In the stygian darkness, a faint red glow surrounded a small pedestal kept nearly at the centre of the hall. Atop that table was a bottle, containing a scientific relict bathed in a pool of vinegar, preserved for a suitable day in the future when Man would be willing to find this storehouse of unfathomable information about the past world. And the red glow was from the most important object in the hall, a real Human Heart. A heart ripped out by a scientist with his own hands in order to preserve it for a future generation. Many centuries had passed and yet no one came to retrieve these artefacts. But the heart had hope. It knew that one day a man would come along with a woman and they would have that heart for their own and instill the peace and equilibrium which had once existed.
Long, Long ago, Mankind was at such a stance that war was commonplace and all of the world’s strength and intelligence was dedicated to creating better arms and ammunitions. War had been a passion for them since ages before that and Man was truly dedicated to reaching the end of each other, willing not to stop until all others had died. In such a scenario, there was but one weakness which held back Man from becoming a true God of War. And that was Love. Many great warriors and Generals had fallen due to matters of the Heart, killed when reminiscing or betrayed by their own. Such was the hatred brewing among the ranks that one day, a brave soul went ahead and ripped out his heart, leaving no place for a weak emotion and thus became so ruthless that no one could stand afore him. His army soon followed suit and became great warriors and fighters. Such was their terror that everyone did the same to their hearts and stomping over them, becoming so stolid that they were incapable of Love. They became great fighters but lost their humaneness. In rage, they glowed like a red neon bulb, harming others even by their wrath. Amidst such a bloody vista, no man or woman could possibly remain with a heart and so even those who were not directly fighting tore out their hearts and fought away to glory. Mankind became an animal of contempt, wasting not a second on Love. The last one, a scientist, who swore never to rip his heart out, did so after his wife attacked him near fatally, killing their child in the process. But before he did so, he created a lockhold containing all the pleasures of his time and enough stock of food, wine and riches which he thought were enough to hold out for anyone who came looking for this place, with Love in his heart and their Lover by their side. That person would have the heart and Humanity would start afresh. Then the scientist filled hi heart with immense hope, ripped it out, put it in the bottle of vinegar and went out of the hold to kill his wife.
After many centuries had passed the ripping of the last heart, Humanity stood at the brink of extinction. Having done nothing other than fight, kill and reproduce, there were so few left that the wasteland around them had enough place for each to go into hiding. There were no communities, every man and woman was for themselves and whenever there was a confrontation, there would be a fight and the better won. Weapons were more sophisticated and thoughts more lethal.
Amidst this, a man and woman met each other and although they knew from first sight that they wanted nothing less than to kill each other, as soon as they began fighting, they just couldn’t! When one hurt, the other cried in pain and when one got the blow, the other felt it. It wasn’t so with anyone else. Men and Women had been raping each other for centuries, making sure they reproduce to create more warriors, but they had done so in lust, never feeling this odd feeling which these two individuals were feeling right now. They did not want to create warriors, they wanted to be together, without having to rip out the heart of their offspring as soon as it was born, as was custom.
All the ravaging which affected the other warriors did not get to these two beings, who felt something they had never known before. The man knew instinctively that this was something called Love, a remnant of the Old World and a veritable weapon when in the hands of others. Stories of yore reminded him that he had to travel to the farther end of the world where amidst the barren lands lay a mythical kingdom where he would achieve true freedom and gain a power which would make him a Superhuman, even, perhaps, a God, if only he made the journey with this woman. As much as suppressed these thoughts, they only grew stronger and his animal instincts soon gave way to his curiosity to seek this magical land. He convinced the woman to go with him and promised her a life completely different from the one they led now. She agreed, but not without demurring on the topic. Finally, they both set out together to solve this enigma, facing the wrath of many people whom they met and destroyed them as they went. During one such fight with a middle aged but very experienced man, they were geurillaed by a young man who attacked the man with gusto but dropped his weapon when he laid eyes on the woman. Apparently, he had the same illness as the other two and confessed immediately to the woman. Although the woman was amused by this young fellow but wasn’t attracted to him. His feelings unrequited, he swore to follow the woman everywhere and help her in every way possible.
So went on their journey till they came to the barren wasteland. Here fear took over the young man’s emotions as he was not yet so experienced at war and he withdrew, saying that he would wait for them here till they returned, if they returned.
For many months, the duo searched for the place, hoping to find it at any moment. They finished off their food reserves and lived on water, pining for that day when they would find this Promised Land. At last, they found the entrance, with the sign of a palm on the door. The woman was too tired and wished to rest, so she suggested that he go on inside, as it were his idea and his journey from the starting. So the man went to the entrance and put the flat of his palm on the sign and the door opened.
As the man entered the hall, lights switched on all over the place and the man had to cover his eyes , for although he had seen such bright lights many times when bombs had gone off around him but none were so clear. Eventually he got used to the light and looked around. He was amazed to find riches beyond his expectations and wine beyond measure just kept there, as though waiting just for him. He took a swig too many before he discovered food so much that that the world could have eaten. A golden liquid labelled honey gave him the sweetest taste he had ever known while in a cold box labelled Dates, he found something which when he ate gave him so much energy that he felt he could have killed any number of men and women with his bare hands. As he discovered more, he reached the centre of the hall. That’s when his eyes fell on the bottle of vinegar and the amazing object in it which glowed with such intensity it could have been a dying Sun. As soon as he set his eyes on it, the man understood, this was his Destiny. He stood in front of a Revolution. As he approached the bottle, something arose in his mind, like a second voice in his head which wanted to talk to him.
The Voice was crystal clear when it asked him who he was and he answered by introducing himself and giving the reason of his visit. Hearing this, the Voice seemed overjoyed and thanked him for coming. Then he asked the Voice who it was.
The Voice said, “I am the Human Heart, the last of its kind. I lie in this bottle and bring with myself the promise of hope and happiness and prosperity beyond imagination. I promise to restore order and equilibrium and to bring this world back from the fathoms of darkness, pain and war.” Hearing this, it was the man’s turn to be overjoyed and he asked the Heart how it would do so.
The Heart replied, “I have within me, the power to create Love, the feeling which has brought you so far. When I am fitted into your chest, peace and harmony will spread through this world and you yourself will Love. No longer will lust be the reason for men and women to come together and no longer will anyone fight to kill. I will help you to have a truly amorous relationship and you will make friends and will be the Saviour of All Mankind. The difference between Man and Animal is not that Man can think; it is that Man can Love. Man became an Animal the day the first heart was ripped out of its body. But now Man will Love again and Live again and will be, Human, again.”
Hearing this, the man rushed towards the pedestal to hug the bottle, but the Voice spoke again, dallying him just a little bit more, “But before that, I must know two things.”
“What are those?” asked the man.
“First of all, where is the woman?”
“She is just outside; she stopped because she was tired.”
“Then you must go to her as soon as I am installed in your chest, because she is the reason you came here.”
“I will do that.”
“Good, now the second thing- after you felt beckoned to me and now that you are here, do you hate anyone so much as to want to bring harm to them?”
At once the man thought of the young man who waited for them at the edge of the barren lands. He knew that the boy had lusted for his woman and he hated him for it. His body started to glow menacingly as he fell into a reverie of what he would do to that man if his woman were not around. But the very next moment, it stopped glowing as the Heart had spoken again, “Stop hating the Young Man. he can do you no harm and he will be instrumental in making you popular. Once you and the Woman fall in Love, he will become a venerating servant and will spread your story far and wide and people will want to know you and Love like you. He will be there by your side when you will bring peace to the World.”
The anger in the man subsided and a calm ensued. Thinking straight, Man went up to the pedestal and took the Heart out from the bottle. The Heart urged him to install it into the cavity in his chest. Man did so and at once, the centuries old Hope of the Scientist rushed into him, giving him strength and determination. The Heart felt the pain and anger in Man subside and felt itself fit perfectly into the chest of Man. It was Destiny.
She had rested well and was rejuvenated. It had been a while since the man had gone through the entrance and the woman was anxious for him to come back. They hadn’t eaten in days and she was hoping that he would rush back to her when he found food so that they could continue the adventure together. But he had not appeared for so long. At first she thought of going in too, but she was too tired to follow and so she rested. After a while she sat thinking that he was probably fighting some sort of fight inside and that is why he had not returned. Her ruminations were put on hold as she saw him emerge from the entrance. He was holding a bottle of wine in one hand and some sort of food in the other. She was happy that he came for her as soon as he could. But then she saw the smile of contentment on his face and not a single mark of a fight on him, she was enraged at him. He had been enjoying himself while she starved outside. She felt anger brewing inside her. When he started to tell her about all the riches and food and his talk with the Heart, she felt resentment, contempt that Man had chosen to chat with a silly bottle of vinegar instead of returning to give her food and drink. She felt Anger fill her to the brim and explode outwards.
Seeing her glow, Man tried to talk to her, to calm and soothe her by telling Woman what the Future held for them. This angered her even more and having rested and regained her energy, she swiftly took out her dagger and thrust it exactly where she knew would hurt him the most, in the centre of Man’s chest. The Heart felt the blow like a nail having been stuck into it. The pain was unbearable and the Heart shrank, the Hope and Energy having been drained out of it. There was no more Love and Man swayed, unable to bear the pain. He clutched the Heart tightly, not wanting to let go of his Destiny. But the Death of the Heart was his own too and in his last moments he knew that THIS was his Destiny, for Man can never truly Love.
The Horrible Heart by Nitin Khanna is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.