Monologue

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Photo: DNA India

By Rimli Bhattacharya 

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Ah
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You 

You may say I’m a dreamer
I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
 

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world
You 

You may say I’m a dreamer
I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
 

And I fell in love. While the world deals with the pandemic, I envision those arms beckoning me with the antidote: love. As I hum his song, I see the loving eyes of joy touching my soul.

I was and am still a dreamer, much like him. Though my wounds are raw and deep, cut to the core.

Time and again I have fallen in love only to be fend away. But now things have changed. I care least for my heartbreaks. I have learnt to deal with them.

There I see him – he who had dared to imagine, quite unsure if it is his lady love by his side. They glide together, their footfalls making no sound. All I can hear are the birds chirping and susurration of the leaves. They disappear in the chateau and then reemerge with him playing the piano. She opens all the windows while he sings. The dazzling sun rays ameliorates, dissolving the darkness. And all I hear is:

You may say I’m a dreamer
I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world
Will live as one…

He himself had penned these lyrics and it had chart-topped his solo career. He had dreamt of a world free of impediments of any borders. There would be no country, no division in the name of religion and ethnicity. The whole of mankind would remain unallied to material possessions and all would be free of greed with “all the people sharing all the world.”

He was misinterpreted. They thought him a rebel. But all he had in him was gratitude, peace, love and joy.

The song was, and had remained moot, and the reason – it had called for “no religion too.” He had to pay with his life. All it needed were five hollow bullets from a .38 special revolver. Four of the bullets hit him. And it was over.

The other day a little girl had posted a video on her social media page, playing the acoustic guitar and singing his songs. And I lost myself. I was in my dark room, my place to rest. It’s in the darkness I find my asylum and forget the grim world around me.

Yet all I needed was that girl to remind me of my lost love. I wanted to creep out of my craziness. The more I tried, the more I whimpered. Did the dreamer in him really deserve death?

My world quivers. I can’t breathe. A claustrophobic feeling ensnares me. I take turns to listen to both of them – the little girl playing the guitar lost in her world of music and him imagining a theology free world and singing.

“Don’t ever stay alone, you are mad.” My lovers had said in unison before abandoning me. All of them. All.

They wouldn’t believe that I could forever live within the four walls with these words of him. I could envisage his dreams, I could sing his songs, and I could forget my religion. But they didn’t approve it. I was labeled “crazy”. He too was branded the same but not by his lady love. He had looked at her intently, she who sat by his side while he sang. They had kissed. I had longed for it. It had been a while since those words hadn’t kissed me.

Call it adultery but there is no harm in loving him and his locutions. I knew the song was written for us. I had dreamt of a world like him. My father is an atheist, and my mother was a believer. No not a believer, she was confused. She could not handle so many religions. She died. I felt relieved and had purged that day. Just the same way he had played the piano with his fingers I had thrust my fingers deep down my throat and had forced myself to throw up. I could hear him singing

I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us…
 

In that pungent, dark green yellowish bile, I had seen myself. They had in them my sufferings and I let them flow until nothing was left in me.

My life at that point of time had been a turmoil just like today when the world is reeling with the fear of COVID-19 pandemic. And he had realized that long before. Even before I was born.

I had almost forgotten him till that little girl had to nudge me back to my senses with his words –

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world… 

I must admit I had a heartbreak that day.

Yes I know, I know, you all will label me for being an infidel. But I am okay with it. That night I had bolted my room from inside. I wanted to make love with the words. I would allow none to enter my thoughts. My life’s journey is different – I have strayed. That day I could sense his heartbeats melting with mine. My brain had turned a cold fire. The words played in my head. They wouldn’t stop. I had wished for a magic wand so that they remained eternal, the same way I had dealt with my heartbreak that day. 

They say I am lonely and thus my thoughts. He too was forsaken. How else could one pen such pathos? He dared to imagine a world free of religion – my God is bigger than your God – those mindless things. They had asked him to swap the lines from “no religion” to “one religion” – all in the name of God. He too had to deal with the heartbreak but had refused to accept defeat.

As the little girl played the guitar with me listening to her the entire night, I wanted him to hold me, the same way he had placed his arms around his lady love. My world was cold and empty that night, my soul dawdling. He had only dreamt of love and compassion. Was it so difficult for the world to understand?

I remembered my daughter floating paper boats in the puddles when it rained. I had craved to be that boat myself. I was forced to forgo my dreams; I decided to be a boat sailing in calm waters. But it’s a sin to imagine, to dream.

My lovers all gone. I resent not for them, for they had not known love and I had never loved them either.

The deafening silence frightens me. I yearn for his melodies. They touch me with their gentle hands, my spirit reborn with a new world around me. I find my love, for there is deep gratitude passing in time into the undying cycles of living.

May be someday some Chapman will plan my murder. All I will need is a single bullet from his .38 special revolver. Not five.

But I will not let my hope diminish for a better tomorrow into the darkening distance. Hope, the only bright star in this hopelessly dark world. And he, who had imagined and dreamt of it years ago.

Bio:
Rimli Bhattacharya is a first class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering with a MBA in supply chain management. Having worked in the corporate sector for twenty years, she realized writing was her true calling. She left her high profile job as a General Manager at a multinational in 2017 to pursue her passion. She has contributed to two anthologies, A Book of light and Muffled Moans. Her works have appeared in twenty nine literary magazines & E – Zines including The Education Post, Café Dissensus, Modern Literature, Setu, The Pangolin Review & Quail Bell Magazine. Her solo book The Crosshairs of Life is scheduled to appear by the end 2020. She is also an Indian Classical dancer. Twitter: @rimli76

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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Poetics and politics of the ‘everyday’: Engaging with India’s northeast”, edited by Bhumika R, IIT Jammu and Suranjana Choudhury, NEHU, India.

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