What transpires between a man and a woman when they spend time together in an small coupe all to themselves, on a train that will take them to Kalka and, from there, to Shimla through a journey of about 36 hours … ?
There’s absolutely no chance of it being a love story … but I do see a spiritual thriller in the situation.
“ What remains with two people who come together on promise of love but do not empathise in their unity, and diverge away from-each other ?”
“ What remains with two people who come together on promise of love, deepen their empathy, and unite to mean everything to each other ?”
[ These questions would occur to me when younger and I’d actually posed them to a couple of my friends who were in a relationship then.]
Chapter – I … contd.
Breakfast was timely and a silent affair. I ate without the dramatics but quite as animals do… single-mindedly. She smiled her satisfaction, looked out, read, but was mostly hesitant to launch an engaging conversation. I picked up the book barely read a paragraph or two, and snoozed.
” You know, this term for truth, “Satya,” keeps coming in but remains empty of content. It’s so familiar, almost intimate as it rings in the ear, but sort of undefined and unspecified.”
I woke up. Anybody interested in truth was more intimate than a mere contemporary.
“What is the truth ? What would you look for and how would you recognise it ?”
“ I really wouldn’t know… maybe facts…”
“ To start with, look for what has stayed with you for the longest in effect.”
“ My education… my parents home I inherited ?”
“No, in effect… it would mostly be food and sex, thirst and breath, the need and freedom to speak out, to choose, to love and be loved, to know…These are intimate in their effect on us all.”
There was a deep hush for long. She did not turn her gaze away from me. Nor I. She took a deep breath, looked down and slumped against the backrest.
I added, with a kindest tone I was capable of : “ Truth begins with parents, the body we have, the vitality, emotions – the vital mind, doubts and thoughts – the thinking mind, knowledge – the intellect, and the conscience – the soul being – that inexorably persists. These are our truths.”
“ Where does sex come in ?”
“ Through the vitality, the vital mind. That is how we all are created. It is through dealing with it that our thinking mind develops. All that is vital within us, that we refuse to acknowledge and deal with upfront, remains subconscious. Our emotions or interpretation of all that we sense, feel and experience, is then determined subconsciously. And we must be consciously on guard not to reveal to others what we do not wish to acknowledge to ourself.”
“I see. Indeed …”
There was something stunning about this silence upon her. I was concerned but could only pray.
“ Come, you are not alone.” She hesitated, then put her palm over my extended right. I sealed the gesture by placing my left over hers.
After we withdrew, she was more at ease, uplifted, but thoughtful. As it was, she was forming her question.
“ Is the truth one for all ? Or, is it many, one or one set respective to each of us ?
“ From where we all start, it is the latter – one set for each. Where the journey evolves to and the seeking ends at, it is singular – one supreme truth.”
“ Of course … So, what do you feel, how should I proceed ?”
I turned away from the window to look into her eyes. There was a self-deprecating smallness she did not deserve.
“ Books are a great way to start. Apart from what you have in your hand, you could choose one on Raja Yoga. The formal introduction is very helpful but truth, its knowledge, is an informal matter. It is known first and fully in our own context.”
“ Formal … objective, one among others, intellectual idea… hmmm.”
I could sense the difficulty in actually fathoming the difference between formal and informal phenomena. Living on the outside, among other matters and things, people and beings, and thinking … of all our concerns in terms of ‘others’ to oneself. We seldom look inward and observe this universe that is us, oneself, to oneself… in the manner of a research project for mapping the processes occuring within – body, vitality, vital mind and associated subconscious phenomena. The start was difficult; progress close to impossible for most. I prayed to this absolute prime mover within me.
“ I can see now, why the word would seem so empty of content despite its familiarity. I’d heard of Satya all my life but always associated it with facts, the few I knew and the rest I still had to.”
” We all did.”
She was very serious, thoughtful, as if she were speaking to herself. I nodded, smiled with complete empathy before looking away. This needed a longer interregnum for the shock to subside.
… to be continued.