Thursday, April 09, 2015

The Atlas of Life

The sun was bearing down oppressively on the caravan.  The desert was seemingly endless.  Occasionally a scorpion or a snake slithered from under the sands, and soon disappeared.

The caravan was carrying children, thousands of them.  It was being propelled by haggard animals.  The adults sometimes rested on the carriages with their children, but most of the time they too were walking alongside the beasts.

The journey had been contninuing for many thousands of years.  As the children came of age, they were forced to jump out of the carriages and to assume the roles of adults.

And the adults were distressed, but found pleasure in their eating and copulating.  That it only led to an increase in the burden on the carriages was well-known but disregarded.  There were a few who were appalled at this absurd journey, and they took vows of celibacy and broke away from the caravan.  But they too could not drift too far into the desert.  The few mad ones who did, died of the heat.

The caravan had been traveling for many thousands of years.

A child in the caravan, barely eight years old, had been observing this macabre scene unfold before him.  He saw children becoming adults, adults producing more children, and then being burdened with them, with the only aim of keeping the caravan moving.  He could not see what they were destined for, and nobody seemed to know.

One night, that child lay wide awake, looking at the stars.  The stars were twinkling from a fathomless distance, and the cold desert seemed to extend into eternity.  A stellar mist was visible in that clear night.  Maybe it was a constellation, maybe a cluster of gas.  But he could not avert his eyes from it.  He was afraid to close his eyes, scared that when he woke up, it would be morning and he would miss that beauty before him.

He looked around at the sleeping, groaning, snoring caravan.  Mothers tending to crying babies, feeding them, trying to comfort them.  The men sleeping fitfully and dreaming of rivers and geysers.  The animals, listless and hungry, stoically waiting for the morning when they again would be put in harness.

Suddenly the child saw a shooting star.  It was a brief sight, ephemeral and momentary.  For a moment, something blazed, went through a trajectory, and disappeared.

The child stood up with great energy, shouted to his mother, dusted off the sand from his body, and started running toward the horizon, to catch the beauty of that star.  He was heartbroken that something so beautiful could just disappear into nothingness.

He ran and ran, but eventually the night passed and the sun rose, and the sky lightened up and the stars disappeared.  Crestfallen and angry, he trudged back to his caravan.

As he again settled in the carriage, with his eyes dry from tears which flowed no more, he looked at his mother and spit out the words: "I could not catch the shooting star.  Life is pitiless."

The mother was nursing her youngest, and affectionately answered him: "There will be another shooting star tonight.  Its child.  And so on tomorrow night.  And till eternity."

The caravan had been traveling for many thousands of years...


Anonymous said...

You had a chance to get off that caravan, why didn't you take it?

Harmanjit Singh said...


I got a chance many times, and every time I took it.

Anonymous said...

:D reminds me of

"giving up smoking is easy, done it plenty of times"