That face in the crowd had some mystic quality about it and instantly I came to use that face as a buffer to ease my tension but I knew beyond that there is no track. If I tried to break grounds, reality would more than blare at my face. That face offered something soothing to my tired mind. I tried to rummage through my mind the exact association of it, but there was nothing in the offing.
I continued to pass by the gates of freedom with a new found relief in absolute silence and expectation. That face was there no doubt and the mysticism deepened, every time I looked at it. It wasn’t expecting to meet my eyes. It was waiting to receive some other stimulus for which there would be other responses. It surely wasn’t mine.
“Audy, look the other side; once before you had vied.”
There, time was suspended one moment and everything continued to flow as before. That face was nameless, a rotating chain of memories followed. It produced some sensation that was some ten years ago present in vibrant state in all its innocent forms. It had followed me chasing seasons with mysterious songs that I never could understand. That face had belonged to a cherub etched on a high pedestal just below the dome where other angels winged about soundlessly. Then all of a sudden walking in the sun in scorching heat one day, the song had stopped and the sensations too.
Now it was a memory that surfaced from the debris of forgotten sites. The mind was crowded with faces, known, unknown, seen, and unseen. I left it at that and continued my journey. But the mystic face haunted me; there wasn’t anything spectacular about it–a common, plain face with a pair of intense eyes and a straight nose reminding me of the cherub.
But those eyes! Those eyes seemed to know some deep secrets of nature and life, which I did not know. They were like mystifying caves on a cold mountain. The snow strewn around it looked like a decorated painting on the wall against an orange backdrop that slowly turned pale and slate after the muted sunset. It kindled some strange freshness from the bottom of the heart. But the darkness that oozed from nowhere to cover the mountain tops sent a chill down the spine. The painting was engraved on a card that fell on my lap from a shelf like a bookmark. I kept it safely in my treasured book. May be after twenty years, this bookmark might produce the same sentiment as it did now when I looked at it. Those eyes will come back to me in an imagined sweetness recounting a thought and a good feeling with a smile.
Imagination is the world where anything happened. Birth, death, and falling in love. All the sweetness wrapped in a look was offered to me. I revealed in those eyes that seemed to sing a beautiful, enchanting song. The strings of lyre began to strum and the music reached its climax. The floating clouds descended on earth and the lifting sensations seemed never ending. I floated lightly like the clouds and began to skim unheard melodies in nature as enchanting as those eyes that set my heart on wings of serenity and peacefulness. But as soon as a clock struck time at a distance and the vibrations rang clearly in space, I came to consciousness and looked around, but that face with those eyes had vanished. I stared at the vacant place with a heavy heart.
“Audy, turn away, the path is rough; or go and bite the rebuff.”
There was an old man with a white flowing beard. He was the guardian of the gates of all knowledge, concrete and abstract. His wisdom was beyond time and over centuries. He saw those eyes too and his theories enhanced my views. Was he affected by them? Or was he detached and looked beyond? He was only a brain with a distorted body. That body was of no use to the commonplace race. He interacted with his brain, which was only sensible matter devoid of emotions. Many sought him for his wisdom and many a hesitating heart he had steadied. Many had gone back from him with their wisdom restored.
I had an urge to throw light on this enchanting vision. It was easy to demystify a beautiful feeling with crude questions of certainty. Those words would put the feet suddenly on rough grounds from where the riposte would be difficult. The burning heat of reality would scorch the soles and tire the limbs. Then going in search of greener pastures of relief and respite would be more difficult. Moreover, a harder chafe on the surface would also reveal another set pattern of life ruled by reality, immersed in desires and frustrations. Another story yet all alike in themes and styles will reveal itself like an ugly scar dispelling the peacefulness.
The obscurity was calming and soothing. But the other side of the mind wrapped in the clothing of curiosity, sitting on a judgmental seat was a difficult thing to contend with. So the mind ran into searching niches and bits of insight gratified that curiosity. The reality came as a bolt and an impediment. I did not want to know more. I wanted that face to be a mystery and anonymity and continue to enchant me like the cherub whose memory was indelible. I caught myself from falling on the throes of knowing anything more.
Reality pinches had dried up all enthusiasm to admire anything beautiful. The set patterns warranted straight directions and any amount of deviations failed to hit the target, for the target itself was an illusion. I didn’t seem to reach the end and all the efforts extended, till time put a halt. It was at such times that face gave immense calm. No words spoken and none heard was better understood than volumes of spoken words and all misunderstandings in the endeavour.
The masters of exertion and force timed their routine and others too. The corridors came alive with fragrance of instructions and with time, it mixed with the air around. The others would find the remnants of its existence. There was some joy in leaving behind footprints and fragrance. There were too many bits and pieces put together in a patchwork made complete. All these areas were integrated into life. And this is life, they all said. Still there was something lacking, something missing, and my intuitive mind was searching for that missing link. That anonymous face had something different to offer as an answer. Or so I thought.
“Audy, go search for lofty quest, to reach your final crest.”
Against that slanting sunshine of late evening that day, those eyes glistened as a remonstrance. A glazed look crept in as if I was standing in a translucent pool. It looked like a sketch with several rows of blue waters decorated with a light blue crayon in a neatly stacked style on a white drawing paper, the still waters looking wavy stationing a canoe that did not sail. The canoe stood sloping in the sea of painted water. Many drops of salty water shone in the sunlight. Pine trees were there too. But a couple of years ago what I saw was real on the shores. A small canoe taking them to the ship anchored yonder, the waves were turbulent and the canoe went up and down with the waves to reach the ship and the ship would have surely sailed from this end of the world to the other end before anchoring. What were the directions given?
It was an abrupt end. The smearing crayon marks ended in a neat line after which there was an untrodden path with bush flowers and some other flowers. What flowers were those? Carnations, I suppose.
But that face, those thoughtful eyes, different from the rest of the world charged with some unknown power and knowledge stared at me like the cherub’s constant, fixed gaze that was carved for posterity, only this time those eyes were concealed behind glasses possibly detesting extraneous and unconnected strains! It looked as if I was an unnecessary intruder trying to seek some precious but furtive discernment of what lay within and without and so had to make my exit.
Denied of my one contentment and delight of looking into those enigmatic and mystical eyes and that face cut above the rest of humanity, so angelic and serene, I had no more wants. Those eyes were not for me to unearth inference. I stood on the outside. The sunshine slowly shifted from the face to the wall and beyond into the barren fields…..
The sun will set but the memories are for me. I will place them safely in a corner of my heart. Why then didn’t I smile? Smiling would break the illusion and bring in reality. I didn’t want this actuality, this brazen truth. I wanted to feel, in my stupor, a soft feeling, a tender feeling that will linger for a longer time. In the context the tightness of feelings throbbed with controls all firmly applied. But out of the context too I saw the face in the same vein. Now the controls didn’t apply then why did the face remain rigid? The breeze was lighter, time sprawled, scenes changed, people differed, background altered, time had moved a great deal from the initial point, crops had ripened, even the contents were at variance. Then why was this rigidity? Why not compliance?
That man with the white flowing beard, he was there, with his watchful eyes. Sitting hunched on a low chair with his grotesque body, he understood the disconnection. His words coming from an erudite brain said, “De integro.”
I searched for the meaning as I did for so many happenings. The meaning of what he said was ‘Repeat from the start.’ His philosophy was worth giving a thought. I think I should begin at the beginning. Life always comes to a full circle, it did so with me. I was again standing at the start, only this time I did not want to anymore.