Greg k. woke up that morning totally occupied by the thoughts of his own. “i am blind” thought greg k. “its darkness all over, I’ll never see again”.
These thoughts of illusion were corroborated by the fact that he was still unable to open his eyes. “oh god! What sins have i committed that you express your abomination in such a way”.
“No, it can’t happen, it must be a dream. i cannot go blind suddenly, how can i? i remember i had a dream last night and before that i switched off the light of my room before going to sleep. i just cannot go blind in my sleep”.
He rose up in his bed and swayed his head around from one side to the other as if he was searching something and after few moments of these unsteady movements he suddenly ceased his motion and with a very conscious effort tried to open his eyes slowly but it seemed to him as if his eyelids were locked, he couldn’t open them in spite of his gigantic effort and so he gave up any further futile effort and sat still for some time.
“Alright, if this is the god’s will then let it be…. who am i to impugn his authority?” but this prevaricated thought had evolved just for the sake of his inner satisfaction. In truth, he was totally rattled by the idea of what has happened to him and his incapability of perceiving the reason for the same.
“i must need help now to carry myself through,…. but how am i supposed to tell the world about this blindness. No, i should wait…. i should wait till i find reasons otherwise the world would think of me as a lunatic.
“How a person can go blind in his sleep, they’ll say, and i with no concrete assertion will ascertain their blabbering. i have already been slandered for insolence. o my merciful god! how could they!!.. And i again don’t want to become the conspicuous commodity”.
He then moved and made some gestures suggesting he wanted to get out of the bed but his lack of vision regarding his action halted him doing so and so he kept sitting on his bed without any thoughts for some time.
In spite of a new fresh day with a distinctive aroma of the spring there was a morbid environment in the room. He could hear the chirping of the birds outside who would have also just woken up and were now in a playful mood probably trying to express their happiness with all the sounds they made. The sun was still covered in its orange corduroy just warming the air a little. greg k would have been very much elated to be woken up to such a day but his present predicament refrained him from any sense of jubilation, on the contrary he felt pity and exasperated.
“i should go back to sleep, if i can’t open my eyes or see anything then i must sleep. This is how it should be”.
He lay down again on his bed and covered his face with the blanket. Gradually the noises outside subsided and there was perfect calmness.
Greg k found himself in a dim lit forsaken alley. The only movement there was that of a crumpled paper that lay there on the road and was flouncing fanatically in its vicinity because of blowing of the harsh winds. There were series of half broken and derelict houses on one side and directly opposite to them was the gigantic back wall of some building which was bifurcated by a slit just wide enough for a man to pass. The other end of the alley in which greg k stood was closed.
‘What could this place be? It looks to me in ruin. And these walls… there can never be any light here”.
Despite the total precariousness that surmounted the place there was no expression of fear in him while he took his steps. He moved further down the alley without any sense of motive. As he reached the end he heard some noise something like that of grief and pain. He tried to make out which of the houses did the noise came from, for he was sure it came from one of the houses. He moved towards the houses still unable to discern the source.
“What could that sound be? Someone must be in pain and needs help” thought greg k as he reached near the houses. The houses were constructed in a line with such compactness that it seemed as if there were a number of doors to a single large house. greg k found that one of the door was left ajar.
“this must be the one but should i go in?…. how can i, a stranger, take the risk of intruding someone’s house without any purpose? The purpose may be help but that is uncalled for. My action might seem highly inappropriate and impudent to the other and be a reason for punishment. No, i must escape that, i must withdraw”.
As greg k was about to retreat, a shriek came from inside the house and a sudden impulsive impetus led him in.
The house in which greg k entered was completely dark from inside. There wasn’t a window or any other source of light but somehow greg k knew that he had to take two steps to reach the floor. He stood there for a moment trying to get his vision used to the darkness. The noise was coming from somewhere upfront and now was in a manner of subdued sobbing and it seemed to him as if it was beckoning him. greg k, who hitherto was very composed, felt a little intimidated but continued his impeded motion forward into that darkness. Again there was a gain in the crescendo of the noise and this time he was sure of the location of the source. The noise came from left wall of the house along which he had been walking.
“There must be an opening somewhere; for sure the noise is coming from behind the wall. i cannot be deceived”.
But he was unable to find anything and as the time elapsed the desperation in his movement could be seen through the profound swaying of his hands across the wall. Soon, the realization came over greg k that all the efforts of finding the unseen were futile and he should have renounced the idea long ago.
‘Confound this life…. if such is the hindrance in the motive of my help then i must be obstinate for any such action.
‘What concern is this to me anyway?
While greg k was still cursing he threw his hand in a fit of rage on the wall and hit a slender protruding which turned out to be the handle of the door. The strike let the door a little open and greg k finally saw some light.
‘So there it is, what a fool i was. My submissiveness without any strife has often led to my defiance and loathing for that unaccomplished work and hence i am said to be a man of no virtue.’
‘oh..damn my soul and damn these provoking thoughts, i must see for what i have come this far.”
He unobtrusively opened the door so as much to let himself in and found himself standing at the entrance of a well lit room the walls of which had patches of void baldness and the ceiling had peels as if they had been exterminated in the war and had hung there for ages. The room accommodated antique furniture which was mostly dilapidated and an old clock which appeared to be in shambles, hung from one of the walls; to greg k astonishment was still incumbent to its duty. The overall semblance gave an unrealistic sight. While gerg k eyes were still stuck to that old clock suddenly a voice broke out
“Time as it stands, never stops. Everything around it goes on changing”.
The voice was that of an old man who sat near one of the broken furniture on the floor. greg k in his utter amazement of watching the room had simply overlooked the man and had considered him as another antique piece on the basis of his shabby appearance which he now felt was somewhat more wretched. he wore a very filthy torn rag which was in colour of mud, his hair had grown like branches of a willow, his beard had grown in a pyramid shape and the patches of dirt trapped could be clearly seen, his eyes which were the most dreadful of all seemed as if they had bulged out a little and had been deprived of sleep for many days.
greg k was startled by the voice as his rudiment thought had made him to believe that there was no one in the room, forgetting momentarily that it was the voice that had brought him here.
The old man took notice of the transfixed expression of greg k and said
“you must have heard my wails of my pain and followed it till here.”
‘y..yes…. my dear old man. i thought you must be in a lot of pain.” greg k said these words with subtle apprehension as he was looking at the man with a feeling indefinable to him.
“yes my son, i am in a lot of pain”.
“What pain do you have old man?”
“i suffer pain in every part of my body, not all at the same time but whichever part it maybe the pain becomes unbearable and today it’s my ears.”
greg k was very much amazed and perplexed by the explanation he had just heard. He for a moment thought this was one of those frivolous escapades in which people get trapped unwillingly and they come out of it with a subtle guilt for acting wisely or earnestly.
“What? pain in the ears!. i thought it was something more serious than a mere temporary ache in the ear. Why don’t you take the cure?”
“This pain, my son, is persistent and it doesn’t seem to be alleviated by any cure. It will subside on its own once it has completed its time bound”.
This notion should have had struck funny to greg k but his expression suggested it had failed to do so. It made no sense to him; the reason and the explanation but something was encumbering him from spurting out his idea and so he stood still, in a way transfixed, staring at the man in an unbelieving manner.
The old man moved sideways taking few steps without looking at greg k. he stopped near one of the walls and said
“This pain, the cause of my suffering, has long been imbibed in me. If i don’t suffer my life would lose its vitality. It’s this suffering that has kept me going for ages. i have been incarcerated in this room for so long that i have ceased to keep the count of the days but it must have been very long for when i saw your face i was much amazed by the deceitful expression that your face bore. Please don’t mark my words as an insult, i just mean to convey the changes that i have seen in course of time. You see i am an old man and its only changes that i have sensed. You may not be deceitful my son, it could just be the reflection of time that comes from the mirror of incoherent vices prevailing among the masses.”
Before old man spoke any further he glanced obliquely towards greg k and at once noticed his perturbed expression. He could not tell though whether it was evoked by contempt so he decided to be silent for a moment.
This silence caused a mild panic in greg k. it seemed to him he had just woken up from an unpleasant reverie, so he gathered himself quickly and asked the man
‘how can i be of any help to you my dear old man?’.
the old man didn’t immediately replied, he held the silence while slowly turned away from greg k, again choosing not to confront him in his face while talking. greg k was feeling uneasy at every passing moment of silence and a great sensation of anxiety was flowing through his body. He could feel the gradual residing of fear inside him which for sure was enhanced by the silence. Suddenly the old man spoke in a voice which seemed a little somber
“no son, you can’t be of any help to me but it would be a great relief if you stayed a little longer. you are a visitor of time, although i have nothing to offer you but it would be a matter of gratitude if you stayed.”
“i would..i would old man but i completely fail to understand the purpose of my stay or to say the purpose of my being here.”
“the purpose?… oh sure the purpose you may ask but first i must ask you to place yourself comfortably.”
greg k looked around the room and found a furniture which could have been a sofa during its time. He sat on it somehow despite its dilapidated condition. The old man kept the distance from him and placed himself on a shack of rumbles of old furniture. He looked towards greg k and said
“you must have noticed my pain has subsided to the limit that i can act normal. It’s your presence that has barred it from growing any further. you see, my son, suffering diminishes in the hour of togetherness. The joy of sharing is supreme only when it is felt. you may not consider yourself as the part of my suffering but my relief does confirms the fact. All the same i must warn you of its undulating nature. The same togetherness is the cause of more suffering…. imperceptibly the time creates enough voids to let doubt creep through our mind which then resides, dwells and flourishes in the walls of morality… gradually making our soul depraved to the extent that we despise it. It’s a paradox… it’s a curse but it’s our necessity. Our survival depends upon this togetherness, it will give us our joy and sorrow and we are bound to follow whatever it may be”.
greg k reflected on something and then said
“does that mean if i leave you your pain would start again?”
“No my son, as i said the pain is time bound and it’ll go only after its time completion. By the time you leave it’ll be over”
“but how can the pain be time bound?”
“oh!.. i see the question has bothered you… of course; and so i tell. You see my son i ostracised myself from this world from the fear of becoming an abject man. i have been residing in this place from such a long time that i have lost the track of time. It’s never day in here nor there is night, the time stays as the way it is except for the clock which incessantly keeps its motion going. It defines nothing but my existence, rest everything has degraded. By keeping myself in solitude i thought i would get rid of the pain of being a human; i was wrong. Days passed by easily and the comfort compelled me to believe that i had escaped everything but one fine day i woke to find myself blind. it was unrealistic, unbelievable; how?
How could have i gone blind in my sleep? i screamed, yelled, tried to find my way out but all my efforts were sterile. Slowly i learned to live with my blindness thinking i must have done something severely wrong but look what happened again! Another fine morning when i woke up i saw the clock hanging on the wall; i laughed at the thought of the great impression the clock had made on me and swayed my head somewhat delusional. but what! i was able to see everything again, an infinite joy filled me. ‘ it’s over’ i thought, ‘i will do no sin to pay for’; but now as you shall guess, it did happen again. i lost my speech and then my hearing and then my legs became too weak to walk. Something or other kept happening to me and i accepted it, understood that it’s bound to happen. i couldn’t do anything to escape it”.
the old man stopped his speech, he seemed quiet calm now. greg k on the contrary was somewhat perturbed something familiar seemed to have struck him but he couldn’t figure out what. He thought hard for a moment but failed to conceive any result and finally gave up feeling disdained.
“is there no escape from here?” asked greg k.
“of course there is, my young son, and it’s not difficult at all. i can, on a better day, just move out from here into the street and then through that human slit in those gigantic walls i’ll be on your side”.
“so? Don’t you want to release yourself of such undesirable pain?”
“i have tried to… many times i must say but every time i prepared myself for an exit, a traveler of time like you would arrive and show the likeliness of the existing masses and i who would be on the verge of exiting would become fearful again and act otherwise. i am amazed by the course societies has chosen to grow. i have heard horrible stories of disasters and human hatred and therefore decided to keep myself confined to these walls where although i suffer but i have no corrupt soul”.
greg k took a moment of thought from the silence that followed and with quiet certainty concluded that the old man was unwilling to give up the place. All those unreasonable and undesirable pain had seemed to fit him; he had resigned himself to his fate and maybe was waiting for final blow of misery to rid him of the derelict life that had been bestowed upon him. ‘ the old man must be left to himself ‘ thought greg k. he then decided that his purpose of stay, which still was somewhat unbelievable to him, was over.
” i must get back my dear old man ” said greg k.
” yes.. yes you may. You know the way. i must thank you for your stoicism during the stay with me ” old man replied.
But just as he was about to move himself out into the dim lit forsaken alley, greg k was struck by a remarkable thought which troubled him with immediate effect and so he asked the old man
” what if someday i go blind in my sleep?? ”
the old man gave out a loud laugh and told him
“god save, it means that you must have been aberrant from your path whatever you have defined. you have to get back to it before the vicious circle starts.”
gerg k left the room and as he woke up for the second time that morning the sun had already well set in and the maid was in a disastrous mood for the delay in her work caused by the late waking up of greg k.