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Seven Lives, as my Wives?

That’s not my hotel room number. It’s the year of my birth. You might be surprised, and may reason something is wrong with the year or I am using a different calendar. No. Nothing is wrong. Except that I have lived for more than five hundred years and seen everything life has to show me. I am not an old man. I am still young and will live for another five hundred years, I suppose, unless I don’t get killed by someone. I am not a vampire; I don’t suck blood to live so long. Neither I do something evil, or change bodies. These are not my cup of tea. I am not a crook either. I happen to be one of the most normal human beings on earth. I would be considered a normal person in the times when humans lived for a thousand years and those who grow old and die in a hundred years would have been considered a case of progeria. The normal varies according to time. What was considered abnormal five hundred years ago is seen to be normal today! An example would be that a Brahmin eating with an untouchable in the same plate was unthinkable five hundred years ago but is common today, as untouchability has ceased to exist. I never had a birth certificate, and those who know me for the present; I usually give them a range of my physiological age.
Ever since I have known that I have been aging very slowly, I have changed my residences every twenty five years. This is what I do. I go to an unknown land. Settle there, get married and have children. And when I have spent twenty five years of married life, I tell my wife and children that I am quitting this worldly life and am going to the Himalayas to meditate and be a Sadhu.
This life of 100 years of an average man have been divided into four parts. The twenty-five years of life known as, Brahmachari period is spent in bachelorhood learning, the vedas and dharma. The next twenty-five years of life is Grihastha period or married family life, where one devotes life, contributing to the society. Next twenty-five years are to be spent in the jungle to know one self and God, known as the Vanaprastha stage. And after that, once you acquire the knowledge, you are supposed to go back to people and preach and deliver sermons, which is what a Sanyasi does. Now, it is fine to live for hundred years and die as everyone does.
But that has not been my case. There are rare cases of us, born into the human species who have a life span of a thousand years. And that has made me socially unfit. Each of the four stages in my life is supposed to be of two hundred and fifty years. What do you suppose I could do?
250 years of married family life. An average woman gives about twenty-five years to the actual cause of marriage. In that way, for fulfilling my Grihastha period I would need ten women. Well, I have taken only six wives in these span of five hundred years of my life. For the first two hundred and fifty years of my life, I was a Brahmachari. And for the next 250 years of married life, six wives is a small number. Two of my wives died before they could complete the twenty-five year period. And it was quite difficult managing my life alone during those times wandering alone.
I have been born into a Brahmin caste, and so getting wives was not hard during the initial phase of my life. However through, all these five hundred years I have seen civilization change. And now there is nothing more left to see. Or there is?  Maybe I will get to see more peace than was before along with more freedom and individual nonsense.
The year I was born, was not something black and white as you seen in movies. Those times were as much colourful, as it is today, and in some aspects more colourful. There was crudeness in people’s behaviour. But everything was natural. People were kind and cruel at the same time. When I was a young lad, I remember Babur invaded my region. And he established the Moghul rule. I have seen him, his sons and grandsons, all way down the line till their utter destruction. I have seen the British ruling India, and then finally the Indians getting free. I have seen the partition of India and the woes that came upon on the displaced. I have seen the development progress from the pace of a snail to that of a cheetah. Now is there anything left? I still have another five hundred years to live.
And that’s now becoming a problem. If forests and mountains are destroyed, it will be a difficult time for me to spend my third phase of life wandering in the forest. I will have to get back to the village and live on alms. And that’s not how my life should end. This thousand years of life is given to those who can negotiate with the gods to see every aspect of the human civilization. And there are only seven of us who have this thousand years of life boon or curse!
Now a long longevity might be what most of you would want. Seeing how things exist for long. But in the end, it is death that haunts each of us. No one can be immortal. Fortunately, there is none of a woman who is among the seven of us. I wonder how she would be able to manage the family part of her life. Women have been made physically weaker than men, there is no doubt about it. Through all these years I have lived, I have seen women persecuted. And now everything is changing. The kingdoms have vanished. People have changed. They vote for governments. Do I like the change? I don’t know. Women have come into the forefront. And family life has become more of an option. I will see more things, more changes, but I think I have seen enough! People have become more polished and refined in their behaviour and way of life. We have more of individual freedom. But at a cost. When as an individual you are left to make decisions, it strains the mind more which causes inner conflict. These days there are proportionate increase in mental illness and agony than it was before. And you have to seek treatment for these diseases, which was unheard of five hundred years ago. The lifestyle changes has also caused many unknown diseases to surface up. Well, the world has changed a lot in these five hundred years.
It is an art to conceal your real age. And with the digitalisation, it has become all the more difficult. I wonder, what will happen to those who are born with this curse of living for a thousand years in the recent times. Well, they will have to be very very clever to live a normal social life. Or maybe the gods won’t curse anyone more with longevity.
The first love and wife is usually the best and closest to the heart. Rest are to fulfil the void that comes along. I had stayed with my first wife for forty years, until she suspected something foul in me. The date to be precise was 1748 when I was first married. I was a handsome young man, though my wife didn’t know I had served Ibrahim Lodi’s soldiers as a water-carrier-boy in the battlefield against Babur in the battle of Panipat in 1526. It was sad to see Lodi lose, and historians made him a cruel king. I was a young boy then, similar to a twelve year old boy of today, though my chronological age was 31 years.
My first wife name was Survi. And she happened to be the delight of my eyes. We loved each other a lot. There was no other man in her life unlike these days. A woman once married to a man was married forever. Survi as my first wife, was the only exception that I had to keeping a woman as a wife for twenty-five years of my life. I stayed with her for forty years in marriage. She was fifteen when I had married her, and she turned fifty-five when I left her for the Himalayas with a broken heart. We had nine children together. There was no concept of contraception like today, and children were thought to be gifts from God. I had seven sons and two daughters, out of which three of my sons died in childhood. Yes, mortality was very high then, but luckily I had a half dozen children alive who reached up to adulthood. The problem began when my children started looking older than me, and Survi looked more of my mother. I looked in my twenties, and Survi changed from a loving wife to a nagging wife. She would scold me on little matters and I began to fear her. I had always looked into her eyes, and loved her. She had changed during the forty years of our married life, but her eyes were the same, when I was first married to her. Well, I could see her soul through them. It was just unfortunate that I had to live the rest of my life without her. We believe in the cycle of rebirths. And when we get married we get married for the seven births. That’s what the seven rounds taken by the bride and the groom before the fire during the marriage ceremony signifies. My Survi was made for me for seven births, and I hoped I would find her in each of those births she took and make her my wife in all her births.
After I had left Survi, I went to another part of the country assumed a new name and worked as a carpenter. I kept the updates of my wife Survi, till she died. I had told her about my long life, and had promised her, I would find her and marry her if she happened to take rebirth again. I waited for fifteen years after my wife, Survi had died. And I began for search for a new wife. I would find her, if she was reborn somewhere. I frequented fairs, and festive gatherings which was common place for young girls to show up. I searched for the eyes that I were of my wife, in the lost unknown world. A girl of fifteen. That was the usual age for a girl to get married to.
And one day I found her in a fair, with her companions. My proposal to her parents was not rejected. My second wife, also named Survi, was an ideal wife. She had the same set of eyes, my Survi had. And I believed she had been reincarnated for me. After we had been married for some ten years, I told her the secret of my longevity and how she happened to be the reincarnation of my first wife. She was more than glad, and she vowed she would be my wife for all her seven lives. I stayed with Survi for twenty-five years of life. And then retired to the Himalayas, to meditate for some time and come back to the society with a new identity.
Eventually, I would seek the girl for my wife, who happened to be born after my former wife’s death when she was of fifteen years. It would take time, but I was able to find my Survi each time. Those familiar eyes were irreplaceable. I would find her, even if she was lost among a billion people. And this way I found her for six times, and married her for the sixth time. Survi, as my sixth wife died around twenty-five years ago. Out of the six wives I had only two of my Survis were a disappointment in nature. Not that they were unfaithful; unfaithful word was unknown then. It’s our culture that has ingrained the high values in women. However, I shouldn’t speak ill of my wives, but to let you know why they were a disappointment for me, because they held too high expectations from me. Well, I could find the treasures of Bimbisar if I wanted, but what use would that be to me? Eventually, I would have to leave everything and move on.
Now having lived for about two hundred and fifty years of married life, married six times to the love of my life, the time has come for me to move to the next stage of life, Vanaprastha and give up Grihastha. It is just a sad fact, that my Grihastha period has ended and I couldn’t marry Survi for the seventh time. With an exponential increase in population, finding a woman maybe a difficult task. However with the advancement of technology, I was keen to know more things about this world changes, and if I could use to find my wife Survi again. It is rather I believe, easier to find a woman these days even though the numbers are huge, with so much freedom.
I had learnt the use of new technology. It was a social media called Facebook, when I saw the resemblance of my wife with a girl named Surabhi. I saw her eyes, and immediately recognised her to be those same eyes I had looked into so lovingly. Those eyes were so familiar, that I had known always, whether they would be in any part of the world. I had lived with her for the major part of my life and had seen those beautiful pair of eyes each day in my mind. I couldn’t hold myself and decided to talk to her. Maybe, her rebirth was a test for me. I messaged her on Facebook, and then as we started talking, I wanted to hear her voice. We exchanged our phone numbers and when we did talk, I could feel the deja entendu in her voice. It was not a vague familiarit, but the association was real. She had the humour and the rough language when we last parted.  But I couldn’t tell this to her, for my time had come to shift to next phase of life.
It has left me in a state of dilemma, should I tell her, marry her and continue the Grihastha phase of my life. Or silently watch her get married to someone else. What worse thing could a man ask, but to see his wife get married to another man while he has to hide his true identity? Do I like the times of now? Hell, no! There was the time when getting married meant getting married forever. Spouses were meant for seven lives. And now I see, people get into numerous relationships before getting married. And some of them getting a divorce after marriage and some getting into relationships after marriage. Is it good? It haunts my conscience, and I wonder what more I have to see. The government has raised the marriage age of a girl to 18 and 21 for boys, and everyone is so career conscious and worldly-minded that they forget to look within themselves, to know who they are. Late marriages, with numerous flings have become the norm. Am I happy? I think I have seen enough of the world, and it is real time to pack my baggage and shift to the Himalayas, permanently till death….to death…   

1495 Reviewed by Polymath on 4:31 pm Rating: 5

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