Vasant’s Oracle

(Year- 2020. India didn’t have the revolution C.B. promised. Nationalism, tolerance, secularism became bitter words over which fights erupted on streets, campuses and homes. In search for a break from news, the internet and all things sensational, the narrator set out from the mainland Mumbai docks with a crew, winding up in Zoonzania, an island south of Lakshadweep. While his crew is welcomed by the animist tribespeople, the narrator is led to ‘Vasant’- their leader. The following conversation is one of many which the narrator had with the simple tribe. I was fortunate to meet the narrator on the New Year’s Eve of 2041, where he agreed to share his recollections.)

Vasant– “In our village, we consult an Oracle when a child is born. The Oracle foresees our life, and answers only what we ask. The future cannot be changed, so if she foresees the child bringing great harm to the community, and the elders kill the child. You see, banishing him or changing him won’t work, because it’s in his future to endanger the village. Only killing him would save the community.”

Narrator- “That’s horrific!” (after a pause) “If you don’t mind telling, what did the Oracle see in you?”

Vasant- “That I’ll bring back the glory of our tribe. I shall be a wise man who shall one day rule the tribe and sustain it into the New Age. I’m glad that the Oracle saw the best in me.”

Narrator- “So what if the Oracle saw the best in you?”

Vasant- “I believe in life. I wake up every day to reach that goal, that point of fulfillment that my life is directed at. I can handle all setbacks in life, because I know that I still have a lot of life in me. I can run over quicksand, I can kill a tiger. My hope, nay, my knowledge in life eventually becoming better is driving me to see tomorrow and live today to the fullest. Then, when it’s time, I’ll have learnt and grasped enough to rule with wisdom and experience.”

Narrator- “I believe that you will be a fantastic ruler. Listening to your words, and the indomitable ring of truth in it, I believe everyone should live their life that way, if at all subconsciously at least.”

Vasant- “Thank you. You are too kind.”

Narrator- “No no, you deserve it. Now tell me this, for this vexed me from the beginning- does the Oracle ever fail?”

Vasant- (gazing over the horizon as the sun sets)“Sometimes. But for our village, the fear of leading a life without a purpose is far more calamitous than living on the terms of someone else whom we believe.”

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