I wonder what I’d do if I were all alone on an island. For now, I’ll leave the swiss family Robinsons genre of survival tactics aside. I’ll assume I can learn to eat meat, learn a thing or two about lighting a fire, figure out things that I hadn’t thought of before and work out some sort of arrangement with the elements of nature and with the freaky games of fate where I can take my day to day survival as reasonably certain. Granted - it might take me a few frustrating mornings waking up without a mirror before realizing that ponds and lakes will do quite well. Granted also- that I might have to finally learn to eat fruits and potatoes. Let’s not even get bogged down by such mundane details. We’ve all seen tom hanks do it. So could I. Let’s just take all that for granted, because those things have been written about for aeons and I am guessing that my doomed vehicle would have some sort of survival guide. What it will not have is what to do with my thoughts. What it will not have is instructions about how to get back my comfort zone, the cocoon that all of us seek shelter in when the world around us just gets too heavy to bear. Or perhaps, the most frightening aspect of all, it will not have what to do with peace.
I imagine a night, when I’ve had dinner ( I don’t even want to begin to think about what it is), and am walking on the beach, having long since given up on the tell tale ship that will take me back to a civilized schedule, to the delirious comforts of man-made inventions, or even to the depressing realities of a monotonous life. I imagine a night, when I’ve had dinner, and have long since learnt that deep sleep isn’t exactly beneficial to survival, and I’d be better off up and alert because while nothing on that island has any personal grudge against me, I do have to be wary of overstaying my welcome, which, an innocent creature, struggling for its own survival, will only be too glad to put right. I imagine a night, where all I have for company is myself, my thoughts, my inner demons that I can quell only with self-conjured dragons, my inner fantasies that now, I have no hope of realizing, even with all the world literally spread out in front of me, my deepest fears that are a thing of distance and are probably a thing of insignificance, my moments of happiness that have been etched so deeply, and prodded so many times.
In the past, I might have reached out for those moments in times of despair, in times of uncertainty, in times of loneliness, perhaps in a pain so unbearable that I’d pity the dead fish in my stomach, perhaps in a pain so unjust that I’d purposely take longer to kill the fish the next day, using its pain to overshadow mine, wallowing in self pity and self –absorption, murmering prayers that were never taught right and its meaning never fully gleaned, at the same time cursing all those beliefs that led me to believe that I was somehow special, that I would somehow escape, perhaps blaming wrong acts of past lives, just so I could believe that there’d be a calmer future birth.
And one day, perhaps it had become, that I could catch prey with unerring precision, sleep with a sense of nonchalance, bathe nakedly with all the world to turn its head away uninterested, breathe with regularity, even smiles turning into grins and occasional spasms of laughter without the fear of being branded by anything or anyone.
I imagine a night, walking on the beach, with just my thoughts. Perhaps I’d have names for all the stars in the sky. Perhaps I’d have mock conversations with them, and perhaps they’d indulge me. Perhaps the waves and I played games with each other. But what would I do with not a single worry and not a single care in the world. What would I do now, knowing that survival was now, more than ever, a certainty. What does one do with peace ? There may be variety in the sounds of the breeze, and the roars of the waves, and the sways of the trees. But how long can one do exactly as they please, before boredom sets in again. Would I even learn not to fear the loss of peace, because suddenly I’d been granted with however paradoxical it might sound, an ephemeral immortality ?
There’s a contentment that springs from knowing you’re lost. A contentment that springs from knowing you’ll never be found. A contentment that springs from losing hope and just making sure that every second was noticed and extracted for all its miniscule worth. A contentment that springs from being answerable only to yourself, and having defined every single rule by yourself, for yourself. And then a contentment from escape of harder times, of motorcars and horns, of newspapers full of crimes. A contentment from sudden acceptances of the most painful truths about my weaknesses, and a struggle to conquer them, just as I had done with the fish. A contentment from knowing that now, I’ve found myself, and can bear to live with bitter truths such as the banes of not waiting long enough for a better fish, or of not figuring out sooner that a little evaporation of water would give me salt that makes meat taste a lot better. A little smile at a memory of a 3rd standard text book, of memorizing the definition of evaporation, of getting 2 marks in a test, and of finally, finally, having used it, and of finally having come a full circle, with enough time to spare.