Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The piece


He was terribly upset. Okay, upset is not a word you normally associate with six-year olds, but then, he wasn't one of your normal six-year olds. To start with, he fancied lying on his back on the street-divider on a typically busy Gariahat morning. Now, you don't usually see six-year olds do that, do you?

One of the pieces of his favourite jigsaw had gone missing. Now, that's not something one should be terribly upset about, isn't it?

You might as well ask him "Mate, I know your parents aren't exactly the Ambanis, but surely they can afford another set for you?"

Well, as it turned out, it was that very puzzle he was craving for. It had taken him somewhat over thirty-two days to assemble the entire thing, and then he had realised that the most crucial piece at the very centre was missing. Had it been one of the corner pieces, he might as well have been able to cover up the vacant space by something of no apparent use to anyone.

But how does one hide a gaping hole at the centre?

*** *** ***

He looked around him. Surely the piece was somewhere. It just had to be somewhere. Funnily enough, he couldn't remember how he had obtained the puzzle. His parents hadn't certainly given it to him, and neither was it a gift from an acquaintance. He looked at the box, and saw the word LIFE, written in shades of gray and black, staring back at him.

Why would a simple jigsaw be called LIFE? He had often asked himself, and had never found a decent answer. He was himself confused regarding what exactly the word life (and for that matter, The Universe and everything) meant; when asked for a definitions, the grown-ups would invariably come up with an assortment of different answers.

Anyway, these weren't really wanted to think of right now. The task, for the moment, was to find the huge missing piece that would really provide some kind of comprehensibility to the jigsaw. Funnily enough, the jigsaw contained hundreds of pieces, but somehow, without that largest, pivotal and most crucial piece at the centre, the entire thing became meaningless. It was weird, because the central piece was so crucial, that somehow all the other pieces put together made no sense to the picture.

*** *** ***

He searched frantically. He ransacked his mattress, looked underneath his bed, upturned his desk, ran up to the attic, got chased by the cook while searching the pots and pans, got away without a spanking even when he disturbed him at work, and brooded endlessly in front of his mother. The piece simply wasn't to be found anywhere.

The finished template on the cover of the box seemed to mock at him. He was just one piece away from making the jigsaw look like the picture on the cover: the perfect picture of this LIFE or whatever it was.

*** *** ***

As he lay on his back on his bad, an idea struck him. Why not replicate the missing piece using cardboard, paint and a pair of scissors? What the hell, definitely worth a try, he thought. And then he set about doing it.

Hours passed; then days. He persevered hard, but could never come up with that extra bit of magic that would've helped create a piece to fill up that hole. Creating magic wasn't certainly his forte, and his efforts continued to remain futile. Whatever he conjured didn't match the shape, and even if it did, the colour was significantly different. He tried frantically, attempting to force misfitting pieces, one after the other, to give his jigsaw a look a of completeness,  but couldn't succeed.

*** *** ***

So he decided to shift to physics. He had realised by now that eye-estimation would only lead to random pieces; the selection of colours had to be precise as well; so he went for a substantial course in physics in a leading institution to hone his skills. He learnt to measure using slide callipers; he learnt the representation of colours in hex format; he tried hard, as hard as he could, to replicate the missing piece. Everyone acknowledged the fact that he was gifted in his field, and it seemed that all the unknown, unperceived mysteries of the Universe were liable to bow before his incredible knowledge.

And yet he couldn't. Physics provided him the precision, the acumen, the unerring ability to pull off the mathematically perfect measurements and to mix colours at will; but he still lacked that extra bit that would help him create the magic required to create the missing piece. He had a few attempts at the piece, but could never generate it. Carefully acquired numerically precise skills couldn't help him reach that level, he needed something else...

*** *** ***

So he took up fine arts. His abilities now stretched beyond the scopes of mathematics: he reached the lofty heights once scaled by the greats; he learnt to unveil the mysteries of creation on a canvas or with stone; his fingers created magic spanning all forms of art, and his achievements in each and every field exceeded even his own expectations.

And even then, he couldn't. Art gave him the imagination he needed, which, combined with the mathematical precision he had already acquired, helped him create jigsaw pieces of a very high quality. But however outstanding they were, they just didn't fit. None of them did; they physically fitted perfectly into the hollow; their colours matched; even their texture gelled perfectly with the rest of the puzzle; and yet the pieces remained misfits; the differences were subtle, yet they were there. He still needed for that something extra...


*** *** ***

He tried chemistry; he tried music; he tried philosophy; he tried sport; he tried everything; he rose in every aspect of his life; but still couldn't find that missing piece. The hole in the puzzle haunted him; but he couldn't create a piece that fitted exactly into the space.

*** *** ***

And then he realised. The piece had to be found. No human, however hard he tried, was capable of creating the missing piece. It was something celestial - beyond the scope of Man; he needed to find it. He knew it was somewhere, somewhere, SOMEWHERE...

*** *** ***

He searched frantically the way he had been doing for years. Once again he ransacked every nook of the house and upturned whatever he had... and then... and then... and then something struck him, and he rushed out. He looked up and stared at the night sky, and looked at the stars, light years away, the brilliant balls of burning gas... and then... he recognised the pattern.

There it was, the missing piece he had been searching for all these years. The night sky seemed to mock at his failure, reminding him brutally the fact that however hard he tried, there are certain things that shall always remain beyond his scope, and this missing jigsaw piece was definitely one of them. It shall remain out of his reach forever; he could bathe in its grandeur, but never fit it into his own jigsaw. Never.

*** *** ***

He brooded for a while. Then he realised that however elusive that piece was, it has actually made him a better human being. He realised that the piece had actually made him pursue various streams of knowledge and expertise; finesse and precision; logic and creation; above everything he had found a mission in his life, to possess his piece some day; and in his quest to become worthy of the jigsaw piece he had actually become a better human being.

Then he realised it's not always about owning something. It's about letting everything remain wherever it's the most comfortable, and being happy about that. He knew he'd never own the pattern created in the night sky; but at least he could spend the rest of his life to elevate himself to be worthy of it.

Then so be it. :)


10 comments:

  1. shesh ta bhishon bhalo i loved the last two paras

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  2. Also another realization dawned on me-Sometimes when your heart is searching for something in particular you end up finding something that you've never even dreamed about in your wildest fantasies.And therein lies the unpredictability of life.

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  3. Very impressive....Thanks Abhi... Loved it....

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  4. electrifying, shortlyApril 26, 2010 at 11:18 PM

    deep ! loved it.

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  5. On some days,posts like these make me feel like having a long philosophical chat with you.that with your humorous veneer which tends to defeat life everytime it eludes comprehension.
    This post however,also makes me realize you are as much at sea as everyone else is; that you too are lost...

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    Replies
    1. Do you realise that the blog comment section is not exactly the right place to have long philosophical chats?

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    2. therein lies the tragedy of life :'(

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  6. This reminded me of this:

    "আমি ডান হাত তুলি, পুরুষ পাঞ্জার দিকে
    মনে মনে বলি,
    যোগ্য হও, যোগ্য হয়ে ওঠো।

    (সুনীল গঙ্গোপাধ্যায়)


    ReplyDelete

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