by Dr Sunil Sharma
(Kalyan, Mumbai, India)
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Raja Midas and His World of Strange Objects - contd. ..
He reads it with interest, the visitor waiting for the Saab to be up.
It runs like this:
…They were slip ship-wrecked and washed ashore. The island was full of exotic trees, animals and birds. The trees, intertwined, rose-up and up into the sky. It was dark under their canopy. The red disc could not be seen through the forest roof. It was humid, cold and dark there. The forest was virgin and brooding.
A primordial silence prevailed. The crew was haggard, tired, hungry and bewildered. Big hairy men were jumping in a clearing, chattering like monkeys.
The party of marooned sailors surprised them. Wild and shrieking, the whole brood ran away into the thick forest, the straight, hairy powerful back of some of them silver colored. The blood-shot eyes of the veteran sailors had never sighted such a scene. They are strange human beings, said the captain that speaks a foreign tongue. It is a strange island! The others were too paralyzed to utter a word.
God save us! Finally exclaimed lame John, we are in the country of the devil. Exhausted, they settled down at last, near a singing brook. One-eyed George, strong as mountain, surveyed some trees and spotted edible berries. He was the expert with the roots and berries. He ate one bunch of berries, then two, three or four. Delicious! He pronounced. The remaining crew swooped down upon the berries and wolfed down bunch after bunch. They tasted heavenly. The sailors felt lightness of being and an inexplicable joy.
Their faces flushed, hearts leaping, they sang and danced. Then gentle sleep took them in her embrace. When they woke up, it was evening. When they saw each other, they shrieked in horror. They had become grey-haired and very small. Tall and immense, the sailors were reduced
to being small, defenseless pigmies, in an alien land of big objects that towered above them. Menacingly like an army of giants.
---My God! Cried big Joe, we do not have the inherited wisdom of the race of the pigmies.
---Yes, said the captain, how will we survive in our present form in this country of terrifying giants?
---But, they are mere objects, said Joe.
---No, said the grey-haired Captain, now they have become live. Just see.
And they saw. The whole forest was coming alive. About to pounce---it seemed. How can we survive here?
Nobody could answer this question. Timid, terrified, the “pigmies” sat down in a semi-circle in that mysterious, brooding, strange forest that seemed restless and hungry, ready to devour the trapped humans in its depths...
---Saab up now?
The visitor yawns, undecided by the frost within the house.
The wind is cold and strong. It ruffles the pages of the weekly.
Suddenly this began happening magically in the Real Paradise:
…as the visitor sat and surveyed the costly things inside and outside the paradise, the same inanimate objects unexpectedly became animated---as he, the human observer turned rapidly into a pigmy, much to his shock and horror, a metamorphosis strange, like a repeat of an Alice-moment in a different era---and started moving rapidly towards him, like a mad army of blood-thirsty marauders from another planet…he grew panicky, the lone subject in the midst of objects, and tried to stand up but his legs gave way. Rooted to his spot, the miserable human experienced an abrupt stasis, inertia and simultaneous motion of the dead items of the pricey collection of goods there in that palatial home that was turning into a marble museum with dead soldiers at the gates…and flying objects, threatening, murderous, hostile…till he lost his agency and autonomy in that hell of Raja Midas, immobile in some corner of his estate, on that memorable day…***