Living in Time Warp (Chapter 3)

by Dr. Pran Rangan

Every effort of the family members fails to trace the whereabouts of Aditaya. Ultimately, they resign to their fate. With the passage of time, memories of Aditaya begin to fade. But his memories haunt his sister and mother every now and then. His mother many a time secretly cries out her grief whenever his fond memories overwhelm her. Once, when Shayamala caught her crying secretly, she took a promise from her that she would not cry as this will send him bad vibes wherever he happens to be. Sujata tries her best to chase off his memories but can't do so sometimes as she is a mother after all.

Aditaya, after leaving hostel in the wee hours of the night, goes straight to railway station, his thinking being clearer at this time. Incidentally, he finds a train ready to depart for Vanarasi. He boards the train without a second thought, which soon starts moving. He gets a place to sit near the window. He enjoys the natural scenic beauty outside in the beginning but soon drifts into illusionary world. And he starts murmuring and smiling off and on, which he does throughout his journey. He hardly talked to anyone in the train or ate anything. It appeared to other passengers that he is probably enjoying scenery passing by outside.

When Vanarasi station arrives, he quickly gets down as he has been to the place a couple of times earlier. He then goes to a small Shiva temple near railway station, where he finds a couple of mendicants (Sadhus). As he is really famished, he asks them for something to eat. He gobbles down all that they give him. He then looks for a place in the backyard of the temple to lie down and relax. After taking his fill, he soon falls into a deep sleep and wakes up late in the evening. Then he goes to main temple to see evening puja (worship) of Lord Shiva where many people and mendicants are gathered reciting religious hymns. He also starts singing with them. Before long, he begins to chant Bum Bum Bhole quite loudly as he has an illusionary vision of Lord Shiva. He keeps on chanting even though puja is over. He goes back to the place where he slept in the afternoon and continues chanting for pretty long. All of a sudden, he stops and goes to mendicants, who had given him food to eat.

Aditaya enjoys chit-chatting with them for some time. They inquire about his home and family, which he tells them incoherently. As they are unable to make a sense out of it, they offer him to stay with them. He then eats food that they share with him. He spends time with them roaming around different places collecting alms offered by people.

It is common to see that such mendicants indulge in smoking charas, for which they use a kind of special pipe made of clay. He too got introduced to smoking charas in their company. Aditaya enjoys it as it helps to transport him into the world of fantasy. Unfortunately, he is under its effect most of time, having weird hallucinations at times. Aditaya's health deteriorated fast as a result of lack of good food and drug addiction of charas. It would have been quite difficult to recognize him for even a person knowing him well as he has a scruffy appearance with unkempt beard and long matted dirty hair.

Aditaya's whole day is spent loitering around collecting alms in the company of mendicants. One day some persons of the group decide to go to Delhi and, therefore, take a train to travel. When the train reaches the city of Lucknow, he gets down unnoticed, hiding himself so that his friends can't catch him. After train moves out, he comes out to go to the city. A part of his childhood was spent in this city so he is somewhat familiar with some places.

For few days Aditaya loiters around here and there like a drifter, eating whatever is offered by others who have mercy on him. One day he happens to come to Mahanagar, which evokes some semblance of a place he has spent time long back. He selects a safe place under a big banyan tree and rests underneath it, keeping close by a tattered bag of things he has been carrying around. He sits and sleeps underneath, living in his own world of illusion. A couple of times, he had fits of delusions of grandeur when he began shouting aloud: "I am a superman. I am a superman......, while simultaneously gesticulating like a superman."

Some of passersby stopped to watch his funny acts. Children were attracted more by such funny acts of him. When he does't have such delusions, he keeps murmuring while enjoying the contents of his world of fantasy.

To be continued

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