It was a cold winter night. There was not a single soul in sight, man or animal. As Arthur walked towards the empty street, he felt like someone was following him. He looked back, but it was isolated. He dismissed it and walked on, and before long, the sound came again. It seemed like a faint scream. This time, he was sure it wasnt his feeling. The sound wasn’t coming from the street, but from an old building adjacent to the street corner. There was no light in the building except for a shimmer on the window from a candle. Arthur moved towards the building slowly, cautious not to make any sounds or alert anyone inside the building. He picked the lock with deftness that belonged only to a trained professional. He was a professional after all, a famous one. He moved towards the room from where the sound came. As he reached for the door, something inside him warned to be armed. He took out his pistol from inside the coat and then, as if to surprise the enemy, just kicked the door with such might that it broke open, revealing a sight that would have horrified anyone, but him. Lying there on the bed was a man, stab wound on his chest and shoulder. The killer was now trying to strangle a lady, possibly the wife of the deceased. Arthur jumped towards the killer and used the back of his pistol to land a perfect blow to his head. As the killer fell, his face revealed and suddenly Arthur was shocked. It was a serial killer they had been tracing for months. The police was called and procedures were being completed, but Arthur was in a different world now. He couldn’t hide his relief or happiness. He knew of the adulations that he would receive. The media would hail him again. “Arthur the prince”, as he was called by the media, was back. The prince among the crime detectives.
“What the hell do you think you are doing, Arthur ?”
Arthur turned back, startled, to hear the voice behind him. It was Robin, visibly upset with the sight on his desk.
“Hey Robin, i was just …”, Arthur tried to mumble an excuse.
“I have warned you many times not to touch my laptop or write in my blog. You just cannot do such things”
“But Robin, this is just not fair. I dont like what i do. I need to make changes to my life.”
“Arthur, for your good, i am hoping you were not trying to change your character.”
Robin went through the changes made on the laptop and turned towards Arthur.
“Arthur, this is my last warning. If you ever try to change the script or your character, i will have to take drastic measures. You know what i mean. Look at this. What is this detective crap. You are a farmer from a remote village for gods sake. You cannot just turn yourself into characters as you wish. I hold your destiny. I created you. I decide what happens to you and it doesnt involve you becoming a detective.”
Arthur’s face suddenly turned red and this time, Robin felt scared.
“Robin, I have had it with you. You cannot just play god with me. I agree that you have created me, but that is it. How i live is my wish. I don’t like you prying on me day and night. I want my freedom. If you can take drastic measures, so can i. Don’t make me kill myself.” Arthur said and walked away.
Wow. Robin did not expect that coming.
Robin was a popular fiction writer. He had created many characters. All his characters were loved by people. His characters had a life of their own, people would say. He loved that comment, but he did not expect it to turn into reality. Three months ago, he had started his latest novel, set on the backdrop of a remote village. It was the story of Arthur, a farmer from the village. It was a story about common man’s struggle with his destiny. Arthur had to endure all the hardships from his childhood and now was grown man in his late twenties.
Two weeks ago, Robin had come back from his office, and as was his routine, went to have a shower and then sat down for a light dinner. After his dinner, he poured some whiskey into a glass and sat thinking about the plot for his new novel. An instant idea flashed into his mind. He kept his glass aside and ran towards his laptop, lest he forgot. He was shocked to see that the scenes were all jumbled and the story made no sense. Someone had been in his house. The house did not show any signs of burglary or break in. He looked around for any missing items, but nothing. If it wasn’t an outside person, there was only one explanation to all this. Alcohol. He had been drinking heavily after his divorce. May be he had changed it himself and he wasn’t aware. He had to rewrite the entire thing now. It took him a week to get back to where he started from.
Just as he had forgotten the drinking incident, it happened again. The story changed again. This time it wasn’t the alcohol. He did not drink this week. As he was about to call the police, someone walked towards him from behind and called his name.
Robin turned back to see a young man in his late twenties.
“Who the hell are you ?”
“Don’t you know me, Robin? You created me. I am Arthur”
Robin jumped from his seat. What just happened ? Robin pinched himself, just to wake up from the dream. This did not seem real.
“What do you want ?” Robin asked, still recovering from the shock.
“I want to grow up and be a famous person. Not a farmer”
Robin composed himself now. He walked towards Arthur and looked into his eyes.
“That is not gonna happen, Arthur” Robin told sternly and walked away.
Thus began this weird fight between the writer and character, the creator and the created, that continued to this day.
Today was a different fight. Arthur had just threatened to kill himself. Robin hadn’t thought this. He knew that Arthur had no capacity to do such thing. What actually worried Robin was the pain with which Arthur mentioned it. Robin now started wondering. Do all characters really have a life of their own ? To what extent did an author have rights on their character. He sat thinking about it all night.
Next morning, he waited at his desk, for Arthur to appear again. He would talk to him, as a friend, not his creator. Arthur did not appear that day, or for the next two days. Finally the third day, as Robin was getting ready to go out, Arthur came.
“Hello Robin. Good morning”
“Hey Arthur ! How glad am i to see you. We need to talk”
“Robin, listen, i am sorry i shouted at you the other day. I did not mean to. Please understand that it does not feel good to be told what to do at each point in life. I have my own ambitions. I want my life lead by me, not micro managed by you”
“Arthur, i thought about your situation. I have been waiting to talk to you. You would be delighted to hear that i am ready to comply with your request.”
Arthur couldn’t believe it. He had finally managed to convince his creator. He could actually decide his life.
“But before you start jumping, i have a condition”
Arthur was ready to listen to anything as long as his wish was fulfilled.
“Sure Robin ! What is it ?”
“You can decide your life, but i need to be involved. We can decide on your future together. And detective is out of question. Strictly.”
Arthur was disappointed again. “What do you mean ? If i need to take your permission, hows it any different from you writing it ?”
“No no” Robin corrected his statement. “I did not mean that. I want you to talk to me as your best friend and lets decide together what is best for you. Convince me”
“That is a fair point. Agreed.”
The next few days, Arthur and Robin sat together for a few hours after work. Many options were discussed. Policeman, Lawyer, Software engineer, Mechanic and many more. They weren’t able to fix on something. Finally Robin decided to have the tough talk.
“Arthur, what exactly do you want out of your life ?”
“I want to be famous. I want to lead a rich life. I want to have the most beautiful woman in my life.”
“Arthur, look, i am sure all these are common dreams of every young man. Where did you get these ideas from ?”
“I read your other books. They were all famous and rich. Lawyers, businessmen, entrepreneurs. I liked their style, their charisma. I liked the way they flaunt everything they have.”
“Let me interrupt you there. How many of my books did you complete reading ?”
“None. Why ?”
“Why don’t you read a few in the next one week and come back to me?”
“Fine. Lets meet next week then”
After a week, Arthur was back, as promised. He looked more confused than ever.
“Hey Arthur, whats up my man ?”
“That was the saddest hello i have heard in a year dude. What happened ?”
“I completed two of your books”
“How did you like it ?”
“I understand what you were trying to say last week. Sure, they had the best life. They had the best luxuries money could buy, but their life had a void. They were struggling even with all luxuries”
“What else did you learn ?”
“They were happy from outside, but not from the inside. They lacked something. They lacked meaning in life. They had forgotten their nature, their real self in the process of living an external life.”
“Good. I am happy you caught a good point there. Now tell me, why did i make you a farmer ?”
“Because i am closer to nature ?”
“Excellent ! there you go. Realization point. Arthur, now tell me, do you want to follow their footsteps or create your own”
“Definitely create my own. Towards realizing my self. Towards understanding nature. To fill the void in me.”
“And how would you do that ? If you can answer that you have a bonus point. Not only do you get to choose your profession, but you get to write about it as well”.
Arthur’s face lit up. He spent the next hour discussing what he wanted to do to get to his goal. Robin pitched in and finally they came up with an answer. Robin kept his word, and allowed Arthur to write his own story.
This is how Arthur finished his story.
“Although born into a poor family, life taught me that lack of wealth should not deter me from achieving my goal. My mind was my greatest strength. I understood early on that people learn more during difficult situations than happiness. The key to fill the void in me, i learnt, was to stay alike during both happiness and sadness. Confront sadness with courage and accept victory with humility. Accept challenges of life and overcome them. If you lose, it is an experience. If you win, it is an achievement. Keep count of your victories and losses, and store them in a box, but nothing inside your head. If you store them inside your head, you will lose your real self, which is changeless.
As for me, i do not like to be a farmer. I want to stay closer to nature. I will travel the world. I want to see new places, meet new people. I want to read books. I want to realize my self in others. I want to realize the divinity called nature.
I thank Robin for this great opportunity to let me go on this journey of realization. I wish you all good luck in your endeavors. I wish we meet in this journey of life and share a story or two. Until we meet again mate.
PS : I am still a detective, trying to solve this mystery called life.”