Koba lay on his belly with his chin in his hands looking over the great ravine below. Of all the places in the world this was his favourite, high above and far from any semblance of civilisation, hidden deep in the Himalayas.
Gandhi would arrive at any moment, bespectacled, confused, and full of questions. How many times had he been through this with him already? Koba already knew the answer, one hundred and twelve times. Not as many as some but still quite a lot.
Of all the questions Koba expected from Gandhi, Koba had just as many going through his own mind. What would his next life be like, who would he be, where would he live, would he fall in love, would he die during birth, would he be a great man on earth…like Gandhi?
Yes Gandhi had been a great man on earth, one of the greatest in fact. His name would be remembered always, but what of Koba’s part in it all, what would they say about him?
Koba knew it was his lot, his turn to be the unknown ‘partner’ in the relationship. The fact that he had been such a significant partner however made knowing it all the more difficult.
A bird circled far below, maybe he would be a bird watcher next time.
Where am I?
Koba started with a jerk and turned, the bespectacled martyr had arrived, already questioning.
Take a seat Mohandus, I am here to answer all for you.
Take a seat please, we don’t have a lot of time.
Gandhi looked towards the cliff edge then chose a large flat stone further away.
Gandhi, do you know what has happened to you?
I’m dead. He said it in a surprising calm and certain manner.
Yes, that’s right. Koba smiled. Do you remember how?
I was on my way to prayer…a man, I have seen his face before…he had a gun. With this Gandhi looked down to his chest, there was no wound.
Yes, you were shot. A fanatic I’m afraid, not an uncommon end for someone who has led such a life.
Are you Ishvara?
Koba laughed. No my friend, I am not Ishvara. I have had many names, for now you can call me Koba.
Are you, Gandhi struggled with the word, an angel?
I guess I am in a way, your angel in fact.
Koba watched his expression as Gandhi sat contemplating recent events. Even in death this man had retained that certain serenity he carried through life. Koba wished for such gifts but instead struggled with the feeling of awe this man had always held for him.
So what for me now? Again a calm response.
Now my brother it is my turn. Koba enjoyed the confused expression this now created. Gandhi tugged at his dhoti.
You call me brother, are we?
Yes, but not in the human sense of the word, more like an eternal partnership.
Wherever you see one human, their eternal partner will be watching over them, unseen and unsensed by them but giving guidance all the same. For thousands of years humans have struggled to understand and name this unseen force, fate, chance, divine intervention, Gods will, intuition, witch craft. But in reality it has been there own personal guide, and now it’s your turn to guide me.
Guide you? But how? All I know is my own life, how do I guide another?
Relax Gandhi, you will know. Soon I will leave this form, and be born as a human again. With this my knowledge will pass to you. Then you will be able to guide me.
Gandhi went silent again, chewing his bottom lip then suddenly gave that great laugh of his that came from no-where and infected all.
Then everything I have done, I owe to you! His eyes gleamed.
Well, sort of…yes pretty much. Koba allowed himself some secret satisfaction at this. You see guidance comes to humans in many forms. It could be an idea, inspiration, a moral code. Humans still have their own will, they can still make a decision to listen to the guidance or not. Just depends on the particular circumstance and how persuasive the guidance is. The guidance must be good to make the man good.
So my brother, you gave some very good guidance?
At this Koba gave a small and sad smile. Yes…Yes I did.
Now both looked out over the ravine, deep in thought, wondering on their next chapter of their own existence.
After a while Koba rose. Well my brother it is time for me to go.
Do you know who you will be born as?
No, we have no fore-knowledge of our life as humans. But when it happens, you will know me.
Koba held out his hand, Gandhi shook it.
I will strive to guide you to the best of my ability. I promise this.
Koba looked into Gandhi’s eyes. Sincerity. Conviction. He did not respond but pulled away his hand, turned and walked off.
Gandhi remained on the cliff face, puzzled by this response.
Can I ask…who were you the last time you were human.
Koba didn’t answer for a long time but stared at Gandhi, looking for some sort of realisation in his expression. Then out towards the distant mountain peaks before his gaze gradually returned to the bespectacled little man and he said in a voice barely loud enough to carry the yards between them.
I was known as The Ripper…but you can call me Jack.
With this Koba turned and walked off. Maybe dying at birth wouldn’t be so bad.