Sunday, June 30, 2013

Voyages to the Other Dimensions

Disclaimer:
This short story was written for IBL (Indian Bloggers League), organised by Write-Up Cafe. I represent Westerlies- Winds of Change, which is the West Zone side. This short story was selected as the best short story of West Zone and hence has been submitted for the final round.


Voyages to the Other Dimensions


I don’t know what really woke me up. Was it the eerie silence that reverberated or the soft chirping of the night birds in the distant woods? It is at times like these that I wonder about my decision to withdraw from the urban life and retreat back to the realm of nature. 

The night was bleak and the woods, cold and dark as they always were. Dead silence and endless darkness lingered with not a slight glimpse of light. It’s wearing when one hardly gets any sleep with all the long walks wandering through the woods for survival. Letting out a ragged moan I sank further into the soft wool blankets slipping into yet another fitful sleep.  

When I awoke for the second time the cold gray light of dawn was peeking through the clouds welcoming a bright new day. Running a hand through my ruffled hair I fumbled with the blankets stretching up and scanning the nearby area, blankets of dead leaves covered the surface as frigid wind blew. There was slight dampness on the ground and I realized it must have snowed when I was asleep; after all it was early November the near of winter. My thirst overruled my musings and I took a sip of water from the plastic bottle, gazing outwards the blanched forest. 

It was half past dawn, the light enough for me to sort out with my primal chores and later fix up a decent breakfast with all that I had; a cup of black tea with some biscuits as usual. Sipping the tea my mind habitually started straying to the journal I had planned on updating. My fingers automatically curled around the journal lying a few feet away. 

Feeling the contours of the old leather bound journal, I ran my fingers idly through the pages taking in the snippets I had written not so long ago. Writing was not a ritual but more of a way of preserving the memoirs of every place and emotion that touched me. I’m a wanderer and exploring the unknown is something that fuels my soul. It’s been nearly two years I left sailing to pursue the other adventurous side of me, exploring different countries intimately, meeting different people and acquainting to their diverse culture. Life is like a blank notebook waiting to be filled up, with not just memories and journeys but also with what we’ve learnt from these journeys. Sometimes they make us nostalgic with happiness, other times with anguish. 

I’m not much of a patriotic person but I’m not a misanthropic either. I’m loyal to everyone but of late I’ve realized that the world is harsher than one can imagine. It is full of people who are cold and bigoted. It hardly matters who you are or where you belong. All that matters is power; power as a means to acquire dominance in economics and politics, religious demands or making their voice heard. Terrorizing and causing fear in the minds of people who do not share the same set of belief. 

It was one such excursion three months ago where I witnessed a lone local gunman killing locals in the name of anarchism. One of my closest mate died in that attack.  It scarred me and made me question everything I ever learnt and saw. Actions define us but what about the actions that defame the very foundation of brotherhood and equality. It was a small attack, far smaller than what the world has witnessed but it made my soul recoil and all I wished at that very moment was to disappear to some place safe to clear my mind of such unpleasant thoughts. It’s difficult cutting yourself from the world but I needed something to reassure me. I’m not much of an emotional person and I cannot be diabolical by stating everyone to be the same but at the moment I didn’t expect people to understand me nor did I wish for them to empathize with me. And for that very reason I took to nature, a place where there are no people waiting with armour to attack me or slit my soul for being an outsider in their world. In a place where though I would be alone yet won’t be an intruder.   

My tea has long gone cold and my fingers held the journal loosely when a wisp of cool air blew making me shiver. The road ahead is empty stretching out miles with no sign of life apart from the occasional twittering of birds, dried flowers along the path and innumerable trees. The loneliness slowly creeps to me but there is nothing to distract me from my thoughts and I decide it’s time to move on. 

An hour later I’m on the road with my backpack. Watching the road ahead and glancing at the passing woods, I make my way to where the path may now lead me. 


Three days of continuous walking through the woods and crossing a frozen river I reached the hills of snow covered mountains. Absorbing the silence that enveloped me I let out a tired sigh sitting beside a huge rock watching the white layered mountains beneath the gray sky. It was very cold and it was then that I noticed her, wrapped in a blanket sitting in a corner of a rock. Contemplating if approaching a stranger was a good idea or not, I chose the former and made myself known. 

We sat together huddled beside the rock where I had rested. It was her, who broke the silence talking about why she was hiking in a place where hardly people ever ventured and how she never anticipated she would meet someone on this unusual trek. I sat there motionless listening to her enthusiastic chatter endlessly and observing the play of emotions that were reflected so deeply by the fire light that warmed us.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I started participating in the talk nor do I remember the reason of spilling out my deepest fears to her. 

“We all have episodes in our lives that we wish to forget and it is this one time I wish to turn back. It’s almost like I don’t wish to go back to embracing my life like it was earlier. Nor can I believe that one simple act of terror has me so immobilised that I have retreated from the mortal world. Or is it the fact that my friend succumbed to such an act of terror that has affected me I know not. It is almost like my faith that people are not prejudiced has absolved” I spoke in an almost hushed and puzzled tone.   

She was quiet for a while almost like waiting for the true impact of the words to seep in. She replied after long her tone kind, “I don’t think I’ve ever been in that place. Besides, one should view things from a different perspective. Apart from the healers who treat you contrary to the people who’ve harmed you. There are plenty of people still there who care, are there not?” she looked at me curiously before continuing, “We all seek companionship. It almost feels like one cannot exist without it. Everyone has their shares of trauma but that doesn’t mean that you run away. Agreed there are moments that may remind you of them but you’ve got to be strong and face them.”

I pondered for a while staring at the dark wide starless sky before letting my thoughts known. “Have you ever wondered that sometimes all one can do is continue living like nothing happened reassuring oneself that things might change. Or the other alternative could be retreating back, musing what happened and trying to let go of the dread before heading forward.”

She sighed. Looking at me she spoke, “I know where you are coming from. But there are times when we can’t stop things from happening, no matter how ghastly they are. Change is inevitable. Things happen in our life over which we have no control but to maintain our sanity we have to let go of them and move ahead. We can’t turn time back and reverse the loss but we can move forward and help others who need nursing and care. It is one thing to withdraw from everyone for a while but another to lose oneself in self pity and misery forever.”

Silence was our only companion for a long time. She didn’t know why but she spoke one last time before retiring for the night, “I’m a healer and I will always nurse people back to their health and fulfil my destiny. Now it is up to you whether you wish to linger in the depths of nature protecting yourself subconsciously or retreating back to the normal world and bring about a change no matter how small.”

Extinguishing the fire enshrouded in the thick veil of darkness, I finally let go of the burden on my heart embracing change.

9 comments:

  1. Some lines were wonderful like the one below:

    "It is one thing to withdraw from everyone for a while but another to lose oneself in self pity and misery forever."

    You got into the psyche of the affected person, that was impressive. Keep writing.

    Cheers

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot Animesh and welcome back :)

      TC

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  2. Magnificently done. I like your understanding of life and all that is within and then putting it into words. Marvelous!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank You so much. :)

      It's great to see your comment here.
      Hope all is well.

      Take Care

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  3. You are a gifted writer. You need to pen down a book or are you already doing that?

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    Replies
    1. Thank You so much, I'm overwhelmed.

      No I'm not writing any to be frank :)

      TC

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  4. Wow ... this should be a chapter in a novel ... awesome buddy ... too good !!!

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  5. This one is actually one of your best posts i have read.
    The description made me crave to visit such a place and encounter a complete stranger.
    Amrit is right, you should extend it.

    ReplyDelete

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