“It is complete”, they said. They were confident. Confident of knowing it. “But how could it be complete, with all those holes in the edges”, he thought. It did not seem complete to him. The holes were bothering him. Like an earworm, it was stuck in his head and he could not get it out. It played repeatedly, “how could the jigsaw puzzle be complete with all those holes in the edges”.
When Khalil was six years old, he had found a little piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Then, he did not even know what a jigsaw puzzle meant, but he was happy to see the mysterious picture his little piece begot. The mystery amused him. It gave him joy to think about the myriad things it could be. As time passed by, he found other pieces. Some pieces were given to him by his friends, some by his relatives and some others he just picked from here and there. Initially he did not know what to do with those pieces. All of them had a fragment of a picture, each painting a mystery of its own. But slowly he learned; he learned that if a piece had a hole, another piece will fit the hole, and their edges would match too. His joy had taken a new form; the joy of mystery gave way to the joy of structure, the joy of creation. It brought him sublime satisfaction to see two pieces fit together; to see from two random fragments, a structure emerge.
But that was almost fifteen years ago. The structure that had given him joy all this while was his concern now – he was out of pieces to add to his puzzle. There were a couple of pieces that he had, but those did not fit anywhere in his puzzle. This is when he started asking around, and They said, “It is complete”. The extra pieces were deemed superfluous, purposeless. And why shouldn’t they be. The picture seemed complete without them. There was no need for more pieces and they were confident of it. Khalil was not satisfied. “How could the jigsaw puzzle be complete with all those holes in the edges”, he thought. But he knew it was futile to tell them. Most of them would not understand – for them, the holes did not matter because all other pieces were fitting so well. And those who could, did not care – they were happy with the image that they saw. A beautiful image indeed it was. But Khalil understood and he cared. No, he did not want to be different or anything, he just wanted to complete his jigsaw puzzle. Worship of beauty was what he believed in, but for him beauty was no substitute for truth.
Khalil tried to look for more pieces that could complete his jigsaw puzzle, but not to much avail. Sometimes he did find a piece or two from people he did not even know, but none of those pieces fit his puzzle. This confounded him even more. For one, he could not believe what They proclaimed – that his puzzle was complete. To make it worse, he was left with few fragments that did not fit anywhere in his picture. “Maybe there is another jigsaw puzzle somewhere else. Perhaps, if I travel I could find an answer to my puzzle”, he thought. And so he decided to step out of his well and experience the world. With his beautiful yet, to him, an incomplete puzzle he started his voyage. A step at a time, he kept on moving. Crossing the seas, he kept on moving. Walking the land, he kept on moving. And along he met more of Them. Some of them took no notice of Khalil and his jigsaw puzzle; they just passed by as if he was but a small inconsequential pebble in the rivers of their lives. Some others stopped their flow for a moment and were intrigued by his jigsaw puzzle. They exclaimed that they had never seen anything like that before, but then moved on. The unfamiliarity of the picture scared them. But sooner or later, he found one among them who resonated with his quest to complete the puzzle. Who themselves had some pieces of a puzzle and had figured out how to connect them. They were happy to share their knowledge and pieces with Khalil. He found comfort in the fact that he was right – the jigsaw was indeed incomplete. The pieces he found made his puzzle grow. He found pieces that were a perfect match to his holes in the puzzle. Most of the times these new pieces had holes in them too, but sometimes he found a piece that were unlike any he had seen before. These pieces were smooth on one side. It finally seemed to him that his puzzle could be completed.
After about six years, he had found all the four corner pieces. He had most of the edge pieces too. Although some pieces were missing, but it was not the lack of these pieces that bothered him anymore. He was confident that with a little more effort he would find all the pieces. He knew truth was by his side now. But what about the beauty. The beauty of the picture that was borne by the connected pieces of the puzzle. A hideous picture it came to be. The sweet surrealistic image of his yesteryear puzzle was now enveloped by an ugly tyranny of incongruous images. So much so that even his original little image danced at the inharmonious tunes of the bigger picture. It was a mockery. A mockery of life. How could, why would, anyone ever make a puzzle so grotesque and then let someone build it, only to realize how grotesque it is. All these years he was hoping to soak in the beauty of his completed jigsaw, but here he was looking right through his darkest truth. There was no beauty in the puzzle. Perhaps, They were right all the time – the puzzle should have been deemed complete when its beauty shone through. Perhaps he should have listened to them – stayed back and enjoyed like everyone else. Perhaps, some of them knew it, the completed puzzle would be ugly. But then… But… He took a long deep breath. Perhaps he shall someday be wise enough, to see the shining beauty of even this dark truth. And he moved on.