woods in the world.

Having made my choice, I took one glance behind my shoulders, and wondered if I too would like to come to visit this place some other time. I followed the trail back to where the little girl had left me. She was waiting for me with a smile and a sword, completely fixed now, or probably a new one. We started walking back to the crowded road.
   
                                             

"You walked away a bit too far I guess", she laughed.

"No. I had walked a bit too nearer than earlier", I winked and added," By the way, I know why you didn't want to fix the sword from the broken piece."

She turned back and handed her little plastic sword to me," That's great. You can take mine. I will get one more", she laughed again, as we reached the place where we had met. I smiled at her.

As the road seemed familiar once more, I wondered if her parents would be worried. I turned back to ask her where she had to go. But to my amazement, she was nowhere to be seen! I stood, frozen for  a while. She wasn't a part of a fantasy tale, I thought, as I reached the place where I had been an hour or two back in time that evening. The place was again full of unknown people, giving me my solitude. Yet, there was something soothing about the night.

A cool breeze wavered through my hair, and made the trees around me swing in slow motion, which only added to the beauty of the scene. The leaves remained like whispering audience to me, as if witnessing my moves from a distance. Never in my life had I felt a fading Winter, so refreshing as this one, in February. It was only a few minutes later that I realized there was a mystic aroma in the breeze, a little damp, old and soothing, as if coming from the trail of a distant smoke, or from a forest that had moistened air of the soil. I could smell the lovely atmosphere in my breath!

As I sat peacefully in that moment, I did not remember why I was there, what I was doing, what intrigued me to stop walking for a while and what made me follow that little girl. That was what I was supposed to do, I realized. I had to pursue the journey for myself, unaltered by any external, impure elements in the world. The sanctity of the thought finally made me realize that the answer to my questions was what I had just experienced. It was redemption of the soul from any thing that was impure, and not at all retribution.

The reason for my journey was to be found out, without getting disturbed or distracted from the events that I experienced on my way. They were just meant to be witnessed, and that was my strength as an undefeated warrior. I understood that I had to go on, unperturbed, and that made me feel light inside, cleansed from the heart. As I felt a little surprised and then understood this second instance of a "Reflection" of myself that night, I raised the little plastic sword with pride, without giving a thought to whether she was real or my imagination and continued on my path--enlightened by Redemption now. :)

                                         

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