‘Why do you have to write?’ Rumi looked up to see his friend standing over him with hands folded. Rumi sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. Ajay had caught him again; writing, this time on the parapet outside College.
Come to think of it, it was a good question. Why did he feel this need to write?
He chanced a glance again at his friend who was now having a wry smile on his face. ‘No, I am not leaving today without getting an answer’. Saying so, Ajay relaxed his poise a little and was now leaning on the wall beside him.
Seeing that he had no way of escaping the question from his friend today, Rumi started looking around, as if in search of some inspiration to answer Ajay’s question.
It was twilight, again. Just like that day, the stars were twinkling, the sun had lost its fieriness and was blood red, again. Down below, the ever moving cars made their way carrying their tired and exhausted owners back home. A cool breeze brushed Rumi’s face as if getting him back to reality.
Realising that he’d better say something before his friend thought he had really lost his mind, he said, ‘Okay, what sort of question is that? It’s as if I ask you why you have to play football.’
Ajay was looking at him sceptically now. Rumi knew he couldn’t beat around the bush with his friend anymore. ‘I know when it all started….that day’, said Ajay, ‘What I don’t get is, Why?’ Rumi just shook his head.
His friend looked at the view over the horizon, the greens and the sky merging, and the stark contrast of the concrete jungle below. ‘It is kind of beautiful, isn’t it? The irony of it all?’ said Rumi, following his friend’s gaze.
‘The bubbles which humans have made for themselves; the bubbles that are so small that it is difficult for one to fit in it, forget make space for another human being. Driving in their cars, lost in their hopes and ambitions, fears they don’t want to face, dreams that can’t let them sleep at night, disappointments that burn through them; oblivious to the beauty enveloping their bubbles.’, saying so Rumi saw his friend looking at him keenly.
‘Rumi’, Ajay said, ‘there’s more to it than you being a crazy philosopher; is there not?’ This time Rumi was at a loss for words.
‘What exactly happened that day?’ said Ajay. Would it be so difficult to put his shapeless thoughts into words? Rumi closed his eyes.
He could hear the laughter, innocent and full of excitement, the laugh of a child. Eyes sparkling, heart beating hard, running to keep up with his older sister. They were both screaming and laughing, tripping on the sand as their feet sunk on the sandy shore of the beach. It was twilight, stars were twinkling, and the sun had lost its fieriness and turned blood red. Their parents were looking over at them, sitting on the shore, smiling at their kids go crazy as usual when they reached the beach.
This was but one of the many days their family spent their evenings, on the beach, cold breeze as if washing over their face, while waves crashed on the rocky shore. ‘Mom! Mom! Look she’s teasing me!’ Rumi was complaining to his mother as his older sister stuck out her tongue for he had lost the race to her. His mother was holding her son now and trying to scold her daughter for running ‘too fast’.
Looking at him adoringly, she said, ‘Let’s play again! This time, you and me’. And there he was running faster than his mom! He was so excited that he was screaming again.
‘Rumi? Hey man, are you there? You say all this scary life stuff and then suddenly it’s as if the lights are out, you are not present. What’s going on in that big head of yours, huh?’ Ajay was actually peering at him like he was talking to someone who had lost consciousness for a moment.
Rumi smiled, feeling a wave of gratitude again for having Ajay on his side. He was a little annoying for being nosy, yes, but he felt somehow it was good for him; to get this kind of reality check from his friend, now and again.
The sun had almost set now. ‘Sometimes Ajay, we go through such experiences that it becomes almost unbearable to continue living in our cocoon; our bubble, because it starts to pain, a lot.
It is then; when we feel that all hope is lost, that we go back and begin to find the answers to all our problems. We remember that we have been loved; unconditionally. Most importantly, we remember that we have loved ourselves and we relearn all over again; to love ourselves. The love in the eyes of others, reflects the love we felt for ourselves; the love without any judgement.
The waves of love that you remember; smash against your soul; making it hard to breathe. It’s all so overwhelming. And then the tears come, as the bubble finally breaks and you are afraid to step out.
Stepping out seems to hurt but it hurts because it is so beautiful and you’ve never really lived this before. And as you become one with the magic all around you, the beauty enveloping you; it washes away all the pain. It is as if you are reborn.’
Rumi realised that today he had shared more than what his mind always cautioned against. He sighed heavily, and looked at the stars now sparkling in the night sky. ‘And so Ajay, my friend, when I felt all was lost, one memory of a twilight evening reminded me what living meant.’
Rumi then added quietly, ‘It broke my bubble’.
Having been given such a theatrical performance; Rumi looked up to check what cynical expression his friend was giving him. But Ajay was looking at him as if it made sense.
Rumi closed his laptop, and as they walked down the steps to their dormitories in silence; Ajay understood that it wasn’t only some story his friend wrote on those twilight evenings, he was pouring out his soul into words, if such a thing was possible.
He unclenched his hand to read the crumpled paper his friend had absently written on earlier in the evening, and felt something stir within him.
It read, “Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?”