Tao 4:02 - The Ladder

There was a tall ladder in the corner, resting against the wall. It went nowhere in particular. The Tao was mildly amused at the placement of the ladder.

“Where does one go with this ladder?” the Tao asked the lady in yellow sari, who was the only one around in the crumbling old fort, and therefore the only one who could be asked that question.

She smiled a beatific smile, exposing a set of teeth ravaged by million years of chewing paan and betel nut. “Nowhere,” said she, “If you climb this ladder to the end, you don’t come back. You vanish through that wall up there. Vamoose! Budhua climbed it against my telling him a thousand times not to. He never came back. That bastard! Now I have fourteen children to feed.”

“Who is Budhua? Why did he climb the ladder?” asked the Tao.

“My husband,” said the lady, “Why did he climb it? He was stupid, that’s why.”

“I think I will climb it,” said the Tao, “I want to know what is up there.”

“Why do you want to climb it? You don’t look stupid,” said the lady, “But then I am possibly wrong. Men are stupid. Go ahead, climb it.”

So the Tao did. When he reached the end of the ladder, there was nothing but solid wall of the fort up there.

“Look at me, I am still here. I haven’t vanished, have I?” said the Tao to the lady in yellow sari from his perch high up on the ladder.

“Yes, now you have!” said the lady in yellow sari, as she pulled the ladder’s feet away from their moorings. There was a frightening, yet wonderful, sense of weightlessness as the Tao kept falling, hurtling through the dark expanse of space. Stars zoomed by, a few white dwarfs here and there, a million or more asteroids, some perilously close at times, but still managing to avoid impact mysteriously. The Tao was sweating profusely, and the beads of sweat, like pearls, flew away into space, gathering cosmic dust, and soon they were coalescing into a giant planet with an azure blue ocean of sweat, and the Tao was falling into it, into that ocean of sweat, headlong.

“You were dreaming, O Tao,” said Mina, the new student from the Valley of Kashmir. She had taken a fascination for Tao, and shares his bed on Wednesday nights. “Is it that lady with yellow sari, again?”

“Actually, yes,” said the Tao, “how could you guess?”

“I can see it on your face when you are cheating on me,” said Mina.