Anando stretched his left hand towards the melting sun.
This everyday scene is never old to him. Dusk and dawn was the height of spirituality for his grandfather. Whenever Anando gets a time off from his rather busy schedule, he ensures he sits in this embankment to see the sun go down. He still didn’t get the answer to his question. The melting sun has the clue, may be. He tries to figure it out.
His right hand was paining. The wound was still fresh. Does he need to go to a doctor to heal it? Oh no … let the nature take care. He is a sterner material than ordinary people. And when he gets an injury, he loves to see his system heal itself without any external help.
When he was a kid, he used to come to this place with his grandfather. The park at his left is still there … though in a bad shape. Weeds have covered the ground. Snakes abound. The see-saw and swings are robbed off their metals and woods and are sold off. The cement slide has shameless craters now where you can safely put a cup of tea. Nobody comes now, save at night drug peddlers and their miserable customers.
Grandpa used to let him play with other kids in the park, while he used to stare like a dumb to see the sun setting down over those marshlands at the other end of the river.
He was a little kid and could not understand why his grandfather should sit quietly and wipe his tears looking at the red, rapidly fainting sun.
But, may be now, he understands the greater meaning of it.
He was a lonely kid. Soon after, he started joining his grandfather. When all the kids used to jump and shout and play “L-O-N-D…Laundon”, he used to sit quietly beside his grandfather and watch the melting sun dipping slowly slowly into the marshy water. It was his routine for every evening…till his grandpa passed away. His grandfather was the only spiritual Guru he had in life.
He was sixteen then, when one day, his ailing grandfather called him to sit beside his bed. It was a great loss for that old man for not being able to see his favourite scene. But Anando, by then, was a regular visitor. Soon after Anando used to return from the riverside, his grandpa used to fix his stare at Anando’s hazel eyes. Anando also knew his grandfather was trying to see the sunset from his eyes, cause whenever he used to miss one, his grandpa would smile and say, “…was you very busy son? Must be playing the whole evening. Good, playing is good for health. It makes you a man.” But Anando could read the sadness in grandpa’s eyes.
He was not sure, whether his ailing grandpa really attempts to see the sun through his eyes or not. Curious, one day, he asked him about it. Grandpa had that rebuke in his lips. He smiled, “Anando you are not like others. You have a greater understanding of life than many saints.” But he didn’t reveal what he used to see in his eyes.
Everytime his grandfather used to fix his vacant stare at him, a sudden restlessness would engulf Anando. He wanted to shout at his grandfather. But couldn’t. He was afraid. But was not sure, what he was afraid of. But now, he understands everything perfectly well.
One day his grandfather called him. He was very very feeble and could hardly whisper words. Pointing everybody to go from that room, grandpa touched Anando’s forehead. “Son, it’s end of the show for me. You always wanted to know what I see in your eyes when you come back from the riverside. Answer some simple questions. And I will let you know.”
Anando was curious. He could sense that restlessness gathering pace in his mind. “Pray, do tell me what you see grandpa. Why I get afraid whenever you fix those stares at me. Why can’t I flee from your sight? Like a magician, you hypnotise me. Pray, do tell me grandpa. Before you go, you must reveal the secret. Ask whatever you have to ask. And I will be honest.”
After a little hesitation, grandpa asked, “Anando, do you believe in rebirth?”
--There is no such thing as re-birth. Science would have proved it by now.
--Science is still in its infancy son. Everything cannot be explained by theories. You must have heard where science ends, philosophy starts. Even our sacred Geeta has told us to believe in re-birth.
--Everything depends upon belief grandpa. If you don’t believe in something…it cannot be true. I don’t believe in God either.
--Tell me what do you gather from seeing the sun go down?
--It’s a wonderful scene. It’s sad.
--Why it’s sad?
--I don’t know. But I feel it’ sad. It puts you off.
--It puts off you, but it’s joyful to me, whenever I see the scene I can’t hold the tears of joy.
--May be one day I will find it joyful enough to cry. But it’s sad to me that the giant…all powerful son should succumb to the pressure of moon.
--And don’t you see the harmony here? The sun has no reason to set. As you said it’s all but too powerful to ignore moon. But the sun is our father. You must have noticed, a father, after scolding his child…dashes out of the house…just for the mother to console the bereaved child, so that when he comes back again, he sees everything is in fine order. But you should be a clever and compassionate child to understand your father’s departure from home and sympathise with him. Are you that clever child son? I was clever. That’s why whenever I see the sun to retire…hope fills my mind. Now the mother moon will take over and soothe us. That’s the essence of life son. You are not supposed to face the heat all through your life. There is something nice waiting for you at the other end of the road. Don’t you think balance is needed in life? The setting sun epitomizes the balance dear. It is filled with hope.
--You are old and your grey cells are dying. All these are idle inventions of the brain. Only an old man can think like that.
--But you will also know the truth son.
--Maybe when I become old. But what the sun is to do with rebirth?
--Don’t you think the sun rising again the next day implies a new life? It’s the supreme creation of the Almighty?
--No; I don’t. Because the sun never sets or rises. It is fixed at its place in the universe.
--So are we. So are you, so am I. So is the life dear. We are fixed. Only that everytime we appear, at the end of the play, we have to disappear. It’s dusk of my life now. I will definitely appear somewhere soon. But your life has just started Anando. Make it a carnival. Drink the keg of life to the brim.
--OK. I will. Now tell me what you see in my eyes. Why I fear your stares. Why can’t I run away?
--First swear to me you believe in whatever I said. Swear to me you believe in God. I know you are a special boy Anando. You know a lot of things that take ages, even thousands of rebirths, for a man to understand. Promise me, you will make good use of your knowledge. You just have to submit yourself to God. And everything will be fine. All your anxieties and fear will ward off. You will be a new man…and will be saved Anando. Promise me, you will submit yourself to God. Of any kind, of any religion. Even God of your own creation. The day you realize the world is a creation and not evolution, that even evolution and adoptions are creation of a supreme being…you will be saved Anando. Promise me.
--Listen Grandpa, since I am very honest to you today, even to keep your heart, I will not lie. I must say I don’t believe in God. I am not even an atheist. Being an atheist is to declare the existence of God. I don’t care for any religion or spirituality. Even if that is self-discovered. Now tell me what you see in my eyes.
But his grandpa didn’t answer. He simply turned his face from Anando. There were tears in the old man’s eyes. Anando was waiting for the reply. He demanded the answer. But instead of saying anything, Grandfather again fixed his vacant gaze towards him.
The sun had set by now. whenever Anando feels low and that sudden restlessness clouds his mind, Anando always remembers his grandpa’s last conversations with him. Whenever he is faced with an inner crisis…he comes to this river bank to see the sun go down; he still struggles to find the truth that his grandpa discovered. The setting sun is a giant puzzle to him. It has many answers hidden in it. Anando tries to find out. Everytime he closes in to the truth…but each time it slips away. Before he gets ample time, the sun vanishes behind the marshy land.
His right hand was still paining. His victim bit him really hard. By then, Anando had expertly pushed the dagger right into his heart. He could feel the rhythm of his victim’s life slowing down. But then, just before passing away, the man caught hold of Anando’s wrist with his sharp, blood-soaked teeth. It was a death-bite. Anando’s assistants found it really hard to separate the jaws which were locked on Anando’s wrist. He was writhing in pain.
Everytime he finishes a ‘contract’, he had to sit to see the melting sun vanishing in the marshy land. He tried real hard, but could not believe in God. He still doesn’t know for sure what his granpa used to see in his eyes. As long as he remembers, he was afraid of only one thing in his entire thirty-years of life. He was afraid of those gazes. With his gaze, that old man used to suck up his soul. He was afraid those stares could kill him. Long after he would retire to his dark room and lock himself up, those vacant, yet, hypnotizing stares would haunt him everywhere.
He had a great fascination with darkness. Still now, he would switch off the light and sit with his head drooping down. This way so many signals come from so many places. He is sure that he can sense signals from outer space also. From his childhood he gets these signals. But, strangely…these signals started flowing unabated soon after he grabbed his grandfather’s throat and started squeezing it.
He was frustrated for not getting his answer. Yet again, his grandfather cheated him. He was now out of patience. The feeble sick man didn’t put a struggle. Within seconds he breathed his last. Nobody suspected. When Anando came out and declared his Grandpa was dead…everybody thought it was natural. Everybody was crying…at a distance…an owl hooted…towards the river. Anando went to the river bank…the signals started coming from all direction. Signals…strange signals!