In the Wake of Suffering
In the Wake of Suffering8 mins 172 8 mins 172
An old hermit lived in a thatched hut on the outskirts of the city of Bhubaneswar. Prakhar, a postgraduate in English, was searching for a job. He had heard of the hermit but didn't have the luck and the willingness as well to visit him. Although he was Hindu by religion, his dilapidated ashram was open to people from all religions.
Prakhar's job search had filled him with plenty of bitterness and profound despair. His family was unusually big including a number of aunts and uncles but then everybody was fed up with him. He felt as if his existence didn't carry any significance in the big family. He had worked in colleges and schools initially and had clashed with the authorities. This was because he couldn't bear with big men and women in places of authority and strongly condemned their pride and arrogance. He couldn't tolerate too anyone else being insulted or rudely messed with in his presence. Whenever he saw someone ill-treated, he pounced upon the offender like a tiger. He loved Lord Vishnu and particularly worshipped his incarnation of Narasingha in which the Lord has the head of a fierce lion.
His family got him married to a beautiful girl who was a rich merchant's daughter. The marriage ended after seven months when he had discovered that she was cheating him with a rich married friend of his. His ex-wife's father had framed him with charges of domestic violence and wife beating. He had to spend a year in jail. After his release, private colleges, schools , private individuals and institutions, even coaching centres, refused to employ him. Helpless, he started a grocery business but that too proved unsuccessful. What to do now? Fate had proved that he was a worthless man wanted by nobody in this world.
Years passed. Now Prakhar was able to earn his living as a typist. He was lucky to get this job. He earned just enough to stay alive. Again he was lucky to have a room for free. An administrative officer from a village adjoining his own had built an outhouse on a piece of land and the construction of his palatial building was going on. He had entrusted Prakhar with the supervision of the work in progress. In return, he had allowed him to use the outhouse as his dwelling. His father who lived in the village had refused to share any of his pension money with his unemployed son. In the evenings after his return from the type institute, he would cook himself something and take his supper. Then he would lie on a portable bed and stare at the sky and thinking of his dead mother would shed tears enormously. He had cultivated the habit of smoking bidis. He knew it was harmful but he didn't care. He would often ask himself, "What kind of life am I living?"
With the arrival of computers, the number of young people who came to the institute to learn typing drastically decreased. Now Prakhar was again going to be a victim of depression.
One early morning he heard a knock on his tin door. He saw a tall old man dressed like Sai Baba of Shirdi. He welcomed the sadhu indoors. The sadhu took his seat on the portable bed and smiled skeptically. Then he said, "The world is an ocean full of vicious crocodiles who make innocent humans their prey. But don't worry son. Happy days are ahead. The type institute is going to close but you will still earn enough to live. "
"But how do you know all this? Are you Sai Baba of Shirdi?" said Prakhar.
The visitor said, "I am a messenger of Sai Baba. "
Prakhar touched the sadhu's feet and the sadhu placed his hand on the unemployed young man's head. Then he gave him two books on which appeared two different photos of Baba.
The old sadhu refused to accept the price of the books and turned away. Prakhar was astonished. Then he looked closely at the photos and was puzzled. He exclaimed: "My goodness. . !It's Shirdi Sai Baba himself who has given me the books! O I am going to be well-established in some profession and lead a happy life!"
The next morning with a file of his documents and certificates Prakhar walked out into the street and very hopefully rode his rickety bicycle to the office of a newspaper editor. It being April, the sun was unbearable and hard. He paddled his way to the newspaper office. He was full of zeal and hope constantly thinking about what Sai had told him. The people at the office told him the editor came to the office after one o'clock in the afternoon. An old man told him it would be wise to meet the editor in his residence.
When the city was in flames, Prakhar cycled his way to the editor's residence. He stood under a small mango tree leaning his worn bicycle against the compound wall. When he found the editor alone relaxing in a chair in the veranda of the house, he opened the gate and stole inside. As he approached the editor smilingly, that brute of an editor turned on him snarling and shouted, "Who are you? Say!. . Say!. . . Say. . . ! Off you go this moment!" Prakhar stood there still hopeful. Then he seemed to relent a little and asked with some curtness: "What do want? Tell me quickly!"
"Sir I want to work for you. . . I am good at English! I can draw cartoons Sir. Please have a look at the cartoons and my paintings. . " Prakhar handed his other file containing some matchless cartoons, sketches and paintings. The editor hit at the file so indignantly that its contents were found strewn all over the ground. Prakhar had to gather them and replace them in the folder as before. Then the beastly editor smiled inscrutably and said, "Come tomorrow. . . !"
Prakhar stayed awake late into the night hoping to elicit a warm and positive reaction to his next meet with the editor. He was watching and waiting for the editor to come out of his house. When he pretty bored and finding it painful, he sighted the editor coming out of his residence. He entered the car and as the vehicle started to move, Prakhar stood by the gate to have his appointment with the editor in his office.
A watchman opened the gate for the car to move out and Prakhar screamed: "Sir. . . !. . . . . Sir. . . . !. . . . . .
Sir. . . . !" The luxury car went out of sight . . . and the job-seeking youth was left standing with shock, and pain in his eyes. The watchman was affectionate and loving.It was as hot as it was yesterday. The kind watchman offered a glass of chilled water to him and said: "Son, you know nothing about these mother-fuckers. They only excel in making speeches. Full of poison inside but outwardly soft-spoken . . . ?Yes or no? They are dogs. . !Yes rabid dogs..! They are all bastards who won't hesitate to sell their mothers, sisters and daughters to grab money and power?"
"This man's father-in-law was kind to me. The old man used to grant me holidays if I wanted to go home. But he had a very strange tendency to make love to young boys. He wanted a new boy every night. There were two people who found the old man young boys. But having exploited the boys sexually, he would shower many favours on them including cushy jobs. . . !And even plots in this city. . . !"
Prakhar came back to his lonely place of shelter. He ate some watered stale rice and onions. As his bicycle had been punctured, he had done a good deal of walking. Even though he had the puncture fixed, he was very late in reaching home. He fell asleep when it was around six in the evening.
The next morning was a wonderful one. He recalled the details of the dream he had in which the same fakir had figured. As he recalled the details, he remembered everything vividly. He felt that his body was melting away, that is, his body consciousness was wearing away little by little. All the questions related to the occult and the universe were getting answered most logically and irrefutably. He no more wondered at the secrets of the universe! He was in shabby clothes and had no money in his pocket. He felt he was as brave as a lion. His fear of each and every kind had completely vanished! No he didn't feel sad recalling his sad past and realised that there was nothing called death. . . !Now he was no more a bundle of desires and mere senses but a spirit free and blessed. He whiled away days and nights sitting in a single place always meditating and never feeling the need to sleep. He said to himself: "How come. . it's possible to be happy and healthy without sleep? From inside his soul came the answer:"Dear son, it is the body that sleeps. The spirit is ever awake; it has no need for anything. Meditation can doubly compensate for sleep.."
He realised that he had neither any beginning nor any end. He burst into boisterous laughter. Some construction workers came running to his door and asked: "What happened brother. ?"
He said to them smiling, "Nothing. . . !"His eyes were tearful with an intense joy he never knew from birth.