Aarohan did not know where to start. He could not get his emotions out of his system. But he needed to.
'Buy yourself some time. Switch off the lights. Stare into the darkness outside."
The wind played with the curtains. The little glass trinkets which hung from the curtain-rod above the window jingled rhythmically, to celebrate their love affair with the wind. He wished he could undo everything and start from scratch. But one can never take a u-turn and drive the whole way back when it comes to life.
'Forget her. Do away with all the memories. All those walks around the bypass. The rain-soaked houses. Her car we made love in. The patchy dog that would often follow us up and about around her home. Drown it all.'
But that meant Aarohan would drown too. He was right in the middle of a sea. Pulling the plug now would mean he would get flushed out as well along with all the water. He had to think of something else. But ideas were not coming to him in a flash that night. It had to be an external source which he believed held the key to an escape. Not something that lay within him.
For some odd reason the wind seemed to carry with it some mysterious identity the presence of which Aarohan could feel, but not see. It seemed to be going round and round inside his room, gradually increasing its speed in a circle. Was it the wind up to its usual mischief, playing around with Aarohan's imagination? Or was there really something? Some odd presence?
Suddenly a voice boomed -
Aarohan was taken aback and did not know for a second whether he was hallucinating. But he could not see anything. Could it be that when one hallucinates, one hears voices too? There was only one way of figuring it out -
'Who are you?'
'I am the one you all look for. I am the hole.'
'What makes you think I look for You?'
'You cannot but survive otherwise. I am the one who lets air pass through. How can you survive without some air? I can keep secrets hidden within me for ages till someone else digs me up all over again. You can dig me and then let everything that bothers you fall within and be entrapped. That is how I work. How I live and let others live. That is my food - for life and thoughts.'
Aarohan could not take this for real. He looked around and could see no one. It was like one of those deep dark mystery pits. To know what was inside, one had to take the plunge and walk in. But no one ever knew of someone who had come out. The other side was unknown to all. Was it that there was so much to look up to on the other side that people who went in never felt like coming back? Or could it be an enchanted space the residents of which forgot everything about their past and made a fresh new start. How could one know? Was it worth risking it all?
Good or bad, it would be a new start at least. Something which Aarohan did not know of or about. And all that he had come to know till this point in his life seemed meaningless to him at that point of time. Nothing made sense. He wanted to buy his time back, but he knew well enough that was not possible.
'What are you waiting for? You got nothing to lose or give. You might be wondering why I chose to talk to you in the first place. Well, I am neither the Devil nor God. I believe in transactions. Both parties concerned stand an equal chance of benefiting. I am capable of washing away all filth, light and everything that is there inside one's mind. Everything that one wants to erase. Spotless minds so far have been conceived of only in novels and movies. How about reality for a change? Get all your thoughts together in one place and pour them within me. I will have my food. For you, it will be a new beginning with a spotless, unblemished mind.'
Aarohan counted his chances. He did not know whether this was right or wrong, but he just wanted to give in, though he was still not convinced about the powers of this unknown voice.
'You are scared because You don't know Me. You all fear the unknown. But I can work wonders. You will live life like you never have if you trust me. You will go places where you have never been. That little glass trinket which hangs from the curtain-rod was gifted to you by her, isn't it?'
Aarohan was shocked beyond disbelief, but did not know who to face, or show his expression to.
'Well, yeah. I know everything. I have been there right from the very beginning. There is nothing that escapes me. I sit quietly and observe all that takes place. People cannot feel my presence until I allow them to. Only those with whom I share the transactional bonds know me. And they are more than satisfied with the results! What they feel is beyond life or death.'
Something made Aarohan feel that the owner of the voice was making its way towards those glass trinkets. He ran up to them and tried looking hard. There was no wind this time. Everything was oddly still. Everything but the trinkets which were jingling again. Only this time, the noise they made sounded like an anxious cacophony of sorts. As if they were scared and anticipating something strange that was about to happen.
There was a pop sound. Aarohan looked hard and could see a little hole on one of those trinkets. Suddenly something seemed to be sucking the trinket from the inside. It slowly withered away into dust all of which kept falling through the hole and in a moment, the trinket had vanished.
'Did You not want to throw it away? Do you not want to throw all of them away? Dump everything that has got something to do with her somewhere and do away with them forever?'
Aarohan could not believe his eyes. Was he under some kind of spell that life was casting upon him? Or could it be some magician or some scientist making a guinea pig out of him and carrying out some kind of experiment?
'How do you know what I want? Can you read my mind?''
'I told you I have been there. Always. There is nothing that escapes me. This is all you need to do. Strongly wish to do away with something. I will take care of the rest. Dig myself a nice little home and erode it all away. Let me take charge. I will help you understand things better. You will be able to see things from every possible angle and perspective, and see through them. Just remember, once you let me in, I will be there till the very end, and you will just have to go on feeding me. Life is full of ups and downs and You won't therefore run out of things to feed me with. But you cannot undo a decision that you take.'
Aarohan could hardly resist the call of the unknown. He had experienced the outcome of posing faith and trust in what he thought he knew. For once, he wanted to trust something he did not know. If it helped him drown out all those moments he had to leave behind, but to which he still felt tied up somehow, he was willing to close his eyes and dive in. Somehow he felt a hollow inside his heart, but he still nodded his head in approval.
* * * * * * *
The next few days whizzed by in a blur. Getting rid of those trinkets and other things associated with her was easy. Funny how all that meant so much for him at some point of time could be done away with so easily. Things turned to dust. The ring which she had bought him from a little jewelery shop. Not a costly one, but a precious one indeed. The shirt on which she had painted surreal patterns on the occasion of their second anniversary. The photographs. The letters. All of them had been done away with. She was out. Life was in.
He had then gone around doing away with all the memories which troubled him somehow. Memories and things associated with certain other people as well. Horrible memories associated with that certain old 'family friend' who would corner him during his childhood days and in the name of playing games do things one could never ever speak of. Memories associated with his first heartbreak. Ah. He had been down that road quite a few times. Memories of getting beaten up, ragged and humiliated severely during the first few days in college.
He had reshaped and remapped his mind in the way he had always wanted to. Memories which he wanted to keep, however, were still there. He would not ever let the hole feed on them. But something still felt a bit weird. He felt a bit scared at times. What if what was happening in the realm of the mind started manifesting itself physically in real life as well? So far the hole had helped him erase all that belonged only to him - his possessions and his memories. What if it started meddling with living beings? People? It would mean that not only would he never recognize them ever again, but they would probably be obliterated from the face of earth. Become a resident of that other side of the hole - the enchanted space.
He realized he was in a position which helped him gain an upper hand over the others. He could now take revenge if he wanted to. Yet it was this very power which had enslaved him. It was now deliberately blurring the event horizon and the four-dimensional notion of spacetime. He still had to go on feeding it continuously. And with every passing day, the hole became more hungry. It almost preyed on him now and made its presence felt even more strongly than ever.
The hole was everywhere. In relationships - jealousy and distrust always crept in through the hole. In the society - when it came to human beings caring for each other, there was but just the hole. In groups - they all pretended to be bound by some kind of unknown bond, some commonality of purpose, but looked away from the mirror which would only show them all being within the boundaries of a hole. In circles. In nature. He could now see through them all. But though he could do away with everything, somehow the same old feeling still ate him up from the inside. Things still had not changed. People may shout and cry and each one may try to arrive at diverse individual conclusions regarding the true meaning of life, but the basics still remained the same. The fundamental statelessness of everything followed up by nothingness. No matter how much one tries to make a difference, ultimately it all turns to dust. The endeavors of man to try and outpace time, outwit nature and outrun life were meaningless and futile. They all hoped that the hopelessness would cease existing some day. But when would that day really come? No one knew. Philosophers and saints argued that just because things seemed pointless now, does not mean one has to stop living. Live for life itself. For the moment. Carpe diem. But did not one of the oldest sayings go something like - happiness is real only when shared? Who to live for? Who to share one's happiness with? Oneself? That ultimately leads only to loneliness. Is that what it was worth striving for? It was but just one big hole. Culture. States. Borders. Countries. Human beings. The earth. Everything.
Initially he was happy to note that he had managed to shrug off all ties with his past. He took up the challenge and walked down the same old street of love again. Tried courting a couple of girls, only to realize that this time, it was not working out for him. Something had snapped somewhere. It was not love anymore that he was looking for. But a call from something far more distant,seemingly unattainable and therefore all the more appealing. Was it just the thirst for knowledge of the unknown? That he still did not know.
He wondered. Was it that life had lost its meaning for him simply because somewhere at the back of his mind, he knew what the end would be? But then again, how could a meaningless life lose meaning all over again? He had to confront the hole. Somehow get it to talk to him again. Ever since their first interaction, it had stopped talking to him. It just ate away all that he wished to do away with. Quietly. Yet it was this very quietness which struck violent chords inside his heart. When he had met the hole for the first time, what he really wanted to do away with was loneliness. The memories only highlighted his loneliness aggressively. Ironically enough, the hole had helped him do away with his memories, but had isolated him from others even more in the process.
There were holes in the web which the spider had spun on the railings of Aarohan's balcony. Aarohan wished to clean it up sometime soon. And plop went the spider and its web - a thousand circular patterns within one big circle - the invisible hole.
His nightmare was coming true. The hole finally had started preying on living beings. For all he knew, if he ever unconsciously wished to do away with a friend, the hole might feed itself on him. He should have guessed. It was so damn predictable anyways. The hole. His friend. One huge monster which consumed all that it came across and grew bigger and bigger in stature, size and hunger. He had to think. Harder. To change the system, one has to be within the system. If that was a given, there was only one way out. Or in . . .
* * * * * * *
Aarohan did what his heart told him to do. It was all pointless anyways, at least from a superficial viewpoint. One could never know about the soul and the mind anyways unless one took the plunge and traveled over to the other side. He could feel the event horizon all over again as he started walking around his house in a circular motion. To his astonishment, he could see the moon on one side and the sun on the other. Yet the light from none of these sources or heavenly bodies could reach his house. They seemed to be blocked by an invisible barrier which kept forming itself gradually as he kept walking. When he had completed the circle, it was all dark. There was not a single ray of light that he could see pass through the barrier. It was but only his heart which showed him the way. He already knew what the outcome of his actions would be. He could feel the earth trembling beneath his feet. He could feel it crumbling. And though he could not see anything, he could feel that his old friend had come back. The silence that prevailed seemed to speak louder than the sound of the sky being split into two and cracked open by the lightning, before a voice boomed -
'The Frankenstein story had to be retold, I see. You want to destroy our bond. Destroy what you created. And you do not care if you go down with that. Very well. But I have different plans. I am going to rewrite the story. I am not a conscience-stricken monster. I have no conscience at all.'
'You definitely are not my monster. I never intended you to be. You were never a part of me. And that is where your weakness lies. It is always easy fighting an adversary who is an outsider than someone who hails from within. Holes are everywhere. You maybe one of the darkest, biggest, slimiest holes, but you are not the only one. I am going down, but you are coming down with me.'
'Hah! You can not even see a thing right now. And you think are going to be my nemesis? I have lived. Survived for thousands of years on thoughts, minds, beings and everything that I could come across. I am one of the oldest mysteries which remain unsolved and forever will. The gravitational pull within me is so strong that no one can resist it, let alone stand or thrive. No one can escape me. Everyone must encounter me at some point of time or the other, be it before death or after life. When my prey expires, I move on to prey on something else. People cannot see me because I reveal myself only through interaction with other matter. I am the one big gaping hole which is one of the fundamental truths of life.'
'Life and death are two sides of the same coin. No one or nothing is beyond life and death. You try to squeeze in between the two sides, you only manage to dig a hole. Like you. Everything is but subjective and comparative. You can survive for a longer duration when compared to others, but you will have to give in in the end. It is better to accept the truth gracefully than play hide and seek with Life itself and get caught ultimately.'
The ground beneath had started sinking. Crusts of earth and grains of sand were competing with each other in a downward spiraling race. The trinkets had all vanished a long time back but somehow in the darkness, they started jingling all over again. Aarohan did not know where he stood now, for he could not see anything, but he continued -
'You thought you would pull the strings and get away with it forever. But you undermined me. You undermined the prowess of other holes. Other circles. They do rightly say that life comes round in a circle. You thought I would keep digging and pouring everything that I had till I would be capable of providing no more. But you looked for material things and memories which are always tucked away somewhere in the deep recesses of the mind. But what about the soul? The soul which is capable of transcending the mind and the body? I am no Doctor Faustus. I did not sell You my soul. Nor the hole which was there in my heart ever since she left me. It was a tiny one, but I actually let it grow by letting you in. You pretended to fill up the void temporarily, but in reality it was just an illusion. You only widened the gap. And that is what is going to spell doom for you. You will drown within the hole in my heart, which helped me come up with this trap I successfully set up for you. Deciding to follow my heart was a wise decision. I had only an apprehension then, but I know now. I cannot let things which are still alive die. It is a different matter when it comes to ones which are already dead. This heart will go down with you. The hole in my heart and the hole that is you will cease to exist. It will gobble you up, but itself explode into a thousand tiny dust particles as well. However, my soul will escape. Unlike you, because you have none. Be prepared to surrender to the ring which circles all but divides none.'
Before another word could be spoken, the house and the area within the invisible border mapped out by Aarohan had collapsed without leaving any trace behind. The puff of smoke and dust settled soon and one could only see a big gaping hole on the face of the earth laughing at the world around. The earth itself knew well enough that time would come when it too would have to cross over to the other side - the enchanted space. Time for the universe had not come yet. It was still too big to be bothered by such trivialities. But time knew that it would get there too someday. Time had to live a life of its own - one of a big gaping hole. One who was outside would never know. One who was in it would never come back. He would only probably still hear the glass trinkets tinkling in the wind.
Aarohan did not know where to start. He could not get his emotions out of his system. But he needed to.