PrEm Ji

THE LAW OF SPACE (Short story)

 

THE LAW OF SPACE

 

It was a dull morning in the first week of January 2020. Though it was expected to have chilled mornings, the room temperature was not at all pleasing. I was sweating like a pig, as a causeless uneasiness was encompassing the air. Desperately, I pushed the earphones deep into my ears, and started listening to the unrefined voice of poet Louis Peter, who lived like a vagabond and died down at the footsteps of the Goddess of poetry. He was bidding adieu to his long-time lover – poetry!

 

‘Why should we meet again,

When we cannot retrieve each other?

If you could be ready to accept me

Only after a hundred rebirths,

I would like to be that temple

Where you are enshrined

During those hundred births….’

 

But… that harmony with poetry was clean-swept by a phone call from Arjun…

“Uncle… Mummy is no more…” somehow he managed to complete those words drenched with tears…

♥   

 

Ceremonies were over…Arjun and wife flew back to Dubai, where he heads a moderate construction business firm founded by his father Mr Divakaran. Being one of his closest relatives, I used to call him ‘Big-Bro’ right from childhood.

Big-Bro and his beloved wife Anuradha were the most celebrated ideal couple in our family circle. He was left alone in that beautiful mansion, carefully designed by his wife, who happened to be my senior during college days. It was very difficult for him to accommodate the vacuum created by her untimely death, who was hardly fifty-two then. She was one of the most dynamic and charming woman I had ever met, other than my wife! I used to take a temporary refuge at their home whenever my wife had a temptation to ‘roast and eat’ my brains and pulverise my soul!’

My younger son even wrote a poem on my peril…

‘Dad is a cracked piece of coconut

And Mommy is a house mouse

Gnawing and chewing the kernel

To sharpen her teeth forever!’

♥   

 

“Big-Bro, why don’t you go back to Dubai and live with your son and daughter-in-law?” I asked one day, while giving him some company during his daily dose of two pegs of malt whiskey in the evening.

“I am not interested in doing business anymore, Prem…”

“You mean… you took a decision to retire?”

“Yes… Anuradha planned for a peaceful retired life when I turned sixty... We worked hard, day and night, to appease our material needs…But, I am helpless without her…”

“We are not ‘matter’ alone! Big-Bro…”

“Yes… Everything you see here, was her choice. But, she left me alone, amidst this gnawing silence…” he wiped the tears rolling down his cheeks. “She was my friend and philosopher, ideal partner for everything… She was my hope and breath! You won’t believe me, till today, I do not know how to tie a tie! She managed everything personally…” Big-Bro consumed a peg in one gulp! 

“I know…”

“I feel her presence everywhere…”

“Yes…”

“It seems a new disease is on the spread, I watched on TV last week… What do you think of it?”

“I do not have much clearer idea…I don’t have a TV in my house…”

“But, I have! I disposed my business in Dubai last week itself!”

“A very good offer?”

“Not bad…”

“That means, you didn’t quit business!”

“No… I quit business forever…” He laughed.

♥   

 

Though Big-Bro had regular visitors from family and other social contacts, his uneasiness began to grow up like an untamed monster. The daily limit of pegs, doubled within a month and he picked up some more weight. He lost even the habit of using hair-dye! I couldn’t find fault with his unexpected transformation. But, he was very punctual in assuring curios and decor items in his home, carefully selected by his wife from all over the world, being most clean on a daily basis.

His days began with a short walk to Anuradha’s grave. Though his son and daughter-in-law wished to decorate her grave with expensive white marble tombstones, Big-Bro didn’t allow them to do so, because it was against her will…

She wished to live, and leave, like a breeze!

But, things began to change as on 30th of January, when Government of India confirmed the first case of Covid-19 in the state of Kerala, when a University student traveled back home from Wuhan city in China. And on the very next day, Italian government suspended flights to and from China and declared a National emergency. Soon, people began to lose faith on others and on themselves, suspecting the hidden claws of death! News channels were busy making ‘route-map’ of Corona patients.

“He went there, had some coffee… five people were suspected to be there in his primary contacts!” Reporters kept on spreading fear among the commons.  

But, things were going out of control across the globe. Italy recorded a death toll of 6077 on 23rd of March. And on the very next day, 1.38 billion people of India were locked for a period of twenty-one days. It was the toughest of all decisions taken by any Prime Minister in India!

Arjun and wife Soumya were also trapped in the lock-down in Dubai. Big-Bro was left with no company. Even I was a bit reluctant to visit him, since violating the guidelines of lock-downs would land anyone in Jail! His aged caretaker too left him as her grand-daughter had a premature delivery. At last, he found some happiness in dusting out his wife’s delicate collections of art and furniture.

♥   

 

As the ‘Stages of lock-downs’ advanced to 2, his wine collection had depleted only to several pegs more! Though he had enough money to buy, the ‘liquid crystal’ was unavailable almost everywhere! Liquor addicts found temporary refuge in Marijuana, which ultimately ended up in addiction to both! Some day in the first week of May, I found a chance to visit him, that too without the knowledge of my wife. I found him running his own personal illegal brewery in his kitchen using a large pressure-cooker and some metal tubing immersed in water with plenty of ice! Things were slowly going out of control!

“Scarcity is the mother of invention!” he laughed loudly while handing over a cut-glass full of virgin alcohol!

“Really!” I grunted when the ‘fire-extract’ ran through my esophagus.

“Arjun and his wife are coming back by next week through ‘Vandhe Bharat Mission’… (Massive repatriation operation to bring back stranded Indians across the globe)… It’s better for anyone to be at homeland in tough times like this…”

“Death toll in Italy has already crossed 30000. USA is also worst hit, crossing 50000 deaths… Mr Trump is facing tough times…”

“India is far better…”

“I think, we are approaching the end times!”

“Whatever it may be, we must arrange a quarantine home for Arjun and Soumya, for a month.”

♥   

 

Arjun and Soumya started living out their quarantine days in their ancestral home near to my house. It was a small house with minimal facilities, stood amidst a wide expanse of land and the young couple lived there quite happily. Big-Bro visited them regularly with groceries and vegetables. Some of their neighbors permanently closed down their windows opening towards their house. Unfortunately, my wife was also one among them.

“Fear of death is the worst fear man can ever have,” I told my wife.

“What is death?” she confronted me with a philosophical question.

“Women are sometimes ‘woe of man’ by asking silly questions during tough times…”

“What is death?” she was not ready leave…

“What else, other than the separation of mind and matter…”

When their quarantine period was over, India had entered into ‘Unlock phase-1’.

♥   

 

“Premji uncle, I would like to speak with you something very personal…” Soumya told me when I visited Big-Bro and family after two weeks. Big-Bro and Arjun were busy settling some of their business deals.

“What’s the matter?”

“My father-in-law urgently needs some sort of emotional support… I see the ghost of ‘that man’ now-a-days!”

“He was living alone for some time… Now, you people are here… aren’t you?”

“That’s not enough! That’s the ‘sympathy’ we offer. But, he needs some sort of real ‘caring’ that only a partner can give…”

“You mean, he has to get remarried?”

“Yes…”

“But… Will there be any objections from Arjun?”

“No way! It was he who suggested it!” she replied with a smile.

 ♥   

 

And the new partner, Soumya found out for her father-in-law, happened to be a poet named Sandhya! She was her family friend for long, who remained unmarried to live out her crazy passions like poetry, cinema, trekking and many more. Her passions were endless and her first demand was quite sensible, Big-Bro was forced to resettle into his ancestral home with limited modern amenities, which he hated the most!  Soon, Sandhya Sis raided my house and took away a bagful of precious books, which were carefully kept on our book shelf by my wife.

 ♥   

 

More and more relaxations happened on Unlock-2 and 3. And I lost regular contact with Big-Bro and wife. But, one day, he came in search of me to unbag the woes of an unsatisfied husband.

“It won’t work out… Prem… We have almost decided to separate…”

“Are you joking Big-Bro? It’s hardly three months!”

“No… Literally, I cannot tolerate her! My house is such a mess now… I am not getting a cup of bed coffee in the morning! I am forced to wash my on plates and cloths, which I am not used with. She reads up to midnight, watches crazy movies… And on some days, she paints from morning till evening! If we go to a restaurant for a change, she pays her share from her pocket… She is a strange sort of woman!”

“Big-Bro… I am very sad to say, that your requirement is not that of a partner…”

“What?”

 ♥

 

It was August 15, 2020… We were celebrating 74th Independence Day, might be the toughest one in the history of independent India. Sandhya Sis visited us to return the literary books in the morning. She was kind enough to add some more from her recent online purchases.

“How is life?” I asked her.

“You know, it’s something like ‘Confucius and Lao-tzu’ are sharing the same room!”

“You mean?”

“It’s always a clash between discipline and freedom! One cannot achieve freedom through discipline alone! Then, separation is the best option available…” she replied with a smile, but sadness was the undercurrent.

“I understand… He is not free from the shades of his late wife… But, it will change…”

“I have no objections, Prem… But, I hate the strange comparisons… You know, like every human being, I too deserve some personal space!” She said while taking a deep breath of fragrant air emanating from the cluster of Roses in our home garden.  

“Do you love Roses?”

“Yes… But, only wild varieties… They last for long!”

“Great! All I would like to request you is, please don’t take a decision in haste…”

 ♥   

 

Big-Bro had gone out for his morning jogging session when I reached their ancient home with a mini-truck load of roses and locally available flowering plants. When we were about to unload it, Big-Bro appeared from somewhere. Soon, he was busy with strange ideas to set up a garden in the most disciplined way.

“Big-Bro… I brought them for Sandhya Sis… She is an artist and let her design the garden in the most unconventional way! What do you say?”

“Be it so! Then what shall I do?”

“Settle the bills first! And grow these Rose cuttings using potatoes and help her…” I handed him over a huge bunch of local varieties of Rose cuttings…

“How does that work?”

“You make a small drilling on a healthy potato with a corkscrew… Grab a Rose cutting, dip the end in honey, place the end into the hole in the potato and plant them into the ground. Potato will keep the Rose cutting moist and finally end up with roots!”

“And what  will happen to the potato?”

“As the Rose grows, potato will die down to manure, just like your first wife…”

Big-Bro walked away without uttering a word, as he was unaware of her creative talents till her last days…

♥   

 

“When are you coming to visit our garden?” Sandhya Sis asked me over phone after two weeks.

I rushed to their home in ten minutes as if I had been waiting for a call for millenniums.

It was an absolutely brilliant sight! Multi-hued roses were dancing on unusual patterns. But, what surprised me the most was, Rose stem cuttings grown in potassium per-manganate water, that too almost double in number! They had stronger roots. Big-Bro had done some extensive research and found out a new technique!

“How is our garden?” Big-Bro asked me.

“Outstanding! No painting or a piece of art, can ever be greater than something grown on earth!”

“Absolutely! Shall we go for a morning walk?” Sandhya Sis asked me.

“It is not safe to walk through the road… COVID is spreading up fast…”

We started walking through the boundaries of their 3 acre compound.   There were newly prepared sand beds for cultivating vegetables. Their large compound ended up near a small waterfall.

Two water-streams, originating from some-where, were the main tributaries of that small, but gorgeous waterfall. But, by some hidden power of destiny, a moderate-sized rock prevented them joining together, just before falling down to lower-depths.

“If that rock is removed, it could be more beautiful! Water will flow down like a continuous sheet of colourless paper!” I said.

“Why should you worry about that? Let them flow sideways… You see, their destination is one and the same! Nothing bothers them, then why should you be bothered?” Sandhya Sis asked me.

“Some raw emotions can also create ‘rocks’ which blocks the natural flow of our life-streams… If you try to break them down, the flow becomes more and more turbulent… Instead of trying to break them down, why don’t you try to continue the peaceful flow by ignoring them, in the middle of the larger stream called happy life? Why don’t you flow around the rocks?”

“Prem… We reached into that sublime reality on the very moment we started working with our own Rose garden... Though it is very hard to accomplish ‘Till you live, live happily and peacefully by by respecting the differences… Unconditional love is the only force which can unite two people without destroying their identities….” she started walking back holding hands with Big-Bro…

 

♥   

 

Premji

23/7/2021

 

 

  • Author: PrEmJi PrEmJi (Pseudonym) (Offline Offline)
  • Published: July 23rd, 2021 12:52
  • Category: Unclassified
  • Views:

Comments1

  • L. B. Mek

    wonderfully insightful, a poignant dedication to a genuine Poet and brave commentary,
    a good read
    thanks for sharing, dear poet

    • PrEm Ji

      Dear Mek
      Thank you so much...



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