Sunday, December 30, 2007

Human Void (Ikebana and Kansei)

“Ting-ti-ting, Ting-ti-ting, Ting-ti-ting, Seven o’clock … Good morningggggg…get up Mrs. Ikebanaaaaaaaa …the pink medicine and the herbal tea is waiting for you!!!”

Ting-ti-ting, Ting-ti-ting, Ting-ti-ting, Seven o’clock… Good morningggggg…get up Mrs. Ikebanaaaaaaaa …the pink medicine and the herbal tea is waiting for you!!!”

Ting-ti-ting, Ting-ti-ting, Ting-ti-ting, Seven o’clock … Good morningggggg…get up…Mrs. Ikebanaaaaaaaa …the pink medicine and the herbal tea is waiting for you!!!”
The specially devised alarm clock rang!

Barely in her senses, Ikebana shouted, “Kansei…shut that!” Her feeble voice could not shout further but Kansei knew it all! One word and all his sensory nerves were at work!

Ikebana was 72 and lived with her only espousal ‘Kansei’.

Ikebana slowly got up from the bed and drank her tea. She walked towards the balcony with the help of a walker. The rising skyscrapers blocked the blue water beauty of the Tokyo city. Outside the window Ikebana took a deep breath and returned to the living room. She opened her treasure chest and took out her old diary. The smudged blue ink and the jaded yellow paper were a metaphor to her wrinkles and freckles. Yet the mind’s eye and the diary’s heart had preserved the golden memories of the youthful days. Ikebana, her husband, her little daughter and the picture perfect life…

Ikebana’s husband ‘Michiko’ was a scientist and use to work with a Japan Research organization. His work kept him busy most of the times, but Ikebana never complained. At the age of 60, he died due to over exertion and a stressful life. Ikebana’s daughter decided to study aerospace engineering and moved to the U.S. She did not dislike her mother but she was neither fond of her. Ikebana yet maintained her equanimity and the strong willed lady lived her life alone ahead…

A tear rolled down Ikebana’s eyes as she read the last letter Michiko wrote her. It told her about his clandestine feelings towards her which he never expressed and yet felt so strongly…She closed the diary and kept it on the table besides the neatly arranged Tsutsuji flowers. Ikebana could see her reflection in it. She wiped her tears and smiled. She murmured to herself: ‘Kansei must have surely done that. Only he, after Michiko knows that those red flowers are my favorite’. Ikebana itself meant flower arrangement and even though the flowers in her were withering, Kansei tried his best to bring their fragrance back in her life. Ikebana’s display of feelings was like the arrangement of the Tsutsuji flowers. They were adorned to exhibit and yet she suffered the pain of the pluck!

Kansei had somewhere transformed her life. Her loneliness seemed to have vanished…
Just at that thought Kansei came and sat besides after cleaning the kitchen cabinet. He served her favorite cardamom tea along with her medicines. Ikebana smiled and started narrating her childhood instances to Kansei. When she laughed, Kansei laughed along, when she cried, Kansei cried along… Ikebana almost relived her childhood instances. And Kansei sure was quite a patient listener.

Hours passed by. It was 7pm now. Kansei got up to make dinner for Ikebana. He pulled out the noodle packets which were kept besides the refrigerator and the lubricants. Minutes later Ikebana was served her dinner. Ikebana heard the pitter patter sounds while she was finishing up her soup and noodles. She got up to peep outside the window. It was pouring heavily. Hysterically paranoid, she pressed all the buttons on the remote to close the doors and the windows. She shouted “Kansei, where are you? Stay in. Come in here”. She started breathing heavily, her heart pounding. She felt weak in her legs. Kansei came. She took a sigh of breath when she saw him. She smiled. He smiled. She finished her dinner.

The routine continued. Ikebana felt more and more affectionate towards Kansei. She felt like he was her new found world. A world in which people were too busy to care for an old worthless lady like her! Often they would sit and play video games together. Kansei had taught her many such things! They would read book together, indulge in unique flower decoration etc.

Days passed by. Ikebana’s health started deteriorating. She now lay on her bed. She was breathing heavily. She rang the bell besides and Kansei came in. Through the movement of her eyes, she asked him to sit besides her. She confronted Kansei by telling her about how he had filled her life with beautiful colours. Her old age had been quite contended and that she was very grateful to her husband for giving Kansei to her. She could fight with her isolation and solitude only because of Kansei. The human void in her life was filled by Kansei. Tears started rolling down her eyes as she struggled to breathe. “I love you Kansei. Thank you for all that you did for me”. She took her last breathe and closed her eyes. Kansei stood there motionlessly. Tears started rolling down his eyes too. He was programmed to cry when he saw tears in a human’s eye.

Kansei was a robot…a robot that Michiko designed for Ikebana…a robot who was capable of feeling six basic human emotions…

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