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Walking Alone

Updated on July 19, 2014

The Walk

.....

All of us walk - both literally and metaphorically - from cradle to grave, along life's one-way street, experiencing situations, indulging in deeds, analyzing circumstances, and arriving at decisions, that fabricate our individual life stories; our reality. But are they really real?

The short story that follows explores this question.

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Walking Alone

It was surmised by anthropological researchers that the human body evolved in a manner that was primarily meant to enable it to walk and run on two feet, leaving the hands for more productive and intricate work. Ranga seemed to have been born with this idea firmly rooted in his subconscious.

It was vouched for by his parents that he had started to lurch and sway on his two tiny feet much earlier than what toddlers were supposed to. At school, he could outrun his mates in no uncertain terms. As he grew older, he increasingly tended to keep to himself. He would go for long jogs very early in the mornings, and if time permitted, equally long walks in the evenings. All alone.

But was he really alone? A glimpse into his mind would have provided a quick and definite answer - No. While his maneuverable limbs remained dedicated to their rhythmic perambulations, the mind played host to a horde of thoughts - thoughts of abstract entities and material beings known and unknown, seen and unseen, heard and unheard of - who affected his psyche in myriad ways, who made up his reality, his world, and universe. Wasn't life essentially a mind play - where an individual supposedly sported with a range of apparent adversaries and supporters using an assortment of means?

Having been endowed with a congenital condition, which resulted in the growth of minimal facial hair, Ranga always felt inadequate after attaining puberty. A society that eulogized the vibrancy of growth, enormity, and profile of these deceased dermatological produce and showered munificence of repute and status upon those who happened to measure up well by these standards, greatly accentuated his sensitivity. His arms would be forced to abandon their routine, as his hands would unconsciously go up to his chin to feel the nonexistent stubble. His mind would imaginarily consort with such blessed men and situate his face behind their hirsute shrouds in its valiant bid to revive his sagging spirits. With health-conscious men of all ages sporting a variety of hair colors and textures indulging in morning jogs and evening walks along Ranga's regular route, he would be constantly involved with someone or the other and was never alone.

Manhood brought with it the urge to impress women. Being the reticent kind, most of his escapades with the members of the fairer sex were in the realm of his thoughts. It would be unethical and immoral to probe, expose, and discuss associations and incidents of this nature and would suffice to say that there was no dearth of such happenings and also that they were all entirely of an honorable sort. Their only outward manifestation would be an occasional jerk of the head to send a tuft of hair sliding over his forehead northwards, or a sudden puffing of chest and repositioning of shoulders. Women too being equally concerned about their figures and looks, there were sufficient number of representatives of this sub-species of beings on the jogging tracks and walking paths, and Ranga would never be notionally alone.

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Inevitably, Ranga tied the knot one day and the couple established a family. After the initial illusory sensation of everlasting bliss, and inevitably again, the pressures and pulls associated with a family man raised their disconcerting heads. Ranga tackled the taxman, was incensed with the intriguing attitude of the insurance man, baulked at the bestial behavior of bankers, griped at the government, bore the baleful beratings of his boss, suffered his sneering and sniping subordinates, fought fissiparous fetish, frequently fell foul of his father-in-law, wrestled with work-holism, and struggled with the slyness of serendipity. Except for the knot-tying act, most of the others were largely accomplished within the confines of his intellect. Age had begun to show in the form of an enlarged body mid-section, which in turn made jogging a tiring proposition. The mornings gradually lost their privilege of witnessing the spirited jogging of a young man and instead had to settle for the less impressive spectacle of a sedate middle-aged walker. The walker however, was never alone. He had one or more of those he constantly grappled with for company - notionally.

And then something happened that changed his perception of life.

The infirmities of old age caught up with Ranga's parents. Both had outlived eighty summers and time only waited for an opportunity to trip their frail bodies over one of its various implements of obliteration and dispatch them to their deathbeds. Time hadn't had to wait too long.

One octogenarian followed the other in quick succession across a series of events that started with a fall resulting in a broken limb, and consequent hospitalization, which involved sedation and surgery. The two never really recovered from the trauma. Ranga had heard about the cataclysmic effects of anesthesia on the brain, particularly aged ones. Now, he got to see them - live.

Both his parents began to lose their sense of orientation to time, space, and what was supposedly reality. They failed to recognize people from the latter half of their lives; they began to see things that were invisible to apparently normal people. Ranga's mother would cook, wash clothes, and do all the other regular house-keeping chores sitting on her bed, with nothing but thin air ahead, above and behind her. His father, reserved by nature like the son, would sit and stare away into nothingness, but his eyes would clearly indicate they saw visions which others around did not.

The doctors attending on them conjured up a long, fancy, and unpronounceable name for the condition and explained that it was akin to a circuit being erroneously rewired. It was quite a common after-effect of sedation in aged people, they said. Perhaps, to contain and settle the spark of disbelief in Ranga's eyes that they could discern, the head of the team of medics referred the patients to a clinical psychologist who also happened to be a persuasive talker. He confirmed the conclusion of the medics and when Ranga and he were alone, picked up a shaped piece of wood with a flourish from a corner of the room where a carpenter had been working lately.

* * *

..

W"hat does one do, if this piece of wood is to be nailed to a masonry wall?" he asked Ranga

Perplexed, Ranga answered, "Take a hammer and a rawl bit, make a hole in the wall, insert a rawl plug, make a corresponding free hole in the wood, and then screw it down to the wall."

"Ah! Spoken like a professional," commended the psychologist and added, "And when you have done it, you believe that the piece of wood is now fixed to the wall."

"It is not a question of belief," replied Ranga. "I know it, because I can see and feel it."

"No, your brain interprets your premeditated actions to yield those results. It makes you believe so, just as it makes your mother believe something different."

"Is there, then, no difference between reality and illusion?" asked Ranga, still more confused.

"I would say that the line demarcating the boundary between them is rather hazy," replied the psychologist.

The condition of Ranga's parents deteriorated rapidly and not very long after, they departed for their heavenly abode. The bereaved and distraught son, went for longer walks to give vent to his sorrow.

However, the short but unsettling dialogue with the psychologist, began to slowly take root in Ranga's mind and its effects were felt in the course of time. Other's perception about him began to matter less. The importance of his own viewpoint about others and the world started to diminish.

Increasingly he found himself walking truly and blissfully alone.

* * *

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Guestbook

What is your take on the notion of reality?

Is reality really real?

..

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    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 5 years ago from Pittsburgh

      We all walk alone through this world. Some just have a hard time accepting the fact. Great read. Angel Blessings**

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 5 years ago

      To be honest, this is the best lens I have read during my tenure here. Reality is what each individual perceives it to be or wants it to be

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Reality is whatever you want it to be.

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 5 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Enjoyed this reading so much! Great lens!

    • judithmurphy profile image

      judithmurphy 5 years ago

      I love your poem, your lenses and turn of phrase - an individual thinker. Thankyou

    • Thrinsdream profile image

      Thrinsdream 5 years ago

      What a wonderful story. Thank you. Cathi x

    • SayGuddaycom profile image

      SayGuddaycom 5 years ago

      Fascinating stuff!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My Mom is approaching her 85th summer and you just gave me the loveliest of gifts, thank you! Leaving a blessing...for the blessing received....

    • TheBaseballCoach profile image

      TheBaseballCoach 5 years ago

      Ram, thanks for the great read on walking alone

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 5 years ago

      Beautiful thoughts and lens.. thank you. THUMBS UP ANGEL BLESSED.

    • profile image

      cmadden 5 years ago

      Think about what is required for one's view of reality: a supposed structure of what-is, and however we actually perceive it. Is there an absolute reality, which exists regardless of our perceptions and imaginings? A human view is entirely through human constructions, whether psychological or mechanical - what we build to measure or view the universe, being human-built, is built within our frame of reference; so, as grannysage questioned, are those we call mentally ill out of touch with an absolute reality, or are they out of sync with a human defined collective reality? Do we help create our collective human reality with our imaginings?

    • profile image

      crstnblue 5 years ago

      Great lens and chosen topic, worth to read it thoroughly and learn something out of it.

      Reality!? This is an abstract and relative thing, depending on what one was told, circumstances, perceptions... complicated!

      I may say that one's reality is not real to everybody else... and even to her/ himself at a second thought, next day or... if schanging angles : )

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      Very much like yours. It's all a dream.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      You are a fantastic story teller - glad you sought me out to check out your work -:)

    • profile image

      Geeve 7 years ago

      Well done Ram,

      This lens deserves 5* for the Guestbook alone, which I will feature in my collection :)

    • callinsky lm profile image

      callinsky lm 7 years ago

      There is no reality, only perception. (O;

      Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful lens! I would give it more than 5 stars if I could.

    • profile image

      grannysage 7 years ago

      I have found that my reality does not match that of other people. I do not accept that reality is just what we can see and feel. There is so much more beyond what our senses tell us. I used to work with the mentally ill. They had a totally different concept of reality. Yet who is to say whether theirs was the wrong one or mine the right one? Perhaps it was my job to take care of them so that they could be free to take care of the needs of another reality.

      Another great one, Ram.