SEA OF SOLACE

-Debarshi Arathdar

Arnab and Ahmed being childhood friends, had always elixired adventures to pronounceable limits, being brought up in an average Indian tormented lifestyle, they quenched for the knowledge that lay helplessly beyond the vast seas of education. The schools breeded monotonic symphony. This was loathed by both of them as they were  open to thinking and didn’t follow the procedures to a syllabus-lined life. So was their tribe that resided in the outskirts of the city. They originated from Bangladesh. While suffering land problems with their dark skin blushed in the sun amongst the mere wheat of Indian economy, they participated in the country’s march in the fields of industry, agriculture and art.

Warming up TOPSHOTS-INDIA-ECONOMY-RELIGION-DURGA

Arnab and Ahmed’s father were both craftsmen who adhered to art. Since the poor wasn’t educated much about art, so, they had to be confined in their skills of pottery and the most anticipated idol crafter for the numerous pujas in the state of Bengal. The most anticipated was the Durga Puja that blessed a solace in the hearts of many children who escaped from their syllabus for a few days to vibrantly dance onto the steps of joy. Arnab’s father was more skilled at clay moulding, drying and shaping for the idol whilst Ahmed’s father was a flawless at brush. Their sons too had the skills of art in their respective fields, for example- Arnab helped at a local NGO to design vases while, Ahmed was employed at a local centre that was usually called up on numerous occasions to design pandels or temporary centres for various public meetings and Ahmed was their key-ingredient to the art of decoration.

It was a fine afternoon when both of them were returning from their neighbourhood schools after a drill of immense sweat and prolific knowledge amplifications. They usually roamed through the empty fields before returning home. Arnab was telling a fascinating concept of a new genre of art that would involve drawing 3D paintings on paper which in turn would emerge from inside and paint a mirrored reality. Ahmed was always stirred by such imaginations and enjoyed their time of teaching each other the education that they really valued.

School boys walk through the Shewzigon Temple, Bagan, Myanmar

As they were wandering along the reaped fields that were actually reaped years ago and were mere barren but never hesitated to reap their form of imagination, Arnab suddenly noticed a large concrete pipe that had been waxed over by molding algae. Climbers and shrubs grew along the very surface; it would have been unnoticeable unless they wouldn’t have deviated from their usual path. Both ran towards it in amazement and excitement as they greeted the sun to make his magic of reflections and ignite the lifeless to a stupor of extreme wonder that would complete their imaginations of serene green in confined space that loathed in the barren lands of useless soil. It was a matter of great endeavour that a concrete pipe hosted a green life-form that even Mother Earth couldn’t support. It was like a scarred face befalling a beauty contest with pride, while the face value was an abstraction of finishing touches, the real beauty arose from within.

Arnab and Ahmed propulsively explored the timeless vista of the pipe set amidst relative time. The sacred bond of the nature with that of the man-crafted engineering specimen related a very complex bond of friendship that barred secularism. Since then, it became their favourite place where they would usually emerge in their pass-times. Their constant encounter with the pipe continued, till one stormy night, it emerged as a boon as well as a blessing on them.

Earlier that day, they had sat along the shade of the pipe and sang folk songs that fishermen sang while returning home from hunt, realizing their grief of poverty yet thanking god for the opportunity. Ahmed, absent-mindedly had taken out his history book to clear a doubt about a new chapter that stifled his brains and Ahmed provided an assistance on the outlook. The problem arose when Ahmed realized that he had left the book at the rendezvous while there was supposed to be an exam next day…and without the book, it would be a disastrous event. Ahmed realized that before it got too dark, he should retrieve his book back from that pipe. He told his mother the situation and asked for the torch-light.

Her mother, a hard-working lady who had harboured her ship amidst the muddy pools of poverty over the past years considered her son as the only light-house that would prevent wreckage and lead them to the sea of sobriety. Thus her care for her son amplified as she thought about her son going out alone in the dark of wilderness. But Ahmed confronted her mother by saying that Arnab would accompany him too as he had also left some materials behind which was an apparent lie, as Ahmed couldn’t resist the fun of walking those barren lands under the moonless sky with a bleak torch and his friend, both of whom would admire the day as a memorable experience in the future.

Ahmed rushed out of his house waving his mother goodbye and running along the muddy streets that the government needn’t adhere to. Soon he reached Arnab’s house and banged on the door in excitement. It was Arnab’s father who opened up and beamed on Ahmed’s innocent face, Arnab’s father opened the door wider for Ahmed to get in, and Ahmed rushed inside and broke the news to Arnab who immediately sprang to life shifting away his book. Arnab made up a quick excuse of being let out saying that he too had forgotten his book which required immediate retrieval and rushed out of the home along with Ahmed despite Arnab father’s repeated restrictions.

02-Moon NEX 016

The kids outpaced the lane of thoughts that stifled their own brain knowing nothing but the sudden adrenaline of the stormy sky that had suddenly become psychedelic and was churning its smoke and changing its colours from red to violet. And soon the duo emerged at the barren land that brought up an eerie feeling along with it. The moon had been dethroned by the lurking clouds that preferred frequent lightning accompanied by sounds that would provoke any movie director to set-up for a horror or a suspense filled scene. The boys wore a smile that represented the jubilant fear for the plot in which their role played prime. Ahmed switched his torch on and marched with Arnab towards the destination where they imagined the pipe would be.

It was actually a ten minute walk from the spot where they began but sudden thundering and gusts held their journey as they fascinatingly searched the sky for angels who would torch down and lead them fast, as there was an impounding tension of their exam accompanied by the intense adventure that stifled their imagination. After 20 minutes of walking and running the fear-stricken boys looked at each other, they had lost their way. Usually, the pipe was easily visible in the daytime as it only possessed greenery over itself unlike the materials around it and appealed to any living being as a shelter and resembled solace as of life. Now however, the solace had turned into sarcasm and provided no assistance of destination or of direction.

kbpnightlightning

The boys, terrified, ran around helplessly, their cries were drowned by that of thunder, the darkness had crept in completely and the torch-light provided assistance to a very limited scope. But, with hope concealed deep within, they were not usually the kind to give up, Ahmed helplessly asked Arnab for a solution, who in turned returned silence because, he was gazing at a distant object that seemed familiar. Ignoring the torch’s scope of light, he ran immediately for it, Ahmed turned to follow when suddenly lightning struck and froze the boys at their ground. They couldn’t believe what they saw…in front of them lay a vast sea of endless corpses that bled no more and weren’t disfigured…they lay as if they had all come for a stroll and decided to lay and enjoy the rain, their clothes had been ragged by the sand and drenched by the rain. Their faces propulsed by the rain that deemed as a natural sweat on economies that lay and staggered while the nature kept basking her forms mercilessly, in terms Ahmed felt as if he was viewing his entire nation.

Arnab stretched his torch’s light over the disordered yet beautiful mob that had followed the syllabus of survival not adaptation. They both gazed at each other and complimented the reason of such a status. Arnab told Ahmed that hadn’t he been careless in the first step, fate wouldn’t await such a symphony for them. Ignoring the sea of helpless, they turned back both terrified by the scenario that had been brought over by the touch of lightening which else possessed a different face over their journey but, had managed them to avoid the sea of solace. The torch was a constant betrayal on path as it managed to doze off on its every single chance and had to be beaten up just to show the path.

Corpses from the Jonestown Massacre of 1978

The boys now marched towards the familiar object avoiding the resting mob, both speechless and equally terrified by their vision. On a few further steps they discovered the pipe resting as usual, the rain was beating in hard, so to seek shelter both of them creeped inside the pipe which was reasonably drier than the barren land. The pipe smelled of wet moss and fungi, the sweet soothing and unconditionally natural smell of the soil perspired everywhere. Too tired of their adventures, they closed their eyes and rested in serene lullabies that descended from heaven. The inside of the pipe suddenly started changing colours…the concrete bottle-green switched to her luminous arms as tiny glowing civilizations suddenly uprooted from the soil that never harvested humanity, they were living a dream that had been termed as such, unaware that hope was like wind, that could be felt by those who ignored shelter, breathing in their skin. Ahmed woke up with a start just to see Arnab staring blankly at him, both of them had seen the same dream that generated the sense they had been searching.

The rain had stopped her proceedings as was stretching her winds impartially. The boys couldn’t find the book that had been all the very cause of the adventure and returned in their respective paths of home, each deeply motivated and inspired by their daring nature. Arnab told Ahmed that he could stay over at his house and study together. Ahmed smiled and returned that “’Maybe, that civilization needed the history book more than me, it was just a syllabus to me, but, it is an eternal guideline to her”. And the skies cleared their clouds for the moon to palp over as their torch proved no assistance for the moon had smiled her light and indeed, by nature, they headed back home.

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