A point on paper. I sat there, leaning against the cold, hard wall- imagining myself to be that single point over that sheet of clean white paper. That was what I was. An atom. Years of life had taught me finally, to define myself. Place myself into that frame of life's camera. An atom. A closer shot, perhaps might give you an idea of how I look. The length and breadth or may be, even the depth!
He, however always believed that we spread out! We take shapes. Forms. "What do you mean"? I remember, asking him once. He would not know. But he was more than an atom. He believed it. Simiyon.
Villages. Now that I think about them- provide you spaces deep within- that later expand within you. Spaces- so vast, that the valleys in our heart- begin to fill with memories of the dust from the first harvest of the season. The bunch of Neem leaves in the hands of the temple priest. Bangles from the fair. The statues of silver and bronze in the temple. They held life in them. A life that came out of thoughts, beliefs and hopes of people- who believed that tomorrow could be a day that would end all their sufferings.
The music in the school bell. The era of black or white; no grey. Careless. Unafraid. An age characterized by its innocence. It’s a pity that the beauty in innocence is only realized after losing it. I now would wonder at times- "I was all that"! Some people, I've seen, are born old. Old granny says, ".. remains of the gone lives..". I don't know. I would imagine myself dying and being born. In flashes. A splash of colours. Cockeyed. But wonders, back then!
Our school was quite big. Children from neighbouring villages would also come in there- to learn. Just before the bell rings at four in the evening, we’d hear the coconuts, being broken and offered to the Lord, in the nearby temple. There begins a race- the first race of my life, the winner- collects the maximum coconut pieces off the ground. A rush of life, straight towards the temple, where the broken pieces of coconut awaited the tiny little hands to pick them up and dust them.
I turned to my left. Dark- yet his eyes, sparkling like diamonds- his forehead, sweating hard- his eyes knew joys unknown to others. His words, his voice, his thoughts- were all unlike those of the boys of his age. The shirt was torn- yet it held, in it- a small bundle, which he held close over his upper abdomen- his prize!
"Didn't you get any? Here.. Take some..", said Simiyon and offered me a few of those coconut pieces! He gladly shared his prize, with me.
A hero is someone who inspires. Kind, helpful and efficient - the one, everyone looks up to! Simiyon, I could tell, was one. His bright eyes- always looked for new paths to tread, new tasks to try. Often, between classes, he told me stories of his “work”.
“Giving shape to a piece of wood”- he would say. “You would see the shape grow in front of your eyes- it’s as though you create! Like God”! He would say. “Fetching the fallen vessels from the bottom of the well…”! I would ask him- in wonder- “But how would you go into the well? Aren’t you afraid? My granny says, there are ghosts down into the well”! “Afraid?” he would reply, “Why should I be? It’s a very simple job! And believe me; I have been there many times. There are no ghosts. Besides- the well is a step closer to Earth. Don’t you feel so”? I remember very well- how I could not sit for a week, after I was beaten up by father for trying to get down our well!
A pocket full of coins! A rarity. A symbol of richness. Especially for a school boy. When he showed me a hand full of coins, I could not help but wonder at his achievement. Simiyon was my Hero! He said he “worked”. He can do anything. He can be anything! I remember the autumn fair- in my village that year. I was a crying little boy- named Krishna, craving for the unaffordable sweets and cotton candies! And there he was- actually selling them! I secretly prayed that night- “Oh God! When I grow up, I want to be like Simiyon”!
May be it was my thoughts- that had outlined my life. Limiting my transformation- to an atom! Thoughts have been my hobby! I used to wonder, what he sought. I used to ask him- what he wanted to be. “Oh.. Many things..”, he’d say, smiling. “How can you be many things? You can be just one thing”, I would say. I wanted to prove, at times, that I can be impressive to him. But he’d just say- “Oh yes, you can be”! Just that. Nothing else.
Years had re-written my life into the pages of the city. A life I had not imagined back then as a small boy. A life away from all my friends- yet a life that gave me new friends, a better education, a job and a new family! But I wanted to look back- see the reflections of a boy Krishna, whom I had left behind. And last summer…
Simiyon knew me the moment he saw me. His eyes reflected the same joy as mine. He was just the same. Dark- yet his eyes sparkling like diamonds- beads of sweat upon his forehead. Yet, his wrinkles could pass him for an older man. His face was that of a man who had endured wrath of the Time. A family to support and money scarce- he worked round the clock- on jobs, countless. The hero in him lived, still young- though I realized that this time, it was my eyes that failed to see the hero in him.
Heroes- I realized for the first time- are a fantasy that kept human minds alive. My present eyes saw him as a kaleidoscope. An ever-changing pattern of colourful images, blurring the eyes with beauty beyond imagination when seen in light. Yet, deep down, they are, but broken pieces of glass. Heroes are just the same. The big screen shows only the white. No Black, no Grey.
I needed the eyes of a little boy named
PS: Picture courtesy- Thank you Google!