This is a story I love a lot. I wrote it a long time back. I don't know why it was lying in my draft folder for so long....
“Life is an illusion,” said my friend Shiva.
If the above statement were to come from you, my dear reader, or me, one would perhaps raise one’s eyebrows. Sympathetic persons would perhaps rush to our aid with tissue papers and what not. But that is not the case with Shiva. Coming from him this was a normal statement.
For, you see, Shiva is a magician.
More than that, he is a magician of repute. In the circles of occult where he dwells, his name is mentioned with awe and reverence. His fans call him ‘Shiva the shiverer’ because his trick of cutting a lady into four pieces sends shivers down the spines of the audience. He has received the prestigious ‘Prestidigitator of the year” award from the “Prestidigitator’s guild of eastern India” (Even their letterhead is in magic ink) twice. Both the times the president of the guild had called Shiva to the stage, waved his hands, plucked a trophy from thick air and handed it over to Shiva.
When a person of his stature calls life an illusion- who can argue? Who will dare counter it? I mean he is eminently qualified to make that statement.
“Life is not fair,” declared Shiva again.
When a statement like this comes from a man who can get anything he wants just by waving his hands, one has to take note. Moreover when one considers that it was only one year back that Shiva had got married and was happy. Was that an illusion?.. one wonders, one raises one’s eyebrows. And finally when one sees that Shiva was making such depressing statements hardly one week after becoming the father of a beautiful baby girl, one has to positively take cognizance.
“What caused your melancholy, Shiva? ” I inquired.
Shiva absent-mindedly waved his hand, caught a stone and threw it at a passing dog.
“What would you say when I ask you whether magic is an art or science?” he countered with a question.
“Of course, it is a science.” I replied with some feeling, for this was an issue on which I had put in a lot of thought.
Shiva didn’t reply. His attention was focused on a distant skyscraper. At length, having got tired of looking at it, he made it vanish and turned to me.
“So you think magic is a science, don’t you?” he queried.I nodded my head in asseveration.
“That is what I used to think,” he replied with painful sadness.
“You no longer feel that?” I asked.
“No, I think magic is not a science. It is an art. And I am not cut out to be a magician. I am not an artist,” he replied with bitterness.
“Oh, come on, you are a very good magician. And you know that.” I hastened to encourage him.
“Let me tell you why I feel that I am a failure,” said Shiva.
“It was one of those days, which makes people say that our city has only three types of weather – hot, hotter and hottest. I was waiting for the bus to take me home. The whole world seemed to be indoors but for me standing at the bus stop. I was looking here and there, thinking this and that and I did not see her coming. All I can say is that one moment she was not there and the next moment there she was. She looked like one of those ethereal beauties that get cut into five pieces in the latest David Copper field show.”
"It was love at first sight for me. It was so silly. I didn’t even know her name or whether she was an assistant to any of my professional competitors." Shiva continued.
"Being a magician has many a drawback (and I can enumerate them if time permits) but it has its advantages when it comes to getting acquainted with pretty ladies. It was with me…the wave of a hand to create a dark cloud."
“I think it is going to rain,” I told her.
She was startled for a moment but pulled herself back.“I don’t think so,” she was skeptical.
Unobtrusively I made the cloud darker.
“Yes, I think it is going to rain. But it is so surprising. It was very hot and sunny a moment ago. It almost looks like magic,” She said.
"Friend, let me tell you something (said Shiva). As an opening gambit, nothing can beat the weather. We talked about the weather in our city and much more. She was from the neighboring city and had come here for an interview. She was well educated and her hobbies were reading and cooking.Surprisingly she knew a lot about magic. She had heard about Houdini and was a fan of Sorcar. As far as her knowledge in magic goes, she said that she knew a lot of card tricks. She even told me a few. They were elementary tricks, which I used to perform as a kid. But I pretended to be surprised by them anyway."
"Soon we started meeting each other regularly. It was just a matter of time before we fell in love with each other. Like I said earlier, magic has its uses, especially during courtship. There was never a meeting where I did not give her any presents or gifts. Sometimes they were things that I purchased from shops. But even when I forgot to buy a present, I could always pluck something from the air and give it to her."
"Many a diamond brooches, apples, barbie dolls and books did I give her thus." Shiva smiled at the thought.
"During our courtship I told her that I was a magician. I informed her that my ambition as a magician is to perform the ‘ultimate magic trick’. You know what it is? It is the ability to create a beautiful lady out of thin air. As far as I know only David Copper field has performed it. He created a lady and named her Michelle Pfiffer. And later married her."
"I wanted to become the second magician to perform the ‘ultimate trick’." Shiva continued.
"We got married around eleven months back." Shiva informed me.
"Married life is heavenly, my friend. It is my conviction that everybody should get married. My wife turned out to be a good listener and was always ready to help me out with my work. You know that I am called ‘Shiva the shiverer’ because of my ability to cut a lady into four pieces. What you don’t know is that I had extensively practiced this trick on my wife. Once I had accidentally cut her into six pieces instead of four. Royal mess it was. It took some effort to restore her to normal.”
Shiva took a pigeon from his pocket and let it go.
“What I did not know then was that she was learning magic all the time. I don’t know where she got the time for it, but she was practicing it unknown to me. I learnt this by accident. Last week, last Monday to be precise, when I reached home after a hectic day, the servant maid opened the door. She informed me that my wife was in the bedroom. When I went there I saw her lying on the bed with a beautiful girl lying beside her. I asked her where she got the girl from? She informed me (with a mischievous smile) that she had created her from thin air with a wave of her hand." Shiva said with a perplexed look.
"Can you believe it? Here I was, trying for over three years to learn this trick and she had picked up the skills in just six months. Now you know when I say that magic is an art. I have found that I am not a good artist. My wife is."
“I am only an ordinary magician,” concluded Shiva bringing the skyscraper back to view.