Christopher had a dream … he dreamt of perpetual motion. Like the content of his dream, his dream also used to recur since he was five. He dreamt it till he was twenty-one. Ten years now, he did not encounter it anymore.
He has precisely eight hours now to decide if he would want to continue his life with his wife. They got married in a jiffy five years back. If he wants to continue to have her in his life, he will have to give up his job, his city, his self-esteem and move to London where Tresa has got a new job. It was her dream to settle in Europe. He was a promising young man when they met. Among other thing, he promised her of a good life. He was a bright engineer with a good company. Like all good engineers, he implied, he would also have overseas prospects. He is not sure if that was the lure or it was love on her part. She said yes to his proposal and they got married soon.
All was well. And he got offers of jobs abroad. Twice in the States, once in Australia ... He didn’t go. He was not willing to leave India. It seemed to him, Tresa too was not very willing. She had a good career here in an investment bank. They were happy and he expected his life to be settled, entrenched in this perpetual security.
But things have changed since then. Tresa has changed. He is not sure he have, but there is no sense of togetherness between them. His home looks like a compartment in Mumbai local train where they two are strangers for the same destination.
Nothing is perpetual in life. Not love, not relationship. Neither happiness, nor sadness. Is the vacuum in his heart perpetual? Isn’t vacuum that makes the universe? Is there nothing that can be called perpetual? Not even sadness? He wants to have a perpetual sadness in his heart. Somehow he can connect with himself when he is sad. But sadness also does not last. When he sees Tresa’s message in his inbox, he becomes happy. He hopes she would come back. He hopes things will be alright; hope takes the sadness away. Even sadness is not perpetual.
It has been a lifelong quest to find something that he can pinpoint as perpetual. Something where he can fall back knowing at least this will not change. He is in quest of find perpetuity … since he can remember.
After coming from school in the afternoon he would sink into his mother’s warm bosom … his mother’s breath on his hair would feel so familiar to him. The smell of her skin, the perfect warmth that he knew since his days in her womb would make him lose consciousness …
The fine streak of the sunrays would sneak into the bed sheet from the closed windowpanes; carrying strange golden dancing particles with it … much later he got to know they were dusts floating around. But as a kid he would watch them transfixed, not been able to fathom how can they be with the filtered ray and not anywhere else. The dusts were silvery, golden, shiny … the smell of the mother would assure Christopher all is well … he never wanted to sleep and fritter away the afternoon. His friends, whose fathers were not as well off as his, would play in the afternoon sun. They never cared for schools or education. They had all the fun in their lives. And here lied Christopher … lost in a room, forced to sleep after his school. He hated his mother when she called him for sleep. But when mom hugged him tight with her body, he felt the world a beautiful place, a cosy, comfortable place … a secure enclave for him.
Before he would realize, he would fall asleep. Soon the dream would come to him.
He dreamt of toy cars falling steeply from a slope – a platform, kinda wavy pathway created for the cars to fall at a great speed from top … a much more real version of Hot Wheels Trick Track. The track is a loop, the speed of the falling car is enough to pull it again upwards from the other side before the car rushes down again …
He would dream the car going through this motion continuously, never for once it would stop doing its drill, the pull and push of the motion, it’s weight, would not let it stop. Christopher would stare with awe the car whizzing out putting out a heavy metallic sound in an otherwise noiseless environment. Christopher could never pinpoint where he is in the dream, even the environment, but just the whizzing car, the blankness around and his breath. The only thing that changed in the dream as he grew old was his lub dub … it fainted as he progressed in his age.
On occasions, in special versions of his dreams, he would put one or two more cars on the track. He would see transfixed they all moving perpetually, in a same monotonous manner, maintaining the same distance at any particular point on the track. They never touch each other. Sure when the car before one slows down in its accent, the falling one behind threatens to touch it, but it also loses momentum after that, struggling under its own weight to climb up but obeying to the pull and push of physics …
As a kid Christopher always looked out for his dream in real life. He struggled to make it understand to his father. his father got him many toys, mostly cars, and many trick tracks, but none could offer the perpetual motion. The cars ended up getting thrown away at the end of the track. Christopher would throw his hand in despair. The world doesn’t understand his needs. His own can’t give him a simple gift. It surely does exist in some space, so why can’t it come to him? Just the track, just the loop from where his toy cars slide down in great haste and trudges up from the other side … a simple mechanism.
He grew up to realize his dream may be just a dream. Reality may not be that simple. As he grew up more, he was introduced to the concept of friction. He took science. And then studied engineering. He was told perpetual motion is the holy grail of Physics. It does not exist. Like an ideal life doesn’t exist where everything is warm, fluffy and cosy -- a world where flakes of golden dusts dance around in merry abundance.
The perpetuity should come to an end one day. Suddenly. Just as the real life trick tracks will eventually throw the toy-car away, everything that seems perpetual gets thrown out from its track abruptly. Just as one day they told him he has to sleep alone from now on. His mother had gone to the hospital to bring him a sister. Mom never returned. He saw his infant sister, a scary ball of translucent pink, placed in his room. Nobody took his permission if he would be okay with a roommate, but it was implied the room is not exclusively of his anymore. He didn’t protest, because he knew none who he can protest. He knew that no one would care for his foot stomping. his perpetual right of sulking was over, he knew that at the small age of seven. The world simply doesn’t give a damn. The only one who would have is no more. Like a stray puppy, Christopher came in terms with the rules of the world. At least he got a broad outline. He didn’t protest when the wet nurse for his sister slept at the spot where his mother used to sleep. He couldn’t protest when the nurse slapped his cheeks red for trying to remove the towel put on the broken windowpanes to prevent the rays coming inside the room.
Christopher wanted to see the dancing golden flakes. The nurse wanted to snore. Christopher used to crawl to his sister’s cot and stared at her. Froth coming from her mouth, she looked like smiling. She was happy and content with her life. Even as she never knew the smell of her mother.
Later when she grew up to be a beautiful young lady, Christopher was amazed to notice she actually didn’t need anyone to be happy. She was happy of herself. She didn’t need anyone. Christopher used to joke, “you are perpetually happy.” But then, she fell in love with one of Christopher’s junior in college, a fellow band member of the Church choir. To Christopher’s horror she cried to him once and confided she can’t live without Joesph! So what he is already married! She fled with Joseph one evening. He never heard of them.
Has she got the perpetual happiness? He used to feel sad and guilty seeing Joseph’s wife. He thought she was perpetually sad. But then she married Joseph’s best friend. they seem to be happy. There is no perpetual anything then.
Christopher was a loner. He didn’t have many friends, but he had a fierce band of friends. They were loyal to him. Tresa was one of them.
They are married for five years now.
Christopher looked at the email again. “I have to tell my office if they have to arrange for two. Let me know by 10 in the morning.”
It’s actually Tresa’s final call. If Christopher says no to it, it would be the end of their relationship. If he says yes, it would be the end of his existence.
Christopher lighted a cigarette. Tresa’s office has given her an apartment in the town. He didn’t move there. He preferred to stay back at his rented place at the suburbs. Until two years back, they were planning to buy an apartment jointly. They can’t even think of it anymore.
Christopher lit his cigarette. They were backpacking the hills of Himalayas when he popped the question to Tresa. She just had a breakup with her boyfriend of two years. Christopher had just chucked a stupid girl out of his life. He was tired of the girl’s stupidity and was horrified when he found she thought the purpose of any man-woman relationship is marriage.
“Do you ever want to get married,” he had asked Tresa.
“Yes, if it’s you,” she had said that casually as they were making their tents near the river.
“Marry me then,” he had said that in a matter of fact manner.
“Okay,” Tresa said adjusting the ropes.
And they were married within six months. There was no courtship. No effort in knowing each other. After returning from Himalayas, they just prepared for the marriage. As if it was just hitting the bar for a pitcher of a beer they were to share.
But deep down he thought Tresa expected a better life. She was fond of Europe. Christopher knew she would want to settle there. Christopher can, Tresa knew that. He wanted to make Tresa happy. He wanted to have a normal life, a life of a man with a family, kids …
Christopher never had the dream again. He was not bothered. At night they slept like babies hugging each other. They didn’t have separate dreams, for a while. He was not sure if it was love. But surely there was care. There was this feel good factor in the company of each other. He thought he attained his perpetuity.
He fiddled with his mobile. Is it okay if he calls her now? It’s two in the morning. What the heck, she is his wife. He has the right. And he was determined to exercise it.
The phone didn’t ring for long before he could hear the familiar voice.
“what are you doing?”
“was trying to sleep. What makes you call? Is it something urgent? Can we talk in the morning? I have to leave for a meeting early morning.”
“not urgent. Sorry to disturb. Sleep well,” Christopher felt helpless. He didn’t know why he called.
“I was waiting for your call.”
“I knew you would.”
“You have to leave in the morning.”
“yeah. So? What do you have to say?”
There was pause. Christopher looked at the road outside his window. There is still traffic there. This city never sleeps. He puffed his cigarette. He could listen to Tresa’s breath.
“Have you replied to the mail? I didn’t get any response on my blackberry.”
“no I didn’t.”
“I don’t know what.”
“you still don’t know.”
“you never knew.”
“yes, may be.”
There was a pause again. Tresa’s voice came faintly.
“I am ready to forgive you.”
“for what? I haven’t done anything that would need your forgiveness. Don’t pretend to be my saviour.”
“you have cheated me.”
“you have done a greater crime.”
“I never cheated you. I was always there for you. I never thought of anyone else except you. I was always there for you. what’s the crime you are talking about?”
“I don’t need to. Illuminate me of my crimes against you.”
“you tried to rob me from others, from myself. You tried to throw my identity out in the oblivion. You wanted me in your purse.”
“men have strange sense of self-pity. What is did was what we women call love. If I possessed you, consider yourself a lucky dog. If I would not have possessed you, you would have known. Just as you know now.”
“but you wanted me to forget my past. you wanted me to forget my friends, you wanted me to have a life where no-one else but you mattered. Don’t you think that was a great crime?
“may be it is. But I wanted you to be happy. I wanted you to know I care.”
“yeah … that’s the whole messup. Care with a tab.”
“So I did a crime. What’s your alibi for your infidelity?”
“you won’t understand.”
“that’s what you have always said. Even the day I left you. I didn’t want to leave you, but you didn’t give me any option. At least tell me now. I don’t know if tomorrow exists for us.”
“I can’t explain even today.”
“you got tired of me.”
“no. my infidelity was not with you.”
“waddya mean? You slept around when you had a wife at home! And you say the infidelity was not with me?”
“you may not be only your body, Tresa.”
“who am I then? If not my body? in which space I live without my body? stop trying to justify your actions with your sad philosophy bastard. You cheated me and that’s the crux of the matter.”
“okay, if you insist.”
There was a silence. He could hear Tresa sobbing. Tresa won’t understand if he tells him he wanted his cosy enclave, the warmth of his mother’s bosom back. He slept with many women searching for that warmth that was snatched from him when he was kid. He cared for Tresa. She was not like others. She gave him a feeling that she won’t tie him down as the other girls tried. May be he loved her too. For at one point he felt guilty of sleeping with her friend. he confessed.
“look, you have insulted me. Still, we can have a new future where we both can start it again,” Tresa’s voice was pleading. He felt sad for her. Poor girl, she still loves him.
“yes, we can. But at what cost?”
“can’t you just come with me? Will you not come with me and start a new life with a clean slate? Please reply yes to my mail.”
“no Tresa. I am not the hanky of your purse.”
“Christopher! Please! I love you!”
“I love you too, Tresa. But nothing is perpetual in life,” he disconnected the call and then switched it off.
As he laid on the couch, tired of himself, he started feeling dizzy.
He dreamt of toy cars falling steeply from a trick track … the cars were not touching each other … yet they were going on with their business without for a moment stopping. Christopher dreamt of perpetual motion.