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  • Writer's picturesrikant-sharma

Rolling Stone – An Autobiography

“Hi… a very good morning to you all”

Morning…!! or shall I say afternoon or evening… well how could I know this and why should I care about it anymore... as the kind of place I am at and with the tonnes of garbage I am under, it’s pretty hard to decide what time of day it is, as its always same for me in here…DARK!!!

Now those unaware may wonder who I am and why am I at a place with no sunlight to see…no air to breathe… and no space to move... Well… let me put all at ease and share something about myself. Me and my family members are everywhere … we are all alike… as none of us have the ability to breathe or speak or move around… and as for me, I am all of those and also strong and well-shaped, and at the same time light enough to make all gym freaks envious… as I am a 50grams polished black sedimentary rock… in short a WELL SHAPED STONE.

And as to why I am under this stinking load of garbage… to be honest I didn’t have much choice…. None of what has happened to me, all my life, had anything to do with my wishes or acts. One may question my motivation to share, despite the mess I am in… Well… let’s look it this way… I am stuck at an isolated place without ability to move and with endless time at my disposal … so effectively I have nothing better to do than to reflect on my journey and share my experiences. One shouldn’t get fooled by my size… as I have been to places, which most can just dream of visiting, and have witnessed events, which most aren’t even aware of. Hence quite contrary to my size, I carry along with me mountains of experience, both figuratively and literally.

And for those who feel current darkness around me has cluttered my thoughts and incapacitated my ability to share are mistaken. Darkness is not new to me, as it has been even darker around me for most of my life... After all, once upon a time I was part of a great mountain, buried deep under weight of my family and friends, waiting for hundreds of centuries to witness warmth and brightness of the Sun. So, Yes… while being under tonnes of stinky garbage is definitely not a place anyone wants to be, yet it is not darkness which scares me, as much as the knowledge of what I am down under does. When part of mountain, despite being in dark, I knew that I am with my family and part of something grand. And out here, am just part of one great grand mess.

As part of a mountain, I was part of a close-knit family holding on to each other as tightly as possible. We didn’t converse and honestly, we didn’t need it, as with such closeness also came the ability to share our thoughts and experiences merely through touch. And this ability turned out to be the only way for those under us to stay optimistic. As those few fortunate who witnessed light shared their experiences with others beneath them. These experiences travelled deep and enlightened us all on how beautiful it was up there and made it worth the wait.

It took quite a few colossal events for me to embark on my journey. Well events for me and disasters for you all... While earthquakes ensured me and my family drew some lines among us, avalanches cleared tonnes of ice above. Thereby creating a perfect situation for likes of us to roll over to newer destination. I vividly remember when, one morning, it started to rain heavily. Although time had loosened my bond with those around me, yet I was covered all around by other stones. Hence, while those above me were facing curse of harsh rain, I only had few drops roll pass me in the dark. Till now I had imagined world a place where only strong and condensed things like me existed. Hence soft touch of the fluid cold droplets, gently passing by me was a blissful surprise.

With this, I felt like a baby hound who after tasting blood for the first time wants to eat the flesh too. As now, after experiencing gentle cleansing by cold water I was eagerly waiting to witness warmth of sunlight too. Days passed by and so did weeks, yet my eagerness was intact. I had waited eternity with hope of better days, so weeks passing by should have been nothing more than a blink of an eye for me in human parlance. Yet somehow, it felt longer than hundreds of centuries I had waited so far. With every passing day distance between me and others around me grew… some from above got washed away by rain… some were kicked out by trekkers… some rolled away hit by flying twigs under influence of fierce winds. With those above me leaving, I was on a constant upward trajectory.

It wasn’t too long when weight over my shoulders finally eased, as those right above me were forced to commence their own journey into the world. Having spent my entire life in dark under one or the other stone, I had to shut my eyes as I was exposed to something I had never witnessed before… Bright Sunlight. It was enthralling, with cold breeze still blowing, sunlight provided the kind of warmth which I had never witnessed before. All that I had heard over the years was nothing in comparison to this real experience of witnessing bright light and clear blue sky. I was thrilled and wanted to pass on every bit of this experience to others beneath me… and at that very moment I got kicked by a trekker and before I could react or even share any of my experiences, I was already on my journey to experience the world.

It was a scary ride to begin with… or fall if I may say. And although I was excited I had no idea for what to expect. Over the years I have heard humans propagating bungee jumping or sky diving as ultimate thrills… let me stop and correct those naysayers. Thrill is not in jumping off with your legs tied to harness or parachute wrapped around your waist for safety. Try rolling down the mountain, like I did, when safety is only in form of your strength and weakness of those you hit on your way down. Same was the case for me, I had no idea where fate would take me, and with whose fate mine will collide. For someone who had been inert for thousands of centuries, things were happening at a real fast pace. I just remember getting kicked by the trekker and then there was no stopping. What started as a gentle tumble, soon turned out to be an ever-accelerating free fall. Brushing past trees and branches… smacking other stones bouncing away… slowing down at water puddles to say hello and speeding through those of my kind… I was rolling fast…real fast.

Rolling down the mountain was petrifying yet enthralling at same time. During the fall, sometimes I was facing up towards the sky and at times down towards the ground. It felt like watching a movie while its being fast-forwarded and playing game of “Oh….” And “No…”, which went like

“Oh… the sky”

“No the land…”

“Oh… the tree”

“No the land”

“Oh… the cattle”

“No the land…”

“Oh… look at the Sun”

“No… look at the shadow”

After few minutes of my free fall, I finally came to an abrupt halt, piercing and jamming myself against an old tree bark. It was then when I first noticed the world around me. View from this vintage point was nothing less than mesmerising. Clear blue sky… meadows with patches of grass and randomly placed dense trees, whose aim it seems were only to kiss the skies… and right next to me was a stream of water flowing by. Having stayed in dark for so long, it was a welcome change. I was excited by the journey so far and couldn’t wait for next series of events to begin. Adrenalin rush was high, as I waited… and waited…and waited…and waited… yet nothing happened. Seasons came and went by, thunderous rains… scorching heat…chilly winter all came and passed by… though each of them left their mark on me and my surrounding yet did nothing to displace me from my position.

Years passed by and nothing happened, although at times my optimism grew stronger than usual in anticipation of the next action of fate. For instance, once a group of shepherds came to graze their cattle and one of them sat on the very bark, where I had been stuck for decades now. It was not for the first time when someone came and sat on the bark, yet it was different this time. The young shepherd looked upset with his life and was unconsciously scraping strips of the bark and throwing them away. While the shepherd’s action was out of distress and pain, yet his action was a joyous one for me. Not that I had anything to do with his pain or for that matter his life, yet my life’s destiny felt linked to his ill fate. He kept pulling strips of the bark and with every scrape, my hopefulness kept proliferating. He even felt my presence, slowly rubbed his index finger against edges of my bonds with the bark. Yet fate had something else planned, as all he could do was loosen my contact with the bark But not free me completely.

I must have stayed there for few more decades in the same position, witnessing changing seasons and varying length of days and nights. When finally, a clash among cattle ensured I break free and move ahead in my journey. As, the furious cattle fight not only crushed the bark but also made me fly for the second time in my life, falling from mountain being the first one. This time it was a shorter trip as I flew and popped right in a stream of water. Ever since I got stuck in this bark, I had been observing this stream wondering how wonderful it would be to bathe in it. And now when I am in it, I must admit… I couldn’t be more wrong. The water was freezing cold, and I couldn’t confirm if it was ice which was flowing or water which was icy cold. Had it not been for my inherent strength I would have certainly frozen to death.

My stay in that water stream was short lived, as it was time for the rains to display their might. And even a well-placed stone like me was compelled to float. It was a long journey, halting at places during the dry season and being washed away again with the next rains. It was a journey with culmination of numerous intertwined fates, which kept me on my toes for years. As my experiences grew, the stream I was part of kept growing too and had turned itself in a fast-flowing river. Persistent rubbing of shoulders with others had polished my surface and I was no longer a rough piece of rock but a well-rounded and polished stone. Unfortunately, this change in shape couldn’t change my fate, as it was again time for a long haul. Despite having my anchors down for foreseeable future, I was fortunate enough to be on riverbank and was able to observe both those in water and those breathing fresh air. It was for the first time I was this close to human habitation, and it felt like perfect fusion between nature and humans. Both co-existing at same place and at same time, or at-least that’s what I thought at that point in time.

Drowned in water, I watched multitudes of people coming by the riverbank and creating a cacophony of sounds. Some following their fairly regular routine and some on their first visit… Some came to walk along the riverbank and some to soak the calmness… Some came to dip their toes in flowing water and some to bathe away their sins... Irrespective of colour, caste, creed, nationality, or age, each one of them was there to enjoy the experience, albeit in their own unique way. At times, they would lift me up in their palms, admire for a while and toss me back in the river. I also had fishes to give me company. They too had an interesting life, with their constant fight for survival. Fishermen would come in their wooden boats… throw pieces of food for the fishes to feast upon. And while these little creatures would be busy feasting, a strong net would come splashing down and capturing all those who were lured by free meal. Seems no one taught these little ones that there is no such thing as a free meal.

This phase of my life was exciting. Kids played all kind of games involving me, in one they would align me and other stones on top of each other and then try and dismantle the structure by throwing a rubber ball at us. And at times they simply tried to show their prowess by challenging how high can one throw me in air, providing me an aerial view of entire riverbank. During these days, while there were occasions when I always stayed at the riverbank… picked… played… and dropped back at the same very spot. There were also occasions, when I visited interior of the city too and found my way back to riverbank one way or the other. Good… Bad… Ugly…I saw it all. While some used me to balance their old furniture… others used me to keep the flying papers fixed at one place. While few placed weights of religious sentiment against my shiny back… others would throw me towards agitated crowd, bleeding those who couldn’t see me coming. As I moved along river, everywhere I went, I found a new human behaviour … a different culture … a different language. Despite being immobile by nature, I never stayed still and kept on absorbing life experiences.

As compared to the time when I was part of the mountain or the time when I was lodged onto the bark, events now were occurring at a faster pace. Last occasion when I was at riverbank, a group of juveniles came across and few of them started picking well shaped stones, pebbles as they called while picking us up. It was most promising journey of mine; I was picked by a kid after thorough scrutiny ensuring uniformity in shape and colour. The kid washed me in flowing river water and elegantly placed me with others in a glass jar and placed the jar on dashboard of the car. I had been among humans on earlier occasions as well, yet it was always in villages next to the same river. Mostly carried away from river in someone’s pocket or in bag, hence never witnessed the journey itself. This time around, I had a premium view and was mesmerised by view of the world. However, something didn’t felt right, pleasant chirping of birds and peaceful silence were now replaced by constant honking of the cars. Sound of various animals walking on the fallen leaves and broken twigs were now replaced by screeching sound of tyres. Nothing was same… up there I had to wait for weeks to catch a glimpse of a human soul or any living soul for that matter, and out here I was surrounded by them and structures which they had built. I noticed that everything here was organised and structured, trees planted in rows and houses built in neat lines, still the union felt forceful. And at the same time while nothing up on the mountain was planned, trees grew wherever they found fertile soil and broken twigs along with fallen leaves had covered every possible surface, yet everything felt bonded together and part of the great mountain itself.

Now, far away from river, I was traveling towards an unknown destination. I could hear these kids speaking among themselves, on their plan once they reach their destination. Friends they will hang-out with… parties they will throw… cakes they will cut… music they will play… drinks they will consume… topics were endless and so were the joy behind those discussions. Every statement, no matter how meaningful or meaningless, followed by uncontrolled laughter from everyone present in the car. This went on for a while, when I suddenly heard tyres screeching. Our car came to a sudden halt and the jar, from where I was enjoying the view, swirled ferociously before crashing down on the car floor, scattering most of us. Down on floor, my vision was restricted and all I could do was to try and hear the chaos outside. While noise of the crowd outside kept getting louder, it was still not clear why we came to this abrupt halt. The joyous laughter inside had vanished, as scary silence had taken over. Everyone hurriedly moved out, banging the doors behind, while I kept waiting for their return.

I have patiently waited for centuries to witness first ray of light, and never was I anxious about future, yet this time in the very moment of unknown, I felt anxious. I was eager to know what was going outside, just to calm my nerves of stone. It took quite a while for all to get onboarded again, their faces still panic stricken, silence prevailed, and deep breaths were the only noise, which was audible.

“How the hell did it happen …” whispered someone from back, as me and other stones we were still down on the car floor.

“Let’s speak once we have parked.” was the short and pleading reply from the driver who was still holding steering wheel with all his might, his fingers gripping tightly around the worn-out leather of the steering, seeking some sense of control.

Deathly silence remained for rest of our journey, no music… no talks… no smiles… nothing at all. As we reached destination, group deboarded and carelessly slammed doors behind. It was dark again. Prior to this incidence, these kids had clear plan for us… some of us were to be placed in a small round and transparent fishpond with just one fish. While rest of us were supposed to be painted and placed on different flowerpots adding vibrance to otherwise dull combinations of brown soil and green plants. Now it was different, the sombre mood in which everyone left, it was uncertain if they even remembered collecting us.

Night passed and came rays of light, as the kid, who had picked me at riverbank, came back and started picking us all up. Looking at the red eyes and puffed cheeks, I could easily get that night wasn’t as peaceful for them as they would have liked. I could sense some urgency in picking as the kid kept gathering us in a small cloth pouch. I cared nothing for the hurry and was simply excited with the prospect of moving ahead on my journey.

I patiently waited for my turn to be picked, and every time the kid extended arms to pick us up, my heart would skip a beat in hope of being the next chosen one. However, fate had some other cruel game planned for me, as before I could get picked, someone came and sat in the car and gave no heed to kid’s plea for allowing more time to collect us all up. He just drove away; I felt anguished. Till this day, for my solace, I try and imagine the kid with a sad face and teary eyes for not being able to pick me up.

Nevertheless, once the car stopped, I found myself in a garage, doing what I have been doing since the moment I started my journey… Wondering what next. Unlike past where I was living on a mountain’s time cycle, waiting for decades and centuries between two events, now here I was living my life on human’s time cycle in hours and minutes.

While I wasn’t expecting any reunion with those kids, yet I was optimistic for time ahead. And at that very moment, I was harshly whipped out of the car by a cleaner and brisked away from the car by a cool and rapid jet of water. I rolled once again, this time towards curved edges on the floor, probably meant for drainage, spread across the length of four walls. From this new vintage point, nothing was visible, and I just stayed there for rest of the day before someone came and pilled me up with other scraps, they must have pulled out from other cars.

In a span of few hours, I went from being an exquisite pebble collected from the foot of mountains to part of spoiled collection of unwanted undesired things called garbage. Here I lay beneath tonnes of others like me wondering where exactly things went wrong. Was it when I first witnessed fresh air or at the point when I was kicked out of my comfort zone... Be it being picked by juvenile hands or being part of the car incident, with which I had nothing to do. Nothing was ever under my circle of influence. On occasion I do wonder, had those little hands picked me up again from car floor, journey ahead would have been so different for me… different for sure… yet better or not is still debateable.

Although life has come a full circle for me, I still have a long journey ahead of me. Today I am back in dark, far away from fresh air and bright light, exactly how it was before my journey commenced. Yet one aspect is different… Today, I am not just hopeful of future… rather certain for the day when I will be out in open again…

Today, I know for sure that… one day… someday… I will be far away from this mess… Rolling further ahead on my journey.

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