He lay on his bed drained of all energy. Everything had dissipated out of him. He knew not of the hours that slipped by nor when the day ended, and night fell. In the hole where he was nothing happened. Nothing mattered to him too. He bothered not of the time, nor when he ate, drank, slept. Only thing that he was aware of was his body. If only the pain subsided. His head ached, his eyes throbbed. There was this uneasy sensation in his stomach. His stomach constantly rebelled against him. He had stopped fighting it. He did what it told him. If it told him to throw up, he did. If it refused food, he refused food. Yet relentlessly it fought him. It made him sick all over. His body ached so badly from all its exertions that the only thing on his mind all the time was to take rest, to sleep and forget it all.
But sleep eluded him. He almost felt everyone around conspired with his body to do so. There was the boy on the top floor. The music he put on reverberated around the walls, it hammered his ears, and the doors and the windows vibrated with it. It seemed impossible to sleep with such noise. Mingled with the music was the noise of cymbals and a monotonous chanting. The people who lived in the nearby hutments carried on prayers at almost the same time.
A light pierced his eyes, blinding him for a second. He turned to find the boy who lived with him, sitting at his table with his books. "Did I disturb you dada"? he asked. "You know its 10'o'clock". He turned his face away. He didn't understand why people disturbed him. He was a passive person, yet everyone seemed to have fun in torturing him. Still everyone seemed right in his cause. The boy who lived on the top floor was the child of rich parents who traveled frequently all around the globe leaving him alone in the house. His life's only passion was music. So he had become a disc jockey. He liked music and his job involved experimenting with different kinds of music finding out which one played better, mixing and playing with different types of music and sounds. In his parent's absence, he rented different rooms living the way he liked. The whole day went by with music of all kinds playing creating hell for the neighbors and everyone. Then, when his parent's came back, he went back to their house with its boring, indulgent lifestyle. The people in the poor huts had their own problems. They missed their village and its life in the city. When they returned after a hard day's work, with the dust and grime of the city around them, their exhausted bodies wanting to rest, but their restless minds craved excitement of all kinds. It missed and longed tirelessly for its village. Some of them drowned and quietened it in alcohol, while others turned to prayers, which were for them a semblance of village life. It evoked memories of a temple with a icon who lit up hearts with hope for tomorrow. The boy in his house worked as a servant in different houses during the day and at night he attended night college. He studied under street lamps before he befriended the man in bed. He was the one who brought him food. In return the boy lived in his house and used his table and lights. They had cut his electricity. He had not bothered to pay the bills. It didn't bother him to live in darkness. The boy must have paid the bills.
He was quite sure of his dying. Everything around him was dying in decadence. He himself was to blame for it he knew. He had had everything when he had come to Bombay from his small town; in response to a interview call. He had somehow got the job. He had purchased a nice room with basic utilities where sometimes people struggled to make ends meet. He was the only son of his well-to-do parents. There was nothing he lacked, and now he had a job too.
Yet as he commuted daily by train to his place of work and slogged day in and day out at his job, a hollowness had set within him. The routine had got into him and suddenly life seemed very boring. His restless spirit craved excitement. He felt depressed without a cause. He met the same people. He saw the same train everyday. There was the same crowd, the same grabbing for seats, the same shouting and yelling from fleshy, oily faces with their bodies soaked in sweat. When the doctor had given his verdict - liver cirrhosis, he had quietly died before his death. He didn't care, bother anymore what happened to him. He had stopped going to work and he lay in his bed all day while his body ached. He was no longer aware of the time of the day. He just didn't care. Images of the past and the present kept flitting through his mind like some unending motion picture.
The music had stopped. Where was he?. He seemed to have flown out of the window. He was lying on the sands. Was he on the beach?. Overhead, palm trees swayed blowing a cool breeze, caressing his face and wracked body. A calmness set within him and he felt better. He suddenly realized he was the utter fool who had crushed his paradise with his own hands. It wasn't the train, it wasn't the illness, it wasn't the people who had killed him. It was the alcohol which had gotten into his system. He had been enamored by the ads at first. They had presented the high life. He had imagined himself living it. The spirit had made him feel on cloud nine. He had loved the music, the general ambience of a pub and everyday, the only thing that he looked forward to, was to be in the pub. Now as he lay on his bed, the only thing that at all mattered to him was his life which had been a beautiful crisp rose facing the sun. It had wilted and all that remained were the thorns. He closed his eyes and waited for death to come.
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Nayan S. Mijar
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