Hey Mr. Tambourine Man
The first time he saw her was on her death bed. Many of his first times with any stranger would be on their death – be it on the bed, on the road, in the water, on a barren land with bloodied soil. Some deaths were peaceful, some violent. Some came as such a shock that it didn’t let any of the vessels acknowledge the inevitable.
But along this stretch of time – for seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, etc., did not hold meaning when one were in his profession – he would always find himself wondering one simple question.
Was it possible for anyone to die of loneliness?
How long had he been living till now? Or how long had he been dead? What was life and death when you were the collector of Souls? Whatever it may be, this girl splayed on white linen sheets in a plain lonely room was dying of loneliness.
He knew, if he had a heart, it would ache. What was a heart anyway? What was anything?
He did not know who these children (in human years, his age was unfathomable) were until he touched their Souls. For by letting him touch them, they were giving themselves to him as well. Binding themselves to his very essence. After all, he was the accumulation of all the Souls he carried.
So it is only natural for us to assume that he did not know who she was. Not even her name – a thing most odd among humans, as if a name held the life of a person. And it was this unknowability that drove him to do something he hadn’t done for millennia. She was so young that he was sure that she herself did not know who she was yet. And to not know oneself was the saddest aspect of human existence. Most of the people he carried knew at least some aspect of their essence. And there were some like her in that they were too young to find out, but different in that they did not create a longing in him like she did. A longing to know the “what ifs” of the human journey.
You see, Time was a concept beyond which he lived. It held no significance for he Was, Is and Will Be. Nothing could change that. And for a person against whom Time had no hold, he could leap through the gates as he wished. And this time, he had leapt forward. Well, forward in her World. For Time had no hold, so what was forwards and backwards?
Hovering over her bed as he delicately reached out for her pale fingers, her coughs dying out in the background, he couldn’t help but think just how pitiful her existence must have been.
To have no one.
It was something he was all too familiar with. It was something he had forgotten (for he remembered that he was once a human – a sort of vague memory that now faded away into oblivion).
It was impossible for him to identify himself with her. He was Otherwordly in human terms. But there was something about her that gave him the feeling of contentment. And so to extend the period of that effervescent feeling, he decided to leap backwards and offer a push in the right direction.