How many distractions exist in the world so that we neither have to look at ourselves nor at each other? There came a bleak and terrifying moment in my life. It occurred abruptly when I realised that everything that I thought I wanted, I had achieved. I thought of all the sacrifices I had made and I asked myself–was it all worth it? That’s what happens when you finally see the lighthouse shining in the distance and realise the errors of your wayward ways.

I knew I was seeking forgiveness. But the person whom I was seeking forgiveness from did not have any need for it. All she knew was that she was hurting. As I explained why I did what I did, I came to fully realise the futility of all my efforts.

Why did I sacrifice you?

It hit me that everything I thought I knew, it was all a lie. It was a lie that I had concocted and fed myself as well as everyone around me. In the distance, I saw the tower. The tower of my broken dreams.

I looked back at old events with new knowledge and a renewed sense of awareness. I gazed upon the old emotions that I once had. They were beginning to fade away. There was, instead, only a spiral stairwell. All I knew was that no matter how bleak things were, the only thing I needed to do was make it to the top of the lighthouse.

And while I was inside–walking up the stairs–I felt the deepest pain I had ever known. I cried the whole time. My grief had grown too large, too large to ignore.

The whole time I was out there, in the world, I had attached my temporal identity to temporal matters: my role in the family, my job, my position, my career and my many glowing achievements. The whole time I was doing all of this, I was actually trying to reach the pinnacle of the lighthouse. I remember all the nonsense that distracted me on this quest. If I had only paid attention, I would have solved the riddle.

I heard her voice, guiding me through the darkness. Without her voice, I would have been completely lost. I would not even have known that there was a light waiting for me at the end of all of this. She gave me many clues, but I couldn’t understand the riddle, let alone answer it.

Why? What are these riddles that I cannot seem to solve?

The True Self is the light that shines at the top of the lighthouse. It’s where you naturally head towards when you finally see the light.

You see that who you truly are–and who you’re truly meant to be–is none of the things that needlessly preoccupied your time and your headspace. Those things were all just distractions on the way to the top. The temporal happiness, the temporal sadness, everything that came that just departed. Even the intense stress of it all had faded.

But I was still trying to reach the top of the lighthouse. An unseen force was propelling me forward. I had to solve the riddle.

When I arrived at the pinnacle, I saw something that I never ever thought I was going to see. I could see the view now. I could see a city, the ocean, a home, a new life. It was just waiting for me. I saw whispers of it while I was dealing with all those distractions, trying to be what I thought ‘a good man’ was. But from the other side of the shore, a glimmer that shone in the distance was calling me.

I never doubted that the lighthouse was there. But it was at end of the journey, that I finally saw it. Out in the distance, but oh so close. It was chiding me, mocking me and saying that I’d finally arrived at my destination.

It is now that your True Self will be revealed and your true life can finally begin.

I could hear her words whisper through the old Banyan trees. The old trees that stretched out into the sky only to return to earth. In the gentle rustle that travelled upon the shadow of the wind, I heard the melody of her cooing words, reaching me through time and space. I recognised those words, but they were not hers. But I recognised the Source that gave her those words.

I had always considered myself fortunate to have a wife with this gift. It was through her that I, and my children, came to understand the Source that created all life. It was through her stories, through her teachings and through her conscience that we had a foundation.

No matter how far any of us drifted, she was the foundation we had always come back to, come rain or shine.

Then the day came when that foundation disappeared from our lives. We had no idea where she had gone or if she would return. So we mourned. We cried. I met her old friends whom she had discarded like cardboard boxes. We all talked about the person that we knew. How could she do this to us?

We thought she was out there, living the life of her dreams. But when we finally found her again, she was alone. We were not there. She was by herself, struggling, without even knowing that she was struggling.

Whatever light that emanated from her had always been bright enough to chase away the darkness. I’d like to say I knew her, because we’d known each other so many lifetimes, but as I saw her again; I saw that she was entirely alone. The strength which had carried her through tough times was still there, but she had lost her will to go on.

When she saw me again, she was not glad to see me. She acted like she didn’t know me and I didn’t know her. She greeted me as she would a stranger. But she still welcomed me into her life. She showed me the kindness that she had always showed strangers.

I would watch her go about her daily business. She read a lot. I’ve never seen anyone read in that way. She would spend time with books instead of people. I saw her talk to her friends, who claimed to have loved her, who all said that she had brought them joy, laughter and happiness.

But I could see in her eyes that she didn’t feel that way about them. For when she could no longer bring them that joy, they all abandoned and shunned her. They disappeared, as fair-weather friends often do.

Books became her friends, her companions. They condensed the depth, the spirit, the beauty and the difficulties of the human experience. So she would read and read, looking for answers. I kept asking myself, “What answer is she looking for?” I didn’t know. She asked many questions that were very difficult to answer. So I kept trying to find people who could answer her questions. She was on a quest. For some reason, that quest didn’t include me or anyone else.

Why had this happened? How could this have happened?

She was all by herself, just doing her best, just to be herself; hoping someone would see her and accept her–not for her gifts–but for who she was. Because when we receive gifts from the Divine, we feel a heavy sense of burden. There are these tasks, heavy tasks. There’s a purpose and we have to fulfil it and we do. I saw her do it unfailingly time and time again.

And then I saw her relationship with this Divine Source that had blessed her. I saw that this relationship was fractured. She cried out, “I don’t want to do this anymore. Why do you keep asking me to do this? Why can’t I just be a normal person and have a normal life? Why can’t I enjoy the love of a man, a family?”

I was there when her relationship with God fractured. I had loved her, but I had never expressed it to her the way I should have. The way I could have, had I only tried, instead of escaping away into my accolades.

She kept it up. She went about and studied and read. She continued to try and guide the people around her. But they always ventured off the path and avoided the very thing that would have made things better. No sooner had she turned away that they would be up to the same old tricks, making her efforts seem worthless. With time, she started to feel worthless.

Years would go by and people would return and say, “That thing you said, that thing you told me… You were right.” It was those same immortal words, whispering through the trees, those memories, those sounds, those words; they linger. The memories, they just linger around. And some words, they haunt you, you know.

Everyone in the family has had their say about what a wonderful wife she was, what a wonderful mother she was and what a wonderful sister she was. And everyone in the family had gathered, to give advise. Go this way, not that way; don’t do this and don’t do that; why are you talking about this? Why don’t you get a decent job? Why don’t you do this?

How dare you leave? How dare you?

But left she did. She left us all and never wanted to return. I used to think that if she had loved us, she never would have done that. But it was us, who had failed miserably. We were so busy with our distractions that we never noticed the bright light that had come knocking on our door. We had shunned the light and embraced the darkness. We had brought this upon ourselves: the wrath of the Sky Father who had blessed her and none of us.

And when everyone was done giving their advise and telling this poor soul what to do, I sighed. When the light that once knocked on your door has moved onto another door, it’s too late to ask for forgiveness as the damage had been done and it could not be repaired anymore.

At that point, you realise that the only person to ask forgiveness from was God. You realise that you have deeply hurt one of his children. So you get down on your knees and stand at the altar and say, “Forgive me for what I have done to your child.” And you say this not because you are afraid, but because you finally see the error of your old wayward ways.

You see the pain that you have caused that you can never take back. You see how ruthlessly and carelessly you shattered someone’s dream. How you threw a stone at a glasshouse that was fragile. How you shattered the dreams of the only woman you had ever truly loved. The remorse that one feels is unspeakable.

But as her former family and I found the broken pieces of glass, piece by piece, we knew that all was not lost. The shards of glass, with help from the Almighty, could be resurrected.

I suppose, at the end, there is what has always been. A dream. A dream and more dreams. For once we found those broken pieces of glass, we saw ourselves reflected in that dream. We now saw how desperately we, too, wanted those dreams to be real. For that was the true dream.

Now that I am on the top of the lighthouse, I know that the dreams that you dream, my dear wife, have always been destined to be real. For when I saw my face in that shard of broken glass, I knew that that had been my True Self, and not the Self that I had constructed, that was staring back at me.

Thank you, my dear wife, for always seeing me for who I was. I hope that when we meet again, I will be a part of your dream and that you will be a part of mine.

When we first met, a long time ago, you asked me for three things. I will see to it that your wish is granted. For when your wish is granted, so shall mine be.

The Lighthouse (2021) by Dipa Sanatani

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