The Fly That Followed Me
Chapter Nine: The Closure
She wore a thin, pink pullover that wrapped idly around her body as she sat crouched with slightly parted lips. Kaajal still emboldened the intensity of her gaze. The view, coupled with fresh breeze, fell upon my eyes like dewdrops and I felt fresher than I was when I had left the hotel room.
“How did you even expect me to simply come with you to Lonavala at a moment’s notice?” she asked, turning to look at me with a smile that said she did not care.
“As a matter of fact, sweet, you are the only one I expected to leave with me this way.”
Our driver stopped near a few other cars on the side of the road in the middle of what seemed like nowhere, and said, “Here we are. Lion’s Point.”
“Where?” I asked, looking around.
All we could see was dense, smoky air. On the nearer side was the rocky wall of the mountain we were on. On the other side we could see nothing except a short stretch of stony, brown land that disappeared into the smoke.
He pointed to the latter and said, “Wahaan.” [There.]
We got down—zipped-up and shivering—and walked into the invisibility as space began to clear out step by step, until the edge of our sheer-drop cliff came into prominence, some ten steps ahead. The earth was slightly excavated along the edge and few walked along it. We followed them through the haze to a yellow noticeboard that bore the words Lion’s Point. There were stalls ahead in a slight extension of land that we could only guess at from where we stood. A possible warmth beckoned us, but by sheer coincidence, the moment we crossed the board, heavy roaring winds came out of nowhere, blowing at full force with an intent to crush the mountain, only to hit us first. We made our way to one of the stalls.
A woman was selling hot and salty kernels of corn, roasted on a small coal burner. The wind was fierce but she had practiced hands. I got us two mini cups of four-sips-worth of tea, which was nothing short of medicine in that cold. We took our roasted kernels and walked ahead with face covered, forcing our way to the edge through the increasingly intense, racing winds. A small branch stood out almost horizontally from the edge, hanging out in mid-air. It was a clear reference to the lack of visibility as its ends, barely two meters ahead, were completely hidden from view.
We looked ahead as huge waves of fast-moving clouds rose out of the void and hit us. The wind was fierce and almost scary. A part of it seemed to have liquefied into prickling drizzles. I held her firmly in my arms, as she hid her face on my chest to escape the lashing rain that seemed to flow in unison with the wind. There were screams that seemed far away and almost inaudible, but were actually the lung-cracking effort of a group that stood right beside us. Eyes could barely stay open and one could hardly stand. My excitement roared with the winds and all I did was laugh in its spectacular fury. I enjoyed it. I loved it.
She pulled me back from the edge when the rains grew too fierce and I reluctantly walked back to the shade of the stalls behind us. I should have been more attentive. There, in the freeze, awaited the hottest kiss I have literally ever experienced, for that is how much it warmed our freezing bodies.
It was a short drive further uphill until my driver drove off the road and stopped on barren, stony land.
“Echo Point,” he said, carrying me out of my daydream.
I got off and walked to the edge—much more pristine and much scarier. There were no stalls there and at that moment, no other living soul either. Echo Point roared in a way that almost put the prior Lions to shame. Every iota of fury that had carried the winds and the ghostly fall of the cliffs previously had intensified manifold. The edge curved in a semicircle, showcasing the grandeur of a wall that dropped down endlessly along the rim. Clouds hit them with enormous force and a hollow sound rose from within the deathly bowl, as if to call us in whispers of an oncoming darkness. It was ghostly and brutal. I stood there, expressionless. I had been there before—with her. I strained my eyes to look at the other end across the semicircular diameter. The attempt infused life into my feet and they moved ahead a few steps on the burbling ground.
“Stop. Kanha, please don’t go further!”
That is how she would have screamed, scared and furious at my stupidity. But she’s wasn’t there. And her voice never made it out of my imagination, under the wind that knew or cared about nothing in its way. I stepped ahead but stepped wrong. A small invisible boulder shifted beneath my front foot and I tripped.
The edge was cold, death inches away from it. I could have crawled away, but I lay in a state of shock—one that gave way to enchantment. Looking down at the endless drop of that cliff under deafening screams of air, painful beats of its wrath and exceedingly strenuous strain of my gaze, I saw what I had been looking for.
The Earth could never end. And as far it wanted to go, nature would adorn it. There was no limit to how far I could have fallen and it was purely my choice to let go, roll over and fall, or to make an effort and crawl back up. The fall would have the clouds press me, push me, and suck the last traces of oxygen from around me until I dropped dead as a lifeless piece of junk—dead before I hit the ground, if it were there somewhere. Until then, the fall would never stop, no matter how long I waited or wished for it. The only way I could escape was if I changed my direction and talked myself into enjoying the sight, choosing, in its simplest and most eloquent manner, to live. It was life and it had been hazy until I fell dangerously close to a final fall, and before that plunge, it gave me a view of what lay in store.
I had thought that I had lost my interest to live. But it was so easy to reach that stage; yet so much more rewarding to keep away. I thought of suicides—innumerable ones that happen all around me—reasoned through pain, depression, loss or stress. For the first time not just in words, the reasons seemed to be a part of life. They were negative absolutes one felt with extreme difficulty. Yet, in no way could they break the boundaries of “experience.” The death bowl seemed to echo one question at that moment: If suicide was a way to be rid of the experience, where did we plan to go after that? What if we were sent back to redo all of it?
Everything that caused us pain or made a difference to us, lay within the confines of life on Earth. Ending it could never be a solution to our problem; it was simply a channel to restart our search for solutions.
The joy of achievement or the pain of loss were merely definitions of our society and only held value within its boundaries. In reality, they were just dispassionate experiences aimed to teach us. Even in the face of a plethora of dismay, it would only take a selfless smiling face, a shower on a cool day or a good night’s sleep to ease it all. Troubles, as we knew it, only filled in chapters to our story. For, life was just that: a series of chapters of emotions and events—drab or exciting, victorious or painful. Rock bottom actually does not exist. I—felt—scared, until I realized that each of these three words also belonged to this world alone. I left my brightest smile as a trace to that space, and crawled away.
She knelt down beside me, crying, wailing in shock.
I looked at her—as beautiful in my imagination as she would have been, had she been there. There could be no hug, nor redeeming consolation of fantasies hidden in the thick cover of cloud and solace. Yet, I spoke in a trance, as though she were there “To keep you away from tears—that is my ‘why,’ that is my reason.”
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