Åsa was only six years old but very different from his age mates. He preferred his own company over that of his friends’. A conflict raged like a storm within him. Outside, he was all sunshine and flowers and butterflies; and inside, he was as dark the heavy rain clouds. Åsa was also highly intelligent but depressed. The bright flashes of intelligence lit the heavy clouds of depression at frequent intervals.
The last time we met, he told me that it was the last meeting.
No words were spoken. No gestures were made. It was just a silent communication …….. initiated by him and received and acknowledged by me.
‘But why leave?’ I silently inquired.
‘I am tired. My frail heart cannot keep up with my spirit. The spirit needs to be free. I need to be free’. The smile was still kind but sad.
‘But what about your friends? What about those who love you? What about me?’ I pleaded.
‘Oh but I will always be there in your heart. Each time you need the advice of an old man. Each time you need a blessing. And each time you need a friend’. His eyes were two misty grey pools glimmering with moisture. ‘Remember Tipu, memory is what keeps us alive.’
‘I am going to miss you Uncle. I am going to miss the warm aroma of your pipe tobacco. I am going to miss your throaty chuckles. And I am going to miss your kindness.’ My heart was heavy with the sorrow of farewell.
‘Yes I know that!’ He bowed his head silently. ‘But you have to let me go.’
‘Farewell old friend!’ I whispered sadly within myself.
‘Farewell Tipu!’ his eyes smiled kindly.
I was friends with a very ancient turtle once. I was very young, probably four or five and he lived in our backyard. The turtle talked to me. He told me many stories of times past and people long dead. He was wise, very wise and a four year old kid was no match to his wisdom. But he talked to me because I believe, in a way he loved me. He loved me because I could listen to him for long, my pupils enlarged in astonishment and my brow knitted in curiosity.
“God is sad my son!……..and he has created a world in His very image. It is a sad sad world”, the old man slowly opened up his eyes. His grey eyes looked at me with an amused curiosity.
“And why is God sad?” I failed to grasp the image of a sad omnipotent being.
It is a place of sorrow.
The old man sits on the couch. He is about 65 and Asian in origin. Deep lines of experience map his sun-beaten brown and haggard face. He has thick bushy grey hair – more white than grey and reaching his shoulders. His blue-grey eyes are clouded with age and there are confused tears behind thick pebbled glasses.
Throughout the late 1970s and the early 80s, there was a nude rendering of a Red Indian girl, hanging on one of the walls of our middle class abode. The choice of mysteriously dark colours accentuating the well-proportioned figure, made it exude an aura of subtle eroticism. I loved it and was infatuated by the sheer exoticism of the study. But once when I hesitatingly asked my father if she was naked, he answered with an amused glint in his eyes, ‘Nope. Who says? She is wearing an almost invisible cloak of feathers.’ With those few words, any remaining likelihood of sensuality and secret pleasures vanished into thin air with an almost audible ‘poof’. And after that, she was just an object of art for me – deserving rapt attention but short of any pre-adolescent intimacy.
Depression is a sweet poison. It is a quagmire which drags me in within its dark murky folds. Each breath becomes an effort and each effort becomes a burden. But coming out of it, I feel like a phoenix rising out of the ashes. The world looks different. It is colourful again.
Tic tock…tic tock….tick tock, the old grandfather clock was ticking its decades old sad mantra in the corner. It was pouring outside. Heavy drops streaking down the thick plate glass leaving incessantly changing and twisting patterns. Their pearly contours seemed frozen in micro seconds by the vicious lightening, illuminating the late evening sky and the Atlanta skyline. The high-rises were silhouetted against the purple sky, like dark giants bending their heads in morbid boredom.