Paradise Lost

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Today morning I woke up to the chirping of sparrows, songs of the cuckoos and the sweet splashes of running water. I opened my eyes and looked around…I was on a patch of green grass… like on a golf course. Behind me there was a beautiful waterfall…calm, soothing and beautiful. A stream ran playfully through the pebbles and twigs and fallen yet green leaves. There were trees all around. Greenery that was unmatched. I heard the sparrows though I did not see them. I was all by myself, but not for one moment did i feel that way. Nature was with me. I did not know where I was or what I was doing in this enchanting land yet I dint care to know the answers. It was all beautiful just as I had always dreamt. And sure enough… it was a dream. The buzzing alarm sent me reeling from this lovely dream. I switched off the alarm and looked around to see where I was. A disoriented bed, awkwardly thrown clothes, a shattered glass… I dint realize what actually happened here but one thing i was sure of… I was in no enchanted land but my room. I walked out of my room when my room mate looked at me, kind of confused and asked me “Up already? Dude you came at 1.30 in the night and leaving so early?

You had that meeting very late yesterday and came back at about two…you threw the bag and collapsed on the bed. A voice rang in my head. I slowly went back into my room and sluggishly walked towards the bathroom. I had to get ready for work. Dude, why are you doing this to yourself? The voice continued. You can sleep peacefully you know and that is what you want. It was right… I was sleep deprived for a few days now and desperately wanted to spend some quality time with my old pal… my bed. This one is important…I just cant miss this, I replied in a rather sheepish voice probably to show I had no other option. Just like yesterday’s? Its always important right? Huh. I had no reply to that and chose not to. The water is too cold today, I said. This time he chose to ignore. In a couple of minutes I got ready and walked hurriedly to the bus stop. Look at them… no one is happy…its like getting into the bus is the only aim of their lives. For now its mine too, I said and laughed to myself. I got into the bus and glanced at my travel buddies… drowsy people, dreamy people, tired people… all kinds but happy people. You know not many are here of their own will. You know I am correct. They could all use some sleep. It is not always what you want to do, it is what you have to do that keeps people going, I mumbled. What do you have to do? Why do you have to do this? Is this what you want to do Kalyan? The voice echoed in my head. You are my conscience. You should know.

The bus reached a traffic hot spot. A wave of cold breeze knocked at my window and I peeked out. Vehicles everywhere. Everyone was in a rush to run away. None of them seemed to care for another. I don’t want to do this for long I thought. You know the answers…then why do you ask? I know the answers but you don’t  The voice spoke.And twenty years from now when you acknowledge my existence and ask me the same questions…when you ask me why I did not stop you now, I will have no answers that can satisfy you. I did not reply rather I could not. My silence was disturbed only by the honking vehicles behind us…and in an instant the bus began to move. Phew, at least I would reach in time for breakfast! I sat back and tried to recollect my dream.You don’t remember that place…do you? The voice seemed mocking. Help me out here…okay.  A few honks and a couple of bumps later, I reached my office. I was 10 minutes early…what a relief. I did not hear anything for a while. “Hey…how you doing? ” A voice reached out for me. Instinctively, without even looking at her i replied “Doing good…how about you?” We shared a smile and got into the elevator. She looks happy enough…I thought.

Time flew and so did the meeting, though not much of it made any sense to my sleepy eyes and sluggish mind, I hung in there like a soldier waiting behind enemy lines for a new day to dawn. And as the meeting ended, I was more than happy to be the first one to walk out of the conference room and into the cafe. There I sat down with a cup of hot coffee gearing up for another long day and started searching my pockets for my earphones. Ah! Forgot them at home in the hurry…You are such an …Just then I heard a voice from behind…It was Priya ( the one from the elevator ) and some of her team mates.

Raj : How did the meet go? Was the tool approved?

Priya : I am not as fortunate as you Raj. It just ended with another stupid comment from Steve. He doesn’t know hard it is to leave a 1 year old kid at home and rush to work at 6 am and stay here till 11. Sometimes I feel like I should quit this job and stay back home with my son and start a restaurant! That way I can at least be happy.

Ravi : Wooaah… That is some frustration. The restaurant business? Keeping your options open eh? Ha ha .. I dream of doing that someday when I retire.

Priya : Shut up Ravi!

And they all laughed.

So much for the illusion of happiness.

I got up and walked away back to my desk. I sat there looking into the Unix terminal for about 15 minutes when i finally lost it. I pushed my chair away from the desk and leaned back. What makes someone happy? I am not happy…not as I once was. Whats wrong with me? I was a lot happier when I watched Pokemon and played card games with my friends. I remember I promised myself that i’d grow up and earn lots of money and buy many goodies… more than all of them combined. Now I have the perfect job with a handsome salary. But why does that sense of satisfaction still evade me? Why am I not able to enjoy my life? What am I missing? I threw hordes of unanswerable questions hoping that my conscience would come to my aid but I heard nothing. Deafening silence. My brows were pulled together almost into one. My eyes were pressed tightly. I was lost in the vastness of nothingness and was waiting desperately to hear the sound of my conscience. After another five seconds of silence, a voice – softer than earlier rose.When was the last time you stared for two minutes at the leaves of a tree?When was the last time you touched the dew kissed lush green grass? When was the last time you went out in the rain happily without cursing the weather? Can you remember the last time you spent a couple of hours laughing and chatting with a group of your friends without caring about all the other things in your world? It said. I was confused now… I realized that I hadn’t done any of those things for a long time now but…What does that have to do with how I currently feel? I asked myself.

Do you remember morning’s dream? You were so happy… do you know why? It was a calm and pleasant place… that’s why i suppose… I answered. It was your sanctum of solace. Sanctum of what? I was baffled. It is a state of mind, not a real place but a state where youexperience unadulterated joy and peace without the need for any extraneous source… a person or a thing. Every being has his own sanctum of solace or paradise of the soul. For you it was the green grass and the enchanting waterfalls, for some it might be a sunset on a beach or even a cloudy sky… it may vary in its form but is unified in its essence. But I haven’t been anywhere close to my happy self in recent times, why did i end up in that sanctum all of a sudden? I thought. Well, that is my next point. There are two ways in which one can experience the sanctum… first when some one is truly happy from within. The second unfortunately when the soul feels dangerously far from true happiness. So it was the second. Yes, today was a warning. A warning and a plea from your soul that you have wandered too far from your true meaning. If you continue in this path my friend, your soul will shatter. Your deepest and dearest desires…your wants will get buried under heaps of your undesired have tos. You may now think that you can answer your desires at a later point of your life but by then the damage will be done. Your soul will grieve in silence for you will have ignored its desires for things you think are important for this moment rather than things that are truly of value to your happiness. And by the time you realize this your soul will have lost all hope and will to fight for what it truly deems to bring you happiness. Like many others you too will be stuck with regret and you will have lost the only way to communicate to your soul… you too will have lost your life without living it. Wake up… wake up before you fall into the dark pit of melancholy, before you repent your doings…wake up before our paradise is lost.

And I woke up for the second time. It was a dream! All of it…a dream inside a dream? I was dizzy and utterly confused. This was some serious inception shit going on in my head! I pinched my cheek and now the pain was real enough. I looked around… the disoriented bed, awkwardly thrown clothes and a shattered glass…just like in the dream. I walked out of my room still unable to get my mind off the gravity of the words of my conscience in the dream. Every word of it resounded in my mind. “Up already? Dude…you came in at 1.30 yesterday night and leaving already?” My room mate questioned.  Dejavu! I thought. I waited for the inner voice. But there was nothing. It was a little worrying. I rushed into the room and got ready and then raced down the stairs to leave. All this time the dream was still stuck in my head. Am i doing right? Should i do this? Is this the best i deserve? Tons of questions flashed into my head in a matter of minutes. I walked down and slowed down a bit. It had rained the previous night. The chill was still in the air. I looked around. For the first time i noticed a lawn near the entrance to my apartments, slightly towards my right. It was a children’s play ground which had lush green grass… with dew drops hanging from the grass blades. It was beautiful. My legs pulled me into the lawn. I dropped my bag and sat down in the lawn. For a moment I was a kid again… brushing the lawn grass with my palms. It was wet and tickly, it felt wonderful. It started drizzling again but I was protected from the rain… I looked up to find my saviour… a huge tree with its branches spread wide as if to protect me from any threat of rain. I stared at the branches and leaves. I felt the deepness and the calm of the tree. The rain grew heavier and slowly a small crack in the adjacent wall began to pour out water… forming a miniature waterfall that gave rise to a thin stream. The sound of the stream struck sweetly in my ears. The birds chirped with joy. I was still staring at the leaves of the tree, sitting on the wet patch of grass. I closed my eyes and slowly leaned my back on the ground and settled in a sleeping posture. For once I lay there, without any care in the world. I had a meeting but i dint bother. For once i was living in the now… not the past or future. Drops of rain found their way from within the tree’s leaves and kissed my forehead. They fell across my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. Along with them they carried my tears… tears of joy for I had realized what it was to be happy again. I had realized what mattered and what did not… I had saved what little hope I had for reconciliation with my soul…I was free for I had saved my paradise.

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