Edmund Dantes was sentenced to 14 years in Chateau d’If for a crime he never committed and that forms the story of Count of Monte Cristo. Job lost everything he owed but kept his faith in god according to the Old Testament. Shylock too lost everything and finally embraced a religion beside his own and was no longer the Merchant of Venice. Barabas sought revenge for the power and the riches deracinated from his life and paid the ultimate price as the Jew of Malta. What all these characters have in common is that they all once held a position of great honor and pride and lost it to an anthropogenic fate. It is a cardinal truth that no one chooses to lose their societal status; man does that you in ruthless precision and good men, and even the worst possible characters, can lose everything to the merciless abysses of stolen lives. Fate doesn’t mastermind your demise, more often than not, it is man.
I too lost it all and found everything at rock bottom. I’m not going to yarn the story of how I lost my life’s bearings, instead what I’m going to do is to draw your attention to the beauty of rock bottom. The best thing about walking on abyssal depths is that you know by instinct the true circle of men and women, you call your real friends. There are rarely imposters, wolves in sheep clothing, when you don’t have much to offer. The next endearing element of rock bottom is that you discover or re-discover yourself, when you have a pitched a tent in the middle a ruthless desert. You discover you have humps that flow like springs in oases and hoofs that make even the Ethiopian Highlanders look like tired shepherds. I found deep wells of words and watery sentences soon flowed past surfaces stamped of pulp. I’m now a poet, published but yet to taste the heights of a fan base or acclaim. Still I churn in the words like betel leaves and throw out words in bloody ink, hemorrhaging expression on the sands of time. Like someone wise once said, it is not the destination that matters but the journey and I’m a conquistador gliding my three ships in search of the New World. Pinta is poetry, Nina is ethics and Santa Maria is science, three ships that I steer with the best of my ability hoping that I will rise, not to the top of success, but to a humble place among fellow scholars, ethicists and scientists. That dream only came through, through the hurting mind and the compass-less heart, when I had succumbed to the bottom of my social, personal and emotional echelons.
When you hit bottom, love takes over, one of raw mutiny that seeks to overhaul the captain of the gloom ship. You hear Invictus in all its gloom, the shade or death scares you and the captain only emerges when the wall is as high as Himalayan mountains. Still like the last two lines of Invitcus, you rally your troupes – heart, mind and spirit – and walk towards richer horizons. Fate, who wouldn’t even wink at you, suddenly becomes your able ally, as you find your feet when crippled by the mammoth foot of man. Life changes to the better and you can only smile that you have reinvented yourself from the rock bottom of that man-made trench.
Job never doubted god, and I too, although not as devout as before, still believe in a righteous God. Edmund regained Mercedes, and I have regained a new lass in my life, a woman of inner will and outer beauty. Barabas switched sides too often and paid the price, yet I have not even moved an inch from my stances on life. Shylock converted, just like I have. I was a scientist once and I now am a science fellow, poet and ethicist. Sometimes you need to find rock bottom to find what life means to you. It is graceful yet raw, sudden but patient, lifeless but sessile, short but long and it is the only thing we have, to make it count. I’m no Count, I will only be Edmund Dantes, who found a treasure inside rocks of bottom, and made a little legacy by his own stubborn will.