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Durlabh Singh


D has been working whole day. He was employed by the government department in the capital but had to move all over the country. His journey took him to small provincial towns which were the headquarters of the administrative districts and where the district officers resided. All the school , hospitals and police came under their jurisdictions , as he had to pay all the cost of teachers , government employees , policemen and various other contractors associated with official workings. There was always a big amount of money stored in these places, for payments to all the employees of the state.

He liked travelling to these remote places and such trips were named as Safaris. Though there were other people working with him but they were married and did not want to leave their families behind ; to go on this kind of long safaris. He took most of travelling out of their hands by volunteering to do all the travelling , for which his colleagues were grateful.

It was such a relief from his desk bound job, which was killing his soul. He had to accompany his boss on long drives to remote places .So many things were happening at each turn. Driving off the main road to a country dirt road suddenly changed the whole panorama. There were hills , green dotted with trees of many formations , tall trees , small trees , trees with decorated shiny leaves and trees with sharp edged leaves like thorny points ready to sting you or to render sharp pains.

There were angry looking jagged hills , being annoyed as to their poverty. No tree wanted to take up residence on their tops. Anyhow if you suspend your analysing intellect and became accessible to such rich visual scenes , the world became a different proposition palpitating with warm sunshine , flying insects and rich variety of exquisite birds. One could be easily taken out of oneself to other dimensions, causing one to lose one’s self importance as to get drunk on such rich form of life.

At each small hamlet , small kids in numbers ran across the fields to the edge of the road waving their hands, waving their shirts and shouting with enthusiasm. Jambo ! jambo! To them it was a pure joy to see a running vehicle and soon their enthusiasm caught hold of you as well. And you also started waving and answering back with your return greetings.

And their were gaudy rainbows too. After a downpour a rainbow spread itself over the whole countryside in a semi-circular span of fascinating hues. Sometime one rainbow spawned into more and once D saw five such creatures on the horizon forming a rainbow archway. It was an entrancing poetical reverie.


At last D reached the destination , a small district office at the edge of the town. As usual his boss gave him the orders to count all the money in the strong room. About million pounds of paper money was taken out from the safe and was scattered all over the tables. He was locked into this room to count all the available funds. He has to make piles of thousands pounds , rubber-band it and put each bundle onto the counted money shelf.

He was amused to find himself surrounded by all that money and it seemed so tasteless, counting all those pieces of paper with a brand of authority embossed on it. ‘The chief cashier of the country promised to pay the bearer on production of that piece an amount equivalent of such & such amount - ’. It was banal but most people will give even their arm to acquire such a fortune. The popular imagination always deal with abstractions and it is on the top of their list of life’s priorities. Bereft of all other values of life , money has become our prime symbol of good life. If you question it , people will think of you as mad or something worse.

Suppose nobody opened the door of the strong room , surrounded with all that money you were going to starve. Nobody could live on paper to quench their hunger , so much for the people’s common wisdom.
Almost all of us are ready to accept such nonsense and frivolity.

In exchange for all that money if some one offered you a loaf of bread, you would readily depart with all the money in the world. Such is the power of hunger of our bodies , over all the goodies of our life. In normal life we do not show much concern for our bodies and will stress them even to the point of damaging our hearts & lungs.
Such were his musing until his boss came back and broke that spell. All the piles were counted and grand total was assessed on the total amount of money available.


After his evening meals , D went outside the town into the country to escape from the oppressiveness of his thoughts .In spite of all his hard work during the day his boss was not very pleased and passed some pungent remarks on him and his attitude. He felt hurt and insulted by those uncalled for remarks. The boss was good in manipulating other people in such a way that he loaded all his work to his subordinates and got away scot free , without doing an iota of work himself. His aim was simply to enjoy himself and usually found a young lady. He persuaded her to go out with him for the whole day and then return at the end of the day when the office was closing. He has done that exactly on the day.

His mood changed as he went out. It was a beautiful and calm evening and long shadows of trees were spreading themselves over the road and the grass verges. Occasional vehicle passed but otherwise it was a calming silence which D liked. He felt an affinity with the evening and with the loneliness of the tall trees. He was lonely and the universe seemed lonely also and that created a bond between them. It was comforting to drink that draught of silence and to feel a sort of elation. then one is taken out of oneself in contemplation of nature and its silent beauty , one can move into a different sort of reality where one’s ego is not in the way as to hinder one’s flight of imagination .He felt the imagination was not something alien but a part of some concrete reality, more akin to his emotions and the body.

Engrossed in such reveries he walked onto the hard shoulder of the road , which was inviting as most lonely roads are. They can drag you away into new experiences and impressions. Suddenly he was jolted out of himself when a car stopped by him and the driver greeted him. The driver asked him if he was the son of such and such a person. Some years back he has met D’s father and his feature resembled his. He replied in affirmative and the driver invited him to drive with him to a country pub which he owned.

D was glad to accept that invitation for a pleasant drive and a friendly company. The road was nearly empty except all the sentries of standing trees which greeted him as the vehicle drove on. As each tree passed by, it said hello to him. The distance trees beckoned him to come forth and meet them. He felt that all the company of the trees joined in a greeting song.

Soon it became dark and the trees lost their individual forms but maintained their airy presence.


At last they reached the country pub. It was a rundown place and was full of African men and women. There were few benches and tables but all were occupied and spilled out crowds were squatting on the saw dust floor, in an easy manner African manner. There were old men and middle aged men with short cropped hair and long robes with their ears ringed. Women were wearing multi coloured dresses and most with their head shaved. They were wearing heavy metallic jewellery around their necks which they have made for themselves, each with their individual style.

The place was dim lit with a small lamp hanging from the ceiling which cast out weird shadows. There were not so much noise and the place was sombrely silence with occasional bits of conversation. The crowd gave an impression of extreme poverty. All were busy drinking beers and other stuff, as if to find an evening of escape from their poverty and sorrowful plight.

Suddenly something happened to D. He suddenly felt elated and felt deep down a spark of life coming out of those miserable drinkers. It lifted him out of his present melancholy into something more spiritual. Perhaps it was some new universe of different dimension or the old universe looked from different point of view. Some thing out of ordinary has happened and things took a more a more meaningful stance. That deadly silence which was present before , took a shape of some illuminated scripts and cast itself into a play in which all the characters exuded an energy imbued with passion meaning.

His friend was busy checking the accounts and the beer stocks . He wanted to share his moods but decided against it as nobody in their normal state of mind would understand it or find it interesting. He might even be considered a crank or a mad person needing help.

His friend finished his business in the pub and wanted to drive back. He sat next to him in front of the car. Outside the dark night had become even intenser and out of the night sky a million stars shone . They were twinkling in multi vibrations and giving their silent invitations. Slowly the motor car began to ascend upward like the take off an aeroplane but without any jarring noises. It glided towards those twinkling lights and soon it was floating among the crowded highways. They were touring the galaxy or it might have been the milky way. The world took up a subtle mantle of magic and poetry. No one was alone in the universe anymore and all were surrounded with magical spells each, palpitating with life and supporting all one’s physical , emotional and intellectual faculties. There was nothing more to hanker after.

He wanted to savour this journey fully. Tomorrow will be another day , full of tedious and mundane living. Tomorrow could wait now. He was in a magical land , journeying onwards.

Copyright 2004 Durlabh Singh.

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