Roads: A Life of Beautiful Halves
‘Draw me inwards.
Call me towards you,’ I should have wanted to say.
Instead, I sat motionless, looking earnestly for a response in your gaze.
I wonder how many times I had truly stopped in my tracks to appreciate the rising palm groves; bent towards the ocean’s setting sun than the one rising in the distant eastern horizon. And yet I do realize that somewhere in the negligence of its existence, I have come to accept its wholeness on the sands it lines.
Between the wait to the rickety ride, through roads rebuilt with cheap tar every monsoon, to last another season, I find myself cocooned in an unbreakable shell. I look out of the open windows of the corrugated bus hoping for a glimpse of emotion, beyond the shelves and layers on an impermeable cocoon. I fix my gaze on the simple mosaic of wilting screwpines amidst the constantly changing hues of the ocean. I breathe in the air carrying the breeze from the sea, seeking joy or pain. Perhaps, I have lost the capability to fathom its weight. Perhaps, I have known it very closely that none strike a semblance of distinct recognition any longer.
A repeated mosaic of perplexities and complexities.
The warm air hits me with a memory that is as fresh as the first. The humid air carries the pungent smell of leaves, releasing the perspiration of the earth. A memory that makes my nose wrinkle. I find myself questioning my desire to drift apart and the one seeking a home in this place.
I know deep within my recesses that I would belong here in a presence that would find itself at home in an absence.
Every time I walk these paths, I make a conscious effort to acknowledge the grinding of the gravel, against the friction. I make the conscious effort knowing that a second chance wouldn’t necessarily present itself. It is only the journeys that I choose to make that would offer the opportunity, again.
The paths lain here were made by men on their long walks home. They were created by people who had walked these paths for long; created by their footsteps. Here, one could choose to follow the same path which later became roads, or make a new one of their own liking. I trudged my feet along with me to the house I escape towards when the madness of the city becomes daunting.
Isn’t it the same city I had looked towards, in an effort to break the silent monotony of the quite village? Was it not the cities that I had once called home? I know with certainty that I don’t call this coastal settlement home. However, I am aware of the detachment I feel towards the word ‘home’ when I think of rising skyscrapers covered in the soot and smoke of lonely lives. I find myself belonging to neither place but existing in either.
The everyday demands to run along with the ticking time so that you are closer to your dreams. I wonder if I am tired of the drudgery of every day. I wonder if I want to turn my back on the concrete jungles and walk towards the quite villages along the coast. Even then, I find myself caught up in the wonderment of the monotony that persists. I find myself tired of the everyday comparison made of the slightest seasonal change. I find the repeated complaints of the unwillingness to rise up and alter their today agonizing. Or have I simply failed to realize the simplicity of their lives encapsulated within it?
When I dwelt among cities, which stood on deserts inhabited by the human populace, I had heard many a stories. Stories carried across the seas to their new homes in the deserts of Arabian lore. And I had listened. Stories of hidden treasures that glistened with a steely appearance; the ghosts tied by magic and lust for gold who continue to take away a life each year. Tales of the wrath of gods and beliefs wrapped in faith. Stories of how an entire village was dispelled into fear by the mischievous acts of young boys, now men with responsibilities. Of romances, that never reached a climax but are recalled with a certain warmth and fondness. And those romances which compelled lovers to abandon norms for the village didn’t permit them the sanctity of marriage. These were the stories I grew up with, each storyteller telling it a bit differently.
I fail to realize the beauty within these stories. Or perhaps, the creed from the city and its forsaken understanding, expects one to be awestruck by it. There is fear and there is awe, a denial of curiosity and blind submission to everything that is and has been. And I find reasons within them for the way I see the world around me or the one constructed from my understanding. It leaves you oddly numb. Nothing permeates and yet I am held in the conglomerate of more than many lives that have transpired before and after, and continues to do so even now, in this minute.
Do you expand yourself beyond limitations as you absorb the world around you or do you become incapable of seeing a line of difference because it is simply one giant canvas with paint splatters all around?
I take a deep breath and wonder what it would mean to belong here. It is evening.
I see a regular visitor pecking at the bark of the trees searching for mites or anything to feed on. The crows fly southwards towards the cemetery to congregate before nightfall. And I look at the expanse of blue sky, clearly visible in the luminous skies that light up only on accord of the moon and the stars.
Even if I could belong here, would I belong?
Would you let me belong?
The land and seas were perhaps aware of my changing nature, an inability to root myself in any place. An inability that descended from two beautiful halves of life that amalgamated in a queer manner making every response unreasonably reasonable.
I wouldn’t stay long enough to call you home.
In its reluctance to declare its arms open towards me, it encouraged me to take giant leaps towards the wide open sky and the sea below.Perhaps it is this freedom that releases me from all the ties that could hold me to you, that you truly declare your fondness for me. A faith with which you let me soar into lands farther away, with a hope that I would find a warm dwelling in the paths that I take towards an unknown destination.
I could hear the shrill cry of a lapwing as it alerted the village to the comfort of the night. The waves roared in the distance, rising and falling in a crescendo.
I spread my arms wide and thought of the horizons and the vast expanse of undiscovered land that lay therein.
“Dance dervish, dance
In the moon cast light,
It’s the sun sent kiss through the moon, to you.
Dance dervish dance
To the rising crescendo
In the life, that is borrowed from the tides of tomorrow.”