A Loner's Tale
My death had come like slumber - vanquishing between imagination and reality until none of it was left, anymore. I slipped into the realm of a mindful of voices.... Trying to adjust their tones. And their hearts.
They would make excellent characters for my story. Unlike all my other stories, this one shall have no ending. With quite a few beginnings. Like my vagabond life.
Life. Perhaps, lives. I had left behind in places I didn't know.
I had started my journey on a day when I had realized that I've quite a few words but not a carnival of faces to assign them to. So, I traveled into unregistered towns. And found a herd of people, everywhere, clinging to each other, frightened of their impending doom. Living their lives into a prophecy of massacre. I lived with them. Taught them dancing steps in which you could raise yourself above the ground and dance into the floating air .... Thinking that they might discover a relief in their new-found lightness..... Thinking that I might be able to reconstruct a civilization - abandoning itself. But I was too small a unit for this. There were no societies anymore. The heart had been abandoned. When I had turned back for the last time, before living a town, trying to wave a goodbye to them, found them staring at me like awestruck children who could understand nothing no more. They had forgotten to greet visitors or wish them luck for their journeys. They believed they had none left with themselves. Even after I left, I felt I could see them dancing their lives into a sundry prophecy of massacre.
Even then, there were places where the disillusionment couldn’t spread their blinding white sheet. Like in the land of the prostitutes. Yes, it was a dark valley. And most of the times it rained all over again on the drying streets, drying leave, drying apartments. And whenever I would pass a somber woman, she would spread out her hand towards me and cry out –
"Look, I'm drowning. Won't you save me?"
"I think I've lost that power in all these years."
"Then come, drown with me", she would say laughing out at me.
I would go and hit her on the face, again and again. And again.
"Do not laugh, ever again. It doesn't look natural on your face."
"Face? What face are you talking about, monsieur? We don't wear a same face twice."
"You have a way with your words, you little thing."
"What else do you think we sell? Do you think people need to come to a whore for a body? They could find it anywhere and they won’t have to pay for it."
"But aren't people too afraid these days to be visiting these streets?"
"Oh! Those poor trembling souls. I can't help feeling pity for them. If only my words would have caused not a single stir in their heart, they wouldn't have returned to these dark, dark alleys."
"Ain't you afraid yourself?"
"I'm immortal. I've already drowned so many times in these rains...… Look, I'm drowning. Won't you save me?"
In the land of the prostitutes, I learnt to make love to life. And write stories.
I fell in love for the first time in the last town I had visited while I was alive. It was the only place where I found people celebrating. It was 'The Carnival of Fading Lights'. A carnival in tribute to the passing soldiers. Love was sprinkled all 'round. In the mornings, a beautiful girl passing by the streets would turn to look at me. And there was something written all over her face, that I couldn't forget.
But then, gradually, I came to realize that she forgot my face everyday. And took my face for someone else's that she was in love with. Naturally, due to her amnesia she couldn't remember his face as well. He was a soldier and every morning I became the same.
For her it was an illusion. For me, a chance I couldn’t let go. I posed for her beloved every morning and tried to live in her lovely eyes.
Then, came the night to play 'The Prism of Extinction'. The soldier took her hand and came forward to play the game, looking for a third fellow to complete the magic. That's when a miracle took me in. She chose me as the unknown man to be taking part in the game. I agreed on a condition that they would give me food and shelter for the night.
After the game was over, I came to the girl's home along with her and the soldier. I was told to sit by the dining table till they would bring me food. So, they went away in some other room. Then, slowly the magic of the prism began to work. I could hear in my head voices of both the girl and the soldier.
"I have a plan for him", said the soldier.
"Yes. I know what you have been thinking. But don't you think it's a bit harsh on the poor fellow."
"But it's our life and it's our duty to secure it. We can't let him in all the time."
"But that is not the way to deal with someone"
"Look, my dear girl, we're soldiers and that's how we are told to treat our enemies. It's our profession. It’s no big deal."
I wasn't mentioned for a single time in that conversation and yet, since I could hear all of it, I knew it was me that they were talking about.
And then, they came in with the tea-cup. The storm in a tea-cup. Somehow, the perfume of death seemed to be attracting me. So, knowing all of it I drank the tea.
My death as, I told earlier, came like slumber. And I kept hearing their voices inside my head -
"I hope you'll forgive me'
"We'll be free now"
"I didn't want to do this but..."
"Happy dying, fiend."
"You see, there was no other way."
Slowly, it felt as if their words were all jumbling up. And I couldn't figure out what they were telling. But this lasted only till I died. Then, once again their voices were all clear inside my head. I had decided right then, that I'd write their story.
"The tea cup tumbled on the table for the first time, that night."