by Sunil Sharma
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He is facing the stoic.
It happened this way.
He is on the stretch outside his shack. The air is damp. The sea is singing a slow tune heard by sailors millions of years ago---and tonight!
He is about to lift his right foot, when he notices the hermit crab and his home and stops midway. Something is wrong. He puts down his foot away from the creature, bends down and discovers---the crustacean is trapped inside a plastic bottle, taking it for an empty seashell and a shelter for his defenseless body. The discarded cans and plastic bottles are a major threat to the marine life but humans do not give a damn!
Forced to live within his own shell, Daniel, in a moment of heightened awareness, realizes the imminent danger and possible death of the anomuran decapoda. He bends down and gently lifts the bottle and extricates the crab from its fatal “home” and places it inside one of the three seashells that he invariably carries with himself---as a totem.
As soon as Daniel slips the hermit crab inside the shell, the latter attaches itself to the new shelter and it visibly relaxes. The initial “shock” is replaced by the natural forward-backward movement of legs, the hermie holding its belly up, and, finally clambering into the large seashell, a snug fit for the scavenger, most active in the night, climbing, burrowing into the sand.
Daniel watches the nocturnal drag its new home across the sand, a contented soul, secure in its new home, safe from predators.
This thought occurred to the observer on the beach:
How simple and unpretentious! Such stoicism! We humans keep on coveting
objects. Here, the hermit crab, about to die, easily switches to another shelter and moves around with his home, a mendicant, almost mocking human greed and desires.
Should not we control our desires and adopt a simple lifestyle---a return to a more natural way of living in our standardized cities, connected with the other side?
Daniel then builds up a rock shelter and puts branches atop it, fetches the hermie few feet away from its elevated hiding place and puts it there.
Mission accomplished. A marine pal rescued and saved!
This act made him fulfilled, organic and complete---that enduring sense of emptiness instantly gone!
He feels light and happy.
Seashells. Crabs. Music. Food. Giants.
Life is full of turns and surprises!
Daniel watches and whistles---whenever engrossed, Daniel starts whistling softly.
The night is deepening. Then something strange happens; something inexplicable, dramatic, magical, in that particular gloomy stretch, a moving experience, a transformation, in real time.
…the universe starts spinning. Stars begin orbiting. Light illuminates the sky and the sea whispers its eternal song and an entranced Daniel---a drifter, part-time singer and musician, a food stall owner, a green---hears heavenly music and claps of some angels, and, the solitary man starts dancing on the deserted beach, eyes closed, a smile on his gaunt face, no longer feeling hollow inside but powerfully connected to the cosmos as a humble element; becoming instantly a part of creation, realizing his own interconnectedness, the divine plan and purpose of his own modest existence, on this planet, in this universe, one among many orbiting on an axis, and, the beauty and harmony of such a conscious living and rare moment of truth, in a locked-down city …*****