Monday, May 21, 2007

P l a y i n g B l i n d

There was once a monkey, clutched to the branches of a tree, in the thick of a green rainforest, that sees an extraordinary thing. That its eyes blink.

It cannot believe what it sees. Because at that moment its gaze is transfixed to the ground, on the lookout for a leopard.Fear is what breathes life into every living creature. In this game for survival, every moment remains critical, vital. The punishment for laxity is quick and severe. There will be no looking back.

The monkey is petrified. It has experienced a moment of complete helplessness. It's a moment when a curtain falls before the eyes, dissolving reality into a whiff of smoke. It is only a moment, but a moment, before reality reappears before the eyes. As the cold golden eyes of a leopard, only closer.

Having survived that moment, the monkey is bothered with a greater fear. What's wrong with its eyes ! It closes them, it opens them again, trying to assert its control. It twitches its arm, wiggles its tail, squeaks with its mouth - all seeking some comfort. But the monkey is still bothered, there is a force, invisible, troubling it. What was wrong with its eyes !!

Again, it closes them slowly, this time for longer. It is dark, thick as a night. The monkey hears sounds - pleasant sounds, alarming sounds, sounds from afar, sounds from the deep. It can hear sounds from other monkeys in the herd. It has to get back to them. Can it get back to them, in the darkness ?

This is a game it has never played. The monkey opens its eyes. Everything is as it had been. No sight of the leopard anywhere close. The monkey closes its eyes again. The game is now on.

It feels for the grip of the branch with its arms. It moves along it slowly, carefully feeling the wood as it tapers gently into a tiny twig. The monkey knows what it has to do, it has done this thousands of times. The reflexes are stored deep down inside its body.

It jumps.

The ground gives way underneath its feet. Its fingers clutch gently against the vacuum. Then slowly, the ground reappears, firmly touching the feet. The feeling sinks in with a very strong smell. A smell the monkey has just felt. Just like the blinking of the eyes.

The monkey keeps moving across the branches. Then it jumps over to the ground, and starts walking on all fours, taking in the smell of the wet grass as it moves along. It comes across a tiny stream of water. It crosses it gingerly, feeling the ripples of the water across its legs. Its feet can touch the round pebbles on the surface. Where will the next step lead to ?

Its feet get onto the hard ground again. The monkey can now feel the sharp rays of the evening sun, tickling across its skin. There are sounds of birds, coming gently from a stationary point. There, is a tree.

The monkey feels for its trunk, and then starts climbing it. It moves across its branches. It can hear sounds of other monkeys nearby. They are close. It moves gingerly across the tree in that direction.

But it comes to an end. The monkey knows what it has to do.

It jumps, taking a strong plunge with its legs, manoeuvring its tail as a prehensile instrument. And slowly, it lands onto the firm branches of the next tree.

There are hurried cries from alarmed birds. The monkey moves forward. It feels instinctively for a fruit. There, it picks it up and puts it into its mouth.

The monkey opens its eyes. The fruit is delicious.

There are green leaves all around. Thin veins are running across each one of these leaves. Thin veins in yellow. Then, there are the birds. They have brilliantly colored feathers. Each one of these feathers is split into thousands of tiny little hairs. The monkey looks around - the earth is huge. The possibilities are endless.

It stands up on its hind legs. In the orange evening sun, it is standing erect, no longer blind.

1 comment:

కొత్త పాళీ said...

This is actually a comment about your Sitayana correspondence. Thanks for sharing that - very interesting. Since you're Telugu, I'd suggest reading Ranganayakamma's "Ramayana Vishavriksham" - It will give you a different perspective on Ramayana and its characters.