Rain and lightning struck in all their fury but in vain against the thick wooden walls. The whistle of a passing train pierced the night sky buy inside it sounded nothing more than a distant muffled beep. Far from the civilized world, where concrete had not yet replaced the timber (and the din of alarm clocks was not loud enough to suppress the early morning croaks), stood the cottage, probably built by some hermit but now deserted, empty.
When he came there for the first time, it was in ruins. He had renovated it piece by piece in his dozen odd visits spread over the last seventeen years. His arrival was never planned. One day, he would just get up in the middle of the night, board the train and jump in the wilderness near pole number 583. There was no other convenient way to reach this cottage which he lovingly called Hell.
There is no absolute truth. It’s all relative depending upon one’s perspective. The storm outside felt like a mere drizzle in comparison to the tornado raging inside his heart. The confused, cacophonous melee of thoughts made his head throb with pain. As soon as he entered the room, it was no longer empty. For not just his body, but his thoughts, his problems, his entire existence invaded the room. As he jumped near the pole number 583, he might have successfully left his home, his family, his work behind but how could one run away from himself. And here alone in the Hell, he had nothing to distract him, nothing to save him from the purgative fire, silently gnawing at him.
But was the room empty even before he entered it? Air, dust, pollen. He was looking for something else.Voices from a distant past reverberating, rebounding from wall to wall, soothing sounds of the hermit’s chant, passionate panting of a run-away couple’s love-making, frightening frowns of a bandit, his own tired humming after cleaning the floor. Every time someone entered the cottage, he left some indelible imprint of his individuality etched on the walls, not in a vulgar graffiti like manner but in a more subtle, yet more impactive way. He let his soul fill in those sounds, interact with them, scream out its feelings, battle, cut, bruise itself. For sometimes we have to wage a war to get peace. Or as he believed, ‘The road to heaven must pass through Hell.’
In the morning, he again jumped on the train near pole number 583. Another day at the prison hanging people.
Glass. Room. Life.