Publicat de: leonard oprea | 23 Iunie 2012

Leonard Oprea – THE HEART of KUMAR


leonard oprea

THE HEART of KUMAR

(copyright – all rights reserved 2008, Leonard Oprea)

The origins of the journalist go back to the dark Middle Ages. Some say that this what amounts to practically a new humanoid species was the town crier, the news bearer, or the drummer of the hamlet. According to other folk sources, it was the medicine woman, or the gossip gammer, the priestess of the village, or even, anonymous sources claim, the Unholy himself.

Well, bearing this in mind, sometime around the end of the twentieth century a journalist of undisputed world prestige decided to write a shocking story that would open the eyes of the world and change the destiny of the people, a story that would be the keystone of humanity before the Apocalypse, a story of legendary India.

Like a steed without spleen, the journalist roamed the libraries, the cultural centers, the tourist agencies, the embassies and the museums, visited scholars and diplomats, newspapers, magazines, and broadcasting corporations. In what was undoubtedly a record time, like the true and world-renowned professional he was, he managed to collect all the documentation together with the funding needed for a story of this scope. Indeed, many cautioned him that a country the size of a continent, with hundreds of thousands of people in it, a country known as the cradle of religions and philosophies, cannot really be understood or known, much less turned into a shocking and epoch-making story in just three weeks. But who can stop a journalist who has decided to reveal for the benefit of humanity another of those truths that gives any alert conscience the goose bumps?

Armed to his teeth, as a world-renowned journalist should be, with note pads, recorder, photo camera, video camera, and even some equipment procured directly from NASA, our journalist landed in New Delhi. As he walked out of the airport he was met by the guide and the driver, courtesy of the Indian government. The journalist quickly dismissed the guide because he had no intention of being influenced by a government official. Then he got in the limousine (a British model) and with the unsophisticated, but nice and funny driver by his side, he set out to accomplish his life’s story as he now called it.

Days went by like seconds and there was plenty for the journalist to record. He did his job like the true professional he was. Kumar, the driver, also offered invaluable help. He had a high-school education in the state system, as any struggling young man, his own life experience, and a few lines from the Mahabharata, which he had memorized as a child.

In temples, in tiger, elephant, exotic bird, snake, and crocodile reservations, in museums, on the streets, in bazaars, in universities, hospitals, orphanages, factories and restaurants, at the newspaper and television stations, practically everywhere Kumar was his guide, his translator, and, in a way, his friend.

The day before he had to return home, after the journalist had set for most of the working day his meticulously and professionally collected material in order, more precisely just as he was telling himself that either he was going to get the Pulitzer or he was leaving his job, Kumar knocked on the hotel door.

‘Sir’, he politely started after the journalist had asked him to come in, sit in an armchair, drink some whiskey on the rocks with him for the forthcoming Pulitzer, ‘Sir, when you first arrived here you told me you wished to wash your hands and face in the waters of Yamuna, the sacred river that runs through New Delhi. You also said you wished to dine with poor, unsophisticated Indians, like myself. To gain better, more direct insight, you said. I did not forget your wish. If you still have this wish, I am at your disposal, sir.’

The journalist quickly thought of his invitation to the American embassy cocktail, but being in a great disposition on account of the Pulitzer and of his mission as a journalist of world renown, he enthusiastically replied:

‘Let’s do it. You’re an OK guy, Kumar. You’ll have a place of honor in my story. Let’s go.’

Kumar drove the British limousine across New Delhi. The journalist could review once more the temples, the buildings, the streets, the parks, the bazaars, the people, and India, this time as a connoisseur, he thought dryly.

***

Kumar stopped the car next to a railroad bridge, somewhere on the outskirts. They got out of the car and walked down the narrow path on the tall bank. The sun was setting and the horizon was lit as in the poems of Rabindranath Tagore, the journalist silently phrased it.

But he was interrupted by Kumar’s invitation:

‘Here, sir, you can take this path to reach the water.’

The journalist looked. The dark and slow waters of the Yamuna ran filthy and oily. Garbage drifted on the lazy current. Not far from there, on a small island, some seagulls were pecking at a corpse. From under his feet, as everywhere around, rose a heavy rotten stench.

Kumar tapped him lightly on the shoulder and silently invited him to walk the rather steep path to the Yamuna, the sacred river.

The journalist wanted to ask something, but he gave it up and walked heavily ahead.

He had barely taken a couple of steps when he stopped abruptly. His feet had sunk into something gooey, like a decomposing brown-green-yellowish sponge. In a flash, he realized he was walking on the back of a gigantic waste hill. He jumped back to his starting position, as if the place had burnt his feet. Back where Kumar stood smiling.

On their way back, in the limousine, discreetly sniffing at his clothes, the journalist felt he had to explain:

‘Kumar, you must understand I am forever grateful for your help and friendship. But I’m afraid I won’t be able to join your family for dinner. I would have absolutely loved to meet your wife and children, the whole family. I understand there’s many of them and you’re the only provider.

‘I congratulate you. But you see, you must not feel offended… I have professional obligations, the protocol, the ethics of my profession call for me to go to this cocktail, which I really detest. You know, all these social events… But, honestly, my mind’s hand touched the Yamuna’, and his mind went That must have knocked his socks off! I have to remember that “my mind’s hand…”

Kumar looked at him through the rearview mirror, his sincere smile exposing the pure white of his teeth, and replied in a friendly voice:

‘Yes, sir.’

***

(from Trilogy of Theophil Magus – the Truth (“Xlibris”/Random House Ventures, 2008, USA /Library of Congress Control Number: 2008901520/ ISBN: Hardcover 978-1-4363-2366-6/Softcover 978-1-4363-2365-9 // In Trilogy of Theophil Magus’ 40 Tales about Man, a great variety of sacred and profane themes, archaic, mythical, contemporary /Moses, Gandhi, Christmas, children, journalism, pilgrimage etc./serves as vivid stimulation for this literary adventure, written with humor, knowledge and wit…in an inviting dialogue with the reader. /Norman Manea – American novelist, essayist);(The Truth, the second book of Trilogy of Theophil Magus is situated in the strange no man’s land where everyday life becomes truly magical. I consider these writings as splendid expressions of a unique vision of our fragmented but marvelously exciting world. Leonard Oprea’s style combines a discovery of hidden meanings of words with a fabulous sense of secret humor. His works received the highest praises from the most influential critics, who rightly compared his vision to works by Thomas Mann, Borges or Paulo Coelho./Vladimir Tismăneanu – American philosopher, author, essayist);(Leonard Oprea’s 40 Tales of Trilogy of Theophil Magus – The Truth, range from the depiction of the everyday to the mythological and Borgesian to the religious. Honored with numbers of prizes in his native Romania, this writer is a true iconoclast and a true talent./ Adam J.Sorkin – American author, essayist, editor)

 

 

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