I had never wanted it to end this way but the story died with him. Had it ever lived? After all, we were probing what life is.
I think he found the answer but he didn't tell me or maybe he couldn't.
It's not that I have not looked for him. Everywhere I go -- wherever there are people, many people, I search for his face. One or two came close. There is a limit to God's ingenuity; but none came close enough.
As I sit on the periphery of this dancing monster, full of people: I still look for him. The monster -- a huge monster gobbles up, with its tentative tentacles, anybody who dares to come close enough. I still wonder at the effect a few decibels of sound can have on people -- I still search for a meaning. It was this search for a meaning which gave birth to a story -- our story: "All's Nothing That Ends".
The myth of Sisyphus, an ancient legend, had captured our imaginations. Sisyphus a Greek hero was condemned by the Gods to constantly rolling a stone uphill, from whence it will fall. He will do it again and again. This seems so much like life: all actions to no end, all sweat, all toil, all happiness, all victory, all loss, to what end? None, it seemed.
So, a notebook was bought, the story began, and Sisyphus was reborn. I would write a page or two and pass on the notebook to him, and he would do the same. Sometimes, we sat together in places like this and experimented with Sisyphus. Often we wrote 'till daylight fatally wounded the beautiful night with its sharp glimmering swords. Our Sisyphus grew stronger day by day, night by night (for the sake of accuracy), like the ever expanding feeling of nothingness of life. We had endowed him with great riches, and he had no other mission in life, but to look for the mission of life.
Sisyphus never knew who his father was: his mother had been in coma for the twenty years he had been alive. He had no relations, no attachments, but for the eternal quest, which is probably why what happened, happened. He tried to love, he tried to hate, kill (himself and others), he tried to escape reality but he could not find an answer.
We often debated on how the story should end. I argued that the answer and the end of Sisyphus lay in getting attached to this giant unstoppable monster which threatens to gobble me any moment. My friend did not differ; yet he did. He said that the answer lay in Sisyphus, but, would not say what it was; still it seemed that he knew the answer.
I grew sick of Sisyphus because he refused to change. He refused to be attached. Whatever my friend wrote he made sure of this. So once when I had the notebook; when Sisyphus was in my control; I decided to end Sisyphus and the story with him. I wrote the following passage:
"Now look Sisyphus, said the writer, "The answer lies without and not within. And since you do not have a without, you have to well die." Sisyphus laughed at the writers face and disappeared back into the circle of life. This is the end.The next day I met my friend I told him, "I have ended the story, you can have a look at it."
"Sure," he said without expression and took the notebook with him.
I read a cheap paperback late into that night and woke up late next morning to find the notebook slipped back in my room. Why had he returned it so early, I wondered. The following lines had been scribbled on the last page after what had supposedly been the end
Or is it? Sisyphus is not mortal; he cannot die. What do you think he was up to when this notebook lay idle, or even before it was bought, maybe? He was there, watching us wonder about him, his name, his quest for meaning. We only thought we created him, we only thought we controlled him. You only thought you killed him. Sisyphus will not die; you will, I will.This was the last that I heard from my friend.
Before I find myself shaking a leg or two, succumbing finally to the ever increasing
power of this monster, I would like to tell you once again -- I had never wanted it to end this
way, but, he died with the story.
© 1998 Misam Abbas, all rights reserved
appears here by permission