There are demon-haunted worlds, regions of utter darkness. Whoever in life denies the Spirit, falls into darkness of Death.
– Isa Upanishad
Kolyma. Arctic Siberia.
The passenger train arrived in Kolyma.
If there was a hell, thought Satya’s husband, then this is surely what hell would look like.
It would look like Kolyma.
As the passenger train arrived in Kolyma a man stood on the platform outside the window.
A man with an Amish-like beard around his chin area and an angular face with sad and piercing eyes:
Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, author of The Gulag Archipelago.
Solzhenitsyn said nothing to the passengers on the train. He simply looked at them and then looked away at the distance where the passengers could dimly see the forced labor camps, the gulags.
Solzhenitsyn raised his arm and pointed to the gulags with an open hand, as if he was an usher, and then the train proceeded through the Kolyma gulags, while Solzhenitsyn stood in place on the platform.
The passengers looked back at Solzhenitsyn who simply stood still, motionless and emotionless, as they proceeded forward to witness the hell on earth which was the Soviet Siberian gulag of Kolyma.
It was unspeakable.
The extreme cold and extreme malnourishment together with the habitual torture of those interned in the labor camps, many of who were Russia’s greatest intellectuals, was heartbreaking.
People did not look like people.
They looked like freaks and like walking corpses, who were so emaciated, their eyes deadened of all hope and light, and their hands and knees often both bloodied and burned or frostbitten and frigid, as they toiled relentlessly in the mines, for gold and tin, for platinum and tungsten and for coal and copper.
Satya’s husband felt his heart chill at the unbearable sight and he felt helpless, as did the other passengers on the train. The train traveled silent as a ghost, through labor camp upon labor camp and testimony upon testimony of man’s inhumanity to mankind.
It was unbearable and unspeakable.
It was chilling.
Gradually, the warm glow returned, and the yellow light softly melted the frost on the windows and the frost trickled into droplets of water and the water streamed down and the mist faded and there seemed to be sunlight in the distance and new forms and even glimpses of blue sky once more.
The passengers on the train were once more in Africa.
The vegetation was somewhat different from the Transvaal that they had traversed in South Africa.
It gradually became apparent, from the attire and the manner of the people they passed on the train, and from the Swahili lettering on the station signs and street signs, as well as street chatter in the tribal language of Kikuyu, that they were in the country of Kenya.
The passengers on the train kept moving forward to what appeared to be a remote region of Kenya.
The train then made a very gradual and deliberate stop at a station called Kandongu.
There was only one person at the station platform of Kandongu. She was a very old Kikuyu woman, a grandmother if not a great grandmother or even a great-great grandmother, and she stood on the station platform with her eyes streaming with tears as she faced the passengers on the train.
Like Solzhenitsyn, the old Kikuyu woman also raised her arm and pointed to the gulags, the Kenyan Kandongu labor camps, with an open hand, as if she were also an usher, and then the train proceeded forward through the Kandongu gulags, and once again, Satya’s husband’s heart despaired at man’s inhumanity to mankind. The African men, women and children looked like ghosts lumbering through their labor with haggard and malnourished faces with eyes hardened by sights of beatings and torture.
Many of the bare backs or torn-shirted backs of the men in the labor camps bled with fresh wounds, with strips of flesh torn from their backs and revealing the open sores of repeated whip lashings.
Children were collapsing from exhaustion and beatings, and the British colonial officers unashamedly raised their leather whips and beat them until the children rose up again while their mothers and grandmothers looked on helplessly and wept until there were no more tears in their tear glands.
The British officers, sometimes laughing, sometimes drinking alcohol and sneering, were shoving and pushing the laborers and kicking them with their heavy army boots, without rhyme or reason, as if to enforce the notion that cruelty was a form of amusement and sport.
They traveled through the massive detention camp and witnessed unspeakable horrors until Satya’s husband’s heart could not bear much more. He had not the faculties to fathom the enormity of the horror that he continued to witness before him, with the other passengers.
Gradually, and thankfully, the light in the passenger train began to change once more, and gradually, the sight of the horrific gulag of Kandongu outside the train window began to dim and fade and disappear.
It started to become dark now, and Satya’s husband wondered to himself where they would travel next.
He so missed his dear, dear friends, the Sadhu and the Swami.
He so missed his sons and daughters and their children and their children’s children, and his heart ached to know that they were all safe and well and his pained heart ached to hold them all in his arms and tell them how much he loved them and was grateful for them.
The darkness lifted slightly, and Satya’s husband realized that he and the other passengers were back sitting on the ground in front of an open mouthed cardboard box in a laboratory classroom at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where they had been originally brought by the young American quantum physics student to demonstrate his MIT thesis entitled “Meditational Experiments in Transmigration and Transmission of Thought through Time”.
The young American quantum physicist spoke first as all the passengers adjusted their eyes and re-orientated themselves toward their surroundings and to their station in Time and Space. The young American quantum physicist addressed the Chairman of the thesis challenge committee:
“Mr. Chairman, before we discuss the details of my experiment, I think I should escort Satya’s husband back through Infinite Corridor and back through the portal of Time and Space so that he can return to the Indian Himalayan tea plantation which is his home, and rejoin his family in time for dinner.”
The Chairman nodded with approval at the suggestion, and the young MIT quantum physicist escorted Satya’s husband back into Infinite Corridor.
The yellow light once more flooded MIT’s Infinite Corridor with a warm glow and in a blink of an eye, Satya’s husband found himself back in the serene Sacred Forest flanked on either side with his dear and beloved friends, the Swami and the Sadhu.
Thus ended Satya’s husband’s first day of meditation.
As Satya’s husband turned to both the Swami and the Sadhu he felt abundantly grateful to be in the presence of his caring friends and to see their radiant faces and their warm and smiling eyes.
The Swami and the Sadhu advised that Satya’s husband leave to go back to have dinner with his family as the dusk began to descend upon the Sacred Forest.
The Swami walked with Satya’s husband back to the Himalayan tea plantation village while the Sadhu remained within the Sacred Forest.
That evening, when Satya’s husband greeted his family and dined with them, his heart filled with overflowing gratitude and he could not hold back the tears and his children comforted him and laughed with him. It was infectious and contagious and after a while, he began to smile and to laugh as well and the joy of the occasion filled his heart with love and flooded the darkness with light and healed his soul.
That night, as he prepared to go to sleep, he prayed thankfully that he should arise the next morning and once again be in the company of the Sadhu and the Swami, for his second day of meditation. He needed their support and their strength since his heart was remained heavy with despairing emotion and his thoughts overwhelmed by the sights and scenes he had witnessed in his mind’s eye. The scenes of the gulags in both Russia and Kenya would continue to haunt his dreams as he tossed and turned in tumultuous torment in his sleep and awoke several times throughout the dark night in a cold sweat.