A feminine tone reaches closer to the entrance of the main gate. It spoke a coded message that he could decipher. He could hear his mother rush to the gate who otherwise took a laid back approach in welcoming a visitor. Perhaps, mothers respond well to the messages borne from heart than from the mouth.
“Urmila...” she opens the gate, “...come on in”
“Bhabhi, I…what…”, the neighbor uttered in a trembling voice.
“What happened Urmila?” his mother’s voice becoming concerned.
“Gagan, he went away with his friends to the riverside and they swam…”
He could hear their voices slowly fading away and then merging with oblivion as the door of the hall got shut from inside. Right from the moment he heard the tone, he knew, owing to the treasure trove of his life’s experiences, that the universe had conspired against the visitor.
It was only the details he longed for. As for this longing, it was hard to say whether it was concern for the neighbor who had never interacted beyond formal greetings with him or simply, the curiosity of a writer; such distinctions become blurred in the metaphysical plane when you have an artistic frame of mind.
An hour of haunting silence occupied his home till the neighbor’s family came to take Urmila back. He felt that asking his mother about the recent incident might result in outburst of emotions which would stir a tornado in his heart. He kept quiet. Silence, at times proves more merciful than a deranged raging bull. In the evening when the ravens flew away from the dying Sun, his father briefed him with the details and somewhat touched his curiosity.
Hearts ached, rituals followed and the saga began to seep in the ears of the town.
It is to satisfy the curiosity of a writer and caress this empathy for the victim which has ceaselessly begun to occupy his soul, that he is writing the incident today.
“Eons are small. Existence is a question of nowhere in the spacetime of everywhere. I have risen to consciousness and I will flow back to the bare travelling sage called carbon. Are you listening,o noble carrier?”
Gagan hung up the phone and in bewilderment, rendered the caller, insane. As he began to dwell more into the insanity of his unconscious, a high-pitched wailing of his name shook him out of the dream. She yells louder than an alarm clock but her motherly aura counteracted the annoyance and disturbance to zero. Gagan rose up from his bed, devoided himself of energy draining waste and joined his mother for breakfast.
Sun shone across the sky and birds perched on the veranda, chirping a rhapsody of sweet alliterations. Urmila could see her son devouring on the breakfast happily yet, she felt like a knot churning in her gut. It was after ages that she was observing the calmness of his rare green eyes, crowned by a naughty mind. His rabbit teeth giving his smile a jewel to make the Moon jealous. Amidst all the bantering by acquaintances over the rowdy creed of his son in the past, he became the most beautiful part of her. She could do nothing but smile on her own, after all, angry mothers display the sweetest gestures when their hearts erupt love of sweetest measure.
Perhaps, that knot in her gut was a medical issue, she thought.
Gagan’s phone rang and the pious moment shivered with disturbance.
“What? …for real!”, an ecstatic seventeen-year-old exclaimed.
“What’s the good news?”
“Umesh got a new bike and he will be giving us treat for that!”
“Oh…okay”. Urmila could feel that knot churning tighter. “d…don’t go today.”
“Because, you…you haven’t studied properly in days. All this roaming around town needs to take a break.”
Don’t blame the mother for saying such a clichéd statement to her son. Intuitions are hard to explain to sane old people, let alone hot blooded young adults.
“I will study in the evening…” And swoosh, he rushed to his room for an apparel change up.
All that Urmila could ponder upon, was helplessness. At the adjacent room, overhearing their conversation was his favorite uncle.
“Son, bring a tobacco pouch on your way back!”
Like whispers dancing their way from mouth to ears, his face glided with wind against falling leaves. Gagan was riding an individual cathartic moment along with the new bike, upon road travelled by many but understood by a few. How strange it is that sometimes, moments of epiphany brings the horizon closer to the seeker, yet pushes the loved ones far way.
"You just got to keep living' man... L.I.V.I.N". This Matthew McConaughey dialogue from 'Dazed and Confused' is what the amigos' mirth dictated as they began guzzling the gateway of seventh heaven. Booze, as laymen call it. Riverside dwelling of those wanderers would have been incomplete without a swim so off these adrenalines pumped youth went to let their skins make love with the flowing water. Their drunk minds, deracinated from the societal bounds, felt the aloofness of nature minutes after swimming in the river.
They were together but alone, for people do love the craze of water, but it's just a momentary impulse. Only certain hearts can match the rhythm of water and feel its soul. So, after a few frolicking moments in the river, their feet led their way back to the warm sand on the shore.
In that departure, they heard a drowning voice.
It was Gagan. Gagan had wandered off to the deeper bed of the river and his intoxicated body struggled to return back to land. Rapid montages of water and air flashed past his eyes as those moments began projecting the cinema of life, escape and troublesome consequences. Worried, his friends managed to ask for sober help. As water seeped in Gagan’s body, Gaia’s curse began to overshadow his sanity. He began hallucinating. And in that hallucination, he saw a dark hand of the reaper holding him with an iron wrist from the hair and pulling him off of water to the land of nowhere.
Except, in the eyes of the living, that hand was of the help those friends had called, who pulled out the seventeen-year-old Gagan’s dead body.
The writer feels that the favorite uncle blames himself for not putting up a reason to make Gagan stay at home that day. That Urmila, Gagan’s mother, reproaches herself each day for excusing her inner calling and letting her heart’s eternal sense slip away from her side. That each night her bed and body feels a vacant space as she visualizes the time her baby son cried at night, after his birth. That Matthew McConaughey’s dialogue fails to work at three o’clock in the morning, when her soul begs the conscious for watching Gagan’s eyes and listening to his voice; the unparalleled definition of love. That one can build a happy present and future by following what flows in the deepest chambers of one’s heart, but if what you pursue departs from this world, then will, actions and body becomes but a sample of Darwin’s inferences on soulless evolution.
That each day, she looks up where she believes her son currently resides and wonders if only her son knew, that his name meant, the sky.