(A small sweet sad savage story)
There was a small son named Amol. Amol belonged to his mother, a mother who spoiled him rotten without quite meaning to. She spoiled him through her need of him. She was a beautiful young widow and her husband had left her enough money for the two to live comfortably. So she stayed home and looked after him and her wants the best she could within the structure of a society that frowns upon the living sexuality of women and regards incest as a taboo.
Amol was only three, but already the citizen of a capitalistic and consumerist culture. He saw himself through his possessions. He possessed his mother for he was sub-consciously aware of the power he could wield over her. When he wanted something she tried her best to get it for him. When she denied him something he had asked for, he would first cry or sulk and she occasionally relented at this stage. It was a game between them. Only rarely would she continue to refuse him even when he grew angry. Finally he would threaten to go away, as far away from her as possible, and she couldn't bear that. She wasn't able to stand even the idea of him leaving her and she would succumb to his every demand when faced with this ultimatum. Sometimes he would actually toddle off into the garden and at times reach as far as the fence. But just before he could reach the gate she would run after him, hold him close to her and cajole him with the very thing that she had been admonishing him about.
Amol knew the limits to which this game could go. He would threaten to walk out only for very rare things. Among these was the sepia silk soft security sheet that he had. He was entirely enamoured of it from the very first moment he laid his eyes on it. This had happened when his aunt had come to their house with their first-born in her arms, swathed in the self-same soft silk sepia sheet. On that occasion he had thrown such a tantrum that his mother had become really angry with him for wanting and wailing for someone else's possession. That day he had even touched the gate and pushed it open a little. But meanwhile his mother had offered the aunt a bright red satin smooth shawl in exchange. With the barter accomplished she caught Amol in the nick of time, just as he was about to step out into the street. For the first time she gave in to his demand with ill grace. This made Amol treasure his hard-won prize all the more.
Since that day Amol had never let the sepia silken soft security sheet out of his sight even for an instant. When he went to sleep he was shrouded in this soft sepia sheet, when he bathed it hung next to his towel, when he played he and his toys were placed on the soft sheet, and when he ate it was tucked into his front collar. They were inseparable he and the sepia soft silk sheet. He cherished this possession as nothing before.
Actually, the soft silk sepia sheet had a life of its own. It was full of magic and had mysterious powers. It could establish a bond with a person, a bond of symbiotic codependence that ran so deep that no one could fathom it. Amol could not understand why he simply had to have the sepia sheet around him all the time, but he just had to and as with almost all other things he had his way. His mother was also not a little jealous of the soft sepia sheet and at the same time she found it absurd to feel envious of a mere piece of silk. She tried her best to separate the sheet from him whenever she could, but her insistence only made him the more adamant.
Then one day, Amol's fourth birthday to be exact, he got a lot of gifts, brand new brightly coloured toys. Amol's mother was irritated by his attachment to the sheet of sepia silk. She found it embarrassing to always have to carry the rather dull-looking sepia soft object of his affection around with them wherever they went. Whenever she saw Amol absorbed with one of his new toys, she tried to sneak the silk sepia sheet away. But Amol would notice its absence within moments, and her attempts to wean him off the soft silk sheet remained futile. Amol's being craved for the security of the silk soft sepia sheet as an almost incurable addiction.
One morning he was scampering after an orange ball, one of his new prized presents, when he caught his foot in the soft sepia silk sheet and had a fall. His head hurt, and he hated the sepia sheet. He vented all his anger on it. He beat it, kicked it and flung it aside. He picked up the orange ball and resolved to transfer unto it all his attachment for the sepia silk. But the sepia sheet of soft silk had a hidden hold over him that he could not shake off, and soon he became uncomfortable without it. He left the orange ball aside and went to the soft sheet. He hugged it. He kissed it. He cried with remorse and he thought the tears were atonement enough for the sin of ill treatment. He then wrapped himself in its secure comfort and fell into a soothing slumber.
When he awoke the first thing he saw was the orange ball, beckoning him from the corner, calling out for a resurrection to the status of the most deeply desired possession. He ran to grab it and let the silk sheet drop away and lie unnoticed and unacknowledged. After playing with the orange ball awhile he suddenly sensed the absence of the soft sepia sheet and came back to it. He needed to have the security of the soft silk and also wanted the thrill of the ball. But somehow it just wasn't possible to have both at the same time. When he was with the sepia sheet the orange ball would slip out of his reach and tempt him from afar. The minute he started moving toward it, the silk sheet would become leaden and he would be unable to shift it. If he tried to drag it, it would tie one of its ends to an unmovable furniture piece, so that he would have to let go of it to reach the ball.
Soon it became another game. Amol would run to and fro between the ball and the sheet, not spending more than a few minutes with either. He was unable to decide what to have and what to give up, unable to let go off either, unable to make, let alone stick to a choice, just not able to grow up.
Initially Amol enjoyed the game. He knew he could not do without the soft sheet, that he would soon tire of the orange ball, but he also felt that the silk sheet was bound to him through an unstated pact. He could come back to it whenever he wanted, and it would always be there. It just had to be there. But his need of this sheet irked him, and undermined his sense of himself. He reacted against his dependence by abusing the soft sepia silk, by making tiny holes in it, by sullying it, by physically doing to it all that it feared it could do to him psychologically.
The silk sepia sheet had a simple power over Amol, it loved him and could offer him much from its own soft warmth. But it also wanted to be loved in turn, and could feel betrayed and hurt, especially upon being ousted from its position of being Amol's most precious possession. Amol knew this secret sensitivity of the sepia silk. So when he played with the orange ball he sneaked glances at the sepia sheet lying in the corner seemingly peaceful, though smouldering inside. Amol rushed back and tossed the silk sheet around to see the smoke but there would be none. The sepia sheet made the smoke disappear using its astounding powers, and Amol never had the sadistic satisfaction of seeing the sepia sheet suffer.
However the sepia silk was getting tired of these charades. It realized that it ran the danger of burning itself out by using its magical potential for such trivial games and silly pursuits. It wanted out. Amol seemed quite content (though not exactly happy) with continuing the vacillation and the brutal submission for quite some time to come. So one day when Amol was going for a picnic and taking the ball along with him, the soft sepia sheet crept around his shoulder and lay there seemingly submissive much to his secret delight. He thought he had finally managed to get the silk sheet under his thumb and that it was now ready to call truce, and accept if not befriend the orange ball too.
He sat somewhat smug in the back seat of the car with the orange ball on his lap and the sepia sheet around his shoulders. He was smiling to himself as he speculated about this unexpected turn of events, when suddenly the sepia soft silk slid out from around his shoulders, slipped out of the window, spread itself wide and sailed across the skies. It had finally mustered up all its courage, to cut its losses and free itself from its nostalgic longings. It gathered all its magical energy and transformed itself into a flying carpet. It had heard of such strange objects in the bedtime fairy tales that Amol's mother had told him. Amol sat nonplussed for a few seconds and then let out an agonizing wail from the depths of his being, for he sensed that the sepia soft silk sheet was now lost to him forever; but it was too late. The soft silk sepia sheet was off on its own journey, in search of its own adventures.
And it had many of those, and many more stories could also be told, since some coveted the soft silk, some prized the sepia sheet, some reveled in its sensuousness, some satiated their desires and some tried to mould it to their own taste. But the soft sepia silk always survived, sometimes its resilience astounded even itself and sometimes it paid a heavy price. Once a chap who wanted the soft sepia silk sheet to be blue rather than green even took it to the dry-cleaners to get it dyed. The sepia soft silk sheet almost died, but escaped just in time.
It was so scared for a while that it flew a long way away, far, far from the human kind. It spread itself and sailed across the universe. It traversed into empty space and had some incredible and some ecstatic experiences. It fell without weight. It moved without direction. It folded into a tiny speck. It expanded across the horizon. It stiffened into a mirror. It flowed into a river. It swirled and swayed in a cosmic dance, it twirled and disappeared. Then one day the sepia silk sheet found itself at a spot where the ball of earth looked like a little orange dot and it recalled its adventures with Amol and his new ball. The soft sepia silk sheet shed a tear and smiled at the incredible insignificance of it all.
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