“The Third Eye”

Usually my penchant for past drags me to look and dwell mostly in the hindsight like an anachronistic enamored by bygone times, but today, quite contrarily, I find it instigating me to venture into the future, an altogether abstract and surrealistic dream.
“The Third Eye”
Representational Pic

The time 9:30 a.m., and as I enter my workplace, before any salutations, in a kind of doomsday hurry, I stand in front of the biometric gadget installed a few weeks before to mark attendance of the employees. The machine, out of some weird thinking of its own, rejects and turns down the scan of my eyes and makes me lose my identity, at least for a while. Blanked out, I wonder during that fleeting interval, before I make a second try for my eye scan, whether I am me or someone else in my garb, and as my lost identity catches me unaware, aghast with gaping mouth, I start to feel uncomfortable with the ditzy scanner and all its relatives, the cctv's and other third eyes of the modern times we live in, when I believe Shiva's third eye alone was sufficient enough to keep guard of the whole universe.

Usually my penchant for past drags me to look and dwell mostly in the hindsight like an anachronistic enamored by bygone times, but today, quite contrarily, I find it instigating me to venture into the future, an altogether abstract and surrealistic dream. In addition to it my recent study of Orhan Pamuk boook help and aid me to enter this reverie wherein I stand amid a catastrophic landscape with fiercely leaden sky closed in on the deflagrating city degraded to the abject levels of pollution , and I see strange people with horrible countenances, with no sense at all, frantically moving, like automatons, and surrounded by a web of these surveillance cameras moving and flying in all directions. In that era trustworthiness and reliability will sound as unheard-of words.

Amidst this chaos of trust deficiency and sneak peep into people's lives, as if scanning some rogues and marauders, I will find all the shops and vendors shut for the fear of rampage, loot and plunder by this absurdly moving confluence of people. Because of the all around conflagration my immense thirst for drinking water – elixir of life, as there will be great dearth of drinking water due to grave pollution and drying up of our lakes and other water bodies, our taps and faucets will pour no water, but loathsome sand and dust, and thus the Pandora's box shall lie wide open- will make me drive my vehicle which will also be fitted with cctv and scanners, connecting my every move and gesture with the authorities at the helm of affairs during that time of great afflictions and dreadful plagues. While as 'freedom' and 'individuality' would seem to have lost all their meanings, and terms like 'privacy' and 'right to live freely' would have become archaic and obsolete, and erased from the preambles of constitution.

The sparkling meters and dials on the dashboard of my vehicle will stand synchronized with the universal web and web police shall remind me, time and again, of my detours and swerving. I will travel, in search of drinking water, in my car, but of course, under the scan of modern speedometers and traffic lights which, by then, would have replaced all the traffic personals and flying squads from our roads. Looking at my chronographic watch which will scan my eye first to assure whether I am the same person who owns my watch, I will find exactly 10 minutes to go to reach the famous Dal lake, in the last hope of quenching my thirst . Reaching there I will stop my vehicle by the side of Boulevard road and will feel no need of locking it, as it will be fully automated and conscientised with the aid of high tech gadgetry to fend off swindlers or thieves, seemingly on prowl everywhere. To my utmost surprise and fear I will find the lake, despite being watched by thousands of these types of surveillance cameras, turned and changed completely into a boggy marsh with dark hideous cumulonimbi hanging and touching this concavity, letting through only fade yellow streaks of crepuscule at odd places. After passing through one such scanner and given access to proceed, I will descend the slope to the bed of this waterless lake. Boulevard will begin to appear like a serpentine road standing high above along the precipice of Zabarwan mountain range. I will start fearfully to trample through this black mud and slime, stinking and reeking from the decayed and half decomposed dead bodies of humans and animals killed in wild sprees of loot and plunder, as by then we shall have retrogressed back to the Neanderthal era, obtaining food rapaciously from hunting only. These dead bodies, after denial of their burial in the tombs, by the biometrics guarding their grave yards-and some, upon the examination of the disintered corpses of long forgotten kings and emperors, shall be declared fake ones and their identities as meaningless marks on the pages of history- shall be dumped in this empty and gruesome lake, a quagmire of decomposing biological tissues attracting swarms of prodigious flies metamorphosed into weird shapes that will belie and prove reversal of every detail of Kafka's imagination. Vermin, eels, snakes and rodents with grotesque forms, will be busily gnawing at the remains of the decaying dead bodies covered with dark mud and peat.

 Amid an obnoxious miasma I shall pass by some hulks and toppled wrecks of our once renowned houseboats and shikaras now lying nosedived and aground in this bog, like some pallid age-old broken dentures kept overnight in some liquidless dirty bowl. Gruesome birds of prey will fly and encircle the dilapidated remains of old post office boat, turned into a hide by lean and wizened people half clad with tattered rags, cooking the remains of dead horses and other quadrupeds, since there will be no signs of vegetation around (floating gardens with fresh vegetables would have become, long ago, things of the past). A little further, in a heap of mud and moss I will recognize, in a glimpse, my ancestral antique belongings like traditional Pherans with filigree works, wooden clogs, silver trinkets, Ploughs and Sickles, and other husbandry tools, ornate Kangris, shards of mutilated pottery, and Somovars with verdigris all over, ghastly deformed, bedraggled and covered with peat , renounced and gifted to Dal a long way back.

The only water supply to these shanties and slums will come from the numerous gutters and sewers emptying all the sewage and filth of whole city into this dry lake filled with skeletons of people and animals ( I will discover and recognize the skeletons of our mythical milkman with the pitcher on his head, filled with wriggling leaches and worms, and the reed mat seller, 'waguw woal' – with the decomposed dark reeds, like frayed threads dangling from his head, as if vicious snakes squirming around the head of Hydra, and the echoes of his desperate calls Waguw maeh kheinh, Waguw maeh kheinh…, unable to reach the ears of his clientele devoured into abysmal depths of oblivion by the ever crushing jaws of death, still reverberating in this desolate heath- believed to have drowned and petrified in Dal lake centuries ago).Plastic bottles, eerie shaped ragged shoes, mounds of empty soft drink cans , polythenes and numerous bottle caps shall lie littered in heaps everywhere. I shall approach a group of these diseased people and ask fearfully for some water. In an empty cranium, a small bonny child with bloated belly and sunken eyes full of pallor will provide me this sewage fluid filled with malignant germs and floating scum. Stupefied, and in a bid to save myself from dying of thirst, I will drink a little and instantly start to vomit and puke. Amid this cacophony of shrieking calls of framed birds with protruding black eyes, and faced by this horrible situation I will flee from this hellish spot and start running towards my car, and the spatter of crabs, dead fish and rats trampled under my fleeting feet will shoo away these scavenging birds from the half eaten carcasses. With great difficulty I will be back at my car. I shall enter my car, but not before getting my eyes and body scanned by its sophisticated gadgetry, and will race back to my home where again before being admitted I will be asked for a scan which I will unfortunately fail to pass. With my access to my home denied I will wistfully look through the glass panes of the window. From inside the window my wife and children will indifferently and apathetically watch my wails and whines while I will scream my lungs out trying to prove I am the real husband and father.

In the meantime a pat on my shoulder by a colleague who awaits his turn behind me for his scan at the biometrics, brings me back from my reverie, and while the slant rays of the morning sun glisten the marmoreal floor of the porch of our office, bedecked with freshly watered flowerpots, I shake and shed my slumber and in a second attempt present my eyes before the biometrics, and luckily this time it accepts the scan with the utterance in a feminine voice: Thank you.

The author works as an artist at Govt. College of Education, M.A. Road, Srinagar
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Greater Kashmir