Just this last thing you should know before leaving. We have a few minutes left. There goes the signal for five. I love their flexing of the palm. These nurses talk so much that they end up making the same gesture with their palms. Quite innovative, I would say. Now, how do you like them? I mean, of course, you do. Who wouldn’t in their right mind? But seriously, don’t tell me you don’t fancy even a single one. You can’t be that young. This leads to the obvious. Are you by chance on Grindr? I’m just curious. Don’t get me wrong here. But I would love to know what it’s like. Maybe, some other time. If there’s even another time. We’ll see. For now, let’s finish what we started. I started this long and winding road with you and I don’t know what next. I told you a lot about life, mostly the part which concerns difficulty and suffering. Your suffering led me to this. Your suffering and my suffering got us closer. See, it’s simple to bond with people even if you share just one thing in common. But the thing should be a powerful thing. It should be strong enough. It should be eternal. Hence, I leave you with a simple thought: What next?
Herman met his team after office hours for the first practice session. One of them didn’t show up citing a headache. Happens, Herman thought.
‘Five souls, five roles, and one act. Let’s divide the roles,’ he said.
The five roles included a priest, a nun, the possessed boy, and his father. Herman would be the narrator of the story when there are no dialogues. But he wasn’t sure if all the guys would be present during the act. It was a long shot for him expecting things from his teammates.
The stage was set. The lights turned off. Herman switched the lights back on as it was pitch dark. Sacrifices were to be made for a great cause, he thought. It was decided that the lights would be dim to give a tinge of horror. Let the audience be at unease. Let them be one with the act. Let them feel the terror. Let them have the thrill of their lives. Herman was shooting for the moon with a bunch of toddlers in the sphere of drama.
When the team started the practice, Herman felt his heart beating faster. They were no good, none of them. Only the possessed boy was putting up a decent enough act since he had to act like a madman. The team had a week for practice. Herman knew it won’t be enough. The first practice session attested for the fact that it will never be enough.
Ronan coughed until his throat dried up. His condition was deteriorating. A man walked up to him. He talked about Ronan’s health. Ronan ignored him. But he wouldn’t give up.
‘If it would help, I was where you are now. I too had a chest infection. I too coughed just like you. You see the wind is no friend of yours if you stay out in the open for long.’
‘Ain’t I glad to hear that? Why are you following me? Leave me alone if you won’t give me money,’ Ronan said.
‘Here is some…There you go. Happy now? Listen, I got a job and worked my way up. This is the only way out. Maybe, I can help you out with…’
‘No mister, never.’ Ronan left the man behind. He didn’t want a job. He had a promise to keep to himself and to God. He would rather suffer and die. He would never work for someone else. His cough got rougher. He started spitting blood. He looked up in the sky and mumbled something. He tried to speak but he couldn’t. He was growing weaker with each step. He knew he didn’t have long. He decided to get a drink with whatever money he got today. One last drink, one last time.
Ronan saw the sun slightly on the west side. Half the day went by and he was as morose as a man on his deathbed. He came across many people with problems of their own. But he believed them to be better off than him. Something possessed by someone but not by Ronan – does it make them better off? Does it show fate as being unfair to him? Does it mean that Ronan deserves more and rightly so? If one were to ask Ronan, he would have said yes to all without the blink of an eye. He believed he was born this way destined to suffer immensely at the hands of his oppressors.
He eyed them all while dragging himself down the street. He didn’t know what he was doing. Begging was always on his mind. But he felt a hole in the act. Something wasn’t right. He wanted more in his life. Taking a long walk every day in the hope of getting by is not an easy task. He was devoid of the company of friends and family. He didn’t have any place which he could call his home. He never had real joy in life. He felt hollow inside. A life without a purpose is no life at all, he remembered a generous gentleman’s words. This was troubling him today more than ever.
Ronan entered a restaurant, asked for some bread, butter, and eggs. He didn’t have enough to pay for them. He couldn’t get more than an egg and some bread with the money he was carrying. He was hungry like the baby he met earlier. He wouldn’t mind what the baby was having. He felt his stomach mocking his predicament. He cursed the war for increasing his expenses. Prices seemed to be shooting through the roof.
The owner of the restaurant made sure that Ronan was good to make the necessary payment. First, Ronan lied and then surmised. He asked the owner for the remnants of the plates of other guests. The owner said no. Ronan asked for a trade – cleaning for food. The owner agreed. So, Ronan got half of what he wanted without making a payment. After having a decent meal, he spent some time rubbing and scrubbing the floor. When told to do the dishes, he ran as fast as he could.
The day’s events made him realize that life is not easy. It’s hell on earth. It’s a porcupine spiraling down and hurting itself. Ronan wanted an end to all his miseries. He wanted to have what the other folks in the restaurant had – money, home, family, and things he didn’t know about. He thought about the inequality in society. He cursed the ones controlling the flow of money. They ruled while he suffered. He saw no end to this.
The son said no
Mama had to go
She closes eyes
Shut out the lights
I know you care
Take off your mind
I am here…
Oh! I see it’s not helping. My singing hardly ever does. I’m no master at poetry, forget about songs. I may be not artistic this way. Maybe, I’m good at being ridiculed.
I’ll tell you. Frankly, I had no education of any kind. I don’t even know what a school looks like. I’ve seen children dreading their school life and homework. I wish I had some.
My learnings came from the people around me. I was a fool to believe every word coming out of everybody. I knew nothing else. I had no source of information. My ears received things, so many things I barely understood. You know people, they are full of talk, hardly reason. Their thoughts hop from one thing to another. If a teenage girl is fantasizing about a boy in her class, then a girl takes the place of that boy in no time at all. Curiosity, they say, killed the cat. But what about people. They are curious about all the things all the time. This ain’t such a bad thing after all. Look where curiosity took us – to the moon and beyond.
Wait, where do you think you are going, Monsieur? I’m not yet done. Be here just for the sake of your dead mama. I’m dying too. Can’t you see that? It’ll all be over soon. You come and then you leave. That’s the way of life. The cycle must roll. We all must roll no matter what. This is what I want from you. You go out there and you roll.
You look like a teenager. I don’t need to know your age. Don’t want anyone to get the wrong feeling. Feelings hurt. They are hurting you and they are hurting me. They cross over, those miscreants. They should know their boundaries. Hopping is not natural. We take one step at a time since our birth. Hopping is madness.
I’m finding it difficult to focus now. I don’t have the strength either. Maybe, we’ll cut short our tête-à-tête. But only if you want me to. Just move your head sideways and I’ll understand. Oh! Great. Then, we continue.
I’ll be brief with this thing called grief. According to the 21-day clock…cycle, anything turns into a habit when continued for a period of 21 days. Don’t let this grief get to you. I need you to cut it short just to this day. Cry you must. Cry until your eyes dry out. Yes, tomorrow you’ll wake up a fresh man. Now that you’re alone, you’re a child no more.