Sunday 10 May 2020

Bhupendra Dave, Prose 500 2020, Shortlist

In Search of Second Door

Varuna felt blessed when he discovered the age-old scriptures and even felt fortunate when their script appeared familiar to him. These scriptures contained the thoughts of old monks of Himalayas who went wandering in search of the Unknown, Unseen yet existing figure of the all-powerful God --- the creator of this universe for human-beings.

After a number of wakeful nights, Varuna had come to a point in these scriptures where the existence of God was confirmed as in the ancient texts and the way to attain Him. Varuna got excited and that night he returned rather too early in his room. The room he had hired was on the outskirt of the town where roads lay for miles without traffic. It was an idle place for sadhana, but there was no electricity and Varuna needed light of an earthen lamp to sit comfortably on his bed and grasp the meaning of each word that were beautifully carved by the exotic thoughts of God by the sages. Each word written in the scriptures appeared to glitter like priceless gem, narrating the glamour of the God --- His kingdom and His affinity with the men on earth.

Varuna was so lured by the very concept of the existence by God that he passed many wakeful nights to have just a glimpse of God. On one such fateful night, he fell asleep leaving the lamp lighted on the table laid beside his bed. The wind outside had diminished from a shriek to a moan as the gale died at the midnight hour. Varuna was deep asleep when tapping at the door disrupted the paralysing silence and continued till Varuna turned his head slowly on the pillow.

He cautiously reached the door, lifted the latch, opened it and peered through the half-open door. There was only blinding glaze outside and a sharp breath of wind that intended to blow off the lamp and ruffle the papers and send them fluttering on the floor. Varuna shrank back into the dark room, towards the bed. Knocking at the door had stopped but a voice as if coming from the scattered papers cautioned him, ‘Lend me your ears, my boy! For you have opened the door that leads life outside and not the one that beckons life to come inside. Be cautious now.’

Varuna was feeling drowsy and ignored the voice.

‘It is getting too late, my boy,’ cautioned the voice again when fresh tapping on the door outside filled the room. Varuna jumped out of the bed but could see nothing except darkness. With measured steps he reached the walls of the room and with his trembling fingers sticking to the wall vainly tried to find the door. Pale and grim he moved --- reached the first corner of the room --- then the second and third. He took a last right turn. Now his nerves sank deep into confusion. A fresh search started. His foot touched the door-sill. He quickly lifted the latch. The door opened but there was no glare of light outside --- no wind to thrust its head inside the room. There was none to take him in his arms.

He too had no courage to take a step on the other side of the door. He collapsed as the door opened full and he heard a dreadful voice of Yama, the God of death, ‘You are again at the steps of the door that takes life outside and not the one that beckons life to come inside. You have slept too long, my boy. You have left your Atma waiting at the other door too long.’

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