LIFE AND JUSTICE
How a false “incarnation” becomes the bane of a couple’s life.
Iam going to start this story with the world’s oldest cliche, but then, coming from a woman it is
not a cliche at all: Aparna was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my whole
life. She was one of those tall, slim, lazily smart and exquisitely beautiful girls who could win a man’s heart with a mere flick of her eyebrows or a drop of her eyelashes.
We happened to be her neighbours, classmates and the best of friends. Aparna’s family had moved into our neighbourhood when I was in the ninth standard.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that a sizeable portion of the male population in the immediate neighbourhood was transformed into immediate and ardent admirers of Aparna within a negligibly short period of time. Among all the admirers who approached her, none were downright rejected, but Aparna was careful to watch her step. She never committed anything to anyone.
As the years went by, Aparna passed her school exams and entered college. She was a ravishing beauty by that time, bewitching her way into boys’ and men’s hearts alike. Well, Aparna did not do all that consciously or intentionally, it was just her beauty and charm that did the trick. As for herself, she was a young woman of 19, in the full bloom of youth, eager to meet the world head on and find out what it had in store for her.
Eventually, she fell in love with a neighbourhood boy called Sanjay. There was no particular feature that could single Sanjay out from the multitude of suitors who craved Aparna’s attention except for the fact that he was a poet of sorts and a romantic one at that.
Well, if you ask me, I would say that his poems did not appear to be of very high standards to me, but they were a hit with Aparna. Within a short time, both were stupidly in love with each other. You could see them sitting in moonlit gardens, hand in hand, looking at the moon or at each other for goodness knows how much time. Their initial infatuation with each other ultimately matured into a fine love affair. Sanjay and Aparna were deeply in love and were finding it increasingly difficult to stay away from each other.
Well, if you ask me, I would say that his poems did not appear to be of very high standards to me, but they were a hit with Aparna. Within a short time, both were stupidly in love with each other. You could see them sitting in moonlit gardens, hand in hand, looking at the moon or at each other for goodness knows how much time.
Their initial infatuation with each other ultimately matured into a fine love affair. Sanjay and Aparna were deeply in love and were finding it increasingly difficult to stay away from each other. When he was away from her, Aparna would read his letters, most of which were love poems praising the arch of her brows, the chiselled finery of her features, the nectar of her breath and softness of her embrace. Well, um…i got to know all this because she forced me to see some of his love letters and appreciate his poetic prowess.
Sanjay promised Aparna that he would marry her the day he landed a job. He was still in college, second year to be exact, and that meant he had to wait for one full year before he could even try for a job, let alone land one.
The year rolled by, and Sanjay died. Just like that. Road accidents generally occur without any prior notice and Sanjay was alive one moment and dead the next.
It is better to move quickly over the predictable aftermath. Aparna became almost a recluse, hardly coming out of her room and refusing to accept the hard truth. Anyway, time mellows even the worst sorrow, so in a few months, she started interacting normally, but emotionally, she was still quite unstable and required support and care.
I felt sorry for her because I had always felt that she and Sanjay would have made a fine pair which was never to be and it was really painful to see her alone, drained, listless, moving around like a zombie. She reminded me of a movie called The Lacemaker in which a woman had undergone a similar metamorphosis under deep personal sorrow and anguish.
One year passed by and Aparna fell in love with her aunt’s brother Swaroop, who used to frequent her place. He happened to be a bank officer and used to stay at a nearby officers’ mess. When I went to see her, I found her happily laughing and chatting with this person.
Okay, I was surprised, just as you are, to see her transformation. In fact, at first, I felt quite dismayed. Was love so temporary, was the grief of bereavement so transient that in less than one and half years, she is again in love and laughing joyfully? I remember having thought along that line at that moment. It was a bit unnatural for her who had stopped smiling for such a long time. I
asked her, in a guarded manner (lest she take offence) the reason for this sudden change in her mood.
She embraced me tightly and replied happily, “You know, Sanjay has come back.”
“W...what?” I could hardly stutter out my bewilderment.
“Sanjay! He has come back! Swaroop that you see is not Swaroop at all – he is Sanjay!” breathed out the breathless Aparna into my perplexed ear.
Now up till this point in time, I had never had any serious doubts regarding my friend’s sanity but I was now inclined to review the situation with a more critical disposition. Fixing her gaze with a stare, I asked her how she had stumbled on this profound truth that seemed to be quite obvious to her but was not so apparent to lesser mortals like me. She replied with vociferous exuberance that it was Swaroop himself who had revealed it to her.
To say the least, I was very angry, almost trembling with emotion to collar Swaroop and wring out this sick humour from his system. When I finally got to him, I asked him what he exactly meant by opining that he was nothing but Sanjay reincarnate.
“Actually this body that you see is Swaroop’s,” Swaroop said sagely. “It’s me who is inside, I am Sanjay. Don’t you remember me?”
“Swaroop, this is pure banana oil!” I roared, drawing heavily from my Wodehousian vocabulary.
“No, it’s not,” croaked Swaroop, but while he could fool a lovelorn Aparna, he could hardly fool me. I asked him to summarily cut out the nonsense and come out with the truth.
Swaroop hung his head in shame and came out haltingly with the truth. When he had visited his sister’s house, he had seen Aparna there and fallen deeply in love with her. However, Aparna was mourning Sanjay’s death at that time and had hardly as much as noticed Swaroop’s presence. Swaroop had painstakingly found out all about Aparna’s life, learnt about Sanjay and got to know him almost as a person…by reading up Aparna’s diary. It is hard to guess how respectable people can behave when they are in love.
Day after day, Swaroop had visited Aparna’s house and tried to act like Sanjay in every possible way. Day after day, he had maintained this façade until one day, Aparna had noticed …not him, but the resemblance of his behaviour with Sanjay’s. She had noticed this and tried to find out more about it. This had brought them close together and at the
Swaroop hung his head in shame and came out haltingly with the truth. When he had visited his sister’s house, he had seen Aparna there and fallen deeply in love with her. However, Aparna was mourning Sanjay’s death at that time and had hardly as much as noticed Swaroop’s presence.
penultimate moment, Swaroop had ‘impregnated’ the fact into her mind that he was none other than Sanjay.
Reality and fantasy are perhaps simply two lawns on either side of a fence called logic. It does not require much persuasion to make a person cross the fence and go over to the other side if the mind is weak and is yearning for a lost one. So, my friend had crossed the fence of logic and accepted Swaroop as Sanjay.
Do you think I should have dissuaded Aparna from this relationship? Well, my brain felt that way but my heart did not. After all, my friend was happy and merry with the joy of life and I felt that I should not spoil it.
Achange in Swaroop. He had a cadaverous appearance, with a drawn face, cobwebs of wrinkles on his face and a lost, haunted look. In short, he looked like a ghost.
Ihad an opportunity to draw him aside and ask what the matter was. He almost broke down in front of me. “You cannot imagine what I am having to go through. I have to act like Sanjay day in and day out. I sometimes have doubts whether I am really Sanjay or Swaroop. I don’t think I can go through this much longer.”
I hardly had any sympathy for him. He had got justice, in real life and in real time. Aparna would suffer too, when he would be unable to continue with the farce. That would be justice for her as well, because, however shattered you might mentally be, you are not supposed to cross the fence of logic and embrace the impossible. Last of all, I got my justice as well. I should have stopped the matter at the beginning but I did not. So I would have to go through the torture of watching two lives get destroyed. Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.