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Akshat Joshi

Akshat Joshi – ‘New World’

Life. Is it a game? A mystery? A puzzle? So many of us contemplate these without an answer. For Raj it was not one of these, rather it was the combination of all three. Yes, Raj was about to encounter an experience that would change his life, provoking thoughts, feelings, and perspectives he would never have envisioned before he met a certain person.  He would learn that “We don’t get what we want, we get what we feel for ourselves.” Meaningful words that each of us should carry in our thoughts. 

Born to an upper-middle-class family in Rajasthan, India, Raj was always very shy and introverted as a child, and kept to himself. From early on he was a high achiever in his studies, effortlessly attaining high marks, but always persisted the difficulty of facing people due to his introverted nature. Later, this would begin to impede his studies. His marks began to fall short, and tensions emerged with his parents as their concern grew for the problems he was now facing. As his achievements continued to decline, his job prospects consequently became dim. His parents were supportive of him but deeply concerned what the future would hold for their son. 

Time progressed, and eventually this crucial phase in Raj’s life would pass when he managed to attain a good job with a large investment bank that came with good pay and benefits. With such relief from the stress of his prior situation – Raj was excited, suddenly free from the constant preoccupation of what would become of him after his studies, and how he would survive. His parents were also excited that with the new confidence and pride their son had secured respectable employment and overcome all the strife in his life. A golden period had emerged in Raj's life. A good position, a comfortable living, security. What more could he have imagined for himself?  Still, unanswered questions hauntingly lingered in his mind. Why in his past was there so much discomfort and difficulty in facing people?

A year had passed. Raj had done well at his job, earning the respect of his friends and co-workers but the work became increasingly monotonous for him, until one day, he left the job. He joined another company, and after a short time, found himself again clouded with an agonizing sense of monotony.  Raj began to realise that there was a certain instability in him, and that somehow he had lost focus. Soon he left this job also.

With no answers, Raj felt doomed to repeat the cycle. Something had to change. It was decided. With the remaining savings that he had accumulated during his employment, Raj set out on an adventure.  He set out on a trip to the mountains of Uttarakhand. He had heard about their scenic beauty, and about the spirituality they evoked. It was to be a recreational journey, free from all the noises and hassle of the city life.

He boarded a bus from his native place to the city of Dehradun in Uttarakhand. After reaching Dehradun, he slept for a day in a nearby hotel. From there he took a bus for a nearby village where he would stock the backpack he brought with the necessities he would require for an adventurous trek in the wilderness. It was just Raj and his backpack, while the destination would remain unclear. At this point, the goal was just to find solace, to have a peaceful time alone.

After he conferred with the local villagers to plan his route to the mountain, he took his map and set out on the rugged terrain on foot. It was a sunny day in the afternoon, and after he was about 5 kilometres along he began to feel somewhat exhausted, and decided it was time for a rest. In the challenging terrain of the mountains, that 5 kilometres felt like 50. He found a spot and rested.

Slowly, Raj drifted into a deep state of meditation. He saw his past, and the changes in his life over the years. The thoughts coalesced in his mind, the view of his childhood days, the difficulties that followed interacting with others, the decline of his studies, and after all of this, having reached success with his job earning him wealth and admiration from those around him.  How suddenly and certainly it was all lost! The thoughts perplexed him deeply until he felt he had begun to realize his purpose in life. Raj stood up, and continued his walk forward, the thoughts still lingering in his mind. For a person like Raj, it’s not easy to just give up all thought so easily, but now he knew. He was searching from within for the true meaning of a human life.

After progressing another kilometre, he came to a pond, which on such a hot and sunny day seemed inviting, so he decided to take a refreshing plunge in the water. He placed his belongings on a nearby rock, and jumped into the water. It was not a shallow pond, as he could see well below the surface. As he swam his way around, he began to notice a strange feeling like someone pulling him downward from below.  He could see to the bottom and clearly there was nothing there. He dove towards the bottom and began to touch the surface. As he reached, it seemed he misjudged it somehow, and suddenly it was deeper down. As he swam further he felt a numbness overcoming his body and felt himself transition into a state of sleep.

Raj opened his eyes to find himself in a room filled with books and machines. He was deeply puzzled – a moment ago he was swimming in the wilderness and now he was in this strange room. As Raj tried to regain his orientation, a man entered the room and introduced himself to Raj as “Vijay.” 

“How are you feeling Raj?” asked Vijay.

Raj felt speechless, struggling in his mind to process the situation and find his bearings. Raj asked Vijay how he got here, from his swimming in the pond, and who he was. Vijay smiled and told Raj that he had unwittingly entered into another dimension of the world. Raj wasn’t able to make sense of what Vijay was talking about. With doubt, Raj asked Vijay if he was an alien.

Vijay laughed and replied, “No, I’m from the same planet earth as you, but another realm of this world.” 

Raj became worried and asked if he was also from another realm of earth and how he might return to his life. Vijay responded reassuringly, and told Raj not to worry, that he would help Raj return to his dimension. Somehow, though still confused, Raj felt more relaxed now, but curious to learn more about Vijay, and his life.

Vijay told him he was an engineer, working in a company at a place called Saurgarh located in northern India. Raj stated he has never heard of such a place. Vijay responded explaining that many things were quite different in this dimension from Raj’s living dimension. As the discussion progressed, Raj began to understand that Vijay was talking about time travel, and that there were many anomalies in this so called dimension as described by Vijay. Vijay explained that it was very rare that someone from Raj’s dimension could travel into Vijay’s dimension, and that interdimensional travel required a portal between the two and that such portals were uncommon. It was pure coincidence that the entrance to the portal was opened by a fluctuation in time that made it possible for Raj to travel unwittingly. Raj became excited and asked Vijay what else he knew about the concept of time travel. Vijay explained that there were many things about the meaning and purpose of time, but it would be difficult for Raj to understand. Raj, undeterred, persisted relentlessly with questioning until finally, Vijay agreed to answer all his queries. Vijay asked Raj what he was doing in his dimension and where he lived. Raj replied that he lived in Rajasthan and had come to Uttarakhand for a recreational trip, seeking some peace and an escape from his hectic life. Vijay responded telling Raj that he didn’t need to worry about his hectic life, and that purpose would reveal itself when one discovered what one wanted in life. Raj explained that he was still unclear about what he wanted from life, and this was the reason for the trip, so he could talk to himself. Vijay seemed unamused by this statement.

He said, “Each of us has a purpose here, and if we are born in the first place, we are not simply here to die, but rather we have to give back to that which has created us.”

To Raj, this began sounding philosophical, as he had heard those words from many others in the past. He suggested, “It is easy to tell someone that they have to find a purpose in life, but amidst all of the twists and turns life brings, it will be very difficult to follow a goal.”

Vijay smiled and posited, “This is why many people don't follow their ambitions – because they are afraid of the goals that they pursue,” and continued, “When there is self-doubt, it’s not easy for a person to focus on his mission and he tends to deviate. One should not be fearful of the result for the goal that he is pursuing. If you want to do something in your life, you should work towards it as if it is your responsibility, and leave the result in the hands of the universe.”

“Is there anything you loved to do, your childhood dream, or something else you dreamt of?” asked Vijay.

Raj thought for a moment, and replied, “I used to do painting before, but I quit to focus on my studies.”

Vijay responded confidently. “You have your answer. It’s the reason why your heart is not content. You should, and you must do painting if that is your passion. Forget about the result! Everyone has a purpose and they should always follow their heart and be aware of their calling. For this alone you will find satisfaction in your life.”

Raj felt mesmerized by Vijay’s advice. It had been a long time since he had received such valuable and thought-provoking ideas. It was hard for Raj to imagine. Wandering in search of purpose for his life and then having the chance to meet a man who provided such worthy and mind-awakening advice. Raj thanked Vijay for his advice, and told him that he would move ahead in life with consideration to Vijay’s rightful words, and with his new awareness he would put proper focus on his passion.

Vijay informed Raj that the time had come for him to return to his realm in life, and showed him a gateway. Raj wholeheartedly thanked him and moved further towards the gateway. He entered the passage and suddenly everything vanished.

Raj found himself back once again in the same pond. He looked down and could touch the bottom now. What an unbelievable experience. Raj came out of the pond and gathered his backpack, and started back towards Dehradun. From there he boarded a bus to his hometown.

During his journey home, he contemplated his new experience, realizing how life played his game. Having met Vijay in a mystical place where he received such a life-changing lesson. Now the meaning of life was clear to Raj. He had a goal to pursue, one that he had forgotten long ago. Thanks to Vijay, who came to Raj's rescue and enlightened him on his calling. 



Charanjeet Kaur: Editorial

Sara Aboobacker in Conversation with Ayshath S R

Srinivas Reddy: Sanskrit at the Opera

Literary Articles
Kinshuk Majumdar: Amitav Ghosh
Kusumita Datta: Kashmir and its Story Tellers
Rachel Bari: South Asian Poetry
Sonal Jha: Arun Kolatkar

Book Reviews
Dustin Pickering – ‘No Waiting Like Departure’
Gagan Bihari Purohit – ‘For You to Decide’
Purabi Bhattacharya – ‘Himalaya: Adventures, Meditations, Life’
Revathi Raj Iyer – ‘I won’t give you a leg up, Mr Death’
Sapna Dogra – ‘An Ode to Shimla’
Subashish Bhattacharjee – ‘Agniputr: When Agni First Spoke’
U Atreya Sarma – ‘Wakes on the Horizon’

Ambika Ananth – Editorial Note
Arnab Mukhopadhyay
Bidyut Bhusan Jena
Madhab Chandra Jena
Maithreyi Karnoor
Mithlesh Kumar Chaudhary
Robert Beveridge
Sujit Mukherjee
Surbhi Goel
TS Hidalgo
Varun Rajaram

U Atreya Sarma – Editorial Musings
Akshat Joshi – ‘New World’
Ananya Sarkar – ‘The Cats’
Eva Bell – ‘Entrapped’
Humera Ahmed – ‘A Different Sky’
Neera Kashyap – ‘As quiet as a feather falling’
Reema Tripathy – ‘Is Love the Reason?’
Sahar Raza – ‘Sacrifice’
Sukla Singha – ‘Fury’
Sunil Sharma – ‘The Shrinking Man’

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