It was a stormy night, or so she thought. It certainly was windy, and also looked like it might rain. Time and again, a stray yellowed maple leaf would get entangled in her hair, and she would retrieve it with slow deliberation, and toss it to the raving winds.
It was a regular path, taken regularly, to complete a regular task, but
quite contrarily, this was not going to be a regular night, if, of course,
the word ‘regular’ had any meaning…
Jenny wrapped her shawl protectively around herself. It was beginning to get cold, and a drowsy mist suggested that the raindrops too were on their way.
She did not exactly dread getting drenched, but a walk through muddy puddles was hardly what she fancied. A few drops descended on her face as she looked up at the heavily clouded sky. Her heart suddenly skipped a beat, as a similar scene from a few years ago floated in before her eyes.
Hadn’t this been the first place where she met him? , she asked of herself. The wretch who made her suffer, who was also the person she loved with all her soul. How could she ever forgive, and more importantly, forget, him?
For, people who live inside your heart will never leave you, even if they themselves break your heart.
She had been a foolish seventeen year old then, full of romantic stories of the cupid and was easily impressed. Falling in love with a man nearly seven years elder to her, was easy, to say the least, and marriage, then, was a mere celebration of love, something that took place in every movie and mushy novel, and had nothing to do with responsibility. All marriages were happy marriages, since how could two people who loved each not be happy living together? , she had asked herself. She would have prevented a catastrophe had she asked anybody else.
How madly in love she was, and how easily awed by his mannerisms! And how triumphant too for having found the perfect man for herself at the mere age of seventeen! How happy, how delighted, how overjoyed with love!
Her joy, however, had proved too good too last. She could not recognize, in a few months of marriage, the devil she had consented to being wife to. Her joy broke down into sorrow when she came to know that there was a violent streak about him, a tempest of a temper and irrational views when it came to giving her the freedom she so desired.
She divorced him, but it was only after suffering 4 years of hell and
getting inerasable marks, both emotionally and physically. It had been a month since they parted ways, yet it was the torture of those painful memories that would not let her get on with life ‘normally’, and she feared that they never would.
Tears mingled with the raindrops on her face as a vivid picture of her life a month ago flashed before her eyes, making her shudder. She had lately started to become an emotional wreck and would often stop in the middle of the way when she found her eyes flooded, and give way to tears. However, today, she wiped her eyes and continued on her way.
However, the road did not seem to be familiar any longer. Wherever had she wandered off to? This certainly was not the way to her home. This path seemed to be almost deserted, except for a few startling movements in the bushes along the road. Fear flooded her. Something told her that she was being followed, but nevertheless, she could not fully believe in her conscience, since it often deceived her with a picture of her former husband, evil and malignant, charging towards her with a diabolic glint in his eyes. She was paralyzed with fear by now, but decided to run as she had never run before, to wherever the way may take her, since it seemed the only
logical thing to do. She ran for a good half an hour, not worrying that the path grew darker along the way, nor either that the rain battered down hard on her. She was determined to follow the path God had led her to, even if it led to her to the devil.
She eventually reached what seemed to be a large pool of light at first, but on further inspection, she saw it for what it was – a huge lamp post, underneath which stood a boy of about eight. She was startled at first to see him in this solitary place, but relaxed when she saw him smile sweetly.
“It is you I have been waiting for all night,” said he, “not that it is
particularly you. I knew it was somebody in distress.” Jenny, who very much detested the concept of ghosts, just as she detested marriage, took the child’s hand in hers, and oh, what bliss it was! What lovely bliss to feel the satisfaction of having someone by your side, to take in the love he radiates, to share with him her feeling of security! How reassuring to know that there is someone to accompany you when the path is dark and fearful!
This really was a strange night, she thought, never before have I lost my way here, and I am certain that there is not a path in the area that I have not travelled before. In silent reverie, in tender hopes, in thoughtful musing – every path has been taken before for a walk to appease violent sensations. And yet, here I am, walking this deserted path at a time which seems to be somewhere between midnight and dawn, with a mysterious companion whom I know nothing about.
But wait, have I not seen his face somewhere before? In a dream? In images inside the mind? In abstract patterns? In…..God??
Was he a savior, somebody divine?
“I’m not”, said the boy, who seemed to have read her mind. Jenny, startled by his sudden speech, drew a long breath to calm her mind. Meanwhile, the boy had started to speak again. “It is not me you have to think about,” said he, “It is you. Your life, has it not been in a mess for the past few years?
Recall. Try to recall- what went wrong? , and whose fault was it? Pain and suffering is what everybody gets, but a few of us get more than the share we deserve. Is it fair? No. But thing, is it worth learning something from?”
Here the boy stopped and looked innocently into her face for a while. Jenny tried to look away from his eyes, but there was something so powerful, so compelling about them, that try as she might, she could not look away. There seemed to be a bit of herself in them, but that could easily have been her reflection. The boy took a step forward, and smiling a bit, said, “No, I’m not going to vanish into thin air, as you think I will. Forget all about me, but remember my words – it is important that you begin a new life. Do not sit down to pity yourself. The darkness is only temporary – it does not stay forever.”
Before Jenny could even react, she had the strangest sensation of falling into oblivion, into darkness. Various images from her life flew into sight and vanished again – Jenny riding her first bicycle, laughing loudly and crying uncontrollably, Jenny on the day of her marriage feeling infinite bliss, and the days afterward-the tears, the emotional breakdowns and the violent arguing, and silently crying into the pillow thereafter.
She would try, but would never be able to find the deserted path again. Some things in life were best forgotten, she decided. For darkness was only the absence of light, it had no meaning if the term ‘light’ did not exist……….
Submitted by – Vanya Nigam