PARADISE FOR IMPERFECT INDIVIDUALS
It was just another cold winter morning, pretty much like all other mornings, the only noticeable difference being that it was the day my father adopted the son of his friend. His father and mine fought in the war together and had shared a bond as brothers. After the war his father had become an alcoholic, his mother couldn’t take the abuses incurred by him and probably saw no escape other than death. Anyways, his father became more erratic after the ordeal and probably it was a blessing for the boy that his father’s liver failed. My father being a good Christian and seeing that the boy would probably end up in an orphanage where he wouldn’t be treated well, stepped in.
The boy was thirteen and I was fourteen. He told me his name was Rev. and he looked wiser beyond his years, probably because he had already gone through the harshness of life, which many never even end up experiencing. But soon I realised that looks were deceptive. He was probably even more of a ruckus than me. Sharing was difficult, fighting was a daily occurrence, preferences didn’t match and we soon realised we weren’t meant to be brothers. We were just too imperfect for each other. But, then time made us realise that being friends was a compromise that we had to make to save ourselves from dad beatings. You see dad was a man of discipline, but then again birds like us weren’t meant to be in cages. School was no different we were our biggest enemies but then again had each other’s backs in case of external threats. With time, we came to an understanding that we were no more different than what we wanted ourselves to be.
One fine day, after dad’s countless beatings, we decided to run off to some place where we would be free of his authority. While dad was out, we packed up a bunch of stuff and left.The road led us in the direction of “Paradise Forest”. They were called so because an evangelist during the war used to come there on Sundays and gave sermons to the general public.
We walked, talked, laughed, had a fistfight, swam, got scared as hell and ran after seeing a snake, ate apples and berries and some weird shit that he told me was good for health, puked, fished, had another fight, made up, sang, watched the sunset, set up camp saw night set in. I remember that day because it was the first time in my life that I had broken the rules, just ran off with the Rev., having no care in the world about what I was supposed to be doing and for whom. As night dawned upon us, we discussed usual boys’ stuff, about the girls we liked in class and the sports we preferred. He talked about his desire to fight for his nation as he believed that it was the right thing to do. I, angry at the thought of warstold him that it doesn’t solve anything. I remember losing my mother and the pain I felt, deep down somewhere I knew that I lost something that I would never be able to replace and didn’t knew its worth when I had it.As I was narrating my story, he held my hand and told me that everything was going to be alright. That was the moment I realised that nothing was ever going to be the same. I felt something and leaned in for a kiss, to my utter surprise he reciprocated the feeling.
At that moment of time a question ran through my mind, that whether I was in love him or was it the idea of doing something so against the ideals that I was brought up with the reason of my infatuation. Probably, I was just too hurt somewhere deep inside, after all I never had a woman’s care in my life. I never realised the importance women had in the life of men, until I got married years later.
Our visits to Paradise became more frequent and relationship became deeper.
We had built a castle of glass, sooner rather than later it was supposed to break. Dad found out about it, he sent me to the city to study. I guess it was probably because he was too shamed to see my face, while it was made clear that Rev. would be trained about how work was to be done in industries.
Then the war happened again and as you know from our town, all young men had to go.Dad used to tell us when we were younger that, the truth about what a man is made off is only found out on the battlefield. He used to tell us his tales from the war. Rev. was way more interested than me in my father’s accounts. I failed to understand how peace could be had from merciless killing of others. Rev. believed that fighting in the war was his duty and something that he was born to do. This rang in my mind as I made my way back to my town for vacations.
A few nights before the day of his deployment, I asked him to accompany me to “Paradise”, just for the sake of the good old times. That whole day I remember being restless and disoriented, I had lost my mother and the thought of losing him too was something I wasn’t able to take. We went there and had a great time. That was the last day I ever felt attracted to a man.
The day finally came. It was a cold winter morning, when he had to depart. We exchanged words and he made a promise to return after succeeding in his quest. I smiled, but that smile was more to hide the tears that I had on the feeling of being away from him. He smiled, we hugged and he left. The image of him walking in all his full glory to the trucks containing other heroes, is one which I choose to remember him by. I prayed to god as we had many moments and a life remaining ahead of us.
Unfortunately, god was wearing black. Rev. had gone just too far to find the truth, far enough to never come back. My dad was a fortunate son, sadly Rev. wasn’t one.I always think whether I could have done something differently, something more to stop him.
Years later, having a wife and children, I became what they had always planned for me. On some nights I still walk alone on the road leading to “Paradise”. Winters are still cold. Memories are still ripe. It’s a shame that he found his paradise before and without me. I guess we had something that society and probably even god for that matter couldn’t accept.We, in the lookout for perfection forget that it’s actually imperfection that we crave the most.
I sometimes ask myself whether am imperfect to have had the greatest time of my life with him.
But does it really matter?
This Article has been contributed by Abhimanyu Agrawal who is a third-year law student at O. P. Jindal University, Sonipat, Haryana.