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Images through a theodolite: The final chapter

The Present
She hurt me where it hurts most. Her secret once revealed shattered our very existence; it bruised my pride and battered my soul. At the altar of love, it was either I or Nina. I chose to be the sacrifice and let her go free.

I lay naked in the white floor, stripped of pride and self esteem. The room was devoid of furniture, all but one -- the grandfather's table. All day I would remain curled up, seeking the comfort of the womb in a world that no longer wanted me. I would inflict pain on me, for I only felt alive through pain.

I showed him the marks, the stigmata I bore for the sins of this life, and the life before; my reincarnations were filled with guilt and transgressions. I was crucified before the world. I carried the cross on my shoulders as people stood by. Two Arakan soldiers pegged me on to the cross. I asked them if they were Jews but they never replied and kept on hitting the nail. I asked them if they knew my grandfather…they were silent, hammering the pegs. I bled but didn't feel pain.

“Only in your imagination” the doctor used to say. But how could I deny when the marks were so real? “…the marks you bear are an act of self inflicting pain; the Arakan Jews are no truer than the 'ghost' of your grandpa. All illusions.”

I did not know. How does one learn to discount the senses? The vision of the Arakans was as real as the cactus at the doctor's chamber. The words of my grandpa no less real than the doctor who spoke before me. Baffled, I gave up all efforts to distinguish.

I was experiencing a duel vision, a battle between the Doctor and my Grandpa. Each fighting for their right to exist. In this display of prowess I took no sides, I was just a spectator at the arena, waiting for the outcome of their fight. No matter who won, I end up losing -- losing my being.

"Take them, you will feel good"
Dr Azim placed the two pills in front of me.
- Will I? Does this mean everything around me will cease to exist?
"Only your hallucination."

- But he is as real as you are. I hear him, I feel his breath on my shoulders when he stands behind me, I cry in pain when he touches my wounds. What is real doctor? And what is imagination?

"Hallucinations are perception…."

- Oh save your definitions doctor. I am through with them.

"Take the medication and everything will fall back into their places. You perceive life through a narrow vision where you take sole control. Your visions of life itself are not real; they are in a dreamy state. "Images through a theodolite" as you yourself say. You see life amplified out of proportions. Objects, or reality, appear to you in a distorted manner. Unless you start isolating the true from the false, and in the right proportions, life as you know it will blur into a labyrinth.

- But I like this dreamy state.
I smiled.

"Yes you do, because you find comfort in the dreams. Your grandfather shows compassion in your feelings, your reality and your being. Nina and Binty, as you say, do not. Your grandpa says what you want to hear; others speak in reality -- some of which you like, others you don't. But you need to embrace all that is real and shun the hallucination. Take this pill. It is a start to your quest for reality."

- Will I be able to write? I have not been able to write for a long time.

"Everything will fall into place once you start your medication. You finished your first book when you were on meds, remember?"

- No one read the trash.

"Yes. But do you write for 300 people who read your work, gave heartfelt reviews and also criticised where you faltered or do you write for people who didn't read what you wrote or cared how you felt and was indifferent to everything you believed in?"

- I want to write again. I want to write about legacy. I want to write about grandpa, I want to write about Nina's pain. And also about Binty.

"In that case you need to perceive what is real and what is not. You must isolate the reality around you and the hallucinations as well."

- So you say I take the pill?

"Yes. Take it."

I took the pill. I had a book to write.

--- The End ---

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif


World Hunger Relief

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Pizza Hut, on 15 October, launched a World Hunger Relief Campaign in support of the United Nations World Food Programme's (WFP) endeavour to raise awareness and support the WFP in providing meals to children and helping to ensure that they receive an education. The launch took place at KFC's Gulshan outlet. This year's campaign -- the fifth in succession -- was started on 14th October at KFC in Dhaka by WFP Representatives in Bangladesh and Managing Director & CEO of Transcom Food Ltd. Akku Chowdhury. It will run for a month, building on the success of the 2010 campaign in which both celebrities and customers participated actively.

In collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh WFP, through its school feeding programme provides biscuits fortified with vitamins and minerals to 1 million poor children in 7,000 schools in food insecure areas across the country.

“Concerted and rapid action is required to stem the sharp rise in hunger and malnutrition in Bangladesh,” Chowdhury told the assembled media personnel and guests. “In collaboration with the Government, WFP has shown that school feeding helps bring children into primary school and keep them there. This is a critical intervention under which we need to target the 4.4 million children who do not attend primary school. This year we are requesting our customers to add Tk.10 with their bill as a donation to WFP. It is hoped that this spirit will continue to ensure that hunger remains top of everyone's agenda."

The Hunger Relief Programme will be observed internationally from October 14November 13 by all the restaurants under the Yum! International brand.



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