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Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Meditating Shadow – II: The Shadow Gets a Body

A sequel to my earlier post: The meditating shadow

One evening I was sitting under the banyan tree in the village square. There was nothing else to do. I didn’t have to eat. I didn’t have to drink. I didn’t have to do anything that a human being normally does. I didn’t feel hungry or thirsty.  I never slept. I was not affected by sunlight or rain, summer or winter, night or day. I didn’t have the fear of getting ill, or injured, or meeting with an accident. In short, my existence was not an existence at all. Sometimes I used to take a walk around the village. I used to see several of my friends engaged in routine activities. They went for a walk, went to market, went to office, drove their cars, and organized functions in the village. I wanted to cry aloud and shout at the top of my voice. But no tears flowed down from my eyes, and no voice came out.

I had made it a point to go to my home every day at least once. I watched my wife toiling hard. I used to help her in the domestic front. Now she was managing it all on her own. She has been doing it since my ‘vanishing’ eight years ago. I had heard her several times telling our relatives and friends that I had no reason to run away from home. We were quite happy. We never had any misunderstanding between us. She wondered if I might have met with an accident. If so, then why are there no records in police stations or hospitals? Was I kidnapped? She found no reason for anybody to kidnap me. She knew I didn’t have any serious problems in the office either. Yet she made enquiries in the office to find out if there was something which she hadn’t known. I did not. My disappearance remained a mystery for the whole village. They stopped searching for me after a few years. My wife, too, had lost all hopes of my return.

It was the annual festival time in the village temple. I watched the hectic preparations. This was an occasion when the villagers celebrated a lot. They got an opportunity to showcase their talents. I used to take active part in all such events in the village. People don’t even remember me now. I don’t blame them. Who has the time to remember somebody who has been missing for more than eight years?

I had lost hope of returning to my earlier life ever. At times I thought of running away to a distant place so that I didn’t have to see the pathetic condition of my wife and daughter. I asked myself, ‘Why did the magician restore my thinking power to me before his leaving?’ By doing it he has only increased my suffering. Or, maybe he didn’t do it deliberately. A few days after he detached me physically from his body, my brain had got back its power almost fully. A brain without a head to hold it! A non-existent head on a non-existent body!

One evening I was sitting under the tree watching the sunset. Three years … and I have not missed out the sunrise or the sunset even for a day.
Suddenly I felt something strange. Am I feverish? Why this nausea?  I thought I was ‘feeling’ the soil on which I sat and lay. I had forgotten how it felt to touch the earth, water, a human being, or anything for that matter. How can I feel? I cannot. I did not. Not in the last eight years. I tried to touch the ground with my hand. It was then that I noticed I can sense the movement of my hand. And, and, Oh, God! Oh, God! What’s it? Am I seeing my hand? And my legs? And my body? I could feel the earth, the soil, the rock, and the grass!

It was the shock of my life. How come I was getting back my body three years after the magician had left? I then remembered that the magician had repeated the ‘shadow’ act a few times on me. The last one was the day he left. That was a longer session. At the end he had told me, “Okay, now you are safe for three years.”

I had asked, “Safe?”

He had said, “Yes, you will remain a shadow for another three years now. I shall return by then. And then, we shall take over the village and will rule forever.”

And now, I am getting back my body. And the magician has not yet returned. That was the happiest moment of my life. My body was slowly, but surely, returning! Is it a dream? Or is it really happening? Was I feeling thirsty? And hungry? And weak? I felt terribly tired, indeed. I had forgotten how it was to be thirsty or hungry or tired. I thought I would at that very moment die of excitement. I felt tears flowing down my cheeks. I was so thrilled that I didn’t know what to do.

I just sat there, then lay tired.

And slept like a log.

It was paining all over my body when I woke up. I thought somebody was kicking me. I saw a huge crowd of children around me. They were calling me mad man, thief, terrorist, and all kinds of names which can be attributed to an utterly horrible-looking stranger. They were hitting me with sticks and throwing stones. That was when I woke up. I wanted to plead with them to be kind to me. That I was one among them. That I was their dear uncle who vanished several years ago.

It was then that Mr Shrivastava came forward and admonished the children. He looked at me and asked, “Who are you?”

I told him, “I am …”

But, hey, what’s it? Where is my voice? Have I forgotten to talk? I tried my best to tell him that I was the same man who they all thought had vanished several years ago. I tried to talk to him again … and again … and again. But, alas, no sound came out of my lips. I was devastated. Tears flowed down my cheeks.

He must have felt sympathy on me. He then removed his shirt and gave me. He said, “Come on, cover yourself.”

It was then that I looked at my body. Oh, Goodness! I was stark naked! How could I not realize this earlier? I also felt my long hair, may be several feet. And beard which had grown past my chest! Movements were very difficult for me. But I managed to cover me with the shirt he so graciously lent me, with great difficulty, though. He took me to the village hospital. It was more of a small nursing home, but that was where we all used to go for all treatments, except surgeries and major illnesses.

The doctor immediately put me on glucose. I was nearly unconscious for most part of the next two days. Maybe from exhaustion. May be from excitement. Whenever I came around, I tried to talk but no voice came out.

After being on glucose and liquid diet for two days I was slightly better. I felt stronger. The news spread throughout the village that a naked and ill man was found under the banyan tree in the village square. A few of the village elders came to see me. I knew all of them. But unfortunately none of them recognized me.

[To continue]

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