A variation of this short story can also be found in Robin Murarka’s ‘AKIN‘
The elder minded Banek opened his eyes to a brightness he had felt just once before. The whiteness of what he saw was hardly describable. There were no markings and no decrepitude. Even the clothes he wore were perfectly woven, of a fabric he had never touched before. The air he breathed tasted like no other, and his lungs noticed neither cold nor heat. The land bore no sounds, yet it did not feel silent. There was a thickness about the place, as if his fall would be cushioned by the very brightness that surrounded him.
As he stood, he felt his eyes watering, for the lighted realm seemed to brighten. It shone brighter and brighter, and within moments he could scarcely hold his eyes open, no matter how hard he tried. He wiped his eyes one final time and closed them tight, shutting out the light.
The source still shined, and through his closed eyes he saw blood. He could tell it was blood because of its dark reddish color. But this blood shone as it became brighter. As moments passed it was no longer red, but a yellowish hue. The yellowish color began to gather shape, and became a round ball of flame surrounded by minuscule particles that circled it. It was then that Banek heard the voice.
“This is your world, yes?” the voice asked.
“This is what I know my world to be,” he answered.
“You existed as Banek in this world.”
“Banek was my name.”
“And here now, do you stand before me as Banek?”
“That I do, Lord.”
“Why do you call me ‘Lord’, Banek?” the voice asked.
“Because I would listen to you, Lord. Because I hear nothing, yet you speak to me.”
“And so, I could be Lord, or could I be something of your creation, Banek?”
“If you were my own creation, Lord, I would believe you still to be the Lord,” Banek responded.
“And so you believe you may create me then, Banek. An entity of such perpetuity that is the Lord, exists within your creation?”
“I feel this to be true, my Lord.”
There was a brief silence after Banek’s response. He could see the ball of flame and the rotating particles become larger and larger. He saw his planet, a land mass, and then a beach. He stood on this beach now, void of any life, and stared at a sand castle near the encroaching tide. The day was darkening, and there was a cold breeze.
“Do you remember this place, Banek?” the voice asked.
“I do, Lord. I visited here as a child.”
“Do you remember this castle?”
“I do not, Lord.”
“As a child, Banek, you created this castle. You spent a great deal longer than other children constructing it, for you engineered a way for the rising waves to pass around it, without destroying it. In creating it, you devoted yourself entirely, and were forced to leave as the day became darker.”
“I was a meticulous child, Lord, but did not have the knowledge or skills to preserve a sand castle.”
“Yet you believed that you could protect your creation from the encroaching waves,” the voice said.
“I did, Lord.”
The day became dark and the wind grew chilly as snow began to fall. The waves moved forward and devoured the castle, freezing. The snow piled up around Banek and he was now outside a wooden hut.
“Do you recognize this place as well Banek?” the voice asked.
“I do Lord. It is Taiga, and I lived here as a young boy.”
“You lived here alone, did you not, Banek?”
“I did, Lord. With my parents, but alone.”
“Most of your boyhood memories are isolated ones, are they not?”
“They are, my Lord. I recall many nights spent building snow creatures as playthings behind this house.”
“Were they more than playthings, my dear Banek?”
He felt his heart stutter. “My Lord, I suffered from loneliness as a child. In such times, I created creatures to provide me with company. I recall spending whole days creating them, naming them, and conversing with them.”
“At night, before you slept, you covered your creations with water so that they may be frozen,” the voice stated.
“I did not want to lose my friends, my Lord.”
“But you did.”
“I did, Lord.”
The night turned black, and Banek was again staring at his universe.
“What do you regret, Banek?”
“I regret many things, my Lord. I regret mistreating a child named Loki. I regret harsh words I spoke to those that are no longer with me. I regret losing the life of my dog Nanu. I regret my failure in removing suffering innocents from the world.”
The voice paused.
“What about your pain, Banek?”
“I have not suffered, Lord. I am blessed.”
“But you know your pain is greater than most.”
“Yes, Lord, but unlike most I am not an innocent.”
“Explain yourself to me, my dear Banek,” the voice requested.
“Lord, I am more capable than most. I am more intelligent than most. The loss of my attachments are the root of any sorrows I have suffered. Yet, I pursued them till my own breath was ended.”
“What did you pursue until the end?”
“Maya, my Lord.”
“But Maya was not with you,” the voice said.
He paused. Banek’s head slowly fell as he felt tears gather about his tightly shut eyes.
“No, my Lord. Her body did not outlast her soul.”
“You suffered, Banek. You still suffer as you speak to me, whom you call your Lord. I ask you, why do you not regret your suffering?”
“Because I am blessed, my Lord.”
“How are you blessed, my dear Banek?”
“My Lord, my eternal Lord. I believed, with every entity in this creation that is yours with which I have bonded, that our bond would be as eternal as the souls that contain us. With such bonds in such a decrepit world, how could one such as I not feel blessed?”
“But how do you contain such a belief?” the voice questioned.
Banek immediately answered. “My Lord, with a love as absolute and boundless as the love that I have felt in this world, there exists no expiry large or long enough to leave content my eternal soul.”
The voice paused once again.
“My dear Banek, my beloved, what if the soul you speak of is not eternal? What if those you showered in such love did return nothing?”
Banek looked up, as though looking above the heavens that he stood in. “My Lord, if such is the nature of reality, then I stand defiant of all things, and state in my eternal will that I accept nothing less than the eternity of my love, and a universe vast enough to contain it.”
“You stand defiant to me, Banek?”
“My Lord, you can not exist if my love is not eternal.”
The voice smiled.
“My dear beloved Banek. It is in this defiance of the imperfect world that I have created for you that you have found me.”
“Found you, my Lord?”
“You have found me, Banek. You have found me for eternity has survived the perils of your impure world.”
Banek began weeping. He knelt down and bowed his head, holding his face in his hands.
“My Lord, was my love to my beloved Maya pure?”
“Banek,” the voice gently but sternly replied, “my paragon, my apotheosis, my quintessence, your love for your exalted Maya is so vast, so grand, so eternal, that it gives me permission to venture the belief that even I may exist.”