We are the mashup of all the things we let into our life.

We are the mashup of all the things we let into our life.
The music in my heart I bore, Long after it was heard no more ---William Wordsworth

Monday, 3 November 2014

A tempest in a human skull

Paris, 1830

The charred and blackened remains of what was left after the French Revolution constituted Paris. Dark, squalid, dilapidated and a smokey smell pervading the atmosphere. Paris during this time mainly consisted of overpopulated slums crammed with each other with a labyrinth of narrow streets creating a mesh. Beggars, thieves, vagabonds, escaped convicts and other parasites that infect the society were the chief inhabitants of this city. In short, nothing had changed after the Revolution. No vehicles were to be seen either in the morning or at night, as they were either robbed or were set on fire to provide for heat and warmth from the harsh winter. Happiness wasn't a choice, nor were there any means to acquire it from. Those people who were seen to be smiling or laughing were either deemed crazy or were killed, simply because there was no place for doubt : God had forsaken them, why then should anyone feel different? Gendarmes roamed the streets of Paris day and night, scanning for any unlawful activity and having caught the person, took him or her straight to the Gaol. It was true that they resembled hounds, nay, ferocious animals with their piercing gaze, waiting to catch the scent of their preys,who recoiled at their sight and cowered in the shadows, trembling from head to foot. Altogether, Paris was a boiling cauldron. The fiery tentacles of hell and the enveloping darkness never ceased to abate. 

All of this came into being as a result of Charles X, then the Count of Artois, succeeding the throne after the death of Louis XVIII. This was followed by bad harvests and hard winters, due to which the people in France were burdened with high food prices. Thereafter, there were clashes between the people in the streets of Paris and agents of authority. Business in Paris was at a complete standstill. Crowds were rushing through the streets with various instruments screaming : ''Down with the King!'' and ''to the Guillotine!''
A sad sight indeed to behold.

It was during this time that Pierre Tholomeys, a blacksmith working for the Gendarmerie, was faced with an opportunity : to take this distraction of the Gendarmes caused by the furor in the streets to his advantage, steal a horse and ride away from this wretched place as fast as he could. Since there was commotion everywhere, he faced no difficulty in stealthily slipping into their room and procuring what he thought would last him throughout his journey. The evening was slowly creeping over the land, and making use of the darkness, he untied a horse from the stable and rode off East in the direction of Montreuil. 

By daybreak he was in the open country with Paris a good distance behind him. He was wearied beyond endurance, having rode throughout the night. Feebly, with half opened eyes, he watched the skyline grow light, and was aware, without observing, of the chilly aspect of a winter's dawn. Morning, like evening, has it's ghosts. He did not see them but was still conscious, as though by their physical presence, of the dark shapes of trees and hills making their mournful contribution to his violently agitated state of mind. Passing an occasional isolated house at the side of the road, he thought to himself that there are people still sleeping!  The clop of the horse's hoofs, the jingle of harness and the clatter of his sac containing various instruments over the cobbles were a monotonous accompaniment to his thoughts - delightful sounds when we are in good spirits, but most dismal when we are melancholy. It was evident from the sac being dragged over the cobbles that he was almost asleep and stooped low over the horse. The horse having completely wearied itself from  trotting continuously without a stop had now stopped to catch its breath, causing Pierre to slide and fall on the  ground. 

The fall caused Pierre to start and open his eyes but had difficulty in doing so since the sun having now fully risen, shone its bright light which penetrated his feeble eyes and forced him to shade it with the back of his hand. He had lost all bearing and his mind was a kaleidoscopic whirl of thoughts. He slowly became feverish and a sharp pain in his leg caused him to scream in agony. Dark clouds had now blotted the sun as if they understood his plight, and grumbled as if to call for help. In a few moments, a heavy downpour lashed the earth accompanied by icy blasts of cold wind, and Pierre being already numb with pain made one last effort and crawled to his sac only to find it empty. This discovery further deranged him and made him question his reality until a heavy blunt instrument hit his head and he fell unconscious. 

Nothing is more terrifying than to peer into the depths of a human conscience and that too we can't do without trembling. There is nothing more obscure, complex, mysterious and infinite than the human soul. To make a poem of the human conscience is to merge all epics into a single epic transcending all.  It is the labyrinth of illusion, the furnace of dreams,and the battlefield of passions. To peer at certain moments into the the face of a human being in an act of reflection is to see something beyond their silence, is to discern struggle and conflicts of dragons and hydras, of the anger of Hades and the power of Zeus, of thunder claps and hailstorms. The infinite space that each man carries within himself, in which all the seasons are mingled with each other, and contrasts it with his spirit is altogether and overpowering thing. 

Dante Alighieri found himself one day at a fateful doorway which he hesitated to enter. We too are confronted by such a doorway, and we too must hesitate but enter nonetheless. 

Pierre Tholomeys was now confronted by such a doorway and he too hesitated to enter but was about to enter when a sharp blunt instrument hit his head and shattered his reverie. 

Alas! Pierre Tholomeys was never a blacksmith, nor had he stolen a horse, he was but a servant to King Charles X and was on his way to the guillotine, the fateful mistress no one could deny. His face was haggard and covered with bruises from the blows he received from the butts of  innumerable rifles, his eyes swollen and bloodshot from the lack of sleep; his hair was unkempt and covered his forehead from where some blood flowed from a gash, and was clothed in rags and tatters like the rest of the people around him that were either shouting, laughing, crying, throwing various things at him or dancing in ecstasy. The contorted and convulsed faces of men, woman, children with pitchforks, axes, and other instruments screaming their lungs out was a frightful scene to behold. The whole place was a pandemonium filled with the roar of thousands of people which rose to a shattering crescendo.

But Pierre Tholomeys meeting the frightening gaze of the people merely managed to give a weak smile as he ascended the stairs of the stage, which further piqued them and made them raise their pitchforks at him. It was still raining heavily when he neared the 'mistress' and a sharp nudge from the rifle in his back caused him to kneel in agony, his hands being tied, and with the serenity of a man resting on his own bed he placed his head on the guillotine and closed his eyes. A radiant smile had now spread on his haggard face and anyone who pitied him then would have guessed that he was thinking of his home in Montreuil, of him being there with his wife and singing a lullaby to his daughter that slept in his lap.

The clouds grumbled furiously which was followed by a thunderclap and finally the guillotine began to swish downward, gathering speed with a horrible, metallic whistle, towards Pierre's neck and cut it with precision, his head rolling down the stage toward the spectators who clapped and applauded the fateful event. 

Darkness had now completely enveloped Pierre and he slept that peaceful eternal sleep.

To die, to sleep, 
to sleep, perchance to dream,
Aye, there's the rub,
For in this sleep of death, what dreams may come.


  1. While reading this, I felt myself visualizing all of this through the eyes of Pierre Tholomeys. I could feel the suspense and the pain. Well done. Keep it up. I can see a darkness similar to that of Poe taking shape.

  2. is it your own work, or is it taken from a publication?


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