Monologue of a Photon

(Philosophical, Theological and Fictional) 

May be to compound the derision of my sub-microscopic size, I am shot at a colossal speed in the vast chasm of the space so that I can even not have a proper feel of the surroundings and the self. I just sweep across, too fast to be noticed or to notice anything carefully that comes in my path. The privileges to have a respite, to recline and to rest have been snatched from me since my birth. My wings were in full swing when I started understanding. I originated from an inferno in a star you can trace back on my wake. And we were zillions of us, burning in that voracious fire, scrambling for escape and radiating along all infinite vectors and zooming into the space- not knowing the direction, the destiny and the purpose! How true of you too! But like a child gradually discovers the novelties of his body and soul, I too started discovering myself.

Let me tell you first about my speed. I am hurled at the unknown at such an enormous speed that it took me years together to come to myself and some more to get accustomed to it. This speed has landed me in universe’s worst isolation and I am travelling still deeper. The companions on the adjoining tracks have departed long back and I am left alone and am drifting alone farther and farther in the fathomless abyss. I remember my last companion on the neighbourhood track deviating from me and soon becoming invisible, never to be seen again. Are there many other photons like me, travelling to other corners (?) of space, but a little luckier than me to have some company on fore and aft? I was quite unfortunate in that I was an aberrational deflection from a surface; cut off from the leaders and the followers. The fellows ahead of me got caught into a gloomy planet in the path and when I was attempting to catch up with them at my speed, I could not! I just missed it. And for an era of innumerable years I was leading a pretty long queue of my brethren when we found that we, all of us, were going to get salvation in the tail of an errant comet. But even this time, the comet was slow enough to miss me! Me alone!! That is my childhood story.

I used to be in a kind of panic. Hey, where am I going to find some company? There were a few celestial bodies somewhere around the horizon and I just wished one of them endeared me and it remained a wish. One prays for a soul to rest in peace. But by that if you mean the peace of my kind, in the corner of the universe with all broken communications, please don’t pray! Solitude is the worst kind of punishment- what is imprisonment?-just an award of forced solitude! It is frustrating to be alone, away from near ones or from ones who could potentially be made near. Complete absence of a hope for any kind of company in absolute sense for entire future is an innervating thought. When I look back at the dim-lit sponge of the universe from this extremity of it, the uneasiness devours my psyche. What is the end of this journey? Is there any end at all? I have been travelling since so long that hardly anything in the universe would be as senior as I am now. They have been in company, they are interacting and they are changing.  I cannot say I am stranded but it all has been meaningless. I will be reaching farther and farther- but to do what? Why am I being sent on an abstract mission – to measure the infinite? What does that mean?

Am I imprisoned or am I at large? I may be travelling freely but all my motions are bound by one or another limits. Am I indeed alone or are there imperceptible, invisible accompaniments surrounding me that are transcendental to my faculties?

What is the ulterior motive of the Creator behind this scrimmage? Why has he created such an immense space? Calling it immense would also undermine its expanse. Infinite would be the apt phrase. Why has he created the stupendously amassed bodies in that? Why has he littered them in it in a haphazard manner all over? What is the purpose of the Creator in churning this mass along so diverse of paths, with so wide ranging speeds and directions? All these thoughts are maddening. Probably they too are following meaningless paths of legacy blindly but there is comfort of sense of intellect when the blindness is witnessed mutually. Coming to my problems – why has the Creator chosen this shape, this size, this mélange of characteristics and ultimately this fate for me?

Probably life is not about questioning but about accepting the obvious. It’s quite easy to ask questions and it’s crazily impossible to find the answers. One may have a lot of inquisitiveness but the Creator least bothers to address that interest. How much we can think about the obvious or the abstract? As an individual? As a society? As a human race? One can devote oneself to the chores of life and during an odd bit, tired of the chores, may question the intent of these unquestioned, life-occupying, non-exactly-interesting chores one is going through in life. Not finding the answers and above that not getting an escape from the chores is certainly vexatious. Philosophically we don’t know why to live and practically we cannot live an expected version of life: Cul-de-sac!

Here I, a photon, would love to narrate you a story of an ancient Gurukul (Ancient Indian school where disciples left home for the entire career period and stayed with Guru). Those were the days when human race had just managed to look beyond mere sustenance and the questions like “Who am I?” (in philosophical sense) were started getting raised. An erudite philosopher was well renowned for his discernment of the purpose of genesis of universe and the mechanism of its operations. And he had a disciple, called Ninad (literal -very loud but pleasant sound), very inquisitive about the purpose and reasoning of human existence, studying under him. Ninad would pester the Guru repeated asking him about the purpose of life and reasoning behind the pattern in which it is lived. The Guru never answered his questions and bandied them among fellow scholars. As a result, Ninad got detached from life, from its beauty and its ugliness, from its appeals and repulsions, from the force of nature on him and also from his own forces that might have been influencing the surroundings. He thought it otiose to associate himself with the verisimilar obligations of one’s existence and associated volitions. His life was very different for others and very difficult for himself. He went to look for a reason to do every and whatever thing. Life is collection of such numerous, random nut time bound things. In the absence of reason, in the absence of absolute knowledge why a certain thing should or should not be done, one loses one’s passion in life. A case that smacks of this me, an isolated photon. He resembled my alter-ego but on the crowded and busy planet.

He finished studies, albeit purposelessly and it was the time to pay the Guru his Daxina (Daxina is the redemption of Guru’s contribution in disciple’s educational life and need not be only in monetary form. Generally, it is decided at the end of the schooling and value is decided by the Guru.). The Guru required him, only him among the 200 odd pupils who got away with dispensation of some small obligation, to go to a remote backward town in the kingdom and live with a renowned shoemaker’s family for 6 years and outdo the shoemaker in his own art. Ninad was already disenchanted from the most coveted branches of knowledge so he did not read anything uncalled for in this requirement. Otherwise also Ninad was a man of his words and very soon he started out for shoemaker’s village. To his dismay, the shoemaker had even not heard of the Guru and he lastly agreed to employ Ninad only for carrying out trivial work in exchange of two meals a day. There was no value of Ninad’s learnings in the Gurukul. The shoemaker’s family was happy and loving but the “class” of living was conspicuously shabby from his family or Gurukul clan. Ninad was asked to scout for dead animals around the nearby villages in the beginning. Soon he was involved in all elements of the process of tanning a hide into good quality leather. In the early days of his presence at the shoemaker’s place, he learned to manage the commotion out of the conflict between his mental orientation and his surroundings. He had to carry out the promise made to Guru without any grudge and fuss in true spirit of Indian tradition. He could not afford to let his invisible disinterest in life affect his promise of excellence in making footwear. The family of the shoemaker extracted a good amount of labour from him but did have a yet-not-manifested understanding of mental struggle Ninad was putting up and they had a very kind heart for him. Tanning of hide required rigorous labor and slowly Ninad developed a good understanding of the animal lives, animal skins, preservation of hide, designing and decorating the shoes and sandals. He learned to withstand the stench of rotting animals, the pressure of working till late nights when deliveries were required to make in urgency and everything that a good tanning job entails.

Time passed as the night passes during the sleep. Six years were finished and Ninad fulfilled the promise he made to his Guru. He was now a renowned shoemaker in the area. One day Ninad got an order for making sandals from a Saint who was going to pass by the village. The Saint had asked the actual shoemaker to hand over the sandals in person. Ninad knew it was his Guru. Ninad obediently handed over the sandals to the Guru and stood in a bowed position in front of him. Guru Said, “Ninad, your six years of service with the shoemaker are finished. You have delivered what you promised me. Now you can go home and lead your usual life.”

Ninad said, “Guruji, I do not want to go home. I have discovered the answers of the questions I asked you during my stay there. I want to continue my life here because it is here that I discovered the meaning of life. We all are sons of the Creator and we are like Him. He is not sick to hide the secrets of this Creation from us. It is our failure in appreciating the obvious.” Guru was happy to see the once depressed disciple back to normal. Ninad invited the Guru for his marriage with the daughter of the shoemaker who found it very difficult to take her eyes off the sturdy sinews of Ninad.

My story is no way different. Why should I think that life is meaningless? Why should I believe that life has no or undefined objective?  The Creator has an explicit intention to mimic his own qualities through his creation. Thus each of his creations might be endowed with infinite might. It is the abject failure to discern this power that brings misery in life. Even as a diminutive photon thrown out of universe, I behold the might to pull the universe to me, to destruct it where it is, to create my own universe or communicate with it with transcendental senses. The path that the creator has chosen for me must have a meaning, a beautiful meaning and I must set on to know that meaning in my own way or at least I should tread the path peacefully as, by now,  I already know how to do it. And if see that the God’s creation is indeed a perversion, a dead and meaningless melange of unrelated volumes, changes, particles, waves and fields; I am going to stop and turn back and show the direction of enlightenment to this very dead universe with my yogic prowess. I challenge everyone here-“Who is there to belittle me now, an abject photon?”