It had been a long day. Not physically, mentally. There had been internal warfare, and I was rather weighed down by it all. So I decided to pay G a visit.
I lay back on the sofa and closed my eyes.
In a minute or two, I felt the odd warmth penetrating through my skin. I say warmth, because I really don’t have another word for it. Let me assure you that it was not heat. It had nothing to do with temperature or anything. It was actually a cold sensation, but it somehow carried with it a whiff of accompaniment, a scent of friendship and assurance. Like your mother’s lap when you used to be younger. The feeling stroked me gently, and it was so peaceful I could almost feel it physically. And that’s what I translate into the warmth.
I opened my eyes, and there I was, in Oz, or Eden, or some such place. The horizon spread all around, unblocked, seeming to spread to eternity. The distant white haze slowly engulfed the blueness of the ground. The sky was an odd white with streaks of pale electric-blue, and cast a brilliant yet soothing light all around. Right in the middle of this all was a river, rather a stream, winding its way through the blue floor. Yeah, floor. You’d look at the ground and wonder who polished it so well. It was smooth and shiny like office floors, a pale and uniform blue. The river winded its way down the floor and into the distant haze on either side. I had been told that the stream began and ended nowhere. Which logically states that the ground never began and never ended, because the stream was flowing on it, and it was a very correct idea. That neither the ground nor the stream ever began or ended, and yet they existed so plainly in front of my eyes. And this was all, an electric sky, a smooth uniform ground and a stream. The place constituted solely of this. The simplicity of the world could give you a cardiac attack. But I was accustomed. So I did not panic when I suddenly saw a form materialize in front of me, a teenage boy of my age in T-shirt and jeans, slowly emerging from the haze.
I waited while he came up to me, and then when I could see him more clearly through the haze, I noticed this question-mark on his T-shirt, yellow on green. He saw me looking at it and smiled.
‘Hey N, long time.’
‘Yeah,’ I nodded. ‘How’re things going?’
He looked at me out of the corner of his eyes as he brushed some dust off his jeans and winked.
‘Things never go, do they? Nothing ever happens. It’s a circle, didn’t I tell you?’
‘You never told me,’ I said, a little irritated. ‘I knew. That’s how I came here.’
‘Sit down here and let’s have a talk,’ he said, noticing I hadn’t liked the credit-snatching.
We sat down beside the stream, on the blue ground. I put my fingers in the water. The water seemed to flow over them like liquid crystal. It was very soothing.
‘So,’ he turned and stared into me. Yeah, into me. That’s all I can do to describe his stare. ‘So,’ he said, ‘what’s the prob?’
I shrugged. ‘I don’t know. Something feels not right.’
‘Wo, that’s bad. Since when?’
‘Is it the Abu Gharib pictures?’
I sat up straight very quickly and looked at him. His eyes were like two searching probes throwing narrow beams of light into me. I looked away.
‘Yeah, maybe. I’m feeling bad about it. But I’m not sure that’s the only reason I’m down.’ I looked at him out of the corner of my eyes when I’d said that. He was looking at the horizon. The ever-present faint indication of a smile hung on his face.
‘You know N, sometimes the solution of a problem brings about its diagnosis.’
‘I’m waiting for it,’ I said. And for one moment there, I felt that odd bond of thinking that I thought we shared between each other. Sometimes what we said would be incomprehensible to any other person present (although there never was a third person present), and yet we understood each other fully. It was very satisfying inside.
‘How long will it last?’ He said, turning to face me. ‘How long will the pictures affect you? A day, a month, till you get that new camera or that new bike or that new kiss from that new crush —’
I stood up. ‘Look G, you already know how I hate that kind of talk. I’ve had enough of you. I’m going.’
‘Hey, come on now. Please.’
That was the first time he’d said please to me. I looked at his eyes. They weren’t penetrating any more. And I dare say, I think I noticed a shade of sadness and disappointment in them.
I sat down again, slowly.
‘I’m not feeling right, N,’ he said.
‘Same reason?’ I asked, a bit surprised.
‘You could say that. But it’s a bit bigger than that. It’s more what they stand for, than they themselves.’
‘Meaning?’ I asked, realizing this was important.
He sighed and looked at the horizon again.
‘I understand you realize the importance of antagonism, of contrast, of opposites, of oscillations from one sphere to the other, of why there had to be light and dark and not light alone. Why men created the Devil along with God. I know, of course, that it all comes down to the same thing. You know binary of course? That two-digit number system of computers?’
I told him I knew of it.
‘So you see, all sights and sounds can be converted to two contrasting digits, two disagreeing, different entities. They combine in different patterns to produce all that is digital. The many comes down to the two, right? And you know too, of course, that two will eventually come down to one on a higher plane. Light and dark will merge, and <omitted>. [this clause contained a truth that many readers of this blog will dislike. Hence it is better omitted. For the time being, just be informed that there was truth in what he said in the last part of the sentence. The more intelligent of you may even correctly guess what he said. Sometime in the future, I wish to include it.] But still, on your plane, they are different, aren’t they? War and peace, kindness and oppression, the picture of a rescued animal and the pictures of people being tortured in prisons, it’s cyclical, no, rather like a wave, like telegraph wires. They come down and they go up. They sway between good and bad. The swaying is called life. It’s called existence. It’s called being, it’s called happening, it’s called possibility, what is true and present and exists and lives. It’s the bare swaying. And you need two positions to sway between. To exist. It’s like a circle, yeah. Goes around and comes around. I sometimes wish —’
He now stopped talking for a moment and stared straight at me, as if considering whether or not to tell me. He looked away slowly, again at the horizon, decided.
‘I sometimes wish it weren’t a cycle, you know. I wish it were linear, projecting towards something. To leave something behind would be to leave it behind, not to return to it again. The telegraph wire goes up and up and up and zooms around the sky and lunges towards the ground and flies around, not bounded by the rotation, the oscillation, the circulation, the swaying, free to be bent and shaped by fate and course of events. The future would always be a chance, a probability. After fifty years of peace no one would be waiting for war because they think the telegraph line has to sag. Because it doesn’t. There won’t be dark because there’s light. There would either be dark or light. There won’t be Devil with God. If there’s only one, people wouldn’t be able to tell whether it was the Devil or God. And there won’t be a new life-saving drug invention article on the Tuesday newspaper followed by Abu Gharib pictures the next Tuesday. I don’t have any idea what I’m talking about.’ He stopped and stared at me, smiling. I could tell he didn’t really feel like smiling.
‘It has to happen, right G? Without a cycle life and existence wouldn’t be infinite, would it? A circle ends nowhere if you begin from a point. A line does.’
He pointed at the stream in front of us and smiled.
‘You see that stream? It’s a line. Begins nowhere. Ends nowhere. Now let me tell you something. It is a circle, on a higher dimension.’ He winked. ‘Goes around and comes around.
‘Yeah, it’s right. A circle is always needed. A repetition. Genesis and Nemesis. Then Genesis again. That’s how the coding was done. That’s how everything falls perfectly into place. There’s no equilibrium position, just two extreme points. Like happiness at success and disappointment and frustration in failure. If a man achieves either of these, give him some time, he’ll slowly roll towards the equilibrium position. And then his instinct, actually the coding, or the voice, or whatever, induces him to start a new thing again, so that equilibrium is never reached. It’s always either of the two contrasting entities, never the intermediate. But since both these contrasting spheres always have equal participation in the journey of time, the whole thing remains in neither sphere; an intermediate.’
‘So I should stop worrying about the pictures?’
‘You could, because it’s only an event that maintains the equilibrium, but if you did, then there wouldn’t be protests against it, and slowly things would turn from intermediate position to one of the two spheres, the balance will be disturbed, and hence, it’s always good to do what your instinct tells you to: in this case, worry. You’ll be generating another chain of events to maintain the equilibrium.’
Once again, the answer was a paradox.
‘I wish you hadn’t told me all of this.’
‘It’d be like Neo telling Morpheus he never should have told him all of his.’
Now I had to smile. ‘I get you. Thanks. And by the way, N will do. Not the full.’
I no longer felt the need to be there. As if reading my thoughts, G stood up.
‘Hope I helped.’
‘Hmm…’ I said.
The atmosphere was growing oddly hazy, like it always did when our conversation was over. As if a thick fog had suddenly dropped from somewhere. In the growing blurriness, I squinted to look at him. A single glimpse of his smiling face on an electric sky background was all I got. My room was swimming back into view. Slowly it all materialized in front of me, tables, chairs, walls, T.V., and all that remained was a memory, as if I’d been dreaming all the while. I got up from the sofa and walked towards the bed with some real rest in mind.
And already, the questions were beginning to germinate in my mind again.