To the surprise of everyone in the village, Xandu was gone! Nobody really believed at first but for the empty house that vouched for the reality. The villagers had got something to gossip about for days to come. The bar was rife with all sorts of speculations over spilling mugs of beers and ale. In the houses, the stories were exchanged between the sips from the hot cups of freshly brewed tea or amidst the heavy puffs from the smoking pipes full of fine tobacco. There will be many interpretations and explanations of this event until all interest fizzles out and people go back to their mundane existence or as they like to call it – business as usual. The people, the crowd, this swirl of individual non-entity that is highly vulnerable and succumbs easily to a rabble rouser or demagogues and heedlessly panders to all kind of idiocy as a society because of this very nature of gossip and idle chat. And yet remains the bulwark of human existence while giving base to our collective aspirations and activities. In this structure we have put our unflinching faith…perhaps a bit too much.
Far from the village gossip, Xandu was nearing the thicket which marked the beginning of the dense intractable forest. He was fighting the bulging desire to turn back to his home now. He cursed under his breath and wondered why of all the people he was troubled like this while everybody else enjoyed the normal life? These deliberations made little sense now that he had come this far. His commitment to his cause was calling on to his courage as a man. He was aware that the journey lies ahead and behind his back was the very world from which he wanted and escape. He eyed the forest with awe and wondered about what lay behind that thick foliage, what kind of animals haunt this forest, what form of insects crawl and creep on the ground and beneath the crumpled bed of dead and rotting leaves. The massive tree trunks were home to many chirping birds that seemed to him like making a beckoning call as a welcome to his coming.
Life was thriving everywhere without an ambition or a greater purpose. it just existed! This was certainly an entirely different world than his own; a world that thrived in wilderness, away from the human order and interventions. Suddenly, he shuddered at the thought of being alone in this gargantuan swathe of wild things and lurking dangers. He hesitated again for a moment and then with deep breath steeped into the forest known to the villagers as the Grimwoods. He felt uneasy being all alone and fangs of isolation began to dig deeper as he moved even further into the jungle. There, during those moments of silence in the forest he suddenly became aware of his own breathing. Breath -such a forgettable thing and yet so vital to our existence, had taken his unintended attention. He remembered the time as a child, when his father would chase him through the narrow village lanes to give him a beating for his mischiefs. How his heart pounded with fear and how his breath was shallow and paced. What had caused it now? The fear or the physical exertion? Was he getting anxious again? He noticed his breath change and was not surprised.
The sun was setting somewhere in the horizon beyond the vastness of the forest that lay in front of him and behind. Soon, the darkness would come like a sweeping blanket bedecked with stars and slowly but surely be covering the brown, the green, the blue, the red and the yellows with one color; the color of black. The night seemed to equalise everything just like death. Did he fear death?