Labour Pains

Ratan was scared of his shadow.

It all started when he was returning home one night after watching a movie at a nearby theater. The movie had a long scene where the heroin was chased in a dark alley by some ruffians. At the end of the chase she was trapped and knifed. As Ratan walked back home that night there were uneven pools of light and dark made on the pavement by the streetlight. He found himself increasing his pace whenever he passed through a dark patch.

Unaware of his slow mounting anxiety, he heard a dog howl nearby. As he turned to look he saw his own elongated shadow and mistook it to be an attacker. Reacting to the danger his heart jumped a beat and his entire body stiffened. He froze in his tracks. Though in a moment he realized the error and laughed at his silliness.

However from that night on, he could never be indifferent to his shadow. He was always conscious of it with a creeping sense of unease. He started to notice the shadows of objects around as well. Initially the shadow disquiet was during nights only however as time passed, he started to notice his shadow and other shadows in day time as well. His sleep also became light and he often started to wake up with nightmares.

As this shadow consciousness intensified Ratan started to experience a sense of dread around them. His daily activities started to get effected. He reduced going to picnics, parties and other social events as he wanted to remain mostly indoors now. His work started to suffer and his bosses noticed and commented on his loss of focus. He started to gain weight and his face started to look saggy. It was apparent that he was internally suffering.

Then one day, around his thirty-ninth birthday, a distant cousin of his mom, Uncle Kundan visited their house. Uncle Kundan had migrated to Kenya about 50 years ago and at family gatherings tales were often told of his exotic adventures. It was whispered that he had married a local girl there and had spent lot of time roaming with the keynan natives. There was talk of him having spent couple of days embedded into a family of African lions It was also said that he had discovered a small mine of precious stones that had made him very rich.

During the session of evening drinks Ratan could not hold back his affliction and poured it all out to his uncle. Probably it was easy to confide in a stranger or that there was something in uncle’s outgoing persona that made him forthcoming. At any rate, he told his uncle the entire set of events that had happened in last 6 months. Hearing the tale Uncle Kundan remarked

“You know natives of Kenyan tribes are scared of solar eclipse as they believe that the sun gets eaten up by evil forces leading to darkness. They propitiate their gods to deliver the sun back and when that eventually happens, they celebrate it as a new coming. So the intermediate darkness and fear of eclipse are in fact treated as birth pangs of a fresh life.

Likewise we have many unlived lives in us waiting for their actualization. Your current life is shrinking as shadows all around you are literally lengthening. Scary as it seems, your psyche is preparing to switch you to a new life. Allow it to happen. Help it arrive as this new life is always more rewarding. Also as your new life settles in, this fear of shadows will automatically disappear.”

All of a sudden a weight got lifted of Ratan’s shoulders. He felt light and alive.

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