The sunlight from the far end of west was getting fainter by the time. I touched my jacket to check whether it was in place without looking at it. I could not remove my gaze from the beautiful golden rays of light touching the leaves.
I was sitting on a bench in a garden near my house. As the sun rays began to get fainter, I put on my jacket to avoid cold. I also wore my shoes to cover up my feet and prevent them from getting colder. The people around me were already wearing different jackets and sweat-shirts to keep them warm.
“There cannot be any logical reason for why am I asking you whether I can sit on this wooden bench next to you…what do you think?”
An old man, probably in his 60s, stood in front of me asking a weird question which was hard to understand. He was 5.4 inches tall and round like a potato. His hairs were whiter than usual and he had worn an unusual kind of hat. In India people don’t believe in wearing hats for sure. Instead elderly people wear turbans. May be he was an NRI living in UK at some point of time.
“May I sit here?” He apparently simplified his question understanding the limitations of my meager brain.
He raised his hat a little to thank me and sat on the bench. I observed that he had a very peculiar kind of mustache which often appear in old English movies…may be he was an NRI after all.
“I see you are sitting here alone…”
“Yes…I live nearby. I normally spent my evening here watching the sunset and observing the people around me.”
“Well that’s interesting because I like to observe people as well. Do you only observe the people around you or also try to speculate that who they are and what might they be thinking?”
“Perhaps I do speculate as well.” I saw his eyes were greenish and small. He blinked twice after realizing that I was noticing his eyes.
“Let’s play a game then…it’s not that I want to bother you or something…just like that…let’s see what I think about the people and what do you think…you will also need to support your theory by facts…If one could not then other wins.”
“I am a writer sir. I make a very keen observation about people so it is unlikely that I will lose…and alternatively I won’t like to take the credit of defeating an old man.”
“Harsh words young one. I am not old by heart though. Why don’t you take an attempt and see how we go about this?”
He smiled in return. I could see that his face was not much changed when he smiled. May be he was habitual of smiling a lot and therefore face has adapted to the changes which happen so frequently. Though I could see the grouping of wrinkles near the corners of his eyes but somehow he looked younger with them. The sunrays were still struggling to detach themselves from the leaves of the trees. I looked at my watch; it was 4 in the evening. I decided to take the first shot in the game.
“The lady who you see sitting on that far bench with a child coved by her ‘Sari’…”
“Yes…better than you can my friend…my eyes are still perfect.”
“I speculate that she is child’s mother and is looking for her husband or a relative, whoever came with her to this park.”
“She has covered the child with a part of her sari which shows her concern for the child. The sunlight has begun to fade away and cold is taking over the park. She is trying to keep her sleeping child warm. She looks anxious as well and is looking everywhere for someone. She also tried to drink the remaining water from her bottle though there is no water left in that…so I am guessing that her husband or someone has gone to bring some water for her…or she is looking for him to ask them to get some water.”
“Nice theory but mine is a little different.”
“And what would that be?”
“She has stolen the child from her neighborhood and is trying to cover the child so that nobody can identify him and he is not sleeping but is drugged. She is anxious because the man who promised her to help in selling the child is absent till now. She is looking for him. She is also nervous because she knows that she is doing a sin, therefore her throat is getting dried-up again and again. She is not from here because she is not asking anyone for help to get some water. Only 10 steps from where she is sitting there is a tap where drinking water is available but she has no idea about it.”
“It is preposterous. Why would she steal a baby from her neighborhood?”
“Because she is infertile and she is envious of the babies her neighbor has. She had been trying to be patient a lot but a few days ago she completely lost her nerves and made this bizarre plan.”
“It sounds more fiction than a reality. Are the facts which you submitted are even coherent to your theory?
I looked at the woman. She was surely in her early-40s and was looking anxious. She was wearing a pale color sari. Normally women like to wear bright colors but in her case maybe she was trying to avoid the eye-balls of the people. I thought that old man’s theory could be correct. I looked at the sunlight…it was still visible. It was taking sunlight a bit longer to disappear today.
“So is she wearing a pale color to avoid the eye-balls?” I asked.
“But no…I got it. If the child is hers then she actually gets lesser time to devote to herself. That could also be a possible reason why she is wearing pale color. She didn’t have time.”
“Well…” The old man looked elsewhere which also was an indication of testifying my theory. He took off one of his shoes and turned it upside down. He probably was trying to get rid of something which went into his shoes. I observed that his shoe probably was much bigger than he needed. Soon a small pebble came out of the shoe. He smiled at the pebble and wore the shoe again.
“So shall we call it as even this time?” He smiled again…the same unfazed smile.
“Hmm” I acknowledge.
“You see that couple?” Old man decided to take the shot now, “The cold days are working for them. See how the girl had dug her face into the warm and large chest of the boy. She is feeling the hormonal cascade due to the body odor of the boy. Look at the boy how gently he is holding the hand of the girl. He is moving his fingers on hers…which indicates that there is some romantic talk going on. Don’t forget to notice the boys other hand. He is moving his other hand on the thigh of the girl…gently and slowly, inducing the flow of estrogen more aggressively inside her. They may have sex today…what you think.”
“I say this time you have mistaken…and mistaken absurdly.”
“The boy who probably is around 17 and the girl, who must be around 16, whom you guessed as a couple are brother and sister in fact. You see the bicycle on the ground near them…actually brother was teaching his sister to ride the bicycle and she fell down during the course. Girl is crying hiding her face in the chest of his elder brother. He apparently is checking her fingers for any possible wound. And also is cleaning the dust from the body of the little sister. They are not trying to hide anything and also the people passing by are not objecting at all…that proves that there is nothing like intimacy going on there.”
“Well you have completely changed the theory but you know these days couples are not daunted displaying their affection anywhere. And people are also getting used to such things in India.”
“How do you explain the bicycle and crying if the girl?”
“May be the bicycle is not theirs at all. And the girls have the tendency to get emotional during romantic talks.”
I didn’t want to but I knew that I would be endorsing the theory of girls getting emotional during romantic talk…I have had experienced it. I looked at the old man. He looked confident and to an extent, his theory was not unlikely as well.
“What do you think?” He asked.
“I think that it is not possible for one of us to lose. It is because whatever is happening around us can be explained in several ways. Our brain picks up the scene which is best suited to it. The positives and the negatives are just the two sides of the same coin. Exactly like different people get different meanings out of a same poem. The words we hear, the music we listen to, the things which we see and the thoughts which we ponder upon are the non-morphological state of brain which is made up of our own memory. And memory contains the things which we have seen, books we have read, movies we have watched, theories we have heard, intuitions we have had and the hypothetical images we have drawn.”
“Yes…in fact I will say that the larger part is imagination because whatever you see…is… calculated reflection of light. Your eyes catch the frequency of reflected light and your brain draws a picture. What if the things which you see are different in appearance than you actually calculate it to be? The sound which you hear is disturbance of molecule. According to scientific theory there has to be an energy loss in the process…then how is it that you are hearing what I am saying? My voice box is disturbing the molecules and the sequence of disturbance is reaching you in the exact pattern…where is the energy loss…if you say that loss is there in the form of heat then why the pattern of disturbance of molecules reaching you is the similar to what I made? There should be difference in the pattern as well.”
I closed my eyes. Everything which we see or hear is based upon the calculated amount of light reflected to our eyes or calculated amount of molecules disturbed respectively. Hence, everything is based upon a calculation. Beauty of a rose, height of a cliff, roar of a loin or singing of a bird…everything is nothing but a calculation by our brain. How about the feelings…are they mere calculations as well?
“What are you doing here?”
I opened my eyes and Nikita was there. She was carrying a shawl. She quickly covered me and touched me to see whether I had fever. Her touch was comely. It was full of affection and care…it could not be calculated and was not based upon calculations for sure. The sunlight was gone. I realized that I have been thinking for a long time.
“Did you take your medicine?” She asked.
I just gazed at her familiar and lovable face. She looked pretty and endearing. Her eyes were big and beautiful…it could not have based upon calculations as well.
“How many times I have told you not to think so much.” She said with pseudo anger.
“That old man…”
“Oh…had you been seeing illusions again…god…I would need to call Dr. Parera. My god…pressure on your brain is increasing everyday…I beg you to stop thinking…doctors are saying that your schizophrenia had become worst…I am so worried…please Manav…don’t you do this with me...I love you so much.”
Her beautiful eyes were soon flooded with tears and big drops of saline water started rolling down her lovely cheeks. She held me with both of her hands and hugged me tightly. She continued whipping and begging to god for my well-being.
“Hey you alright…hello can you hear me?” The Old man was almost trying to shake me up.
“Yes…no…you are an illusion…don’t talk to me.”
“Are you out of your freaking mind?”
“No…don’t talk to me.” I stood up. The old man got up too.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing…where is Nikita? What have you done with her…you asshole?” I grabbed his jacket.
“What the fuck…are you retard?”
“Where is she?”
I pushed the old man and he almost hit his head with the bench. He looked fiercely towards me. His hat fell on the ground; I could see his half bald head. He quickly picked up the hat and covered his head. For a moment he looked calm but on the very next moment he ran towards me and pushed me with his whole strength. He was definitely old but he possessed much more strength than I imagined. A picture fell from my pocket of the jacket. The old man picked up the photo with a lightning speed.
“You are definitely a retard…you were talking with no one…there was no one out here…you are nuts.”
He looked at the picture and it seemed that he was stuck with a sudden shock.
“Give that back” I screamed and snatched the picture from his hand.
He looked both astonished and traumatized. He took a deep breath and walked away. I stood ready for any surprise attacks from him but he kept walking till he reached the lady sitting on the bench with his child. I felt weird as he started talking with her and pointing towards me.
I shook my head to shred away the thought of the old man…after all my Nikita said that he was just an illusion. I looked at the picture. My eyes spread in circumference and my heart started to pound loudly against the wall of my chest. It was my picture with my family, my wife, a boy around 17, a girl around 16 and an infant in the lap of my wife. And there was a line written on that picture with a mobile number.
‘My husband is schizophrenic. If you find him in any trouble, please call on this number or find any one of us…any one of us would definitely be nearby.’
My brain could not stop thinking about the doctors who told that my schizophrenia had become worst; I could not stop thinking about Nikita. I was terrified to think whether relationships are based upon the calculations too…no they can’t be. Probably I was the biggest example.
I looked impatiently towards the old man who was still talking with the lady surrounded by the boy and the girl. All of a sudden I felt the warmth of a hand on my shoulder, I looked back, and it was Nikita. She was smiling, and undoubtedly it was the most beautiful smile I have ever seen.
“So what if I am an illusion...I will always remain with you in your thoughts...come let’s go to your family.”