Uttam was fiddling with his watch sitting on the floor while she sipped her lemon tea in her rocking chair
Her expression was blatant , She was not satisfied with his persistent explanations for his reasons to make her his muse,
He wanted to paint her. He believed that she was going to be his masterpiece. His way of achieving superiority in his art.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath and quoted
“A State of mind where victory and defeat means the same to you. When you stop caring about what the world thinks about you and your art. The feeling cannot be described , it is when you have left behind all that you are bound by, no commercial targets to be satisfied.” He opened his eyes, her expression was still poker faced.
He Continued “When you do not allow himself to be restricted by the artificial restraints humanity places on itself,”
“You stop caring about time,money and responsibility and lose yourself in the pleasures of your artistic self indulgence” She was still unmoved but she smiled
He Enthusiastically got up and held her chair to halt it “You paint because you want to and not because you have to,” he concluded”
“That state of mind is called Boundless and Infinite.”
“It is similar to Nirvana or Moksha that comes after death. When your soul leaves your body and you are completely free of all the materialistic desires and boundaries ”
Suddenly she became interested and curious “So can an artist achieve Moksha while he is alive, through his art.?”
He Replied “Yes ,When he attains his masterpiece. A Piece of art which is far beyond his imagination and ability.”
She Argued “Well but aren’t Artists insane. They are never satisfied with the end result of something they create.. they feel There is always room to revisit , recreate the magic.”
He Argued ” You don’t understand .For An Artist it is the process of creating that piece of art which is an awesome experience. Once he puts the finishing touches he loses a part of himself and it is painful to see it complete”
Richa took a deep breath and said ” Uttam, you are too young to reach that state. This sounds unreal coming from a 26 year old man with a half grown beard” She laughed out shamelessly and further embarrassed him
Uttam knew his efforts to convince her would be futile, but he still said “Allow me to paint you, you will be my masterpiece. i will call it Pakeezah”
She stood up from the comfortable chair. Walked around in circles for some time. Uttam had his fingers tightly crossed and the desperation to know her answer was driving him nuts.
“i have a wish you need to fulfill before i fulfill yours ” she finally uttered
Without asking what it was ,he said ” Done, Agreed ”
But it was shocking what she wanted seemed like an impossible feat to acheive
“I want to attain moksha while i am alive” she said. ” And you need to do all the necessary rituals for me to attain the same” She laughed frantically now looking at his expression. He looked like an warrior who had lost all his battles and now was at the mercy of this relentless beauty to pull the trigger and relieve him from his struggles”
Nevertheless, he decided to give it a try. He thought it is a state of mind, if she feels satisfied, that is it. He does not need to literally get her to the point of moksha
It is a rather deceptive word. it is slippery. Something that you can come close to achieving while alive, but in the real true sense is possible only after death.
The Concept was not very clear to him, he had given her all possible bookish gyan but he himself was naive to this concept. He struggled through different write ups about moksha. Some Spiritual, Some Religious and some just trying their hand at some self invented gyan as he had come up with
He put forth the question ” How do you want to start it ? ” i have no clue about this journey , How do we begin it”
The Next moment, the alluring beauty was standing on the rooftop of the tallest building looking down and seeing how exciting the prospect was. ” If i die, how would i feel it . I need to feel the feeling of moksha.. A feeling where you feel nothing is more better than this feeling. A point of no return, where i know i can never feel better than this ”
They walked down the stairs , still confused,, she ragged him for being lost. But now he had lost his cool
He stood there accusing her that she was just finding reasons to avoid him from painting her. She was just playing around with the emotions of an admirer.if she agreed he could achieve super stardom and she would just be mere model. A Stringent piece of art which is stuck to the wall. which cannot enhance itself further. ,The Mona Lisa smile which cannot be re created, which gets bound by copyrights , laws and finally a price tag
A Few days later as he stood outside her house , he was jubilant as he about to take a journey with her which may /may not lead them to moksha , They had chosen to go to a sacred place where they would fulfill all rituals and perform ceremonies that are usually performed after people die. They wanted to somehow attempt and give their best shot at achieving something never even thought of
As they spoke to one self proclaimed enlightened soul or spiritual guru. He told them that they cannot attain moksha with their conscious mind. the conscious mind is materialistic and impure. They have to attain a so called higher consciousness which links them to saintly hood.
She was engrossed in meditation on the banks of ganges when he suddenly grunted
“But are we not binding ourselves to these set of rules. Why become godly, saintly or pure . and who decides the factors and rating scale. i may rate myself 10 on 10 in consciousness but i may be bluffing , who can check and verify if i am the truly enlightened one ”
It was hilarious she thought and she fell on the floor from her stiff meditation position and she was literally rolling on the floor laughing , They decided to choose a different path. They went to the place where final rites are performed
He stood near a burning pyre and inquired with the man adding ghee and other combustive materials to the pyre
“Can we complete this procedure without burning ourselves. We want to attain moksha without dying”
“1000 rupees” was all he said
A Completely confused Richa asked Uttam ” what in 1000 rs” “Ask him what in 1000 rs”
The Man who looked completely drunk wiped his face with a white handkerchief which turned completely black
There was a peculiar stench from his presence. He Whispered ” I know one tantrik baba. He can do anything. He regularly transports people from that side of the world to here and back ”
So it meant that, not only could they attain moksha. they could come back to earth. spoil themselves with the earthly pleasures and then go back to attain moksha.
The Tantrik Baba performed some ritual that looked scary with milk and some sort of red liquid a skeleton. He was muttering some monosyllables and throwing combustible , non combustible stuff into fire. He wore complete black clothes in contrast the saint they encountered before who wore saffron, He did his stuff very seriously with utmost sincerity and dedication
Once he was done with all the rituals of uttam and he had his 1000 rupees , Tantrik Baba got up to leave. Uttam held his hand and said ” What about my friend here, Our main purpose of coming here is to get her moksha. As soon as Uttam pointed towards her direction. The Tantrik pushed him away. He looked completely petrified , as if he had seen a poisonous snake. He ran away and within a few seconds he was invisible.
He looked at her and they both shared an awesome laugh. But he was still in dilemma as why the tantrik had reacted the way he had. She was teary eyed now. She said ” I guess i can never attain moksha”
He decided to don the orange garb himself and hired a priest from the temple. The Priest made him do all the rituals sitting under the peepal tree and even explained him why these rituals existed
As he poured water on the peepal tree as the final ritual, he turned out to look at her. He smiled and said ” Do u feel you have attained moksha.” The teary eyed girl did not reply. She was fascinated by the boy who could do anything to achieve his masterpiece.
Unable to restrain himself any further. He painted her on the same night. As she sat on the banks of river ganga. He stroked his paintbrush to create his magnum opus. It was her face, her sensitivity, her expression with a feeling of gratitude that made the painting much more fascinating
She looked mesmerizing in a beautiful white saree. The painting captured the silent night, the full moon, a smiling Richa in a subtle elegant pose.
A nightmare caused him to wake in the wee hours of the morning , he knocked the door of the adjacent room where she was staying. but the door was open. It was an empty room . it had no luggage, it seemed as if no one had used it for ages. Her giggles and relentless laughter still echoed in his ears. . Had she just left without informing him ?
He ran across the streets like a sprinter. He encountered the spiritual guru first. He asked if he had seen the girl who had come with him. Surprisingly the spiritual guru claimed that he had come alone and there had been no girl alongside him as he suggests now.
He visited the tantrik who wanted to flee again. The Tantrik told him to get purified by bathing in gangajal, as he had never been seen with a girl, When he told the tantrik to perform rituals for the second person. He was shocked to see that he was pointing to an open space where no one existed. The Tantrik had his first brush with the supernatural and hence just took off
and then finally the priest smiled at him when he visited him, the priest told him
“She had died an unnatural death, and the girl you met was just her shadow , her soul that had still not attained moksha. Your Sincerity attracted her towards you.
He recalled their first meeting which had been rather strange. He had seen her outside a tempe . She had been trying to walk in, but just walked in circles and came back out. All he could remember was her big kohl shaped eyes that instantly made him think of her as his masterpiece ”
“He had named her Pakeezah and she had attained Moksha. He had freed a deserving beautiful soul from the artificial restraints humanity places on itself. He had freed her from the materialistic world
For hours he stared at her painting he had just drawn last night and fell asleep right there. when he woke and opened the curtains and stretched his arms, he realized that he had come across that feeling, that feeling where an artist rises above and beyond and creates his masterpiece. where he does not care about what the world thinks of his art. He is so obsessed and self indulgent in his art that he attains a state of mind where victory and defeat , where life and death mean absolutely the same
He becomes Boundless and Infinite,
© Jitendra Kotai