'From where I stand I could see very little of the World, but from where I dream I see a million other worlds!'
I struggled through the dense crowd of the Municipal Bus Station in Thalassery, I was in a journey to seek redemption. For days on my moods abruptly shifted - from depression to euphoria and then back again to stupefaction. It became intolerable today and I found myself disturbing all comfort zones and reaching out into brute space. Even though countless saints and scholars of the past and present came to criticize my notion of finding peace away from my soul, I was not distracted, I couldn't help but search for it from the outside. It became habitual, a rather inexcusable ritual.
Through the human life that encapsulated me in angst, I searched for a way to dis-join myself from the show - to hide underneath the bed when they were calling your name on the stage! It was escapism, it was betrayal but it was also my only choice. I refused to think too much on the matter and watched the Western sky pouring golden hues on every colorless thing. Around me there were a thousand creatures waiting to find themselves back in the comfort of their homes, it made me realize that almost all of us have a phase in life when our home is a gratifying destination, some of us grow out of that stage while some remain forever inside it, For me, home was where I was alone, where I was insecure and even then there was always an appealing emotion, a genuine call from the past which forced me to stay in the place, the call of memories.
Thalassery pier - which once stretched towards the World, establishing the town as a center of trade and culture had a lot of memoirs too. Today there is only reminiscences of that golden time. The pillars of the pier have dilapidated; the cranes, track and rollers have all gone. History remains neglected and the place is deteriorating gradually with time. I found myself basking in the stories that the pier says to its earnest listeners - stories of the Sea; her adventurous travelers, her powerful winds and her subtle emotions. Suddenly I felt surrounded by traders of the past scattering around the pier, waiting for a ship that carries their fortunes. I picked up my writing pad, kept it on my lap and was searching for my pen when someone tapped my back unceremoniously.
'You should get going,' the man said, 'there is a storm coming.'
I looked up at him, and found the owner of the voice to be a frail man with a face wrinkled at every possible juncture - under the eyes, between the eyebrows, below the chin, all over his neck and even at the place where his nostrils met his cheeks there was an unmistakable fold of the skin. He had a string of nylon in his hands and a plastic bag which stank of fish. His persona and the folds in his face was an indisputable expression of his experience with the Sea and I was sure his forewarning was true.
'Its alright. I would be leaving soon.' I replied.
I thought that it would be enough to calm the old man, whose entry didn't please me in any manner. On the contrary he continued,
'I have seen you here a couple of times. What is your name kid?'
'Anand! There goes a Hindi movie by that name, ever seen it?'
I replied no in a sincere wish that the conversation would end and I could get some words on paper. But the man was not planning to let up.
'My name is Abdul Vasih. I live by here. Are you a writer?'
'No. I just scribble down what comes into my mind.'
'Good of you' he seemed impressed. 'A lot of the writers were born out of these waves.'
He sat beside me and seemed to be in some reminiscence of his own. For a few passing minutes he seemed unaware of my presence and gazed silently at the horizon. There was a story brewing in my head but I let it slip for Abdul Vasih. I became interested in this guy, because after all he said he saw writers being born out of the waves.
'You write and go away quickly. Rains these days makes the Sea angry.' he said after a while.
I looked at him and said that I have lost what I had in my mind. I admired the ease with which he allowed my world to co-exist with his own. I knew that anyone else would have found it illogical for a person like me to waste time with a pen and pad as the rains approached. They would have unsettled me mentally, but with Vasih I could have written what I felt.
'Most people write about the Sea, you could write about her.' Vasih tried his best to help me continue my thoughts. But it was floating with the winds, which suddenly appeared hostile even to the birds which inhabited the skies.
'It was what I had in my mind when I came here. But couldn't get it out', I said, now beginning to enjoy this small conversation with Vasih.
'Aah, then I might be of help. What do you want out of her? Do you want to write about her womb which has always granted us with abundance?' There was something deeply philosophical with the way Vasih talked. He talked about the sea as if it were his lover, his soul mate, his only source of joy!
'You know, I used to wonder as a kid' he continued 'where the Seas would end. Have you ever thought about the end of this Sea and what would be happening there?', his eyes were fixed at the horizon. 'Do you think that someone would be looking at the Sea from the other end and thinking the same?', he asked.
It was a question that is intended to be unanswered, and I obliged.
'You see Anand, I never wonder how large the sea is. It is as large as the life it sustains. For me that became the limit, the end.'
There was a desperation in the way he said it, a woe so deep that it broke his voice every time he spoke. I sought out for the source, but found it to be deeper than I could ever fathom. The rain buried us inside its cultus out-pour, I watched as it disturbed the order of the shore and forced people to run for shelter. Dark umbrellas stood on top of heads; people ran, escaped, betrayed themselves and hid under roofs. It was an escapism performed unitedly. We, Vasih and I, for once sat and watched. My writing pad soaked with the precipitation and rendered useless as it stuck onto my skin and felt like raw meat. I didn't move to prevent the rain from destroying my works, but sat through the rains with Vasih by my side. We never uttered a word, but communicated with a more deeper understanding.
I gazed back at the horizon. From somewhere far I heard captivating songs of the Sea, and farther I saw people, not lifeless entities as in my stories, but dreaming human beings. They were looking at me with devotion. They were the invisible race, they were the unheeded perpetrators of sustenance, they never exist in a story or poem but inside their small worlds having in itself an abundance of stories - stories of love unrequited, of struggle, of passion, of revolutions, of hate, of battles, of death, of faith - stories which were unseen from the outside, and which remained unwritten on paper. Each of those stories appealed to me to be granted justice, to be considered, to be immortalized!
The rains ceased, a patch of sunlight fell between Vasih and me, I reached out to touch it when Vasih told that he was leaving. 'There is a family I need to sustain.', he said.
He was true, however he tried, that was the limit of his world, the point where all his imagination ended. I thought about his words, yet how often had he mentioned about the place where the Sea ended. I watched him walk towards his fishing boat. I could never understand his reasons, I have only met him a few hours before, we talked in very small fragments, but I'd like to think his dreams as a kid took him to there, to the end of the Sea, but life constantly pulled him backwards. I fretted at the thought. Clouds were forming in the horizon once more, churning out more blackness, it maybe raining at the other end of the Sea, I thought. I saw my friend as a spot; a boat the size of a fingernail. I closed my eyes and wished him luck. I knew he would come back with some of the abundance that his lover's womb offered, I knew he would continue to dream and I sincerely hoped he would make it to the end of the Sea someday and his life cease to be invisible.