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OUT OF AFRICA
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
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
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 ,
Copyright 2004 Durlabh Singh.
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