Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Gift

.
Dedicated to the person who forced me to write today! ;)
.


It was the third straight Christmas in which I packed a gift for myself and kept it hidden in the attic. There is a thrill to finding unexpected gifts, which rather ignites in me a mixed spirit of surprise and nostalgia. Now, it isn't that there was no one whom I could send gifts to, like there is this girl two houses down who smiles at me every time I go past her house. Well, she maybe three and probably the world hasn't taught her much, but I am pretty sure she'd be a pretty good contender for Christmas gifts even though like most people I don't think she would put much thought on my inclinations to be a loving person. Anyways for now I am trying it hard to pack the violin into the only box I could find after two hours of search, and I almost managed it when I heard the door bell ring for the second time.

'Is this Mr. James' house? You have a courier!'

Now, like you, I had no clue as to who this James might be and what awaited him in the courier, but it was Christmas eve and there was this genuinely guilty temptation which forced me to nod in a confused but affirmative way.

'Sign here sir', the guy said who seemed rather tired and cold. I invited him over for coffee after work, an invitation most people tend to ignore or forget, whatever the better word maybe.

***

Like all usual Christmas eves, the carol passed, ignoring my home. I've come to think of it as an asserted ignorance, shouts of a society angrily protesting your efforts to fit into it. I have stopped thinking on such levels, cause after all fitting in was never my thing. It was maybe one of the reasons why I was always confined to solitary treatment in my years at the District Mental Asylum. For now I leave all of it behind and wait for the Church bells to chime and the gifts to be opened. You did sense my exhilaration didn't you? Well, of course, it was Christmases back I could use plurality with the word gift and it assumes a certain divine jingle every time I say it now.

'Gifts, gifts, gifts..!'

'Ring, ring, ring..!'

'Merry Christmas, Anand. Merry Christmas indeed!'

***

The church bells tolled in the distance, I opened the window and was overpowered by a rejuvenating gust of cold wind bringing to me a thousand wishes. I replied them all with a shout so loud that some drunken chap asked me to fuck off, which didn't really offend me. After all, there was this sound of violin from somewhere far and a sense of strong and nostalgic craving.

I opened the violin box first.

'Oh, what a lovely violin!', I mused. I touched the strings. I smelled the polish. I heard its songs about Christmas!

Now as my admiration for the musical understanding of the person who gifted me this violin grew, I was strangely caught in a fight within. What if I open the box for this guy James and I find something so overwhelming that I decide to keep it? Or what if this is some game and there'd be nothing?

At this perplexing juncture, I'd take time to talk about insanity and we'll do with un-boxing the gift in due time. Having years of personal experience, I believe that I could share more notions on insanity than all the covert physicians you meet, after all they only see insanity while people like me lived it on a day to day basis. First of all insanity is not a state of mind when you do stupid and violent things impulsively, rather you think a lot about it, in spite of which you still do the stupid thing. I'd like to stuff things up with examples, so here goes. The day I was first charged with a mental issue, I was in a conflict of thoughts. On one hand I had the option of silently retreating, accepting my state of mind and succumbing to things people around me was accusing me of or I could kill them all and be free. Even though how heavily under-equipped I was to carry out the mass murder, I decided to do it because I was insane then. Clearly, it is not that I failed to think, but I failed to choose.

Now being presented with two conflicting thoughts as to whether to open the box or not, I was taking a chance. I heard that sound of the gift wrap being torn even before I made a decision and by the time I was bringing myself to my senses I was vehemently searching for what I may find inside.

***

Dear James,

It has been years since we met and I know you'll be pretty mad at me for everything I have done. I wish to apologize for it all. Crystal will turn six this summer, and Angeline ten. I will wait for you to reply. Happy Christmas!

Anne

PS. We are throwing a party at New Year's eve, do come.

***

New Year's Eve! The mouth organ fits well with me, I may throw out a jolly good tune tonight. It is as if I have developed a passionate togetherness with it. The letter stands with my cold food on the desk, and my search for James had been in vain. I am beginning to think he is pretty much like a hero of a fictional tale you never care to re-visit after you're over with the story. The letter did indeed throw out an invitation, and judging by the preciseness and accuracy of the words used, Anne really did want to meet James today. Will she be broken? I decide to think and choose a sensible decision this time.

***

'Anand, can you state your Christened name?', he asked.

'I don't remember!', I say.

'You received a letter a few days back, can you recall?' I tried hard to remember, but there was something which kept me drowsy.

'Yeah, Anne wrote me one' I recall finally. 

'Good, so can you state your Christened name?', he asked again.

'James!', I reply

'Very good Anand, and do have a great New Year!'

***

There is this image of Anne pleading in front of me, holding Cystal in her arms and Angelina crying not to hurt her mommy. Perhaps after years of being injected things which constantly eats into your residual strains of memories and thoughts, you reach a situation where you remember things very vaguely. I have the mouth organ in my pocket and the violin packed up once again, this time in a bigger box. Anne loved her violin till the day I used it to hit her, repetitively and painfully! But for now those memories rarely do matter. I loved her, perhaps more than everything else I have ever loved. Even when morphine was being ceaselessly pushed into my nerves I could see and imagine the perfection of her image, how gently she breathes when she sleeps and how she always liked to watch the moon fading into the Sun every morning. There was something with her that was totally empowering. It was as if I was loving her more every time, holding onto her like my only beacon of light, the only sane part of my insane world!

I jumped over the gutters, I ran through the snow. I remember how Anne used to sit with me and watch the snow fall down, her hand in mine, and how we talked about every little thing which never mattered. I was now falling in love with the only woman I could ever love, all for the second time!

***

Pain! Catapulting into extremities I cannot fathom! Again it is not the absence of thoughts which makes you insane, rather the absence makes you numb. An insane man holds a well of thoughts which he cannot draw out at will, but which pulls him down mercilessly.

I did not remember the doctor telling anything of her marriage. I tried to hunt for any possible memory like a lonely soldier facing a squadron of unarmed enemies. And yet a soldier who couldn't find them because of the perfection of their camouflage! I felt going dizzy, is this another game? Am I still in sedation? I ran back with the gift box hitting my legs and tripping me every time.

***

It was the third straight New Year in which I packed a gift for myself and kept it hidden in the attic. There is a thrill to finding unexpected gifts, which rather ignites in me a mixed spirit of surprise and nostalgia. Now, it isn't that there was no one whom I could send gifts to, well let me see. I find myself holding the gift and walking down the aisle. There is this girl two houses down who never fails to smile. I call her up.

'This is for you sweetheart!'. And there is nothing more which escapes out of me as I watch her blow up in happiness. Perhaps the power to choose is the thing which makes you sane after all!