Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eyes Cast Away

How do stories start? Do they have a beginning? If they do, then what happens before they begin?

How do stories end? Do they conclude? If they do, then what happens after they conclude?

How do stories live? Do they have a life? If they do, then what distinguishes them from us?

Are they too able to breathe, hear, think, understand, complicate, synthesize, integrate, divide, multiply… See?

Do stories have eyes?

Can stories watch? Can they experience what eyes do? Can they too break down in front of their nemesis, fall prey to their enemies?

Can stories also contract conjunctivitis?

I did.

I have developed a severe case of conjunctivitis. So severe, that I am almost blinded by the sheer force of water drooling down from the corner of my eyes. I seem to find absolutely no cure for it. Try as I might, the disease has gripped me in its pincer like grip, so tightly, that even if I dare to open my eyes for bare few seconds, torrents of water, pain, irritation and soreness flood in the two bulbous, and somewhat red orbs of my vision.

I have been, in effect, relegated to blindness.

People said that I will be cured easily. It takes, what? Three days to fully recover… Pah! Take a sabbatical. Lie your butt down and relax.

But that’s exactly what I have been doing since I took birth. That’s no welcome change. I do not need it. What I need is to know. I never wanted to know, but now when I can’t, a sudden, inexplicable desire to know, and to roam has emerged in me. I wish to understand so many things, discover so many places, and meet so many people. I wish to do things I was determinedly unconcerned about, before this time, when I could have easily done them all. But now that I cannot, all I want is to do what exactly the same.

And so, I move out of the house. Hiding my eyes behind the shade of dark sunglasses. But as soon as I took my first step in sunlight, I realized the futility of my ambition. The dark sunglasses not only turned day into night, they made it virtually impossible to distinguish between things. Everything was similar, equal; proportionate. I was the Communism guy, who now was blind to anything disproportionate. Everything was same, similar.

And I don’t want what I get. So I look out for ways to make things different.

At a little distance, I saw a group of people gathered around a man. Maybe he was doing a peep show. Maybe he was showing some magical tricks. What lucky man! He had people to watch him, with rapt attention, devoting all their interest to what he had to say. People looked in his eyes. They gave him re assurance; we know you exist, and we are damn well pleased you do.

I craved for it.

I reached the group and shouted, Hey!

And realized that I could not make out what was who and who was what. Everything was dense black shadow, embossed outlines of figures same-similar to each other.

And so I removed my sunglasses.

The next few seconds flew by in hours, or maybe crawled in a jiffy. Like the middle of a hurricane, everything went so fast, yet so systematically out of order that it was impossible to gauge or understand what really transpired.

All I could say is that there was a bright flash of light.

Maybe it was seen only by me. Maybe my conjunctivitis ridden eyes were the only ones affected by them.

Or maybe I was the only one who escaped it.

Whatever happened doesn’t matter. Because as soon as I called out, all eyes turned in my direction. And when I regained my sight after the tiniest infinitesimal second of lighted darkness, I saw all of them were dead.

How do people die?

Can conjunctivitis kill?

Can a Basilisk exist? Am I one of them?

Why do people die?

Have I killed them?

I saw the man who was in middle of the group, who was entertaining those who had died just a second ago. And I saw him clearly now, without any distortions of equalizing, Marxist sunglasses. He stood there, in bright sunlight, with a funny instrument in his hand.

I saw his dead blank expression of surprise mingled with fear.

I saw my own expression mirrored, not in his eyes, but on his face.

And we ran.

We ran away from each other, in two opposite directions. Fearing what may befall each others destiny.

What happened? Did I kill those people? What nonsense? That man would have killed them. That man was the culprit, not I. He killed them in that moment when I was blinded and the people had their backs turned to him.

Yes, that’s the truth. I did not kill. How can conjunctivitis kill? He has killed them all.

But.

Maybe I did.

I don’t know. I run. We run away, not even daring to pause and look over the shoulder to see if either of us is chasing each other.

We run, not from fear of being caught, but the fear of being pronounced guilty.

We run because we both are innocent to a crime whose only culprits can be both of us.

Maybe a few years later, when I have ran enough, the finer details will change.

Maybe there would be no flash of light to blind me then. Maybe there would be no dead men.

Maybe, I would never have seen it at all.

Maybe I was still at my home, in my Marxist darkness, counting hours before the water in my eyes runs dry.

But maybe.

Maybe not.

This story will never begin.

This story will never end.