Monday, 4 August 2014

Autumn


"The world is inhabited by all kinds of people. They are isolated by land and water, religion, customs, habits. The minds and heart of these people are much alike. Under sudden or stressed emotions, they blossom forth or explode in riots, fights, dance, song, prayer. At such time they become one mind, one heart. And the world vibrates with the intensity of their feelings, emotions, angers, laughter."
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

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There is a hymn of nature which is profound, enveloping all mankind within its arduous composition, few get a chance to taste the melody, and even less understand the meaning. Today, Aaron became one among the few who understood both.

‘Children, today we shall learn about seasons. What are your favorite seasons? Let us start with you Aaron. What is your favorite season?’

‘Autumn!’ a delighted Aaron said.

‘Wow Aaron, now that is a good time of the year. What about you Sandra?’

However Aaron tries to remember that day, he could never remember what Sandra answered. He had been rewinding the scene a long time over, but every time he found himself proud and excited over the due consideration he obtained from his teacher.

Eighteen autumns after the questionnaire he remembers clearly the answer Sandra gave to his question, a long and sweet YES. It was a day when all the trees in the park had turned a fiery orange, a day when he held her hand for the longest time in his life. They watched in silence as the gentle shift of colors marked the mourning of a planet, which wished for eternal spring, but instead got thrown into a pinnacle of coldness. While the trees began shedding lifeless leaves before entering into a gentle sleep, while all birds in the park flocked in unison to find their last prey before coldness suffocated their beloved home, the Sun gave his last waves of passion before Earth moved farther away from his benevolent grasp. In that hour of sincere cosmic reverence, Aaron and Sandra kissed each other for the first time. Both of them felt lifetimes of unaccounted bliss passing through their lips as they stood still around the splendor, and before they parted ways that evening, Aaron asked Sandra the question,

‘Will you marry me?’

Silence! Every other emotion could have made Aaron a potential contender for being the hero of a sad love story, but the shock of seeing Sandra without radiating her divine heat and throwing him helpless with her smiles, Aaron felt an overpowering numbness, a numbness which he would retain for a long time in his life. Every word of condolence hit Aaron like a hammer, every relative who came by escalated his grief to no extent. But he didn't shed a single tear, he felt his eyes dry and his mind blank. He asked for the switch to electrocute his wife, pressed it, turned back and walked. He saw the first drops of snow painting a sorrow picture on his window, and then in the loneliness of his apartment, which suddenly seemed to be filled with the scent of Sandra, he cried. He collected every last thing Sandra left; her comb with strands of her hair and grease of her oil, her clothes - hopeful and freshly packed in the rack which could never feel her skin again, her pen which still bore her fingerprints and a paper in which she drew a meaningless masterpiece. The snow grew harder, it covered Aaron within his apartment. Even after it cleared, Aaron felt its physical presence enduring inside his mind along with Sandra and her nonchalant smiles.

‘I need some time away. I can’t go on like this’

Everyone who knew Aaron agreed, they knew it was time he himself tried to break out of the shell within which his happiness was buried along with Sandra’s memories. They were all surprised with the intensity of his appeal and the determination that guided him. Next they would find him on his bike, with a vague smile and a yearning one finds in a traveler before his most awaited journey. The buzz of his bike barely left their ears when the first drops of rain soothed an Earth which was baked for 3 months in incessant heat.

True agony lies in the eyes of the lonely, the unattended and the unloved, Sandra used to say. If there was one attribute which Aaron loved more than everything it was her philosophy, the altruism with which she viewed an entire humanity. Aaron found her most beautiful on days she cooked for homeless, stitched dress for children and attended the elders of their society. There was a lucid aura which spread around her, within which Aaron always felt humbled. His journey was not away from Sandra as everyone expected, it was rather an adventure into Sandra; into her spontaneous acts of exceptional sacrifice, into her socialistic paths, into a revolution which she started but could never complete. The determination Aaron's friends saw was not his own, it was what dissolved into his eyes little by little from their first kiss to the very last - moments before he electrocuted her.

In the 29th autumn of his life, Aaron discovered Sandra once again. It was an achievement he made at the shores of Sabarmati river on a seemingly normal day. He watched the endlessly long Sabarmati river telling him tales of sorrow she witness every single day. Sabarmati told him about thousands, who fills their stomachs with dread at breakfast, lunch and dinner. He heard her tears while he tried to curtail his own. Quite spontaneously he saw a group of parrots take flight, making a wondrous silhouette on the sky, he felt the numbness which paralyzed him shatter into a million unrecognizable pieces, which slowly settled among many others he could now see in the ashram. Behind him he heard the charkha move, the Hridayakunj became what it had been in the past, for a passing few seconds he heard the owner of the house commanding for the next phase of revolution to begin, he could do very little but to accept that command! As those words fell like tears on his ears, Aaron felt an incredible similarity to his first kiss. He stood there in admiration, he felt his eyes getting wetter, he searched for Sandra and he found her the way she was when he first saw her, in that classroom getting up to say her answer to the teacher's question. Her eyes were gleaming in a happiness he never saw in another person, the gravity which he felt every time he looked into her eyes still hid somewhere unattended, and then he heard the answer,

'For me it is Spring'

'And why is it darling?'

'I love flowers, I love to see them bloom!'

Today, Aaron is speeding past with a bundle of clothes to deliver to the NGO in which Sandra worked. Aaron is now a regular volunteer in the organization too. He still holds the view that autumn is the most beautiful time of the year, for him it is a mark of how Earth copes in its struggle for survival. It is autumn which makes spring more beautiful. But now he is thinking about something else, something more serious. There is a revolution he must complete. Every single time he hands over a cloth or a slice of bread he sees a smile he had seen only on Sandra; and in the eyes which he served, he would see a reflection of his own smile. Everyday for Aaron is now a pursuit to understand Sandra, to find her smiles in the harshest places of the country. He hears a music which Sandra used to hymn, he now knows it as the universal hymn of love. Quite naturally he finds himself singing the hymn along with Sandra who sits happily behind his bike filling the void of autumns past, if you watch closely you could see her holding a happiness you would never see in another human being!

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