"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan




"When hell gets full, the dead will walk the Earth!" read this gruesome website that my friend regularly visited. I always wondered how and when he got addicted to that kind of gore, because this was the same guy who let go of a plump medical college offer as he could not stand blood. His nature was like the sand dunes - you couldn't guess what shape it would take next. Then one day, he suddenly left! His family moved.. without leaving much of a trace. Well! the world, today, deals with more insane issues than the cold shoulder of a friend who walks away without turning back.

That morning, the newspaper carried an unusually high number of casualty reports. Death had danced furiously the previous night. Flash rains caused several automobile collisions in one place, while a high speed train crash killed scores somewhere else. One country, constantly ravaged by war, had lost an entire village to an ambush and then military forces took out several suspects in retribution the same night. A stand-off in one country was finally broken with the police snuffing out an entire suspected drug cartel. A suicide bomber had killed dozens at the funeral of a city mayor - and I kept wondering if they counted even the corpse in the casualties - the poor man having died twice in one day!

All this news reminded me of that 'runaway' friend. During his web-foraging, he had once chanced upon a weird article, and that had changed the way I had looked at the developing world. That article had predicted all that we read in newspapers today, albeit using a strange logic. "Oil!" it said, "is our chief source of energy. They say Oil fuels growth and transforms lives. Thats undeniable, but what kind of transformation? Have we looked into the past and compared really objectively? In all our horror movies, terror is unleashed when somebody awakens the dead from their slumber in the deep. Aren't we doing the same thing? Doesn't Oil too come from the deep? And what a coincidence - Science itself confirms that Oil was formed from dead and decayed matter facing millions of years of high temperature and pressure at the bottom of the earth. So when we go and drill for oil, aren't we (atleast rhetorically) bringing back the dead? And why just Oil - take all the things which come from the depths - Coal, Gas, Gold and Diamonds. The spirit of the dead has awakened with all these and they are walking amongst us now - bringing hell with them. Oil fuels wars. Coal and Gas power killing machines which breathe fire upon us. Diamonds fuel our greed and selfishness. Gold fuels inequality amongst fellow-men. And very recently, they digged deeper and found Nuclear fuel! God only knows what hell is waiting for us now.. ". 

In some way, this article had a lasting impression on me and I just could not digest science and technology as boons for humankind. As time passed and the world seemed to be going from bad to worse everyday, it came to dawn that may be some of the monsters have indeed been stoked back from the dead. Maybe hell was slowly descending into the lives around us.  I had started hoping we don't scratch too much out of our dear blue berry, lest the monsters we unleash rain down the armageddon upon us one day!
It was the oldest standing house in our neighborhood. Wind and rain had slapped its facade for ages. Vines had scrambled on its yellow walls every season and fallen off in the next, only to leave muddy trails which looked like splattered grey mass from our brains. Its small courtyard lay conquered in crabgrass and parthenium. Its rusted iron gate had long retired from securing the house. With paint falling off in flakes and bricks dislodged, the outer compound wall resembled the toothless smile of an old woman. Beside the front door hung the mark of its owner, the nameplate which boasted of Greek Renaissance design in its days and barely a piece of scrap today. The name was all but erased, only the first letters - a 'T' and a 'M' - remained. The full name, like our ephemeral lives, was long forgotten. People who noticed the new ways of the old man used to call him - 'Temporary Man'!

For me - Temporary Man lived from time immemorial, or atleast he predated the others I knew. His past wasn't known and it looked like he didn't care much about it either. He always cared about the present, 'live the moment' as he would put it, so much so that even his future didn't bother him at all. His attitude was totally focussed only on surviving the current moment. 'Take care of the minutes and hours will take care of themselves' went a great saying. Temporary Man, probably, never knew the concept of hours. His life was lost in the ticking of minutes itself.

Temporary Man never carved a distinct identity for himself. He was like a slick of oil floating on water. Whatever the society respected and adored, he made that his ambition. When people around him changed their view, his opinions would change too. He consciously developed an awareness to appreciate what people liked to be acknowledged and also to exhibit what people seemed to notice. He would focus more on doing tasks that got him people's attention. Success, for him, was always measured against the yardstick of people's expectations. Truth, always meant that fact which had majority support. It was his way of life to do 'cool' things and all other activities were mere chaff.

Being organized was a burden. His porch was never broomed regularly, clothes were washed only after the dirty linen piled up, books taken out of the shelf were never returned back to its place. When things got out of hand, he would hire a maid for a day and get it all cleaned up. When his bike rattled with a loose silencer, he wrapped a used towel to muffle the sound. The drain leaked outside his gate but why take it seriously when he could just hop, skip and jump over it. The chikoo tree in his courtyard fell one windy night, and he kicked it aside the next morning. It lay by the gate side for years until termites powdered it out. He would buy fashionable gadgets and within months it would be laid to rest as his friends had started talking about newer models. He mended broken windows, oiled his creaking door and replaced burnt bulbs but he never saw the bigger picture. His house had started falling to ruin and he didn't even notice it. Long term solutions were unknown to him. Temporary Man always had temporary fixes and yet he was proud because he had so many of them..

Mr.BB had shared a rapport with Temporary Man during their younger days. Everytime Mr.BB walked by the TM house, he would pause at the gate. Maybe he wanted to nod at Mr.Temporary Man and recall olden days. Little did he know that in this world, friendships can also be temporary and memories of the past are as easily forgotten as temporary fashion trends of the present!