Philosophy · Short stories

A quartet of words to define truth

They took the last train back to Berkeley to find the downtown area to be mostly empty barring some homeless people who were sleeping on the pavement. Ary decided to walk with Polo to her house, say ‘hi’ to her mom who would probably still be awake that hour of the night and then get back to his own apartment.

As they walked along the silent streets of Berkeley under the night sky full of stars sharing a cigarette that they had rolled a while ago, Ary felt like he had never been happier than that before and probably would never be in future. All the worries and insecurities had slowly disappeared from his mind over the last year as his friendship with Polo strengthened. The current walk seemed to be the culmination of it all. It was a perfect walk ending a perfect day- an entire day of fun and frolic with his best friend in his favorite city listening to his favorite poetry, drinking his favorite wine and discussing his favorite topics. Every split second of the walk felt like a drop of bliss to Ary, connected to each other by the fluidity of music, imagery, poetry, and most importantly love. That walk was probably a moment of truth, composed out of life, beauty, and love.

After a quick chat with Polo’s mom and a prolonged goodbye hug with Polo at her house, Ary started walking back to his apartment alone. One block away from his apartment, he needed to cross the Martin Luther King Avenue, a fairly wide road, which had occasional cars speeding along even in that hour of the night. The intersection neither had a traffic light or a four, way stop sign. It was one of those grey areas in an otherwise absolutely systematic traffic system. Pedestrians were supposed to cross the intersection when there was no car passing. Cars were supposed to cross the intersection when no pedestrian crossed the road. As Ary was crossing the road, his mind still floating in a blissful state, he saw a pair of bright lights speeding towards him from a distance. He walked briskly to the other end of the road and got on the pavement. The car sped past the intersection. Ary started thinking what if in his state of bliss he didn’t watch out for the car and stood right in the middle of the road only to get run over by the car. What if all the joy in the mental world made him forgetful of a simple event in the physical world and terminated his existence in the physical world!

Fear of death! It was like a gush of water that found a tiny hole in the wall of his mental fortress and replaced the bliss inside with paranoia. Death, after all, completed the quartet of words that Ary had used to define truth a while ago. Hence it was no wonder that death was exposing its dark face in that hour of the night when love and beauty had flooded Ary’s life with unparalleled bliss. Ary walked back to his studio apartment which was all dark, turned on the floor lamp next to his bed and slipped underneath the couple of comforters spread out on the bed along with the John Keats’ poetry book. He started reading “Endymion” again. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever….” But he couldn’t focus on the lines of the poem. He kept thinking about the speeding car and what would have happened to him if it him. At some point his thoughts began to fade. He turned off the lamp and slowly passed into sleep.


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