Regis had been always a dreamer. He liked to spun fantasies of a world where there was no pain, no suffering of any kind, no wars of territorial egos-either of states or individuals. Where no one lived on the party line or others below the poverty line. No one high or none low. It was a world of perfect harmony ensconced within a pure boundless joy and unrestricted freedom, where selfless and uncontaminated love will provide warm succor. No territories of egos, no limits enforced by matter. Regis fantasized that in such a place he would find that something or someone, which or who, would help him realize the truth of existence. However, of course, Regis did not know whether it was something or someone.
All the monotony of school life, the spirited dispensation of college life and the scholastic drudgery of university life, Regis endured, with a belief that just beyond the horizon of one more exam, one more year and one more hurdle lies his world of hope and joy. He never, however, for a moment let go the world that he spun in his fantasies.
Regis was brought up in a middle-class environment with all the comforts and luxuries that shielded him from the realities of his immediate experiences. It was a big family where all mature individuals had a say in things that mattered to the household. Regis being a curious boy was stifling to grow up and join the ranks of those he held in awe for their role in giving orientation to his as well as others' lives. Well! If only he knew what lay in store for him in a state he presumed would solve all his whims in a trice.
Being a dreamer, Regis never gave prominence to the hard manual labor that all his siblings endured at school and beyond, to justify their existence in this world. He abhorred teachers who gave tons of class work supplemented by tons of homework. He found all of them dumb for not being able to perceive his viewpoint about the futility of such labor in the end-all of them only endured to teach but never to learn. His friends, he thought were useless because they always kept themselves buried under books and tutors, they never supported his endeavors to play trite from school and go catching tadpoles or small water-borne insects in glass bottles. He liked to watch the clouds drift along the blue expansive sky and longed to be as effortlessly free. However, not being persuasive enough to have a faithful friend who never reasoned his intentions, Regis continuously felt their desertion after the teacher's flogging or their parents' meeting with the Headmaster.
This routine continued until Regis did badly at the school leaving examinations.
Regis, who was tolerably suffered by his friends and near ones, now became a complete pariah. People began to shun him and whatever friends he had, cold-shouldered the reality of his existence. A simple exam played trite with his life encasing Regis in a glass bottle where he could see the world around him but could not take part-like the tadpoles, he encased. Lonely, he watched the clouds still drifting along the expansive blue sky, but they no longer seemed free, the strong winds forced them to change their directions. The rivulets and streams, which had become the home to toxic wastes of human civilization, no longer welcomed the tadpoles. Even his old school had put up barbed fences, as if, to protect its inmates from all wishful fancies.
Regis realized that the world of his compatriots was in reality a market transacting hopes and aspirations, but all within the socially framed constructs that weighed them in the scales of achievements. All those who did not meet the approved scales were deviants, non-entities, doomed to oblivion.
But Regis was a perennial dreamer who embarked to construct a world of his own, spun and protected by his own thoughts and dreams, shutting the hedonism of the world around him. It was in this mental, introspective world that Regis sought an ethereal freedom that shielded him from the vagaries of his fellow travelers.
As Regis grew he encountered these harsh realities of human existence, faced and overcame obstacles that result from the trivialities of human passions, jealousy and greed, enrolling in the university with hopes of becoming a teacher.
Years had passed since his prank-filled childish days and Regis learnt the habits of the people he did not want to emulate. He became market-savvy by learning the means to trick the social scales. The balance in that scale began to show signs of favoring improvement and the society began to behave respectfully, keeping his past in abeyance, probably temporarily.
He began to participate in debates and win laurels, was very vocal about issues that mattered and slowly endeared him to many around, including his teachers. However, though the society reflected a complete amnesia about his past, Regis could not forget the dark days of gloom when no one bothered his existence. Ironically, the protective shell, which Regis spun around him during those days, became his prison from which he could not escape. He longed to participate in the glory that this society, which once spurned him, showered upon him, but an unknown cynical longing for his protective shield kept him distant. He felt that the society reflected the same meanness that they shower upon a spurned man, only the context had changed.
It was in one of the debates that Regis saw 'Her'. She came in just when Regis was at his satiric best and the house was completely with Regis. No one else had seen Her, except Regis. Standing behind the lectern Regis could see only her-clapping after every point made by him in a vacant auditorium. There seemed to be no other soul in the big hall, only Regis and She.
For the first time, someone or something struck Regis and tried cracking his protective cask.
He could not explain the warm happiness that all of a sudden seemed to embalm his sore life. The elusive search for the perfect moment he had longed seemed to have arrived. Regis longed to be free of an unseen chain that seemed to have bound him. He longed to return to the stream and watch the tadpoles slithering in the shallow waters. He longed to see the clouds glean effortlessly across the expansive blue sky. Regis longed to revisit his school days.
What followed was a cat and mouse game, where both sought to entrap the other in a moment that would nurture a new beginning. Regis shielded by his self-created protective cask could not garner the courage to risk his world once again, by taking the initiative. He longed to leave his protective cask but had developed an inexplicable fear for the real world that always checkmated his dreams. She was more bold in throwing the gauntlets for Regis to pick, but alas.
After lots of dithering and procrastination, Regis decided to bare his heart. Gathering all the courage that he had, Regis approached her for a response.
Surrounded by a sea of friends, She was sitting under the blue sky basking in the radiance of the bright morning sun. His approach alerted Her and her friends, Regis stiffened. Nevertheless, nothing could stop him today from meeting headlong whatever fate had in store for him. The world cannot be so harsh as to turn down his dreams each time. He will win this time. Together, they would be free of this game based on winning or losing, thought Regis.
Clumsily he presented his views to her, but before she could respond, her friends confronted the clumsy Regis with a hearty laughter. She, probably unwittingly, joined her friends. Regis felt that he was standing on the ocean shore and the tide which had brought along apprehensive longing and uncertain warmth hidden in its depths washing away along with the hopes even the earth that felt firm a moment ago beneath his feet. He sought his protective cask but it had also forsaken him this moment. He stood alone watching the real world checkmate his world of dreams one more time.
Walking alone through the lonely winding road Regis cursed himself for abandoning the protective shield that he had spun through his dreams. Will this world never accept him with his dreamy ways?
Sometime later, She asked Regis to pardon her, sending an apology thorough a common acquaintance. However, by now her world had also changed. Her parents had her engaged to an engineer settled abroad. Regis responded through a ubiquitous silence that by now was his standard response to the outside world. However, silently from the deepest depths of his na've heart He wished Her, the very best for her new beginning, or is it a hackneyed sequel.
Years had rolled nevertheless, Regis still strives to dream.