Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Memory of Eden

You are observing a shelf in the British council library. You slide some books here and there and notice a face – a pretty face on the other side of the shelf. It’s a girl whose big watery eyes are moving from one book to another. She is tardily breathing with her small nose. You like the way she is breathing. She softly bites her lower lip and rolls back both her lips to moisten them, and pouts them back, as they were, pink and inviting. Hair firmly tied, with her forehead shining, she has the kind of face you’d like to keep looking at. It can be called beautiful but that would not explain it. It is intriguing. She picks up some book, shuffles few pages, halts at a particular page, and after some time gives a faint, though noticeable, smile. She has dimples. You have always loved dimples. Before long, you are filled with an urge to caress those cheeks real gently. That would feel really nice, isn't it? But you quickly discard that thought. That's how you've been raised.

You are watching her unaware of anything else in the world. ‘She is lovely’, you have told yourself a thousand times by now. And suddenly she glances at you. You feel shattered, and pretend to read the back cover of Hawkins’ On the shoulder of giants as if it interests you. But don’t worry, she’s not angry. Every female admires it: a pair of male eyes fixed on her face. But the stares of admiration should submit to an interval - too long a stare can be disturbing for anyone.

Your heart has picked the pace. You are excited. You try looking at her again putting Hawkins aside. But she’s no more in the science section. You search for her like the players of the game search for perfection. At last you find her in the History section. You go near her and pick Edward Gibbon. She notices you and gives you a look; a very strange look that can never be interpreted. Maybe, she is thinking that only a fool will read about the fall of Rome in the times of random terror attacks and global economic crash. But you are not really bothered about what goes inside her head. Not yet.

You try to talk to her. You really want to. But as you prepare your mouth to produce audible words, something holds you back. Maybe it is the superego (a feeling that some big brother is wathcing and you should abide by his rules) or maybe it is some fear – some unknown fear concerning the future.

“Is this the girl I have been waiting for?”
-- Oh Come on! Don’t think this far.
“But... I will loose this part of me... the lonely wanderings... it is my urge to be complete with some girl that keeps me excited...”
-- At least talk. You do want to, don’t you?
“I do... but it’s a matter of choice... the pleasure of love is acute in the span between the yearning for ‘the other’ and actually finding someone... it is the between that I don’t want to loose... it lasts only for a sort while, this thing called love... all then remains is need”
-- This is an outsider's view. The view is quite different from the inside.
“Maybe, but I don’t know what to talk... what can you possibly talk about with a stranger... you know, I think I can wait a bit more... I can...”
-- Stop talking nonsense, will you? There’s no harm in talking. Everybody does that. Take it as a simple affair of two people conversing. It can be, in fact, nothing more than that.
"Yes, but where to begin?"
-- Just start and you'll know. People talk. It's a fact of life.
“I know. But I am not sure…”
-- Congrats! She left. Now spend this beautiful evening with Gibbon.

You stand there still unaware of what just happened. Why desires come into play? Okay. Don’t worry about the girl now. You haven’t lost anything. Or have you? Now you have all the time you want. Select a nice book for this weekend. Sadly you shuffle different books in different sections of the library...

Naipaul’s Loss of El Dorado, Hemingway’s Men without Women, Barrow’s Impossibility, Green’s Lawless Roads, Maugham’s Of human bondage, Sullivan’s Labyrinth of desires, Brunton’s Search in secret... What! Are you upset? Can’t choose anything? Oh! Come come, it's ok now... Narayan’s Vendor of sweets, Nietzsche’s Human, all too Human, Gould’s Hedgehog... And, as usual, you are not able to decide which book you want to read. You decide to pick up any book and leave. So, you pick up the one lying besides Gray’s anatomy.

You catch bus number 11G and go directly to Broadway, with a regular feeling of incompleteness in your heart. Like every other day you couldn’t choose a book, couldn’t talk to a girl. You couldn’t decide what you want.

At night you dwell into your dream world, where you have an archetypal book (the one in which all possible knowledge is contained, wherein not a single idea is missed. All that is thought by all possible human beings is in that book) and you have your archetypal girl – the way you want her: color of her eyes, length of her hair, smoothness of her skin, the fragrance of her breath, the throb in her voice, the way she turns, the way she sits, the way she looks at you, the way her hair fall on her forehead, the way she reacts to your jokes, the span of her boredom, the movement of her eyebrows when she frowns, the way her lips part when she speaks – her every gesture, her every desire, her every joy, even her sorrows are what you have decided. Every night you sleep embraced in this beautiful thought of yours. And every night you fail to notice that you are always trying to map the ideal over the real.

Maybe, it’s not only your problem. Maybe, this problem comes in hereditary from one man to the other. Maybe it is not rooted in you, but it is rooted deep inside the collective unconsciousness of humankind. It is the collective idea of some perfection that never was. Isn't it from this womb that all the miseries are born? Maybe, all the dreamers are endlessly trying to regain this never-existing perfection. Be it knowledge or beauty, they are never satisfied. And what do they get in the end? In search of the infinite, they end up in void.

Next day you go to the library again...