Gateway To Getaway
If I tell you, 'I've made this bridge', you will laugh at me; because you know me. I have never done anything constructive.
If I further venture to tell, 'I've set the wooden planks, the railings, the surround and even the constellation forming Milky Way', then you will think I have gone nuts; probably you will pity me. I deserve all the pity. Yet the fact remains: I have created all that is included in the picture frame you see here. And wonder of wonders- I did so in a jiffy! I keep creating this and it vanishes of its own! Intriguing? Then listen to my story.
First twenty years of my life remained normal. I was brought up with love and care of my God-fearing, middle-class parents. As a boy I remember visiting regular Sunday church at Benaulim, Goa, with my parents and Dona, my sister, two years my senior. As we grew up, Dona went on to study Law. It was in vain my mother had pinned a lot of hope on me. She used to say, 'Michael is going to be a professor one day.' I did not even manage to attend college for a complete year. I wanted easy money and a lot of that; as the celluloid characters do. I mingled with wrong people. I started as a service-boy to a drug peddler, graduated to an agent, got tangled in gang-wars and committed my first murder at an age of twenty-five. Then I was in the grip of an eternal quagmire. I committed more murders, got struck by bullet on my thigh and kept limping around. To my gang and rivals I became 'Lame-Mike'. Even police records in Goa register me by that name. Police custody is nothing new to me. In my fifteen years of underworld life I have also been to jail twice; once for a longish term of two and half years. Was never been tried for murder, of course. My mentors take care of that. There is a hierarchy in mentoring scheme, white-collar businessmen and politicians being at the top of the ladder; you know the system. At thirty-five, I am disillusioned. Unlike that in the movies, very few reach the top in our world; most rot at lower rungs, like me. They just provide us with enough, only enough; as if doing us big favour.
My folks have disowned me; rightly so. I cannot rejoin them in any case. It is a one-way traffic over here. We can either die or scramble up the ladder; but cannot retreat. If so far I remained in constant fear of death; either from bullets of our rivals or from the police, it has turned up to be a certainty now. I am engulfed by a deadly disease, AIDS. Doctor said that I would die a slow and painful death over the next few years. He attributed this to my brothel-going sprees. I threw off all the medicines he gave. I wish to solicit my death as early as possible; let however painful it may.
It happened the night after I went to the doctor, dating about two years back. My mates say that I was knocked off because of the crippling pain I often experience in my stomach. That was precisely the first time I built this bridge with its paraphernalia and I went across it. On the other side it was solace all over. There is a small church over there where my parents keep praying for me, Dona caresses my hair with the same fondness she did years ago. No pang of fear, no bullet rules the air there. There is no money, no hatred, no hierarchy over there; only love, music and chirping of birds rule the roost. One sails around with fairies in fragrant air with no feeling of pain or hunger; a land of eternal peace!
Then I have learnt to build the bridge, along with the constellation and surround, with the blink of an eye, when it pains badly at night ignoring my efforts to hush it off with cheap liquor. With the flick of a switch I bring the bridge up, to cross over to the other side; where there is no pain, no sorrow; only bliss all around!
My health is dwindling fast. They say, so is doing my mind. I do not care in the least; as long as I can switch the bridge on. I know the kiss of death is not far away; to reach me like blessings from Jesus in that little church far-off, on the other side. It will take me for a final time across the bridge, to my perpetual abode. On my gravestone will be etched, "Here Lies Michael Rodriguez...," My body will remain buried; unsung, faceless......decaying in the soil. I will float, a free soul, with the fairies, in the air with happy fragrance. Till then I will remain with you, broken, distorted; but not beaten. Till then I will keep switching the bridge on and be blissful as long as it holds.
Don't you believe me? Come to my dingy room in a corner of Margaon one night. You are sure not to miss that happy smile on my parched lips in spite of excruciating pain. Is not that explanation enough?