Shocked, suffocated and horrified, I woke up, breathing heavily and sweating feverishly. It was the middle of a dark, moon-less night and dry air moved the curtains of the window. I reached for the glass of water, removed the coaster that was covering it, and gulped the water down in one go. It was slowly turning to be a daily routine now.
I placed the glass back on the side table and covered it back. The bottom of the transparent, empty glass pulled every drop of water, on the walls of the glass, towards itself. And the glass base again had water, enough to add more sparkle.
I looked around the room, my eyes adjusting to the darkness and body adjusting to the restlessness. The whiteness of the sheets reflecting, even in the darkness informed me that everyone else was sleeping in that room. Sleeping peacefully, all seventeen of them. All of them, a part of my family, friends and the life I have. Brought together by pure chance and probably a common luck. We all, shared a common present and were probably headed towards a near-common future. A future which has little significance, aspiration or expectation. Same for me, and same for all my fellow members of this ‘Happy World- An Orphanage’
Happy World has been my universe since I am aware of my existence. No one is sure about my origin as with most of my companions here. We are each others family. The orphanage management gives us name on our ‘induction’ day. I was named Sahil, which the authorities inform is because I was found sitting calmly in a corner of a war-torn, riot-ridden street, just like a sea-side stays calm even when there’s a fierce storm surging in the sea. It absorbs all the impact of the waves, and the sides are where the sea meets peace. I don’t know how I reached the street? Was I abandoned to die? Where were my parents? Where are my parents? The questions bother me. Answers elude me. And the continued quest for my identity exhausts me, leaves me thirsty.
The streets were filled with noise and shouts which the tone described to be of rage, anger and destruction. The area was divided in orange scarfs and green-bands. Swords and ‘Trishuls’ were at logger-heads. People were fighting in the name of God. A blood-fest was going on.A century-old tree, which was all green till yesterday was now on fire, wilting leaves. The shady, green tree, an epitome of life, was no more than a burning carcass now. A weak and visibly tired man was tearing down the streets, running breathlessly, clinging to him, close in the warmth of his chest was a small baby boy, his son. The man covered the three year-old boy with his arms running through the blood and gore, even after being stabbed by a sword, three times on the back. The torn, blood-soaked clothes drained out the energy from him, but the legs were not yet ready to give up. Till a heavy stone lands on the head of the tired man, breaking his head and the speed. More blood flows, bringing him to the ground and limiting him to a crawl.
The heavily-wounded man draws himself to a silent corner of the street and holds the boy close to him, one last time. And slowly, he loses his grip, and his life.
The boy sitting in the corner, wrapped in white, unaffected by the violent street. Tumultuous events drowned the innocent cries.
I again woke up with this nightmare. And these sights became a usual case now. I don’t know why. What’s so familiar? Who was that man? Why was I being traumatized by these, again and again? Why, and how could I relate to it? Who was that boy?
The thing with questions is that they may pile up in the form of dunes, forming a desert around you. And answers are rare, just like an oasis. You may get lost in a desert, craving for water, the thirst pulling out all the spirits to survive. But still you have to go on, that’s the only chance of survival, howsoever bleak. The thirst for identity is never-ending. The hollowness of life, when you don’t know anything about your origin, when life gives you no meaning, when you shout in the dark and hear no response, when you crave for your people and get no raised hand, is incomparable, insatiable. I have lived a long life with this feeling but then I made a pledge to myself- Not any more.
Instead of taking the usual, easy way out, that is suicide, I thought of reinventing my life. My loss of identity can be my strength also. I can turn it into my side to discover a whole new meaning to life and survival. And it wasn’t a tough task. I just lost myself in the sea of humanity, true humanity. Since being with no roots, my plant can take any direction, any shape and can grow on till the sky forms a limit. I can now identify myself with anyone living through this wonderful journey called life. Bound by no religion, belief, race or region, I can go on to see life beyond people who are unaffected by any kind of thirst. I can feel the pain of loss and joys of happiness, more dearly and more closely. I learnt to live my life, instead of just surviving through it.
I no longer have any sight disrupting my sleep, but still do keep a glass full of water by my side. It makes me happy to see it full, as it was the night before.