The emptiness in my life has made me quite melancholy. Appreciation of books and music, especially music, has allowed me to come out from this gloominess, and feel from time to time, a sense of hope, and some measure of happiness.
My life has not always been empty. I would say I was a happy child. It was only after eating the fruit of knowledge, in the forbidden garden of experiences that sadness crept in to my life like a virus, which no medicine can kill. It invaded my soul and from then on nothing looked the same again nothing felt the same again. I was living in a bubble of happiness and then the bubble burst and I felt the strangeness of the world for the very first time; its cruelty and its terrifying beauty.
To tell my story is to rescue the bits and pieces from the mishmash of my memories that are scattered along the labyrinthine corridors of my mind, and use the power of fiction to make a coherent story of my life. But that story you say would be unreliable, as unreliable as the memories from which it came, and I will say to you, yes, it will be Unreliable but it will not be Untrue because all our fictions have some basis of Truth, and Truth can be gleaned even from Fantastic Fictions.
But however unreliable it is and however untrue it might be, we all have a story to tell and that is the story of our life. This story may be so dull and boring – just like our life, and it may not be as exciting as others, but no one should be-grudge our story for it is the story of our only life, and however plain and simple it is, however sad and painful it is, it is still the story of our only life…
In telling my story I must tell you story of others for my story touches the stories of others. It does not and cannot exist on its own. I do not own my story, my story is the mixture of other stories and they intermingle with others that I can’t separate them, so I must tell their stories too.
In life we are changed by the people we meet and some people can change us so much that we can abandon our wife and kids, leave our mother and father and reject our friends and relatives. Others can change us for good. Their soothing words heal us from our suffering and wounded life. They can make us contact our lost brother and reunite us again with our loved ones. Some, however, can transform us beyond anything we were before that we become them and they become us. We so fully integrate them into our soul, into the core of being, that we become almost one person. We then see with one pair of eyes, and hear with one pair of ears and feel with one heart – this is Love, the Strangeness in the Human Heart.
And like all good stories, it starts with love, and it is from then we begin to measure our life in years, it is then begin to value our life, it is then we begin to see the world as beautiful and wondrous and magical like a fairy tale. It is then we begin to abandon our selfish way of life and become ever more so selfish of life itself.
So in telling my story I will be telling tales of others: The story of the Imam who had a fondness for ladies underwear, whose love for a women he can’t have either in heaven or hell, a love which will break him down and destroy him so utterly, who will fill up his prayer mat with his tears before being forced out on to the streets.
And the pious regular-mosque-attending Chacha, who had a terrible secret and the power to show you how ugly you were and in his eyes everyone else, was bad. And the pint drinking, young-girls-bottom-pinching, Mr. N. K. Nana, who loved religions as well as his beer, who would deny his only daughter he never had, to see her own true father, who would ask me one day to do a terrible deed.
And the story of Felina, whose love for me was deep as the ocean, but I could not love her back. She would come and knock on my door just to see me and shed tears from her eyes like the rain before I closed my door on her face. This unfeeling cruelty still haunts me and claws at my heart like the Promethean eagle. But that was before Chacha told me how ugly I was, before he made feel so worthless, and like Felina, I would too weep for the one who never loved me and would years later understand at last, her pain and her love.
And the story of Omar, the Mathematician, whose love for an ordinary prostitute split his family in two, and that harsh Sunday School Teacher, respectable as an English gent, we would later discover, had a passion for tracing out women from adult magazines and sending to them his friends but he never liked art. And Salman the Betrayer, who fell for a girl with a false eye, the girl who he would never able to marry, and yet loved her nevertheless.
And the story of my friend Mojo, whose love for the ‘girl-next-door, was sad as Felina’s but more so because he was my friend, and I was not able to do anything relieve his pain because through pain we learn the unalterable truth that you can’t make someone love you. Such is the nature of our hearts; such is the strangeness of the human heart. And it is with this strangeness, the ambiguities and the contradictions that we continue to live for the rest of our lives.
And interwoven in these stories are fragments of my story and the story of Maya. The girl I would fall in love and she too will love me but I would lose her love and for whom I would be sad, for whom I would walk the loneliness of my life with her memories for I would not find love again…