A Different Man

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The wind howls in the silence. She’s wailing. She rushes past the barren lands of snow, from one end of the earth to another and returns, again and again, and she wails. She cannot rush through the trees, cannot caress them, take their little leaves with her for a playful ride, not anymore. And she wails. She cannot soar above the salty seas and be wrapped in a cloak of mysterious adventure, she cannot indulge the baby birds as they open their little wings for their first flight, she cannot rush in giddy excitement to send the message of monsoon and relief to the lands grieving in the sun, not anymore. And she wails. Louder and louder. Until her pain is the only voice left in the land. Until her pain becomes the voice of the land. Everything she has ever loved is gone. All that is left is loneliness. Cold and utter loneliness. And she wails.

She was never very strong at heart. She lived as she loved and she loved as she lived. And she has loved for as long as the earth has lived. And now that’s all gone. In a blink. Her heart doesn’t know how to survive, to breathe, to live. She has seen pain, she has lived enough to see real pain, and a lot of it. But this pain is unlike anything she had ever felt, not since the birth of life, not since the birth of man. Her heart grieves. They may not have had the simplicity and honesty of other forms of life but she had always loved the man. There was something good about them, something very simple but still unexplainable, something they never managed to create a word for and it always pulled her towards them. She watched over them, cared for them, loved them. They were her children. And now she had no child left. It was all a blank. Like a mother living in denial for the loss of her child, she runs in hope where there is none. She circles the earth, again and again, searching for that one cry of laughter or pain, for that one cry of hope. But all she finds is icy loneliness. And she wails.

As she wanders, shattered and broken, through the vast seas of silence, she comes across the fallen statue of an old man. Her heart stops. Her voice is gone. She’s numb. When she thought that she never could find a word for the love she had for man, even though they were as much bad as they were good, that it was unexplainable, she was wrong. The answer was staring at her even when it was lying on the ground, lifeless and broken. It was man who brought this end – this nothingness, this loneliness – but even in her abyss of utmost despair, fate keeps reminding her of what she might forget. Man loved to live, whatever be the means but he also loved to fight. He thought he was fighting to live. That it was the only option.

She looks around the place, the bombed buildings, the bloody corpses and the cold loneliness and looks heavenward at the irony. She then looks at this fallen statue, this bespectacled, bald old man, wearing khadi, with a stick in his hand. She doesn’t know what to think, to say, to feel. Man is full of contradictions. Perhaps this is what she loved the most about man. That she could never figure them out. They were an open-book and yet they always have and always will remain a mystery. And this was her favourite child. The one who made her see a side a man she could never have imagined, a side she never thought existed. He was a universe in himself. She walks towards the statue and pushes the snow away from the name at the base.

“Gandhi”- her lips whisper. “If only your brothers could see the way you did, my son…” And she lets out a cry of pain so loud and deep that makes the skies and the lands tremble till it’s the only thing that’s as alive as her. The wind and her pain, together, in an eternity of loneliness, nothingness.