Philosophy · Short stories

A quartet of words to define truth

It is a truth universally acknowledged that no such absolute truth exists. Every argument has a counter argument. Every rule has an exception. No absolute reality exists which goes beyond thoughts, emotions, and actions, or probably such reality cannot be perceived by us, humans. At least, that was the impression Ary had obtained after spending long hours devouring books in libraries and bookstores and having intense conversations with friends in Berkeley for a period of six years. Born and brought up in the metropolis of Calcutta, Ary was currently on the brink of finishing his doctoral research in experimental physics at Berkeley.

One day, as he got out of his favorite bookstore “Half Price Books” in downtown Berkeley, the different sections and bookshelves of which constituted the most accurate record of how his interests had evolved over the years, he ran into his fellow graduate student and best friend, Polo, who was also from India. For two people living in a university town, that was actually quite common an occurrence.

“Wanna go to the city?”, Polo asked cheerfully.

It was a nice summer afternoon with a clear blue sky, the kind of which probably only that part of the world could boast about. Growing up in a polluted city with a blazing sun characteristic of the tropics, Ary couldn’t imagine the sky could be so blue until he got to the Bay Area. It almost looked like the inside of a giant dome that had been smeared with a blue paint.

There wasn’t much work to be done at the laboratory that day and Ary found no reason to refuse the warm invitation. The two friends started walking towards the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station in downtown to board the train that would take them to San Francisco. The outside of the BART station had the usual “homeless” crowd. Some of them were seeking money from the passerby. Some slept blissfully under torn blankets that hadn’t been washed in ages accompanied by their faithful dogs, which looked equally battered and unclean. An old man, wearing a black coat and a grey cap, sat on a stool and blew hard into his saxophone to elicit an intricate jazz solo. Another “homeless” guy, sitting right next to the escalator, made completely incoherent sounds.

“Hey, you are gonna keep doing all this philosophy and psychedelics and spirits and stuff, and then one day you will be on the street saying- byabyabyabyabya…..”, Ary mocked Polo, who according to Ary had of late gone too far on the journey into the abstract world. Ary took part in that roller coaster ride too but tried to control himself when it started getting scary. But Polo seemed to know no control.

“If all the mysteries of nature are clear to him inside his head, then how does it matter what he is saying?”, Polo responded.

As they boarded the train, Ary pondered upon how much he would miss these conversations with her once he left Berkeley in a few months for postdoctoral research in New York City.


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