The Theatre

  Classification : Deep introspection and observation. 
  P h i l o s o p h y

  He is no way extraordinary and yet 
  extraordinary. He lives the very 
  ordinary life just like you and yet he 
  is not you. He is not somewhere in  
  the sky. He is here but still beyond you  
                       - Osho

           Inside the large compound of the theatre building, a huge crowd gathered near the ticket counter and waited patiently in the queue. Strings of wires carrying small serial bulbs radiated from the theatre nameboard located on top of the building and terminated on the compound wall fence. Light which emanated from small bulbs of various colors merged with one other and illuminated the theatre with a strange color. It also fell on the posters pasted on the wall without wrinkles and gave them a pleasant appearance.
          Outside the theatre compound, flash lights threw light lavishly on a big poster – good enough to turn the head of any passerby in the vicinity of the theatre. Two small shops, dimly lit, were doing good business for their owners. A boy was using a piece of land nearby the small shops to accommodate the vehicles. Many ignored the boy and parked their vehicles inside the compound. People who had tough time in saving money to buy the cinema ticket decided against parking their cycles inside the compound and bought the cheap tickets from the boy.
         As minutes passed by, more number of people came inside and the queue took a right angle turn. Teenagers who have been eagerly waiting for the arrival of the film, kept their eyes glued on the ticket counter, their minds seriously worried whether they will be able to get the ticket, especially those who were standing in the queue far away from the counter. Others kept looking at the posters to get a rough idea of the film. The posters of the film boasted the presence of popular actor, actresses, master music composer and a very efficient director. The film occupied the no:1 slots in most of the TV networks and magazines. Advertisements in newspapers and televisions brought more people into the theatre.
         A group of five students who seemed to have escaped from their institute, jumped out of a moving bus and walked hurriedly into the compound. Two of them stationed themselves in the queue, one went to see how lengthy the queue is and the other two went to smoke cigarrettes outside the compound. After a short while, the informer returned and assured the queue standers the chances of getting the ticket. A little later, the smokers returned back and relieved the others.
         A bell rang loudly and indicated completion of a show. Hundreds of people with pre-occupied faces came out of the hall – their minds after returning to their real world, started to remind them their identity, the friends with whom they came, their vehicles and pictorial address of their houses. The shops which they saw before entering the hall appeared to look as if they saw them many days back. The ringing of the bell and the exit of the people alerted the people who have been engaged in conversation. People who were standing away from the queue took the places in front of their friends, causing the queue to expand and bend a little. The right angle shape of the queue took the shape of the tick mark of the ‘Nike’ company.
         A breeze blew over the trees and made the leaves to dance. The sound of the air song travelled pleasantly in the theatre area. Small papers on the floor began to roll slowly. A young man passed the theatre gate and as if a thought occurred to him, stopped a while, took a soft about turn and walked slowly inside. His peculiar way of walking attracted the people. His delicate body language revealed his soft nature. His clothes, his hair and footwear refused to reveal the name of his religion. The young man on very keen observation turned out to be a monk.
         The monk belonged to the category in which the monks do not allow their ego to become religious. More to the point. They don’t have ego. Externally, they look as ordinary as common people. They wear common clothes and mingle freely with the crowd. Monks of this category can even be seen weighing flax in store room ( Zen Master Tozan), cutting vegetables in kitchen, reading comic books and enjoying ( Ramana Maharishi), working in farms, cutting wood and bringing water ( Zen Master – Lin Chi) etc. In fact, it is very difficult to identify them as monks. These types of monks though they do not have any fixed principle, generally adopt the attitude “Life is simple” and that “Nothing is Good and Nothing is Bad” in this God created Universe.
         One man in the line after finishing his cigarette threw the stub and crushed it with his feet. Another broke away from the queue, emptied the semi-solid gutka from his mouth and again joined the queue. One small boy ejected the chewing gum from his tired mouth with pin point accuracy into a rusted tin opening. Many others engaged themselves in a little gossip. Some who had come alone tried to invite nearby standers into conversation.
         A few minutes later many more got added up. Some of the latecomers and those who have been frequenting the theatre after seeing the crowd, decided to adopt a “hit or miss” attitude, went to the ticket counterend of the queue and gave it a swollen appearance. The people who were standing obediently started to look for the crowd controller. There came none. This encouraged more outstanders to go near the counterend. Seeing this, one man got very much annoyed and shouted “AAYYEE”. Following him, the crowd shouted an extended “AAYYEE” in chorus.
         The monk was standing in the middle of the line – his face completely filled with silence. His vacant observant eyes did not show any kind of liking, condemnation, appreciation, attachment, hatred or compassion towards the Good and the Bad.
         Light inside the ticket counter announced issuance of tickets. People who got the tickets were seen half happy and half worried. Happy because they got the ticket and worried because they may not be able to sit and watch the movie for the theatre management issued tickets more than the number of seating capacity.
         The ticket holders were made to stand outside and wait for the entrance door to open. The door passage was two feet broad – only enough for two persons to pass through and there were hundreds of people waiting outside. As soon as the door was opened, people went piercing inside. Those who were exactly in front of the door passage were carried inside by the pressure of the crowd and those who were standing nearby the passageway were pressed to the wall. One weakling after a big struggle came out of the crowd with fear of being killed.
         As it happened, opposite to the theatre building from a small shop, through the glass pane of a photo frame hung on a wall, Mahatma Gandhi was viewing the happenings and was seen smiling. Something must have reminded him of the struggle during the yesteryears – the 1940s.
         Near the ticket counterend a man with a thick stick landed heavily a series of blows to disperse the non-queue members. Closer the man went towards them, the same equal distance the people retreated. The people in the queue seemed to enjoy the sight. The man after chasing them to a considerable distance went to the other side to control the mass of the ticket holders. Some latecomers started to persuade the queue standers to let them inside for them and at the same time had an eye on the man with the stick who was at a safe distance from them.
         A swarthy man showed the queue standers the presence of many black tickets in his hand. Some people in the queue now became divided in their options whether to buy the black ticket or to stand in the queue and get the ticket from the counter. They began to think what if they didn’t get the counterticket and the black tickets are also sold out. Suppose, the black tickets turn out to be fakes, then …….
         Courageous people who overcame their fear surrounded the swarthy man. Secret bargain took place between them and the swarthy man. One boy who had lost all hopes of getting a counter-ticket, popped out of the queue, “carefully” went near the ticket counter end, saw the faces of the tickets coming out of the counter and thenafter went to the swarthy man. After ascertaining the genuiness of the ticket by making a pictured comparison in his mind, he bought the ticket. Having done so, he gave a triumphant look. The people in the queue cursed him softly and waited patiently in the queue.
         The monk ‘willfully’ allowed entry inside the line to a college boy following his request. The college boy extended his heartfelt thanks to the monk and pre-occupied himself with the worry of getting the ticket. Other latecomers tried to give money to the queue standers and asked them to buy tickets for them also. Most of the queue standers refused.
         The queue maintained its mobility. The monk was now only a few persons away from the counter. One man who was standing behind a ticket collector from the counter tried to peep through the grills of the counter to see whether ticket is left for him. After a few seconds, when his turn came, he snatched the ticket greedily and whizzed away from the counter.
         College boy in front of the monk successfully got the ticket and came away from the counter beaming with joy. His face was so radiant that if the richest man in this world happened to see him now, he would have felt an uncontrollable jealousy towards him. In his happiness, he forgot to thank the monk again and went to face the other part of the struggle. The monk’s turn came. When the monk was about to insert his hand inside the counter, the counter door closed with a thud. The monk looked absolutely undisturbed.

Written by  Gokula Anand.                                           Year : 1999

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