Being a holiday, it was siesta hour for me when I heard a bang and found people running helter-skelter as if some reverse disaster had overtaken them all. I carefully surveyed the environs through a window to know the possible origin of the commotion.
Lo and behold! It was she. Sauvé and saintly. Her appearance, gestures and soft talk made her cynosure of all eyes. A real star turn! People all around were just knocked out. They were rejoicing, celebrating and felicitating each other. They had forgotten all their agonies and miseries, to welcome her with open arms. After all, they had longed for her, given up so much for her, spend years together struggling, lost their best assets and yet she wouldn’t budge.
But now, some strange happenings had brought her to their place; not because they had bribed her or had clandestinely influenced her. Her arrival even though abrupt was but destined for she had eluded and dogged them hundreds of years. She had played virtual hide-n-seek. However, they had vowed to win her come what may. They persisted with their goal, and at long last, they had emerged victorious. She had now descended on their habitat unconditionally, in a broad daylight.
The commotion had by now settled down and the gathering was swelling each passing moment. She was hardly visible now in the flood of humanity engulfing her on all sides. She was being admired, adored, revered and showered with love, affection, gratitude and what not. Had they not been Believers of one God, they would have worshipped her. The euphoria continued for days together, and they organized functions, melas and rallies to celebrate her homecoming.
However, their functions lacked the zing for they were people poor and backward. Their young men looked like apes: with no brains of their own. Their cities and towns were dirty and stinking. Their old had gone nuts and their elderly behaved as children whilst their children were bereft of any good. They had been begging for hundreds of years for almost everything, and by now begging seemed to be no sin for them. Every one of them irrespective of his age, stature and position had begged sometime or the other. They begged of their neighbours, friends and anyone who visited them. They knew not about self-reliance; they knew not the skills of the modern world; and they had not won a single friend who could bail them out, not by alms but sincere help. They devoured whatever little they had been gifted by nature without ever thinking of preserving or building something on their own. They never thought of contributing anything to humanity that would make them unforgettable among the people of the world.
Many among them even admitted that they suffered from impairment of vision. They couldn’t see far beyond. Having grown up amidst lofty mountains, they needed to be elevated to see the progressive world beyond those mountains. Some among them refused to believe the existence of anything across hills. They were too poor to conceive about another world for they lived in palatial houses, wore alien and expensive apparel, ate imported chicks, goats, lambs; and turned every water-body of their land into slush by emptying their lavatories into them. They worked but for a limited period during the day and the rest they were busy gossiping or else talking about politics: the opium without which they could not live. Festivals, entertainment and celebration for them was an occasion to spend lavishly and eat until their bellies were full, and later curse their predecessors for having had such traditions. They put up an air of being religious now and then to qualify as believers, but most of them had only tasted faith and not cherished it.
She had grown weary of the gala events held for her reception. She had lost that glow of hers, looking bushed and bogged down. Things weren’t the way she had anticipated. It was an abso-bloody-lutely different world she was living in now. The look on her face was a dead giveaway. Alone and aloof, she was lost. Like a spick blank sheet of paper, her mind was clear of all hopes and her imagination sought nothing now. It was a dimensionless vacuum, deep and ever-expanding, that fluttered her nowhere.
And then, one day, she spoke: “My dear sons, my lads, you’ve shown your regard, love and tremendous affection for me. But……. but I’ve got a feeling that I’m going to fall sick for the water you drink is contaminated, the air you breathe is polluted and the food you eat is unhealthy. I’m sorry to say I cannot live this any longer, and jeopardize my health and future. As you know, I’ve followers settled beyond these fanciful mountains, who are prosperous. Their progeny is hard-working and industrious, having changed not only their destiny but also the course of human history. I feel deprived of all their achievements by getting cocooned here. Believe you me, the flames of my thought system have been smothered by the squalid, fragile and dull quality of life out here. No, I cannot remain here anymore. I wish you all the best. Thanks for being nice and courteous, all of you. Goodbye, and take care!”
They were dumbfounded, shell shocked, paralyzed – not knowing how to react. How could it happen, all of a sudden? An abiding sense of loss pricked them. ‘She cannot go like this: we’ve yearned for her, suffered and sweated’ – they whined. They cried, coaxed and cajoled her but nothing doing. She flew past them and vanished on the horizon beyond those mountains. Clouds of obscurity enswathed her, and the wind of alienation carried her away somewhere far, very far. She blurred in the mist of oblivion.
How they had cherished her company. How eventful had the past days been! It all seemed like a mirage in a burning desert. ‘How can she leave us like this, Papa?’ a small boy asked, tears rolling down his chubby cheeks.
‘Will she ever return to us in future?’ – he questioned again.
Papa had no answer.