It is midnight – 25 minutes past 12. Deeply drenched in some inane feelings that he found himself incapable to comprehend, he could not sleep that night. Turning and tossing over in his bed for some time, his eyes fixed on the ceiling of the room. Everything seemed empty to him.
Eh! He sank his front teeth into his lower lip. He invoked God. "Why?" he cried effortlessly while trying to decipher the old man's aphorisms. He kept on thinking why the old man was like he was. With some strong premonitions, he could not help think again and again about that old man.
For many decades now— few who could not believe it to be decades, contended it was years rather— the old man in the village had been the most eccentric fellow. Wandering in wilderness, at times he would disappear from the village for months together. When people forgot him completely, he would make a sudden comeback.
He in no sense was a typical clumsy old man whom the children of the village would run after, gather around, boo or call names, or sometimes gleefully listen to his sweet stories. He was not a mendicant either whom the people would give alms in return for his prayers. Nor he was a reverentially awesome figure for most of the villagers. If he evoked any attention of the villagers it was because of his eccentric nature.
People could not comprehend what he said, did and did not do. His manners seemed strange, incomprehensible for most. At times he became chatty; at times he did not utter a word. Sometimes he would pick up a glass of water while sitting in front of a crowd of people. He funnelled the liquid from a height down slowly and slowly. "This is life flowing bit by bit, little by little," he would say.
Before anybody could question, he would take a deep breath and exhale with murmur: "Fleeting." He would drag the world beyond its sound. Children in the crowd never understood his words, yet most of the times they enjoyed to be among the listeners. The elderly struggled to make sense out of his aphorisms, argued bitterly with each other to prove that only "I" understood the correct meaning.
The old man never repeated his words, never bothered to explain them so as to make them clearer. His mannerism and idiosyncrasies perhaps had not him to take care that he was understood correctly.
But one day something strange happened when he was surrounded by a huge gathering of young and old— both men and women. He talked about "love". He burst into tears. None had seen him in that state till then. Flabbergasted, they looked at each other.
"Mother," he said, "was the fountainhead of the love on earth." He wanted to hug all those who believed mother's love was the most pristine and unspoiled feeling in this world. That day he did not stop. He broke the conventional rules and explained that God in His creation needed mother.
He talked about the "spirit" in the human body. It was not an evil or good spirit, nor was it about the ghost, he explained. He said it was the soul that was the spirit of the human body. "Man without spirit," he explained to the crowd, "does not mean soullessness."
He said the soul and body were antithesis to each other. "Soul never gets rest in the makeshift shell that is destined to annihilate. It wants a permanent dwelling that body – a temporary creation in itself— cannot be and cannot provide for."
He continued: "When spirit goes, don't call it death, for a body is always in the state of death even when the soul lives in it. If anything brings action—not life for nothing can animate an inanimate— to body, it is the spirit. Action in itself is not life. Action is movement of limbs that a soul brings about by its very nature while remaining in the shell."
People listened with interest. They wanted the old man should not stop that day. The biting cold could not kill their resolve. The gathering grew bigger and bigger. The old man wanted to leave, but they fell on his feet. 'Please don't leave. We want to hear more and more from you.'
The old man again parted his lips. Words began to flow out of mouth like pearls. Not twisted, not warped. He continued: "When spirit discards the shell, the movement comes to an end though the characteristic of the body does not change. It was and it remains to be inanimate."
"Life passes like a stream that we cannot stop. But what we could do is that we could either pollute it or keep it pure. If pure, others will drink from it; if polluted it will stink and harm everything around."
"Where goes the spirit?" the question by the old man sent the crowd in a tizzy.
"All through the life, we adorn our body and forget our soul. In the running cycle that we call life, when our youthful body finally gets desiccated of this spirit—the spirit that we could not befriend—we never realize," he said.