Saturday, October 16, 2010

Northern Skies

He sits here every day. Everyday he comes here and sits. Among the many different ways in which you can change the syntax of this sentence, the semantics, unfortunately, always remains the same. Oh yes! This is not a complaint, one can be certain that he has lost the art of making a complaint, but, sometimes facts do sound like complains. When Newton discovered the laws of gravity, he also implicitly complained against the fact that humans can’t fly. This stupid planet keeps pulling you down to the ground and so, we created Superman, an alien who could fly and yes, save the world in the process.

He sits here every day with a sandwich looking at people walking on the streets of this strange, alien city where everyone has things to do and people to talk to. He has somehow managed to pick out loneliness in the myriad of options that he had when he entered this new city and chosen to sit with it and a sandwich waiting for the lunch break to get over. In fact, you could call him a stalker, just that he doesn’t stalk one person, he stalks people. He watches them everyday walking on the street and follows them till they disappear into the oblivion.

Sometimes you do end up finding strangeness in the everyday encounters with this bench. Just the other day he saw this couple, tall husband – short wife, a little strangely matched to be honest (though he couldn’t really be sure if they were married!) and the wife was carrying an umbrella trying to cover the head of her husband as it drizzled down from the clouds. Common sense would probably suggest that it would have been a lot easier for the husband to carry the umbrella, but the man was not bothered. He smoked his cigarette as his partner tried to prevent the inevitable drenching that was becoming a definite possibility. He wondered if that woman would have preferred sitting here in all the glory of loneliness than being with this man. After a moment, he realized she wouldn’t. No one wants to sit alone and have lunch all by themselves. People like talking about the trivialities that make them social. They would probably hang on to that umbrella just to be accepted.

But, today seemed to be different, one can’t be exactly certain why but some freak in office decided to get interested in Norse mythology and was sending out emails talking about the origin of Earth. “There was once no heaven above nor earth beneath, but only a bottomless deep, and a world of mist in which flowed a fountain. Twelve rivers issued from this fountain, and when they had flowed far from their source, they froze into ice, and one layer accumulating over another, the great deep was filled up.

Southward from the world of mist was the world of light. From this flowed a warm wind upon the ice and melted it. The vapours rose in the air and formed clouds, from which sprang Ymir, the Frost giant and his progeny, and the cow Audhumbla, whose milk afforded nourishment and food to the giant. The cow got nourishment by licking the hoar frost and salt from the ice. While she was one day licking the salt stones there appeared at first the hair of a man, on the second day the whole head, and on the third the entire form endowed with beauty, agility, and power. This new being was a god, from whom and his wife, a daughter of the giant race, sprang the three brothers Odin, Vili, and Ve. They slew the giant Ymir, and out of his body formed the earth, of his blood the seas, of his bones the mountains, of his hair the trees, of his skull the heavens, and of his brain clouds, charged with hail and snow. Of Ymir’s eyebrows the gods formed Midgard (mid earth), destined to become the abode of man.

Odin then regulated the periods of day and night and the seasons by placing in the heavens the sun and moon, and appointing to them their respective courses. As soon as the sun began to shed its rays upon the earth, it caused the vegetable world to bud and sprout. Shortly after the gods had created the world they walked by the side of the sea, pleased with their new work, but found that it was still incomplete, for it was without human beings. They therefore took an ash tree and made a man out of it, and they made a woman out of an alder, and called the man Aske and the woman Embla. Odin then gave them life and soul, Vili reason and motion, and Ve bestowed upon them the senses, expressive features, and speech. Midgard was then given them as their residence, and they became the progenitors of the human race.”

As he went about his day trying to read up more on Odin wondering how strange imagination could possibly be. He came to know about his messaging system, which involved warlike virgins, mounted upon horses and armed with helmets and spears called Valkyrior. When they ride forth on their errands, their armour sheds a strange flickering light, which flashes up over the northern skies, making what men call the “Aurora Borealis,” or “Northern Lights.”

Today, he sat on that bench wondering what it would be like to see the sky lighting up with a constellation of colours of every hue. Stalking people seemed irrelevant for the first time. For a second, the bench seemed to move in time and space as he felt the road in front of him change into a sheet of ice. The sun disappeared and a clear sky with stars twinkling appeared out of nowhere. He stood up and felt a sudden chill in the air as he realized that he was all alone surrounding by nothing except the great whiteness of snow in all directions. The bench was still there probably waiting to take him back.

And then it happened. Slowly a very blurry picture of magnificent colors became clearer. It reminded him of the days when he used to watch the sky every night with his telescope. Every night he had to re-adjust the lens to see that clear picture of the sky again. Only this time it seemed as if the sky was adjusting itself for a spectacular display of colors. In that one moment as he looked at those colors, he knew that life was more than subsistence. It was about living and seeing what the world had to offer. Not just the people and how somebody could just come in and change your life. But, the amazing thing that is this planet.

“Hey Amir, Compass is waiting for you in his cabin. You better hurry up!”

The ground was concrete again, the bench was still placed facing the street and people were still walking past it oblivious to their stalker. Suddenly he felt as if he had woken up from a long strange dream with the hand of a colleague on his shoulder.

“Oh! Thanks.”

He stood up and rushed to his Boss’s cabin and knocked. He had no idea why people called him Compass but he did always talk about directions to move forward.

“Amir, well it’s time for the annual review of your performance and I have to tell you that it is very positive but there are a few directions that we need to explore…”
“I quit!”

As he got out of that cabin and started to walk out, his Boss opened his cabin and said, “Amir! Wait. Where are you going?”
He turned and looked at his Boss and for the first time in ages, he smiled.
“To the Northern Skies.”

1 comment:

Tony said...

I liked the story :). simple and nice though it kept me guessing till the end, what is it about. I liked how transitions from reality to fantasy and back to reality happened. I would have liked to have a more vivid description of the reality and how it is interpreted by the main character in his fantasy.