December 6, 2020

Anth

(c) J. Singh, 2016

The wolves are at the door. Darkness is closing in from all sides. There is no place of escape, no refuge. The moment of reckoning is at hand. It came faster than he expected. He wasted his childhood in games and play, his youth chasing after material wealth, and his old age in lamenting about his lost youth. Yet, he never once stopped to consider his purpose, his reason for coming into this world. He never spent a moment in silent contemplation. Never tried to understand himself, or ponder the mysteries of the Universe. He was too caught up in the whirlwind of life, constantly intoxicated with the highly potent bio-chemical cocktail of hormones and emotions, and ever driven like a mule by society and culture. He thought he was doing the right thing, he thought that this was life, and he better enjoy it while it lasted.

He was right about one thing: this was life. It was his chance to get it right. But, like the ignorant student who idles away his precious minutes during the final exam by staring out the window, he frivolously lost the chance he had been given. Now, old and trembling, he lay on his death bed, eyes unable to see, limbs unable to move, and mouth unable to speak. He was weak and exhausted, easy prey for the powerful and vicious predators that came and circled his bed, salivating at the prospect of claiming their latest victim.

He yearned for some connection, some hope, a desperate desire in the most tenuous of circumstances. His family was there at his bedside. His wife, herself frail with old age and sickness. His children, and their children. But somehow, even with all of them tearfully surrounding him and offering all their emotional and moral support, it was not enough. It was not even near to being close enough. At best, it seemed like a weak gesture, a paltry attempt at offering help in a realm which they themselves knew absolutely nothing about. How could anyone say that it was going to be ok if they had never been there? How could they reassure him when it was only his soul that was going to go on this dark and terrible journey, all alone? They would be remaining in the comfort and joy of their own corporeal bodies, in this world, still enjoying the tastes and material pleasures of hot soup, a warm blanket, a hot shower, the touch of a loved one . . .

No, he shook his head, it was not fair. He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want to leave. It was a terrifying prospect to stare into the pitch black darkness of the abyss. He didn’t want to go into the unknown. He was frightened, and like a small child he sought out the comfort of a mother who was long dead.

Why does life have to be so harsh, he wondered in his sorrow. Why do people arrive on this planet, only to stay a short while, and then get up and depart? What is the point? What is the reason? He remembered his past days. The barbeque’s in the summer. Vacations with his family. Trips around the world. All the hours he had spent slaving away at his job, under constant stress and pressure to perform. Attending his kids’ music recitals and soccer games. Sending his kids off to college. He also remembered all the emotional ups and downs. The fights he had had with his wife. The tension with his children. The breakups and reconciliations. The moments of pleasure and pain. All his accomplishments. His fancy car. The days and memories of his life. They could all be summed up in a digital album of high-resolution photos and videos in a computer server somewhere in the cloud, taking up a few terabytes of data.

His face contorted in horror as this realization sank in. Was that it? Was this the sum and measure of his entire life? His entire life and experiences, reduced to a few terabytes of data on a computer disk, which might be further compressed or could even be deleted entirely by the push of a button. Some pimply-faced teenager might just press the wrong button by accident, out of pure ignorance, and his entire life and history would be wiped out. Just like that. Gone forever. Erased from history and memory. No trace of him left on the planet. Nobody would even know he had been here!

He sobbed mournfully. This was even more depressing than the prospect of dying. The fact that his life didn’t really matter. That he wouldn’t be remembered. That his entire existence was of no consequence. Then what was it all for? Was this some sort of cosmic joke? If it was, then he would like to shake his fist at that God who created him. His feelings of despondency morphed into unbridled anger. He seethed with rage at his Maker. Anger quickly turned into hate.

But there was nothing he could do. He couldn’t even lift his arm. Weak, helpless, pathetic. He dropped deeper into despair. His life was slowly ebbing away. Soon, he would be gone, and nobody would ever know he had even once walked upon the green Earth. No one would know why he had come, not even himself. He had failed to discover his purpose, his reason for being, and his destiny remained unactivated, lying dormant inside him with all the natural powers of creation trapped inside. All his potential, all his gifts that he had come to give to the world in love, all hidden and unrealized. And the world was worse off for it.

His raspy breathing slowed, and one by one, his organs began to shut down. The end was near.

He raised his eyes to the heavens in anguish, his soul calling out to his Creator in despair. Woe! Woe is me! he lamented. But the only thing he saw was the outstretched claws of the malevolent creatures who had come to claim their prize.

The wolves are at your door. And darkness is closing in from all sides.

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