AATMA: The Beginning

Written by Rohit Kottamasu

Pain hurts people, it makes them weep in sorrow but pain in my life made me change. I was wondering whether this change is good or bad. I was unsure about the answer. My eyes wandered towards the dining room where a Forbes magazine lay open on the table, with my company’s name in the top 50 fortune list. An old diary sat beside it, with an unfinished story of 5 years. I was trying to make myself busy so I could stop over-thinking about that incident. I filled my mug with coffee and stood in the balcony waiting for Siri, my assistant to report me with my plan for the day. She was 15 minutes late. I was angry. Before she could announce my schedule I dropped the empty mug angrily. “Next time if this repeats, you will be out!” I said in a harsh tone. She immediately apologised “You don’t have any business appointments today sir. A writer wanted to meet you at lunch. That’s all for the day sir.” I remembered the writer. Madhu. She had spoken to me about writing an article on my life yesterday.
At lunch, I received her in my office. I was enthusiastic about sharing my success story with her. But Before I could speak, she began “Good morning Sir! There have been many inspiring articles about your professional success. I would like my readers to know more about the person that you are, the face of RK industries. Maybe we could begin with a little peek into your childhood. Perhaps a few close friends?” The breeze picked up slightly outside. I could hear the sound of the ruffling pages of my diary and I was reminded of a distant memory for a second. I told Madhu “Please leave” She froze where she sat and simply stared. I shouted “Out of my sight!” She left my cabin, but my thoughts didn’t.
It was in the evening and everyone left the office a bit early as it was a Saturday. I messaged Madhu that I was sorry for what had happened in the afternoon. I added, we could meet later that night. She agreed. By 10 PM we both were in the balcony. Her face seemed to be filled with excitement. I started narrating “My name is Abhiram Bhargav. I was like any other college going kid. My college resided in a small village of Udupi. I wasn’t great in academics and didn’t have any goals in life. My father always had a belief that I would be very successful and I always admired the optimism from a distance. In every person’s life, there is one moment which changes everything in his life. The incident which happened in my life is like a dream and is still hard to believe. Perhaps you wouldn’t either”
She nodded encouragingly.
“It all started on December 23rd. I was late to my class by 10 minutes and Miss Divya politely asked me to leave. I cursed my professor for a second before my eyes fell on the corner of the room. That was the first time I saw Leela. I was always annoyed with Miss Divya’s rules but that day I felt thankful.”
Madhu laughed, “So what happened next?”
I resumed “There was a nervousness on Leela’s face, I could make out that she had joined newly. I was standing at one corner pretending to be pre-occupied with something but looking at her. She approached me and asked “Where is the admin’s office?” I tried telling her the way but from her eyes I could make out that she was a bit tensed. So, I helped her getting to the office. While we were walking, I asked in a rather low tone “What is your name?” I felt awkward as she didn’t reply. I helped her carry some things as she was new to the college. She said “Thank you for the help”. I smiled and began to leave without knowing her name. Then suddenly a voice came from the back, “Leela. My name is Leela Satyamurthy”. I turned back and smiled.
The next day I was sitting and having my lunch all alone-like every other day. I hadn’t seen Leela all morning until she stood right in front of my table. She looked different that day, I could see a confident smile on her face. Her loquaciousness was very surprising because of the contrast from the previous day. I being a taciturn enjoyed while she was talking. Never like before I felt that the clock in the lunch hall was ticking faster than usual.
All of a sudden my college life was turning out interesting. My favourite time during the day being lunch hour because of Leela. Our conversations ranged from soulful music to Miss Divya’s rules. I made her laugh by my imitating Miss Divya. I started liking her even more after those conversations. But this happiness didn’t last for long.
Eventually she got comfortable and made more friends. Gone were the times when we had long conversations after classes. This may not have been a significant difference in her life but it was in mine.
So, I waited all week for Saturday when we had decided to meet near the beach clock tower.
But she came along with Madhav. It was rumoured that they both loved each other. She introduced him to me as her friend and said that it was his birthday. I wished him. Initially, I felt that he was a third person in our conversation but I realized that it was in fact me. She might not love him but he seemed like the easier guy to talk to between the both of us. He spoke confidently and had an unmoving diligence about him. How could I ever compare? It wasn’t long after which they excused themselves and bid me goodbye.
I sat there disheartened all alone. It was dusk and a thunder seemed to crack the air as if the sky split into a million pieces. It felt like I was the only person at that place before my eyes caught the attention of an old woman walking towards me. It seemed as if she dropped from the sky because I had never seen her in the neighbourhood before. Her face reminded me of the witch I had seen in my third grade English textbook. Silence sat with her as she stared at me. Making the moment even tenser she began “Sadness and fear can’t co-exist for long.”
I was puzzled at the phrase she uttered.
She continued” You fear to express yourself with that girl and you feel disheartened about it. You should put an end to either of the emotions. Only one can live in the other’s absence .”
I replied,” There is no end for either of them in my life.”
There was a silence for some time. Then she replied “You see, a chameleon… it changes its colour according to the situations it is in. Whenever it changes its colour it seems like a different creature to the predators. But that is a lie.”
I gave it a thought, “But humans can’t fool their identity like that”.
She replied “They can.”
I turned towards her with a half-puzzled face.
She said “Aatma. Whenever a soul in this mankind cannot achieve something by himself, their soul takes help of some other body which can help in achieving that goal. But most people don’t have the resources to do this. Do you have the courage to put an end to your emotions?”
I replied instantly with a bold voice “I want my soul to go into Madhav’s body”.
A quick smile wiped across her face. Holding me by the hand, she took me to an old cottage. The fumes from the pool at the entrance reminded me of hot springs. She asked me to take a dip thrice in the green liquid. Initially, I feared. But to my surprise the liquid was lukewarm.
Next, she asked me to lie down on the floor. As I lied down she placed a white crystal exactly on my forehead. It began levitating. She made a star on the floor based on the horoscope of Madhav.
She said “This crystal will turn completely green within 12 hours. After the crystal turns green, I will place it on the star. It would mean that your soul has complete control over Madhav’s body. But keep in mind, you should not look at Madhav’s face.”
After that, I lost my conscious.
The next moment I opened my eyes, Leela and her friends were in front of me. Everyone around looked at me just as Leela asked “So Madhav what’s your take on sex before marriage”. For a second my mind went blank and I gasped in embarrassment “What!”
Someone chirped “You were the one who started this discussion so you need to end it with your opinion.”
A quick realisation set in. I was living Madhav’s life.
It is not easy to go into someone else’s life…
(To be continued…)

About the author

Rohit Kottamasu

The imperfectly perfect student who loves writing short stories and is passionate about computers. Love for biryani, afraid of dogs.

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