She was doe-eyed and long-haired. As she walked down the aisle of the library, Samardeep looked up. His eyes melted into the beautiful tresses of Radha. She was not the most petite one, but her eyes were poetic and seemed to hold mysteries of yonder. He seemed to have suddenly been uplifted. He was almost as ecstatic as someone who had just discovered a new land. The time stopped right there. Radha meanwhile was so perturbed by the grades in the last test that she was determined to do better. She sat down her hair all strewn carelessly which she impatiently tied in a quick bundle. Operations Research was never the most exciting topic but then she had her family heritage to take care of. How could she get a C in maths? The tension of paucity of time and her inability to understand the problems were somehow pushing time faster than usual.
Same table.. two people.. one, for whom the time had stopped and for another the time seemed to be going at the speed of light as she grappled with optimization of profit of a company that had 5 constraints. Tomorrow she won’t have unlimited time to solve this problem.
Problems have a strange way of pushing on time. Mindlessness has no relation to time.
Samar was an art student. He could not even fathom what she was doing. He looked at her with keen attention. As she looked up as if prodded by his deep eyes, a smile fought through her tense face. “This linear programming is too much!” she remarked. “My Appa is a Theoretical Physics PhD and I am nuts in mathematics. The last test was a C.. can’t afford that anymore”. Fear of expectation can obliterate even the most beautiful smile.
Samar did not pretend to know mathematics but offered “You would be surprised at my ignorance of mathematics! If the sabzi walla wasn’t nice enough to give me the right change by honesty, I would have no idea how to add my money up!” And he laughed. The tension could not stop a thousand rays of joy from Radha’s angel face. “But you know, maths can’t be so different from art. I first get the frame right. If I can lay down my frame, the painting comes out of my heart. So…. why don’t you try and lay down first what you can. Then let your mind take over.”
“It’s not so easy,” Radha remarked sharply. She got up irritated a bit. As she was leaving, she turned back and furthered her hand – “I am Radha Iyer by the way”. “Samar. Samardeep Singh”. He got up and now his 6-foot well-built frame was visible. She rushed away.
His walk today had a different quality. He could not think through his many ideas. The lake which always inspired him at sunset was somewhat lackluster. The bloody waters somehow looked heavenly. Today that blood had an ethereal touch. He sat down on the bench and put his head down with hands cupping his eyes. “Hey, Mr. Framework!” Samar turned back with an automatic smile. “Your advice helped me! You should teach us LP yaar!”. Samar was amused and gave an understanding nod as if what she said was always known to him.
She came and sat with him. They talked about their families. She was from Delhi but was Tamilian. He was from Chandigarh and a Sikh. He had shaved his beard in 1984. But they were unusual and different. The different beings seemed to flow into one big whole. As I watch them from my vantage I find it difficult to see where Samar ends and Radha starts.
An A in LP had later translated into a respectable score on Maths but in the 6 months that had passed since Radha had learned to see at the world from a standpoint devoid of expectations. Her effort to meet the expectations had brought her close to someone who taught to see the world as it was. There was no evaluation to be made, Samar said. Only the curse of interpretation had to be lived since one had a mind. This half baked estimation of the true nature was all that his art could do. It could not introduce the lake as it was, but as it talked to Samar. The colors and the emotions in his art had an eternal legacy, yet they had to pass the restricting and conditioned funnel of his mind. Samar knew that when his art would lead him, it would be free and divine. For now, he would have to do with doing second-rate work.
Quiet as usual, sitting on the bench, head down, hands cupping the eyes. “Are you sad?” Radha whispered. You seem to be as burdened as the Atlas. What is wrong? Nothing yaar, it just gives me peace. There is no significance to my act.
He looked up at Radha. Her face was as fresh as it was in the library the first time. The knowing of her had not diminished the light in her. “What a world we live in!” Samar started, ” In this world full of rapists, killers, murderers, haters and maniacs, I wanted you to know that there is at least ONE person who loves you without any conditions or limits. I love your soul, Radha” he said effortlessly.
She started laughing loudly. “Are you proposing? Wait are you saying you love ME?”.
“No, your completeness.”
How is that different?
My love, Radha, is not bound by time. It is not an act. I don’t do it. It is.. rather its an experience that is an unending one for me. You are like my breath, Radha. Even though you may not be with me, the Radha, that is my breath, cannot leave me. Its difficult to explain Radha, but you are part of me now.. or.. maybe it’s like you are me! My admission is irrelevant.
Her father was a Tamilian Brahmin. For him, his temple and deity was the only true religion. The Krishna, his deity, who lived in the temple of his childhood was it. He did not hate Guru Nanak or other Saints, but they could not compete with his Krishna. Only a true Tamil Iyer Brahmin could take his daughter. It was his duty to give her hand in marriage to one his own. Besides, Samar was a Sikh and was non-vegetarian. No, he couldn’t play with his faith!
But sir, Radha is not my love. She is my devotion. Food and deity are immaterial. For me, she personifies the Mool Mantra. She is me.
This was another thing that Vijay Iyer just hated! This boy talked nonsense. He was a Ph.D. for God’s sake and what this kid said was not just gibberish but utter nonsense! Look, you badmash, you better get out of my house and never come here or I will tell the police.
Before he could finish, Samar walked out serenely.
“Boss, I am stuck in a meeting, but my wife is at home. She can give you the most details. I can be there earliest in an hour and a half but I definitely want to close this as soon as possible.”
No worries, Ram, I will get the policy out today itself.
He went into Ram’s house. He was a senior executive at a Market Research company and was looking to get himself insured as well as his assets.
When you don’t have any assets there is yearning to get them. When you have them, there is a fear of losing. Samar smiled at this thought.
Selling insurance wasn’t easy but over the years of hard work, it had given him enough to run his family well. His monthly income now averaged Rs. 60,000 and his clients loved him. Ram was the first in that company that he had targetted and there was a certain chemistry with him. Ram was funny and easy-going. Both hit it off well so Ram agreed to go with him. Once Ram is happy, many from his circle may join up with him.
Ram’s servant ushered him in and sat him on the table. He quickly opened his suitcase and brought out the papers and got them ready. Had he marked every page for signature? He had his list ready for the documents. “Samar, YOU?” He looked up to a freshness that never died. Radha was standing immaculate now and little plump but beautiful as ever. “The artist, the lover, the philosopher is now an insurance agent? So all that was for naught?”
Should it have had a goal, Radha?
“Well, but .. this is certainly not what I thought.”
Oh, you had a notion of how a philosopher should live and be?
“Maine aisa kab kaha?”
Sit down, Mrs. Ram, I need some information.
Radha was perplexed by Samar’s coldness. Was he angry and bitter?
He completed the papers and the servant brought nice tea with biscuits as if he had run this routine many times. It had been a long day so he was dying for a good cup of tea.
Radha looked him in the eye. “Did you ever love me, Samar?” Always, he said. “DO you still?”, she asked impatiently.
Does it matter to Ms. Ram or to Radha?
“Oh, you are bitter.. right?”
Radha, there was no person whom I loved. My soul merged with yours. It did not need any peg to hold on to. That is why your going, as much as it was lonely and hurting to my mind, was irrelevant to the Radha of my soul. She has remained always with me. I could not be bitter because I never lost you. You were not a trophy – you were not a passion.. you were and are me. And that Radha, Radha, is not bound to Ms Ram. She and I still go back to that lake.
“But I can sense your coldness.”
I find my Radha everywhere. I have no attachment to anyone. Its my detachment to even you – the owner of that soul that you are calling coldness.
“Are you married?”
“Why did you marry if you loved someone else?”
I married, my soul did not. The soul is beyond me. I don’t bind it.
“So, you don’t love your wife?”I do. As the world understands love of husband and wife – I do. We have all that normal husband and wives have. One could say we are naughty at times.
“So, your soul is fake?”
Well, I cannot handle my soul. It remains where it is. It moves where it moves. As a person, I have to take sides and make decisions. The act of breathing is a decision as well.. of my body, but mine nevertheless. It is the basic flaw of life. In that web of life, I am doing an honest job and an honest duty. I am not perfect as I get angry and slighted, but I see that. I cannot change much of that but I know that.
“But how do you live soul-less.”
Who said I do?
“The soul is somewhere and the heart is somewhere?”
Radha, there is no soul if you are looking for one. There is no Radha also that resembles you. Radha is an experience. Soul is my consciousness. Both are pure and experiential for me. I cant wake up any morning to decide to see or feel my soul but I can wake up to hug and kiss my wife.
“And your art. Is that gone as well? That lake? What happened to that?”
It still lives where it always did. Its colors that drenched me are still there with me always. As for my art. I have long left directing it. Now art paints me. Life’s colors paint my uninhibited masterpiece. I don’t restrict them anymore.