They called me the Storyteller. In times of war when the thirst for blood never ceased and resurfaced every hour, it quenched only by the killing of an innocent under the once clear, now dark and gloomy sky. The sky somehow reflected the pain and misery permanently etched in the eyes of the downtrodden roaming the path of destruction. There was a town named Angel Hope found near the outskirts of the Bundhana district. I changed that place. I was more like a useless loner wandering in search for free food and alcohol to quench my thirst. Humans are born thirsty whether it’s for their mother’s milk till the time their wife leaves them for another rich “town treasurer” and their only companion is their ever ending bottle of whiskey. So I used to wander from one town to another scavenging for left over’s and in return fooling the town people by reciting to them all the never existing stories.
Now one thing I forgot to tell you all is that I was born a loser without any skills from the beginning. In the past I was called a loser but now things have changed and lying has earned me the tag of a “storyteller”. Now if you take a look at both the tags they both vomit the same meaning and that’s “good for nothing” but the latter has some benefits to it. My stories ranged from my heroic entry into a downtrodden and completely destroyed town to an epic battle full of flying bones and blood. There was a lot of blood and gore in my stories for some weird reason. Even though this story was situated during the ancient times, let me tell you there was nothing ancient about this place except for the fact that I was born on the wrong side of the earth.
According to the so-called town elderly our earth is divided into two parts- one above us and one below us. Nice and simple without any research work. Now you know from where I get all these story telling ideas from. And yes you guessed it right we were born on the side which was situated above otherwise we would have fallen into the unchartered universe. The first time I heard about this total bullshit at the age of ten I went into splits and started rolling in the dust. Now the town people found this as disrespectful and from then I was the “loser” of that town. That time intelligence was regarded as a bane. But times change and so did mine. I always possessed one valuable skill which I never used until the time came when I unleashed my powers. And that skill was storytelling. One story after another I wandered from town to town extracting so much lies from the pit of my brain that I was astonished by myself. I sometimes thought that was I the one after whom this term “lies” came into existence.
I knew there was something peculiar about this town called Angel Hope. As soon as I stepped on the surface of this town, I knew that destiny awaited me. That I was born for a bigger purpose. Angel Hope was once a town full of peace and happiness. It’s no more than a pile of dirt now. I never knew that I even possessed the skills of turning happiness into gloom. Now I know why the skies were always dark and gloomy. They were not reflecting the poor and the downtrodden, they were reflecting me. You have no idea how much burden there is on someone’s shoulder who has to always carry a umbrella with him coz the sky is always dark and gloomy coz of him. I think this town was situated on the side below us which was the reason why it was so different from the rest of the earth. I said to myself, “Son you did one heck of a job” and in return I replied to my inner self, “Oh dad you were the inspiration behind all this. Its coz of your kicking and punching training I gathered the courage to light our whole town on fire and then dance on the remaining ashes the very next morning.”
My inner dad replying back, “Aww, god damn son, give me a hug you evil sonofabitch.”
And I started giving myself a tight hug in mid-air trying to pat myself on the shoulders. So finally when my mind and my thoughts were at peace I started venturing into the place that changed the lives of the people of Angel Hope town forever.
A guy with a huge smile as if pasted on his face permanently started to walk towards me and gradually his pace started to increase. By the looks of Angel Hope town it was how to say, unique, in a weird way. Even though the sun was still up (now overshadowed coz of my peculiar relations with the dude up-above they refer to as the ‘Almighty’) every freaking light was on inside every rainbow colored house. Now if the freaky looking houses with all the turned on lights glowing at full stream didn’t knock the living lights out of me, the hundred gleaming smiles staring at me as if I’m messiah who was sent here from holy heaven, punched me right in the face and I was down. And I have a certain level of expertise in this field of punching. All of them were smiling as if two people have hooked each side of their jaws to a tree, so now they are stuck for the rest of their lives with this no-good smile of theirs.
My inner dad keeps popping every now and then to shove a piece of his mind down my freaking mind and so he said, “Son, take a look at all these faces and remember your life was way better than theirs’. At least you didn’t have to laugh all day long.”
And I, as usual, drunk to the brim and half-naked replied in a cheeky way, “Oh dad I do remember, me and mom’s face looked just like those rainbow colored houses except for the fact that in the end your face surely would have given complex to those black bulls we had in our town. Why? Coz after burning down the whole town to smithereens I found your burnt head rolling down a hill.”
My inner dad now enjoying every word said, “Oh my God! Really? Don’t know why but I have this tendency to keep coming back with a bang. It’s that urge to survive that thrives within me, that motivates me to keep moving forward in life no matter how hard the circumstances are.”
I, now finally satisfied that as usual I was able to trap this son of a gun in my random babblings, replied back this time with confidence overflowing through me and said,” Dad, dad, dad, you sound like a person giving out some serious positive vibes. Even I was baffled for a second but I regained my composure. Thanks to you, I have a habit of losing my composure every now and then coz of those heavy punches piercing through my gut. Sure I found your decapitated head, and I still keep that in my rucksack like a memento, reminding me how a dad can ruin his son’s life like a stain that cannot be removed forever.”
Sorry for getting all serious back there with my inner bastard. So now where was I? Yup, so this guy with this ten inch smile of his for no reason started sprinting towards me as if his ass was on fire, but he was still happy. For one second I thought this is no hubbly-wubbly town, so let’s get the hell out of here before I end up like my dad roaming the whole world in the rucksack of a person who reminds me of myself but cannot outmatch the evil within me. But then I looked above at those dark and gloomy skies and thought, what the hell the holy almighty is with me. Time to test how faithful he is towards his angels or should I say a drunken angel with no wings to flap but enough shit on his shoulders to put even the almighty to shame.
At first I thought that this sprinter couldn’t judge time and distance. End result- he would at least break two or three of my bones or even more as drinking gallons of whiskey hadn’t contributed to the strengthening of my bones. And so I finally realized the meaning behind the saying “Lord holds the hand of the drunkards in hope of losing his focus for a second, in return achieving a reason behind all the natural calamities”. I think I exaggerated a little bit, but I’m sure that that afternoon when the sun was in its full glory he was definitely not doing his job. Finally the town renowned sprinter with a screeching halt like a bullock cart stopped just inches from my nose. He backed a little bit, scanned me from top to bottom, took a long gulp of fresh air inside and screamed like a damsel in distress, only it was no shout for help.
Suddenly the whole town along with him, holding each other’s hands started singing a song whose words sounded a lot like an anthem for their town. There was no end to it, as the range of their voices kept increasing until the birds, at first enjoying but later flapping their wings as if it was the end of the world flew for their lives and never came back until there was only a rumble left of Angel Hope. They had even recorded this anthem of theirs and made sure that the song was played at least, infinite times in a day. So the song goes like this,
Welcome to Angel Hope,
O sweet child of lord,
We will pray for your well-being,
In times of love and war,
Hand over all your belongings,
To our ever so forgiving lord,
And he shall take care of your sins,
And rinse them in his bowl of thoughts,
He shall bring peace to the diseased,
Free him from his mutated form,
His heart of stone, he is forgiving,
He shall take care of the dead as well as living,
So raise the glass of purity in unison,
Your life is not yours anymore,
As it belongs to the mighty lord within.
If one minute back I was drunk to the pit of my stomach, all the whiskey had drained as if completely vanished in thin air in the last one minute. It was like watching a lot of happy people at the same time and I assure you watching a town full of happy people is not a sight to see. Finally after a few minutes which felt like hours of hammering they finally stopped singing. To my astonishment the sprinter guy was still standing inches from my nose. Trying to catch his breath at the same time he started to speak happily,” hello, my dear friend, Welcome to Angel hope, a town where your smile never wavers from your face. A place where a man is not deprived of his dreams, but tied to his dream like a bond which cannot be broken till the time the soul separates from the body to catch hold of another dream from nature.”
At that very moment I had a clear idea what my life would be like in the near future. This place was like a treasure box left open for some godly reason, which I finally came to know but that part will come later. I was born a loser; I will emerge as a ruler of this place. From a far distance I was hearing some snapping noises and finally when I came back to my senses I saw the sprinter guy snapping his fingers in front of my face. The sprinter guy said,” My dear friend are you all right? You look like as if your mind wandered someplace else.”
According to me, if someone is friendly with you, be friendly with them, if someone is misbehaving with you, be friendly with them and if someone is trying to kill you, what are you waiting for, hold your rucksacks tight and run for your life. Me replying back with so much of happiness filled in my voice that even he was taken aback for a second, “Oh hello, my dear old friend, come here and give me a big old hug.”
More happiness overflowing through him he said, “Your hug was full of warmth and happiness. Your heart is pure like water my dear friend.”
Every joint of my face aching due to its overuse in the last couple of minutes replying back,” my friend all I can say is that it’s not pure, it’s just the way god meant it to be, the way god had placed it in me the minute I was born. Like the heart of a new born child, untouched from all the evils of the world.”
Sprinter guy now astonished, staring at me in a manner people look at idols of almighty said,” Angel hope has been blessed with your presence, my dear friend what is your name?”
I took one look above at the hovering black clouds over my head and my voice though steady and peaceful, with the overall scenario sounded, God like.
I’m just an ordinary human being but you may call me, the storyteller.
Part I: What my eyes perceive
Sun was down by the time I met most of the people of angel hope and after having a lavish dinner they had started a bonfire right in the middle of the town. It was like a daily routine for them as the whole town had already gathered around the bonfire even before it hadn’t been started. Children clinging to their mothers were looking at the bonfire with awe. Some of the smaller ones were too scared to look at it and so their mothers were trying to calm them down by singing lullabies to them. One hard look at the people of the town and you were convinced that they were actually happy. The town was so similar and yet so different from other towns. In those days genuine happiness was hard to find. Either you were filthy rich which was the reason you were happy or you just pretended to be happy, kept you one step away from going insane. Outside world was corrupted, dirty as if something that cannot be corrected. Like a world constructed imperfect. Like a sampling this town was surviving in this puddle of mud. I was jealous, who wouldn’t be. And finally one thing that stood out from the rest was that this town called angel hope was shining. It’s like they say covering a light bulb with a black cloth doesn’t stop it from shining. Light penetrates through every one of those minute holes in that darkness and finds a way to shine. It was magical. For a second it all seemed so real.
And then it was gone.
Part II: Genuine happiness
Lying in an 8 x 10ft room for seven years has its consequences. In the medical field, there are fixed views regarding this subject. Some say people in coma can hear things, that their mind can still perceive things, have an idea of what’s going on around them, but most of them say that there mind is unconscious as well.
But from the other side of world where I’m living right now, the side where my mind is conscious, I can definitely hear people, sense their emotions. I have seen my mother come here every day in this same dingy room for the past seven years. I could feel her emotions for the first two years but after that all the feelings were suddenly gone. I think my mother had died from inside. Hope is something that keeps you alive from inside. That feeling called as hope had long vanished inside of my mother.
My whole life I have seen, been through a lot of bad things. Things you cannot even imagine. And I survived through all of them. That keeps me going, gives me that hope that this is like one of those phases which will pass someday. But I keep going back to this place called angel hope town. For the past seven years, every day I have stood outside the entrance of angel hope and then as soon as I took a step towards the town it vanished in thin air and I was back to this same old room.
Today something different happened. After seven years finally I was able to step on the holy ground of angel hope town. A part of me always knew that there was a connection between the two worlds. That the only way to wake myself from the coma is to find answers in this other world. As soon as I returned from this other world I could feel something. After five years I could feel the emotions of my mother. As if something inside of her had also awakened. She was smiling. For the first time since I entered the coma I saw a smile on her face. It was indicating something, as if trying to tell me something. I have to keep going further. The answers to all the questions lies in this place called angel hope.
A story is never incomplete. There is always an ending to it. God knew my story was not yet complete.
In those days theoretically coma was considered as an alternate world. A world built for the living of those souls whose purpose was not complete. There was one universal rule applied during those days which was,
“There is a god and he doesn’t consider unfinished souls”
It was small and simple and explained just one thing, incomplete souls were not accepted. There was numerous souls wandering and occupying the space of earth. Over the years the numbers of these souls has increased tremendously. If a soul is not complete it cannot be divided into the number of souls. If an incomplete soul is divided, the end result would be a number of incomplete souls occupying the space of earth and in time leading to a number of other incomplete souls.
Who was I?
I was one of those incomplete souls.
Where does my life begin?
In the real world I was an average human. People of my town said that I had a heart of gold. My father had a completely different idea. He thought,” so my son has a heart of gold. Good for him. Why not beat him down into a number of pieces and then sell him.”
And I thought why my soul was incomplete. So day in and day out he used to get drunk to the point that he forgot that his son is only twelve years old. That son of a bitch used to beat me till the time his hands started hurting and I was unconscious. There’s no fun in beating an unconscious person. There’s no screaming or yelling and so all the fun is just drained out. The similarity between my real world character and the alternate world ends here. I did enough good in my life to the point where god thought that he is ruining all the fun and so let’s put him to sleep. My alternate world character is a grown up whereas I’m only eighteen years old. It took me at least ten years of asskicking to finally go down. But I didn’t just give up. Six years have gone by and I’m still hanging there. Not to take revenge from dad but to fulfill my dream. To travel around the world carrying only a rucksack. I guess in the alternate world I’m actually living my dream. But there’s a difference between dreaming and actually living a dream. When I will fulfill my dream I won’t forget it the minute I woke up. It would remain embedded in my memory forever.
I have waited for six years. And finally I can see a ray of hope when I stepped on the foot of the angel hope town. I won’t give up now. Let’s see how far my legs can take me. But it would be a journey to remember. It’s time to go back to sleep in my conscious world. I have a whole town of people waiting for me.
Standing near the bonfire my voice boomed in the night air,” who would like to hear a story from the storyteller?”
All the hands were in the air as soon my question completed.
And so I exclaimed,” My dear friends.”
Let the adventure begin.