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Monday, June 25, 2018

THE FLOATING DIARY (Short Story Journal – 15): THE NAMELESS SOLDIER

As my amnesia is taking control of my memory and slowly erasing it, I have started to feel a strange agony within myself. I cannot explain the feeling in words, I cannot write the symptoms down on paper, I can only say that a weird sentiment slowly grasping my existence.

The thoughts about Baba, Maa, Aunt Padma, Kannika, my flower pot, Billu, Mr. Sinhala, My Sweet Papaya… everything that is so very special to me, would gradually vanish! This thought has started to bring in a melancholy within me that was making me sad. The knowledge that I am slowly becoming a nameless creature, is something that I was unable to digest.

In order to get over from this agony, I decided to take a leave from office and go out on a vacation. A destination that is always close to my heart is the Himalayas and I chose to visit Mussoorie. As I embarked on the journey, the beauty of the Himalayan flora and fauna refreshed my mind. Mussoorie is picturesque with its concoction of natural beauty and commotion of tourists amid crowding township. I especially love the time when a gust of wind blows in an abundance of cold mist and floods surroundings with a velvetiness of a white wintry mix and impairs all visibility!

I checked into a small bed-and-breakfast single-storied bungalow. It was owned by Mr. James Wilson and Mrs. Elma Wilson, an old resident couple of Mussoorie. The hospitable hosts made my stay cozy and comfortable and within two days I began to feel much better. I had taken a leave for seven days and planned to maximize my getaway holiday.

The bungalow of the Wilson’s was in the outskirts of Mussoorie and I made it a routine to take a quiet stroll around the hill trails every morning and explore the beauty of the hills. In the afternoon, I visited the busy streets of “Mall Road” and enjoyed the commotion and high octane energy that buzzed at every corner.

The town of Mussoorie became popular as multitudes of British and Indians built their homes here to live a leisurely life and beat the heat of the plains. One morning, as I walked down the Camel’s Back Road, I discovered a very old cemetery. A light mist had settled down amid the wilderness and the emptiness of the surrounding reflected a peace within my heart. I entered the cemetery and walked around slowly, carelessly reading the names and on the tombstones of the resting souls.

Presently, I walked past the center and reached a corner near the boundary of the cemetery, overlooking the cliff. Below an old pine tree, I saw something! It was an old grave with a dilapidated gravestone, far away from the main burial area. The secluded site of the grave was perhaps intentional, but I felt a strange attraction towards it. I bent down to read the engraving, but was surprised to see that the gravestone was absolutely unmarked! I looked around for some sign of identity, but could not find any. Finally, I returned back to the bungalow.

That night, during dinner, I asked Mr. Wilson about the unnamed grave and told him about my exploit that morning. Mr. Wilson replied, “Pravin, that is the grave of the unnamed soldier! Nobody knows who he was or what his name was. He is a forgotten soul, but is often remembered by people for this stark weirdness of his tombstone. Local folklore says that he was a soldier during the British Raj and was laid to rest here, away from the other graves. It is said that when he reached Mussoorie, he was injured and had only faint memories about himself. He died within two days and was laid to rest here. It is such a contrast that even in his afterlife, he rests in a lonely sleep forever!”

That night, I could not sleep till late. The words of Mr. Wilson reverberated around the corners of my mind and soul. I asked myself, “Why do you feel lonely? You have so many people and so many memories to cherish. Your diary is a companion that would remain with you forever! The unnamed soldier rests alone in his solitary grave and remains lonesome till eternity. Be grateful to the almighty, that you have so much to be happy about!”

The night was clear and the stars twinkled at me in support of whatever I just told myself. I noted down this journal entry right away, before the experience slipped away from my mind. It was a strange yet wonderful emotion that I was experiencing and I wanted to capture it forever!


This incidence might be insignificant, but the gravity of the sensation very precious. The unnamed soldier taught me that life is so precious and we are never lonely, until we make ourselves so. The world is full of happiness and I must value it. I hope, in heaven, the unnamed soldier, too, finds his way back home!

2 comments:

  1. One small story on the sensation of the fear of being lonely, yet one great statement on the dire sequences of leaving things behind willingly. Influential words soothingly composed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Sourish for the nice words. It gives me courage to keep writing and do good work for all my readers

    ReplyDelete

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