The Digital Pilgrim

It was quiet inside. Few people were seen. The art gallery was as clean as wards of hospital. The only difference was no sick men moaning in pain in white beds.
He mumbled the words, whispered and hardly spoke like others. He respected the gravity, the silence and paid homage to it by making as little noise as he could. He even controlled his footsteps, so as not to spoil the serenity of the gallery.
This Saturday afternoon was supposed to be his spare time to go out. Anywhere but there, yet he decided to be there. Amongst the artworks. He was convinced later that spending time in such place would provide him a little sense of relief.
The young man in his late twenties was never a huge fan of arts, artists, or pretending to do so. He merely came in and felt invited by the contemporary artworks displayed by the gallery owner, a middle-aged woman of high social and economy status. The status was so high she thought her gallery was getting obsolete and couldn’t contain her beloved art collections any longer. She desired more majestic, more capacious, more gallery so every visitor would be struck by overflowing awe. The gallery would be demolished within months and it would move to a new venue on the dome of some skyscraper.
He looked relatively eager with the whole collections exhibited in it but he didn’t manage to find the personal connection with almost all of the artworks there. Until he discovered one on corner, just near the entrance.
He stood in his full length. His eyeballs were rolling as he observed every and each inch of the contemporary art installation before him.
It was just a plain board with some light bulbs inside it. Nothing shows specialty or extraordinary stuff that leave people drop their jaw. Yet, the young man did.
It was titled “The Digital Pilgrim”. A screenshot of someone’s Facebook wall. The owner, who was a young father of one, was deceased and all the digital friends who knew he was dead dropped a sentence or two in the comment box, wishing him to be somewhere (presumably) up there with the Creator in total eternal peace, that they thanked the poor deceased fellow for having been so kind and great a buddy, a son, a father, a coworker, a hangout friend who never bored, and et cetera and et cetera. The thread was growing longer and longer.
He apparently died untimely and a bit too early. And he was so missed by anyone who liked him. Greatly missed. What had been the cause of his death was not known from the thread. He might have been hit by a truck, or a cardiac arrest, or a terminal disease unknown until the last minutes. But the curious young man guessed he was killed by a traffic accident.
Traffic accidents murder hundreds of other humans every minute. The young man’s sister was no exception.
All of a sudden, he found his eyes watery, abnormaly too moist in a dry aired room like this gallery, in which moisture gets a bad name. He almost shed tears and started gasping for smooth breath. He was lucky not to be around a big crowd of visitors. So he decided to let the tears flow a bit. The hollow within him was so profound and sucking him like quicksand. He was lost for a moment, sobbing controllably.
A couple of minutes later, as he gained his composure, he acted normal again, tears were no longer present, eyes were blinking dry. Only he and God knew he wept. The curator wouldn’t find out. Neither would the gallery keeper he had befriended long before that.
He went out of the exit and found no one at the reception desk. He was so relieved as he didn’t have to endure some other small talks with his acquaintance who happened to be working as the gallery keeper and made up his mind to leave without further delay.
A few hundreds of steps from the gallery, he got his phone out and impatiently viewed his late sister’s Facebook wall. Her account was still alive, as it should be.
That very day was her birthday. And he forgot, though he subconsciously knew, he tried to bury the memories. Nearly all the memories about his sister’s untimely death. Because the pain would not vanish anyway. It never has and never will.

Jakarta,
22 November 2013

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