Monday, March 26, 2012

The Village, the Town, and the Cave

Once upon a time, a young man, uneasy at heart, unsure of his road, asked a few elders in his village as to what was the greatest pursuit for man?

The elders had made a mess of their lives, there was garbage all around in that village, but they had answers to every question.

They told him that there was an island, far from the shore of the ocean - far from the shore on which the village had formed over many hundreds of years. That to reach that island was the destiny of man. But they pointed out that it was almost impossible to reach, and only one in many thousands found the courage and strength to swim through the ocean and reach that island. That on that island there existed a life of such bliss that no man ever came back. That the island was green and full of orchids and flowers and chirping birds and it was spring-time on that island throughout the year. They didn't know anybody who had been there, but as they said, nobody ever came back anyway.

The young man instantly started preparing for that journey. He burned down his house and gave away his belongings. When he was ready, he swam for three days and three nights, and on the fourth day, he had a glimpse of the island.

To his horror, he saw that the island was deserted, lifeless and there were carcasses of dead animals and bones of dead fish all over it.

He, despondent but certain of his vision, turned back towards the village. When he reached the village and told them of his journey, people laughed at him. They said the scriptures and traditions could not be all wrong, and that his vision must be faulty.

But he trusted his vision, and he left the village for the big town.


In the big town, as he was roaming, aimlessly, around in the market one day, he came across an old man with a strange, glowing face, who nodded at him with understanding.

The old man invited him for a cup of tea, and as the young man narrated his journey and his vision and his exile, the old man kept nodding.

The old man told him that the young man's vision was not wrong, that all the scriptures were indeed only fairy tales for making people believe in justice and goodness and a meaning for all their travails.

The young man was inordinately happy that his eyes were not faulty, and that he could finally believe in himself again.

The young man repeated his query of what pursuit was most worthy and meaningful for a man like him. The old man told him of the ugliness in all the world, and of a mountain from the top of which there was an absolutely breathtaking and beautiful view. He said that to die without perceiving that beauty was an utter waste of one's life.

Unlike the young man's village elders, this old man proclaimed that he had been on top of that mountain, and that he was not quoting any scripture.

The young man, re-energized, again prepared his rucksack, bid farewell to his few friends and to his dainty fiancee, now heartbroken, and started on the new journey.

As he started ascending the mountain, he met many who were ascending along with him, they all condemned the ugliness of the world below, and they all encouraged him and made him feel he was finally on the right path.

As he reached the top of the mountain, and saw what was there, he stopped dead in his tracks.

He saw that there was a big pile of mud in which one could see broken egg shells, feces, and long, slippery insects which almost didn't move.

A few pigs were resting in that filth and licking each other and themselves.

The young man collapsed in horror, and rolled down the slope of the mountain, conscious but indifferent and oblivious. He rolled down many hundreds of feet, silently, with nothing but the sky and the tress as the witnesses of his fall.

As he was rolling down, his clothes started getting ripped apart, and he got bruised and wounded. The terrain became more rocky, his body was tossed around, and suddenly, his head smashed against a rock, blackness engulfed him, and he slipped into a deep coma.


When he woke up after many weeks, he saw that the sky and the soil looked very different, and that he could neither see the valley below nor the peak above.

Clouds had formed and it seemed that a storm was coming.

He started looking for his belongings and found most of his clothes and supplies.

His head had healed somewhat, and presently he found a very large cave in which he could shield himself from the elements. He went inside the cave, and he was happy to see a few peaceful parrots who had their nest there.

Strangely, as he looked out, all he could see from that cave were trees and rolling hills. No human settlement was in his view.

It is said that he was never seen again, and it is believed that he lived the rest of his days in that cave, chatting with parrots.


Anonymous said...

Hey Harman, while reading this story, I got a feeling that young person was running behind beautiful better life, what other thought is better/beautiful, he never believed or even gave a thought to make things beautiful around him. Why he was escaping from reality or so. Indeed , we all run behind dreams and better life , which not necessarily comes true, but then its fault of that person, who's expectation or hope was high and he was continuously chasing a dream by believing on people, thinking they are always right... and escaping from reality would never solved a problem or give a peace to anyone. Most of time realities are far from what we have expected but then we should have courage either to face it or change it. But I liked the climax!! changed ..:)

Anonymous said...

Lovely story! The internet is indeed a cave where a lot of peaceful parrots reside but even parrots make a mess they don't clean up so eventually the young man will have to deal with cleaning up his environment even in the cave....

past said...

Why did the young man always look upon old men for advice? Maybe his answers lie in his own heart. The parrots are a situational compromise. There is much beyond the island and the mountain and the cave. Maybe there were stopovers where people held out their arms to embrace him and he kept walking in the pursuit of something that he didn't know he is leaving behind..