Story of Us and Him

Stephen Paul
The characters in this fictional account mirror our casual reluctance to acknowledge the very fountainhead we so freely draw from

It was a cold wintery night. Faithful, the furry pup came running to the fountain of water in the centre of the vast garden, a landscape that knew no end. The creatures reverentially called the fountain, Jeev, for his living waters sustained life in the vast expanse. To Faithful, Jeev was his very life that nurtured him when he was left orphan on a dark night. No wonder, Faithful begins his day by the fountain side and returns to Jeev by night. The calm assurance of Jeev’s presence was his strength. Jeev was his Master.

Although he occasionally strayed away, he would eventually come back to Jeev. His love for Jeev couldn’t keep him away for long. Or was it Jeev’s love for him? On the contrary, Careful, the little kitten loved to keep her distance from Jeev. “Neither does distance lessen one’s relationship, nor does proximity heighten one’s fellowship,” exclaimed Careful. Safe distance was Careful’s policy.

Faithful and Careful were friends; friends that were poles apart. If there was something that brought them together, it was Jeev. Although she kept herself away from Jeev, she couldn’t keep Jeev away from her—Faithful who unknowingly mirrored Jeev to her.

Selfful, on the other hand, was a fish that lived in the very fountain. It quite didn’t know the garden outside, but it knew the fountain too well—the silent whispers of the waters, the tranquillity of the streams, and the deep vibes of the waves. Strangely, to Selfful, the fountain revolved around her.

It was early in the morning and the dew was slowly settling down on the nascent leaves. Under the mild silver glow of the moonlight, Faithful dragged himself to the waters of Jeev. He splashed the water on his face as he struggled to open his eyes. In the string of battles lined up for the day, he knew this was the first to be won—the comfort of his bed. But Jeev’s love was far more compelling to be restrained on bed.

Faithful’s love for Jeev couldn’t keep him away for long. Or was it Jeev’s love for him?

“How was your sleep last night?” asked Faithful. Jeev wouldn’t sleep, not because he simply can’t, but he possibly won’t unless Faithful wants to turn into a catastrophe. However, the innocence of Faithful warmed Jeev’s heart. Behind the serene smile of Jeev in the moving waters, Faithful always searched for a steady reflection of himself. Unawares, his attention always moved from his eyes to his heart, of what he was becoming, as he glaringly faced himself in the pure waters of Jeev!

Almost choked up with guilt about Jeev’s selfless love, Faithful asked Jeev, “Don’t you ever feel like withholding the water from me?” Jeev smiled as he replied,“can a fountain ever fall short of giving?”, as if water was his only provision. As was his routine, Faithful headed to the East gate for his daily work. East gate seemed particularly attractive to Faithful, not just for his work but because of Careful. Somehow, his heart always skipped a beat for her!

Busy in the waters, Selfful, the Betta, had many reasons to be self-consumed. She was both the beauty and the beast. Her grace and grit made her the obvious choice for leadership. Jeev was Selfful’s world—a world that revolved around her for personal pleasure. The flowing waters were meant to serve and care for her. She knew Jeev too well, having been born and raised in the waters all her life. Perhaps she knew Jeev to a fault that she failed to grasp who Jeev actually was. She was in him but not with him. She was of him but not for him.

“I’m bored of your waters!” exclaimed Selfful. “I need some fresh air to breathe,”she instructed Jeev. Jeev couldn’t possibly give in to her request for only death awaited her if he were to fulfil her wish. Her boredom was soon brightened up as the pale Tilapias admiringly gazed at her rich colours. “Isn’t she so full of Jeev!” exclaimed her friends. “Am I?” pondered Selfful, wondering if it was a satire or a complement!

Meanwhile, it was that time of the season when all the creatures of the garden gathered to celebrate the life-giving fountain of the garden, Jeev. The legendary tales have it that Jeev sacrificially gave himself to save the garden when they were at the brink of death—something that Jeev alone could do for the garden (the living spring that he was) when the garden foolishly chose knowledge over life.

It was one of those rare occasions when Careful turned up at the fountain. “Haven’t seen you for a while, Careful” asked Jeev. Careful made no mistake in identifying Jeev’s assertive yet concerned tone from the noise of the moving waters. “Didn’t you really see me?” mused Careful within herself. “How could someone ever possibly be out of Jeev’s view?” His mist goes to and fro throughout the garden. “Your eyes meet where my vision fails,” whispered Careful. Trying to snub that tiny weird feeling of guilt, Careful chose to keep quiet—a silence and distance that she had always kept with Jeev. Was it the fear of Jeev that kept her away? Or was it the fear of her own self that blazingly confronted her in the waters of Jeev?

Trying to snub that tiny weird feeling of guilt, Careful chose to keep quiet—a silence and distance that she had always kept with Jeev.

The sound of music, the fragrance of food and her fastidiously dressed friends were too tempting to delay. She quickly but quietly walked along the streams of Jeev, secretly admiring her reflection in the clear waters. She fixed her hair and mascara hoping for a few admiring eyes. She didn’t want to be around Jeev for long. She lovingly hated the feeling of unrest that always surfaced when she gazed into Jeev.

However, she reluctantly turned around to see herself in the waters for one last approving glimpse of herself before she stepped out to the feast. Strangely, her fears came true. The quiet waters did capture the subtle air she had put on—a truth she disliked but a vice she dearly loved. She tried to calm her conscience. She precisely knew what awaited her—Jeev’s questions but all the more, his presence! This time, she wouldn’t want to turn back to see Jeev. She quickly vanished into the gathering.

It was a lavish feast. Although the feast was meant to be hosted for Jeev, he had no invitation. The garden tales narrate that the feast was always held beside the waters. But the self-acclaimed leaders of the garden found the plains better than the stream side, for it was not intruded by the flowing waters.

Meanwhile, something unusual happened at the spring. Faithful’s relentless fasts for Careful bore fruit. Careful chose to return to Jeev, perhaps her first wilful step towards him. There was silence. She had far too many things to confess and few words to express. She knew she couldn’t open up anywhere but here. After much silence, Jeev whispered, “you are my masterpiece who I dearly love”. Tears rolled down Careful’s eyes. “I wish I had heard this everyday,” said Careful with a choked voice. “If only you had met me everyday!” said Jeev.

(This story is a partial adaptation of Cat and Dog Theology by Bob Sjogren and Gerald Robinson)

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