Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Road - Sarah Aineh

The road’s bumpy. And somehow, it seems like it doesn't really lead anywhere. There are plants all around but they look like they could be poison ivy or some such poisonous plant…they look anything but inviting. And plants are supposed to give some feeling of peace…or even perhaps normalcy. Because they live - they’re living things. But these plants don’t seem to breathe. In fact, they’re somewhat sinister, almost as if they’re telling you to get out of there.

If you know you have to go somewhere, what do you do? You go. Even if the road’s bumpy and the plants aren't friendly. And it doesn't seem as if it leads to anywhere. A speck or a dot is all that can be seen. It’s a lot bigger, of course, but from where you’re standing the truth is its just a speck. You could keep telling yourself it’s a mere speck and return to familiarity. Or ‘home’ as everyone likes to call it. You could go home.

Home. A safe haven. But you left it behind. You left it behind knowing full well that you were… well, leaving it behind.

You could go ahead instead. After all, you left home for it.

For that speck. The plants seem to be saying, “No matter how close you get, it's not gonna get any bigger.”

How many rules did you break to get in that damn forest? You broke the law. You went against convention. You chose your own path. You picked up your belongings and said goodbye to the life that others who hardly know you etched out for you. You watched your friends drown in the black sea, and even though they said, “Come on in, the water’s great,” you said, “No, I can’t swim.” They can’t really swim either but they try every day to convince themselves that they can. Because the other fish keep telling them they can. And maybe one day they will swim. One day they’ll swim as well as the other fish and they’ll look just like the other fish. One day you won’t be able to tell the difference. You decided then that you’d rather be you.

Your friends didn’t succeed in stopping you. So no plant is gonna stop you now. The road itself seems to be saying stop too. It’s the bumpiest road one has ever been. Every stone trips you. Some stones don’t but they still seem to want to. You realize these stones aren’t so different from the plants. They too seem to jeer at you, their intentions are definitely not good.

Stones were always present. Even when you were small, pebbles would get in your shoe and they’d hurt your feet. Then as you got bigger the stones got bigger too. Yet they still made their way inside your shoe. You knew then that wherever you went stones would always follow.

Sometimes you wouldn’t mind too much if a stone hurt you because you kinda had the feeling you must have done something to deserve it. But most of the time they wounded you for no reason. They wounded you because you strayed away from the main stream. Because you were alone when you shouldn’t be. Because you refused to swim. So you decided to leave. To get away from stones. Even though you knew there’d be bigger stones where you went.

And even though the stones hurt you and the plants continue to insult you, you’re grateful that you’ve come here. You’re grateful for what the magician told you.

He was loved by everybody, for reasons of their own. Some loved him because he gave them food, some because of his healing potions that saved their lives, some simply loved him because of the security they felt when he was around. Some even loved him because they thought they were supposed to love him. In fact, a majority loved him for that last reason.

You loved him secretly. Others would brag that they loved him the most. Sometimes they’d hold competitions to see who loved him the most. You didn’t want to be a part of it. So if anyone asked if you loved him, you’d say “No.”

But he gave you a gift. A secret gift. He said “You’re special, so im giving you this” And he handed you an instrument. “But I don’t know how to play it,” you argued. Then he looked straight into your eyes, right when you thought you didn’t have eyes worth looking into. And he said, “Yes you do. You can play it better than anyone. And one day everyone will want to hear you play it.” You believed him beyond a shadow of doubt. Then you tried to play it and something beautiful came out of it, you rushed to play it for the people you knew. But they couldn’t hear a thing. You couldn’t understand how it was that only you could hear it.        

So you asked the magician why this was. He said “You haven’t been to the Secret Garden.” He turned to leave. “I want to go there!” you shouted. He smiled and said, “Then go.”

 And even though you didn’t think you’d ever find the way to this place, somehow you did. An unattractive road not tread on by many. And yet it was the road you had to take to reach your destination.

Your destination.

Sarah Aineh (Lalrinkimi)  grew up in Pune, Maharashtra and  is presently based at Khawzawl district in Mizoram as an MPS (Mizoram Police Service) officer. She describes herself as an amateur singer, poet, and air guitarist, as well as a lover of the road and the sea. She is also one of only a handful of Mizo creative writers who have published works in English. In 2014, her first novel Jo's Journal was published by Notion Press, which was recently followed up, in February 2017, with her second, Zeb and the Girl.  Both are available on Amazon.

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