The Lord of My Destiny

a poem by Pawas Bisht

“The lord of my destiny”
When in the deepest of despair,
Men linger on memories fair!

It chanced upon a sunny day,
As I blithely made my way,
On the cobbled road to town,
Snaking its way through the downs.

The air was cool; the air was crisp,
The downs glittered with the morning dew.
My gait was firm, my steps were brisk,
My worries were far and few.

The spirit of youth sang within me divine,
I had no cares, the world was mine.

My feet rang merrily on the cobbled stones,
Stubbed my toe on something gave a start.
As I bent to have a look,
What did I find? Lo! ‘A book’.
Now I had never had away with books.
Clever fish can evade the hooks
They aroused in me something verging on fear
Though why it should be so was never very clear.

So you can well imagine my apprehension,
As I bent to pick up this one.

As I touched it I heard a voice.
The voice seemed to come from deep within.
And as I held the book in my hand,
It commenced in a tone pretty grand,
‘Now hark ye mere mortal, and listen to me,
Its me the lord of your destiny’
‘This book is going to be your guiding star,
For left to yourself, you wouldn’t reach far’
‘So when in doubt take its heed.
Knowledge thou art youth’s greatest need’

With these grave words of wisdom, ended this inner discourse,
Leaving me in a rare musing repose,
‘Now’, quoth me to myself,
‘This indeed is a singular occurrence,
I wonder what ‘great’ change will come hence.’
I had uttered this with sarcastic nonchalance,
And with the most skeptical smirk that my unvanquished youth would permit,
Without much further ado, I took the confounded thing home.

‘Brashness! Thou art youth’s failing’
I had thrown the book in an obscure corner,
Had not even given it thought a bit,
‘Destiny’ bah! For abstract notions I cared not a whit.

The first time that I sought it out,
Was about a month later.

There was something that was troubling my mind,
A petty problem, of the ‘moral’ kind.
I had lain hold of prize, a sort of a ‘treasure chest’.
Though I had worked hard enough for it,
The means were not quite honest.

I had a firm notion that with my hard earned wealth, I would not part,
A resurgent conscience gnawed relentlessly at my heart.
With real trepidation and affected boldness,
I opened the book.
(Not that I felt that I needed advice,
It was just a quirky whim to see, what my ‘guide’ would devise)

The next moment my face wore a startled look,
For the page was blank except for a sole line,
It said in a hand majestic, ‘I am you’
Taken aback I turned the next page,
It continued, ‘I am you,
For you are me,
I will only mirror thee.’
I turned on the next page,
‘Though you shalt follow my heed,
Knowest thou that a man reins his own steed?’
I was in a trance of sorts, I read on,
‘Now think over the matter that’s bothering your heart,
Then think over these queries few,
After that turn the page,
And I’ll give your answer to you.
The queries are,
What is that you really are?
What is that you really want?
What is that you really believe?
What is that you really fear?
What is that you really love?
Where is that you want to reach?
How is it that you want to go?
Would you like to toil against,
Or would you fain follow the flow?’

I thought over these queries a while, then I turned to the page next,
There was calling, beckoning me in mystic text,
‘If it be a crooked shaft,
That serves to kill the prized hart,
Then thou should fain embrace,
Trickery and guile as worthy art’

‘Everything is fair for life is a war,
Honesty being the best policy,
Is but a stupid fallacy,
It is in fact a virtue bygone,
The means don’t matter
If the battle is won.’

As I mused over these quips,
The very devil played on my lips!

‘Gazing through the looking glass,
One could see the years pass,
Seek then the very day,
When the sheep went astray.’

It chanced upon a freezing night,
As I wearily trudged in my flight,
I was fleeing away from the town,
On the very same road, the one through the down.

Bent with age,
Broken by life.
‘Old age, is misery thy constant strife?’

The wind chilled me to my very bones,
Through my worn out soles I could feel the frigid stones.

An orgy of fear went on in my heart,
At the slightest sound I gave a start.
‘Stop thief!’
The very shadows seemed to say.
The thought of being caught sent a shiver down my spine.
‘I had to get way! I had to get away’

In the haste of my guilty fear,
I tripped and fell.
On what had I tripped?
In the gloom I tried to look.

I heard again the voice, which had visited me in my youth,
This was the very road,
This was the very spot,
The wheel had turned a full circle.
I confronted him again.
‘Art thou looking for a book?
But hadn’t I given one to you!
The one that was to be your guiding star!
And have you not reached far!!’
With this he burst into a demonic laugh.
I placed my hands on my ears,
To keep out the sound, to keep out the fear.
It didn’t help, for the voice echoed within my own soul.

I shrieked, ‘It was all thy plot,
All the miseries, that I’ve got
The book was my doom!
It closed all the doors,
It was you, it was you,
The book was yours!’

The laughter stopped,
I heard again the voice the mockery was gone, there was in fact a touch of pity.
‘Man your ignorance knows no bounds,
Can’t thou make out who I am?’

‘I am thou,
For thou are me,
The book was only written by thee.’