“You first said you want to go to the library and now you want to go this way.”, came the vexed reply in Tamil with a shade of broken English from the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper himself was as historic as the place was, with a set of pale eyes- whites of which were dirty, a face marked with wrinkles and scars, and a tumor-like affliction in the mouth. One could have categorically placed his countenance as uneasing if not scary!
He reiterated the clichéd getaway lines, to the gatekeeper
“Tamil terima, anna. I am new to this place.”
The mellowed gatekeeper reluctantly guided him in, getting his sign on visitor’s register. The place smelled peace and was achingly yet charmingly infused with shrieking silence. A cool quiet that felt intangible in the hot summer afternoon. But here it was, and he was already feeling blessed, and yes he tried to feel the nature like a gaia theorist with his eyes closed. There was a different kind of vibes in ether.
It was all green on both sides of the dilapidated asphalt road, with no sign of human inhabitation. Long grasses with jutting blades tried their best to engulf the horizon. The buildings were ancient, and a gardener was clearing the brown dried grass with a motor-blades. The humming sound sounded sinister, foreboding of lurking secrets. He listened mindfully to the sound made by his footsteps as he continued his nonchalant stroll.
An ancient building loomed in front, with a huge old wooden placard at the gate declaring “There is nothing higher than truth”.
He pondered on the veracity of the statement as he circled the main atrium of building twice. Like a planet wondering why it has been encircling sun since eons.
He ushered in without confidence into the secretary room, from which he could hear hushed tones. Two elderly ladies were chatting behind two huge mahogany desks. Each desk had an IBM desktop computer-neatly wrapped under transparent sheets as if it was too precious to touch. The sound of rusty typewriter mingled with the creaking of the ceiling fan.
“So are you a healer?”, the younger of two asked breaking the eerie silence.
“Healer??”, she definitely did not mean the psychic healer, it can’t be. But judging by her unfazed expression that was what she meant, to the boy’s utter amazement.
“Maybe I am clairvoyant, maybe? A bit. Not sure”, that was his till-now-kept-secret thought. Although he had shared it with few close friends who would have an understanding of it, else it was a secret.
She went on to explain the roots of organization handling him some centenary pamphlets 39 years old. The older of two ladies continued her recce on his face, suspiciously. His contrasting clothes gave him away, old navy capris with red converse sleepers. It was like Bill Gates attending Ku-Klux Klan meeting in a tuxedo.
“If you have enough karmas, you will become a member. Do not worry about it”.
A strange reply, coming in this age. But then it was very pertinent to the atmosphere. He would have laughed over it if someone would have said that at a cafe or restaurant. But this was coming from a secretary of an international office of Agnostics. It was like a movie scene, where the protagonist finds himself waking up in an old villa, having the answers to all strange things happening to him. Like Harry finding Dumbledore, or Frodo finding Gandalf.
He came out, with a red and a purple pamphlet, more unconfident than before. He sat there on a solitary bench beside the green shrub under the banyan tree and started reading through the pamphlets with rapt attention. He was lost. A sudden tinge at his calf skin caused by an unwary ant brought him back to the cement bench beside the green shrub under the banyan tree.
“Do you have a light?”
He noticed a girl in early twenties, she looked of south Indian descent, with big deep-set eyes, he would have named her Meenaxi.
She had an olive complexion and looked stunning yet enchanting in a deep v-neck tank top with fitting blue denim. He caught a whiff of her perfume, and a twitch in his heart told him that he was already smitten. She held a smoke elegantly between her delicate fingers.
“Do you have a light?”, she repeated carelessly.
“I suspected that you look like a kid.”, followed by a tinkering mocking laugh. “But kids don’t visit here”.
“Oh my gosh! You are reading about death, kid”, she glimpsed on the pamphlets.
The noun quoted was now confused, whether to continue his sublime mesmerization or retort to quip.
Choosing the second, he retorted, “I was until you interrupted me”,
“As life is interrupted by death”.
He mused on the depth of phrase and cleavage at the same time, balancing the conflicting thoughts.
“A human tends to propagate this theory, but death is a continuation, not an interruption.”
“Hmmm. So are you a celestial being? Huh! How come you adjust in this human world”.
“Believe me, it’s very tough !”, she replied casually after taking another whiff.
Was that a sarcasm or banter. Sarcasm, he concluded.
She was now smoking an unlit cigarette making brilliant smoke rings. She adjusted herself on the small bench, and ‘kid’ twitched to the corner. The universe was already laughing behind his back. He could have closed his eyes and felt her human aura, deciphered the aural color he saw and made things easy. But he decided to play it human, it was getting interesting.
A faint breeze touched his nose, unconsciously closing his pupils. He felt the wind on his physical body. He wanted to fly on this zephyr.
As he was flying a realization dawned upon him, there was no human aura in close vicinity. He concentrated hard on the darkness, trying to locate the luminous aural colors. No. They were absent. A pang of pain in his pupils ended his effort, and he came back to his physical body cement bench beside the green shrub under the banyan tree.
Opening his eyes he studied his neighbors face. doubting his amateur visions. She smiled back as if acknowledging his cognizance and challenging his abilities at the same time.
“It’s tough right?”
He was taken aback. This was the second time in a day when his secrets came out of cloak.
“What is tough?”, he fumbled.
“Adjusting in this human world, as you said”.
He was flummoxed.
She stood up, still holding the cigarette- now a crumpled piece. She glanced at the unburnt stub and threw it dexterously with her two fingers. The tobacco stub made a boomerang motion before crashing among the long grasses with jutting blades.
“Remember that there is nothing like an absolute truth !”
She turned around looking the kid in eyes. And within moments she was lost in darkening darkness of dawn down the dark asphalt path.