Last line from the previous part.
But then one spring day, I got a call from Bro.
“What are you doing tomorrow?”, Bro asked. “ Nothing important in particular. It is all the same, going through the grind,” I said. “Hmm”, he replied. And added “ you know, when a kid is running away from his mother, he keeps running only till the mother keeps following him. The moment the mother stops running the kid returns to the mother’s arms,” “Okaaay?? ,” I replied. “Hmm,” came a monosyllable from Bro. “Ok then see you sometime tomorrow,” he said and hung up.
I knew Bro was trying to communicate something to me but I could not make out what it was all about. A few moments later K called me up and was spoke about an identical conversation he had had with Bro. We both wracked out brains to understand and finally gave up. We both realized that we both were too dumb for Bro.
But the biggest surprise came an hour later. Corto called on my cell number. Something I would never associate with an ever watchful Corto. He seemed quite excited, something pretty contrary to his nature. “You know Bro called me,” he said. I wanted to protect Corto, Bro and myself. So I feigned ignorance about the caller. “ Who is calling and what is it about,” I spoke back being a bit rude. There was silence on the other side. “Relax,” said Corto. “We will meet sometime tomorrow,” he added and hung up.
I called K and told him about ‘some strange person’ calling me up and telling me that we will meet tomorrow. K understood whom I meant and was aghast that Corto had called me up.
We went to Bro’s café later that evening but found the café closed. We stared at each other in disbelief. We called Bro’s number, there was no response.
“Something fishy”, I said. “Not fish, whale,” K responded. We started walking back trying to figure out the ‘mystery of the strange calls and a closed café’. “Will definitely make a good read, with your experience at truth checking,” K said and I let a punch land into his ribs. “Ooowoo”.
It was still light and it would have been another hour or two for the light globs to start cueing a sunset. . “Hellow” , a person shouted from almost 20 feet away.
K tapped my arm , “Somebody you know?” he asked. Lost in solving the mystery, I looked up and knitted my brows and tried to recognize the person. He was wearing a light sweater and dark trousers. It was Corto.
“Corto?, here, in broad daylight and shouting at the top of his voice on one of the main streets of the inner city.” K noticed my shock. “Who is this guy?” he asked. I could only muster a feeble, “Corto”. K’s jaw dropped. “Is he out of his mind”, he said. “Looks definitely like that”, I said with my throat going dry.
“What should we do, he is coming straight at us,” I almost shouted. Corto heard me. “We should meet like friends,” Corto said and then hugged both of us in his huge embrace. “You must be K,”. He said looking at K, “I am Corto. Nice meeting you,” then he laughed a full blooded and a whole hearted laugh. “Ok bye then. Actually I thought we will meet tomorrow, but then we met today itself. But remember we will meet tomorrow again,” and then he disappeared. The only thing that surprised me more than Corto’s hug was his whole hearted laugh.
“So now your story is going to be ‘mystery of the strange calls, a closed café and a bear hug’,” K said. I was surreptiously looking around to see whether somebody had noticed Corto with us. “Will we be jailed? Has Corto changed sides, is he pointing out non-conformists to the constables?” My head was reeling. “I think you need to relax,” K said as always the image of Buddha. “From what I have heard from you about Corto, I don’t think he is a person to change sides and nor a person who would unnecessarily take risks. There might be some meaning to this whole affair, which we don’t understand but Corto does. “And the only other person who could enlighten us about it called in the morning and spoke in riddles and is currently beyond coverage area,” I replied.
I went to sleep feeling restless. My sleep was if anything was fitful. At 4.00 am the next morning I was woken up by some rumbling noises. Initially, I thought I was having a dream, but then this seemed real. I woke up with a start. My apartment was getting shaken up thoroughly. My bed slid to the centre of the room and then again slid back to its original position. The crockery on the kitchen smashed to the ground. Standing up I fell on to the ground. It was then that I discerned that it was an earthquake. I had never been in an earthquake. But had heard that they would not last more than a few minutes. This one seemed to last long, very long.
I held on to the railing of my window waiting for the worst. Hoping all along that it would not happen. But it did. The apartment block swayed for one last time and then collapsed. I felt like sitting in a roller coaster and plunging down at a breakneck speed. I remember as the building fell I could see through my window that the road below was approaching us pretty fast.
+ + +
Mother Earth had had enough. She showed us what we were worth. Us is always about exploitation. If we are done with nature then our own creed, if we are done with our own creed then our own family. Funny, to satisfy our greed we don’t leave even God alone. Mother has the greatest forbearance, but there is a limit to everything unlike the human greed. When the Mother has had enough she shrugs her shoulders. When the dust settles maggots survive while humans lie dead in swarms. Feast for hungry maggots. That is our worth.
+ + +
I found my bearings and opened my eyes dust was everywhere. I tried getting up and was surprised when my body yielded. I was covered with dust and amazingly that was it. No broken bones, no swelling, no bruise , not even a scratch. My brain was going numb not because of the fall rather trying to figure out how the hell I survived.
It was dark and cold. No streetlights. I could not figure how long I had been out and could not say what time it was. I groped my way around in the dark rubble one step at a time sometimes clinging on to a fallen streetlight, sometimes it was the reinforcing steel, which had broken away from the buildings and sometimes bricks and mortar. Few hours ago there had been a road and buildings now nothing. As I trudged over the rubble my bare feet sometimes would land on something soft and cold and then the realization that it was human sent shockwaves through my body. With a start I realized that there might be many who would have got stuck in the rubble but might be still alive. “ANYBODY THERE” I shouted. Silence. “HEY ANYBODY THERE”, “PLEASE ANYBODY PLEASE RESPOND”, I kept shouting. The shock, destruction and the silence sent tears burning down my face. It seemed nothing was left. No inner city no outer city no globs nothing. What remained was pitch darkness, hanging dust and an overwhelming silence.
After what felt like hours of navigating the rubble, at a distance a silhouette stood erect. “HEY YOU, YOU THERE, HEY MAN YOU” I shouted. He seemed too shocked and stupefied, my shouting elicited no response. As I ventured closer, it became more and more clear to me that it was a human. He was in night dress and stood rooted to the ground. My constant shouting seemed to fall on his deaf ears. When I reached him I grabbed and shook him violently. He felt familiar, He WAS K. He was covered with dust, just like me and did not seem to be injured but had a strange expression of shock on his face. My violent shaking had some effect. He turned around. I noticed even he had been crying. His tears had left a clear channels on his dusty face, his eyes as expressive as ever wanted to tell me something. “What happened to you, come to your senses,” I shouted. With some effort he released his shoulder from my grip and slowly lifted his hand and seemed to point towards the blue mountains.
I followed the direction of his hand.
The sky was purple with a few streaks of pink.
My eyes widened and my jaw dropped . Could this mean….could this mean? I looked at K. He softly nodded with the same stupefied expression . With our eyes wide open and dropped jaws we watched as the purple slowly give way to pink, the pink to red and the red gradually turned orange and then the snow on the blue mountains turned gold. The birds I don’t know where they had been hiding all these years, started a cacophony, the cacophony, which we had missed for years. Singing at the top of their little voices they were declaring the return of the Emperor. They knew it all along. As the cacophony increased in pitch, the blue mountains gradually washed themselves in gold. Darkness gave way to effulgence. I held K’s arm and squeezed tight with anticipation. We saw an arch of light just peeping out from behind the mountains.
The SUN was back.
I felt weak and collapsed on my knees folding my hands in a deep relief, K stood as erect as he had been. I heard him mumbling something. As his mumbling became louder, I realized that he was chanting the stanza from Bhagawat Gita which tumbled out of Arjuna’s lips as he witnessed Krishna’s Vishwa Roopa.
The sky was Sun’s now. No more of darkness, no more of cold. The Emperor was walking the royal path across the sky. The warmth of the Sun breached the dam in my heart, I cried and badly and did not feel any shame in doing so. All these years the pain, sorrow, anguish and yearning had finally found fulfillment. Gone was the darkness of ignorance, gone with it were the ignorant. The warmth of Sun purified Mother Earth again.
I felt a tap on my shoulder, I turned to see Bro behind me. He pulled me up and made me stand and kept holding on to me. He knew I was too weak. He put another hand on K’s shoulder. We looked at one another other. We all were smiling a relieved smile. “Look around you,” Bro said. We turned around, the whole city was a mass of grey rubble. Light globs lying all over the place. “So the Sun could not really manifest Himself through the light globs,” K said. We laughed. “May be He thought they were not good at it, so he had to come back Himself an show how bad they were at it, “ Bro added.
Buildings were just stumps of metal and concrete jutting out of the ground, they seemed to wither under the gaze of the Sun and melt away. “Are we the only survivours, ”, I asked . “Our family yes, but there are more. We will meet them when the time comes”. “It was a standard Bro reply. “When the time comes”. He had said the same thing about the Sun’s return and I was glad that the Sun’s time for return had come. “A lot needs to be done. So let us enjoy our day in the Sun today and then begin”, Bro added. As we walked the whole Earth was bathed with purifying rays from the Sun.
“There comes your stupid friend,” said Bro. I saw Corto. He came and embraced all three of us. I could see he had been crying himself. Look what is lying here, Bro said. It was the conformist bible that was slowly burning away, the so called, ‘The Road Ahead in the Brilliance of Infinite Earthly Suns.’ Bro asked Corto, “so Mr. Corto, what do you make of this?” “That Rabies has been eradicated from the Earth,” he said. It took us some time to understand and then we burst out laughing. Only Corto could come up with something like that.
“Let’s go,” Bro said. Where? K asked. Oh come on, to the Sun. He has invited us today for lunch.
“Wait,” I said. “Just one thing remains to be done before we go”, I stopped and made everybody stop with me.
“For all those of you who never believed, THE… SUN… IS… BACK,” I shouted to the city.