The Train of my existential crisis left the station some 4 years ago, it passed a long tunnel of darkness lit with translucent yellow light bulbs intensifying the horror and gloom of life. The stale and moist air coming from the windows kept slapping my face almost reminding me of my inadequacies.
The train was full of co-travelers and unfamiliar faces, engaged in gossip and banter. I could not hear the words, nor recall the distinct features of their appearances; I was deeply engrossed in my own nothingness. Each passing moment was throwing a volley of images and visuals, some from the past and some the past of my future.
I had heard of this term existential crisis or mid-life crisis but never understood its meaning. My relationship with sadness was only restricted to sad and pensive songs of Kishore Kumar existential crisis, that I loved to hear. And every now and then, Kishore would start to sing inside my head. These moments were a welcome break from the malfunctioning of other frequencies inside. The journey was made bearable.
Many co-passengers wanted to have a conversation but I would show little interest or close my eyes pretending to be sleepy. Someone spotted my confusion and wanted to teach me an ‘art of somehow living’. There were others who somehow convinced me to chant ‘Shambhu’ by holding my neck with both hands for 5 minutes, almost guaranteeing that the poison of life can be consumed but not inhaled with this meditation. A ‘Bluethroat therapy’ to a happy life, I told myself.
The grand personality of Shiva had always attracted me. I told myself I would look for a book that enlisted 117 ways of meditation by Adiyogi Himself. I had not been a voracious reader of books; I always used to be interested in the gist that it had to offer. But I wanted to change it now.
At the next station, I went to look for this book. It was a bestseller and easily available. I picked up this book and went towards the payment counter when suddenly, I heard this voice reminding me of another book cover I glanced at. It had the colors of fire, serpentine hair of Shiva, and a beautiful picture of Shiva holding the trident.
I could not pronounce the name of the book in my head but read a rather simple name of the author. I had not heard of this author, but what can I say, I had not been to too many bookshelves or libraries. The name of the author was more like two salutations (usually used by holy men in India) combined together.
There was a particular attraction to the book and I was anxious to get back to my train ‘the blue train of shallowness’. So I picked up both the books.
My poor experience of reading books soon overpowered me. Merely, five pages into the famous author’s book and I wanted to sleep. At times I thought the author wanted to play a ‘PUBG’ of English vocabulary with me. It was competitive and I was juggling between my Google assistant and the book. For my co-passengers, it was suddenly a very active version of myself. It seemed that they too wanted a piece of the action. Soon enough, one person inquired about the book. I was too pleased to lend it to him, albeit, with instructions to keep it tidy and treat it with reverence. I could not show that it was riddance for me, lest it came back to me like a bad penny.
But I still wanted to experience ‘the blue throat’ therapy (‘Neelkanth’ for those who understand national language). Reluctantly, I picked up the book with colors of fire. Lo and behold! Without any over-promising adjectives, it took my train to a wonderland of Himalayas, a bedtime story of Shiva and his consort Parvati. Page after page, it was akin to my mother narrating the story. For my untrained brain, it was a fantasy and a nice escape. I looked around, I was the only passenger in the train now. I did not put the book down for eight more hours.
My heart laden with guilt and full of sorry existence took a flight into this new Promised Land. It would not sit with me inside my train, which had slowed down a tad bit. It was in higher altitudes and it was serene.
I checked with my Google assistant and inquired about this author; this young and glowing face printed at the back of the book kept calling me. My train was not too far away from this author, clad in monk clothes. I disembarked my train and traveled by the road, trekked a couple of miles, crossed a river and reached the destination of this monk. I was to have an audience with him next morning. I spent rest of my day in this beautiful valley, engulfed in the mist of skepticism and doubt.
Early next morning, I was told to not spend more than two minutes in the meeting room and be specific with my questions. Questions? What are the chances of getting answers to these questions in two minutes? Sample:
Who am I?
Where have I come from?
Why am I here?
Where have I to go?
Nevertheless, I entered the meeting room with aplomb and pride. Two wide eyes with a penetrating look but a gentle smile welcomed me. In an instant the castle of my pride was demolished and I felt compelled to prostrate. I knew I was in the company of a much superior energy. I choked and said some words that did not make sense to my own ears. The monk asked me to step forward to bless me. He touched and asked of me to be free of my worries.
I was swept off my feat. I walked like a zombie and found a solitary corner for myself and cry. I wept for next two hours, for no reason. I was feeling something unique; a new kind of emotion. I had not known it before. I lost all kind of thoughts about my blue train of shallowness but I found a treasure.
Little did I know that a tulip bulb was planted in me that will grow with time. What color of tulip would it be? I do not know. But i do know that the color of my train is orange now and it moves at its own comfortable pace through the valley of flowers, streams of water and lakes. It whistles its way in and out of the cities, picking up and dropping passengers at frequent stops. There are still tunnels in its path but the light inside the train is bright; its seats are colorful. It plays the symphonies by Bach and Mozart and the likes. Every now and then, there are beats of R D Burman and Kishore kumar to liven up the mood. The dark and gloomy tunnels do not matter anymore. The ride is free, come aboard “The Orange Hara express”.
P.S. I got answers to my questions when I reached home after meeting the venerable monk. My wife gave me the answers:
Q: Who am I?
A: The laziest person on the earth
Q: Where have I come from?
A: From a world unknown to mankind
Q: Why am I here?
A: To ruin her life.
Q: Where have I to go?
A: Get up and Go to Bathroom.
Just kidding 😊.