A Walk

I decide to take a walk to find out the truths in life. Carrying a passport, a heavy book, and a calculator, I step on a concrete paved road. White, flat, and safe. Like a 15th century European adventurer, I am looking forward to this journey.

The first building I see along the way is the war memorial hall — the darkest place I’ve ever been. Several exhibitions are going on at the same time: The Nanking Rape (1937), the Hiroshima Bombing (1945), the Rwanda Genocide (1994) …I show my Chinese passport to get in, but the staff stops me: “You can only go to the Nanking Rape section.” I murmured, “But the world is connected…” She interrupts me and yells impatiently: “This is the rule — You can’t go anywhere else with you Chinese passport.” I Look at the foreign human faces on the posters in front of the museum — through their determined eyes, they say, “I gotta tell you something after so many years”. As soon as I realize, I already torn my passport into pieces, walking into the Hiroshima Bombing section — which is the opposite of the Nanking Rape section. I leave the astonished staff behind, with the scattering pieces of paper.

My steps walking back onto the road are heavier, but soon lightened by the sound of the faraway African drums. I look towards that direction, hesitant to approach as I recognize the skin color of the drummers. I pull out the heavy book in my backpack, which titled Western Civilization. On the very first page, it says nonwhites are savage, primitive, and uneducated. Before I can come up with a rational decision, my heart races with the drum beats — a call of life pushes me towards the drummers. I run so fast, that I feel my backpack becomes a burden. Dropping down the enormous book of Western Civilization, I take a turn into a narrower road to join in the circle, talking and laughing with the amazing drummers who I’ve never read about in the book before.

As I say goodbye to the drummers, I continue to walk on the narrower concrete path. A crowd on my right is having a competition. The man who is holding the competition at the lawn yells at me, “Hey girl! Come and answer this question! If you get the right answer, you can get a PhD in Science!” I take out the calculator that has been with me for nineteen years, and ready to answer whatever question the man has. Since there’s always a number, that can solve the problem, I think in my mind.

“What is Happiness?”

Embarrassed, I shake my head and drop the calculator. “But what’s the answer?” “Come here.” He reaches his hand to me. I look at my shoes, which have never been to anywhere else outside the concrete path. Is it flat? Is it safe? But as my feet step outside of the road, the gentleness of the grass and mud embraces me. I walk towards the man and hold his hands, who is smiling at me, “You feel it? That’s happiness.”

Enjoying the feeling of the soft land, I continue to walk on the grass. A boy who is also walking on the grass comes to me. His hair looks like the hay in autumn, his eyes look like deep clear lakes, and his body looks like a healthy tree, with his feet rooted in the land — he is not wearing shoes. He comes to hugs me, and takes off my shoes. The very moment I walk on the grass barefoot, I no longer feel alone, even though the passers-by on the concrete path keep shouting “You guys are uncivilized!” to us. I talk and walk with the boy, who introduces me to his grass, tree and flower friends. In the end, he finally remembers to ask — “Who are you?” For a moment I don’t know what to say. After I throw away my nationality, my knowledge, my human reason, my civilized manner, who am I? I look at my own feet, who are talking with the mud and grass; my ten toes kiss the ground, just like the roots of a tree. “I think I am a tree now!

They take a nap together. And when they wake up, they become real trees — the only two trees for now. They look at each other and embrace each other with green branches. The passport, the book and the calculator the girl dropped earlier — all materials — are corroded by rain and blown away by wind. But the trees are still here. Thousands of years later, with love, they won’t be the only trees here. There will be a huge forest, and all the lives in the world will live happily ever after.

Many years later, people find a journal lying near an enormous tree. On the last page, after talking about the war memorial exhibition, the drummers and the question of happiness, whoever once owned the journal writes the very last sentence:

“There might not be truths in life; but there are always trees.”

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Feminist, Chatterbox, Diva Soprano in the Bathroom

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