“Well sir, you’re dressed and brushed, ready for school,” said Tim, who sat rocking his chair and sipping a cup of coffee, in front of a mirror that reflected a wall where a number of photographs were hoisted contrasting to himself. Tim liked putting up his own photographs for he believed it helped him to keep a track of his growing old or young.
“Why do you keep compelling me to go to school with those bloody stares” said Tim as he polished his shoes.
“Yes, yes, you’re too old for school to understand those silly haunting faces that keep on troubling me” exclaimed Tim in disgust.
Tim has this ardent habit of talking to himself, contemplating and jibing with his reflected self. Well, this is what one does when one is essentially alone, completely been denied of parental affections; and nurtured by an aunt who is impervious to the softer affections of life.
“I’ve always kept wondering, when will I harvest those whiskers like you… oh! God, please don’t ever lose them…”
He slams the door behind him and walks off for his school. The wind has messed up his hair: ” damn those winds… what is it to you? All troubles seem to oblige me. Watch your steps, an old lady is in your way.”
Tim turns round to see a young lady nearly of his age, elegantly dressed with a wind-tossed hair. “She’s beautiful,” said Tim, ” but you can have the old lady for yourself! ”
This man is his only friend. During his younger days when Tim’s naive mind was unable to apprehend the “world of magnets and miracles”, he would have often complained: “the old man is scary!” The old man then had a grizzled hair and whiskers with a look of weariness hanging around his starving eyes. But Tim was alone with his perceptions.
There had been times when the frighteningly familiar look would shriek him out of his senses, but his cries would have been left unheard. Doctors would use science to spell out useless esoteric names prescribing a mind-disease. Sciences have their limitations and Tim was yet to realise the dream-like reality.
Tim is blessed with a curse. He being blessed to peep into a time beyond the present, is cursed with the inability to alter the inevitable. Since then, Tim has struggled to accept the man so horribly close yet not tangible, as a part of himself- a reality (if so) far beyond the natural order.
Tim, now has grown scanty beards, struggling to compete with the raven-haired look of Tim, laterally inverted within unfathomable dimensions.
“I keep waiting for the day when we’ll be equal to each other and I’ll not miss a chance to smack you hard before you steal my youth.”
“What book will we borrow back home, ” thought Tim as he entered his school library and took a seat beside the lanky John. They seldom used to talk. The archaic bookshelves reflected each other through their glass doors and the other Tim was everywhere. As the reflections crisscrossed each other, Tim saw the most fearful sight- beside the other Tim was lying a bloody newborn babe. And the thought of what was next chilled his spine. His lips turned salty with sweat as he took a look at John.
“Are you fine Tim? You look unwell.” John’s query melted into air as Tim left with a rush.
John was dead within a few months. The perception of the life-like-death made him irreparably gloomy and Tim confined himself into a solitary livelihood. Tim saw his death yet could not do anything to stop it from engulfing life. He was guilt-stricken and cursed time as it “lies like truth”. Out of utter helplessness he would scream out: “unreal mockery” and “why me?” “Why not me…,” will come as a simple reply. Tim broke the mirror of his room but the shards of himself kept piercing his thoughts. He would splash hard over pools of water sending ripples through his reflected naked reality only to get rejoined into a calm serene perfect reflection.
Tim has graduated from his high school and is into a university pursuing literature. Science has failed to secure a respite. Now, Tim tries to seek solace in the imagination of others. Nothing could ever fathom the eerie deeps of his life. Tim has submitted himself to the scientific philosophy of Einstein that ‘ events do not develop, they just are,’ and his yearning to live has receded into the participation in the fatal quest-net.
“The time has come, ” smirked Tim at the clear reflection from a new mirror, observing specific curves of his body. “Are we actually looking alike?” His interrogation was reciprocated with a silence. Tim scrutinised every inch, every corner of his body, every possible space that is visible. Then he concluded, ” I’ve waited for an eternity to be me.” He took a photograph of himself and showcased it beside the chronologically sequenced photographs of him growing old.
Tim grimed, “What do you want to do today?” And silence followed. Tim thought of celebrating the supposed hours of synonymity with cups of coffee. Twenty years of experience have provided him with enough courage to face the truth of himself but fear is the abyss that keeps on yawning.
– How do you feel?
– Damn you Tim! I gave you life. If not life whatever it is.
– And I’m cursed… feeling like a fool, living like an apparition.
– I’ve grown too weary of you. Please shun my company!
A grinding feeling of wretchedness seized his self. Tim got up, knocked his chair off and switched off the lights. Darkness swallowed the two up. But the dark seconds seemed to obliterate his new found self, and the restless Tim hurriedly switched the lights back on.
– Are you really there?
– In my head? Ah! I’ll grow insane.
– See these photographs… my youthful hue…!
– And damn those photos, they show how I’ll ever be!
– I tried to end my self, but couldn’t. You too couldn’t… that’s funny!
– Those bloody photos somehow dictate me towards that life when I regarded you as a ‘scary old man’.
– You’re as ugly as I’m!
A cynical laughter follow as Tim hummed the tunes of Pink Floyd :
” Steps taken forward sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some inner tide”
Tim is back with a packet of chips now.
– Didn’t you feel funny going to school at such an age? Were your fellow mates stupid like you?
– Will we ever meet?
– Sorry, it’s a circle.
– You’ll meet mother someday… tell me definitely how you’ll feel.
Psychological exhaustion has fatigued Tim. A moment’s euphoria of mating with the self has subdued into a frigidity. He felt sleepy. The epiphanic realisation of a simple mathematical calculation that he has more twenty years to live, morosely affected him. The overpowering grief dissipated into a profound sleep.
Years passed. Tim has now gathered a full raven-haired look. He has left university long back and now works for a small income scarcely capable of putting up his sustenance. The other Tim has grown young now, into his preteens. Tim now cherishes to relive his youth and would often ask: ” how do you feel young boy?” But he never dared to empathise for he knew that the self-within and the self-without might never be the same.
“Why do you sit and idle away your time? Go out and play. Don’t you just sit and stare blank… and change your shabby clothes.” “And if you don’t do your homework, you’ll never grow whiskers like me!” Tim laughed hard unaware of the droplets slithering down his skin. Maybe, these moments of aching-joy were like the ambers with the inherent desire to burn bright. Traveling backwards in time is a psychological reverie- but this is what, which perhaps might happen if it becomes logical.
Little Tim is now barely three feet tall. And our old Tim has developed a kind of affection for him, so pure in its virginity that alphabets will definitely fail to preserve. Tim now mostly spends his time with himself, trying defiantly to nurture and caress the child. He would recite nursery rhymes- taking a trip amidst the stars, going up the hill till the falling of London Bridge. The two would often recite together :
“Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.”
Little Tim has now grown too little to stand. The scary old man cannot help but watch, feeling ecstatic. He too can barely stand now unless supported- for he is diseased and suffering from malnutrition. He knows now that his life is punctuated with death and has grown tired trying to freeze life. If there is nothing called future and every moment is an extended-present, then Tim tries to preserve that erotic ease of experience. He keeps staring at the child. The deep black marbles seem thousands of years old, craving for a release, striving towards a beginning and an end.
For Tim, human philosophies are precariously illuminated- they all have collapsed. His desire to seek unification at destruction has long faded and he now regretted that he will never know of his mother: “My mother is long dead for me, know not when.. but will Tim ever meet our mother?”
The newborn Tim lies at the other side, cleared off of blood, cut off from placenta. The old man gathered all his strength- pulled himself up with every last bit of his life and went out of his house, never looking back.
Nothing more was ever heard of Tim. What might have happened next, nobody knows.
But, little Tim is no more a ‘Tim’ now. He must have by now got reduced to float in the ethereal nest of their mother’s amniotic fluid.