They begin to see. Little things, like a crack here or a little insect moving there and so on and so forth, until they feel that every little discovery is a great discovery and revel in having made a new discovery while moving along the same circular tunnel in a chain, a one-line chain, one behind the other, walking and walking and walking.
And, when they sleep, they sleep in chains, lying down where they stand. Well, they can’t lie down, leaning against the walls of the cave they have soon forgotten even how to lie down and sleep. There’s no space, there is no opportunity and therefore, the capacity has been forgotten.
Well, consider this as a speculative story, as a metaphor, as a parable, okay?
Don’t tell me, there cannot be a real situation like this. We’ll come to that.
We do have a real situation or something similar.
As far as the food of these people is concerned, once a day somebody drops food from the outside world through a trapdoor that does not let in any light.
Well, when the trapdoor is open for an inordinately long time, it is possible that a little light might penetrate the darkness. Generally, it does not.
Perhaps, there is a way out. Perhaps, there is something called ‘a way out’ and perhaps, there is something called light outside this little circle in which one is moving.
So, they live their life discovering little things they can discover in the darkness, walking sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes tired, sometimes full of energy, enjoying what they can imagine with their minds because there is nothing else they can do.
Entertaining themselves with pleasant memories of the past, life goes on and, over the years, they have come to accept that this is life and there cannot be anything more than this. Even the capacity to think that there can be more than this has been swiped, has been kind of erased from the mind.
One day, a person who brings food leaves the trapdoor open for an inordinately long time and a small ray of light, dim of course, appears from the roof, to the person who was standing just under it. Even that faint light seems blinding to him, so he closes his eyes, squints and looks again. By the time he looks again, the door is closed and the food is in. So, he eats his food.
This sets him thinking. He begins to wonder if that was light which came from above and is there a way to reach there. While he walks in the same circle, the thought keeps occurring to him again and again. Perhaps, there is a way out. Perhaps, there is something called ‘a way out’ and perhaps, there is something called light outside this little circle in which one is moving.
Then what happens?
One day, for some reason, the handcuffs that were used to chain his hands break. He considers it as his good luck. Well, he doesn’t know that someone had expected it to break at some point. Someone, he doesn’t know.