At last I am here. Eyes brimming, I look at the stairs, worn by the vagaries of time but flanked with love by Mother Nature. Do you think you could guess my ecstasy? Never. Not even my soul mate could feel the flutter of my heart. Holding hands we look at the steps as I hurtle back in time and he gently embraces me.
“Thank you,” the words are muffled in my throat. I had yearned for this day. Recurring dreams evoked me to come here. We had planned this visit for ages. A visit I would cherish for the rest of my life. A visit that brought me back to my childhood. I am thrilled that the stairs have not been altered, each one holds my steps – tells a story of those carefree days, each one reverberating the games we played – running up and down, skipping two or four – the center of competition for the children of the house, each one a promise to self.
Time flew and exhilarating on the wings of youth, I went up to university and lost touch with those little moments of sitting on the stairs to share stories of the day, to watch stars and sing songs, oblivious of the world.
Grandpa was a youngster when he admired the construction workers while his dad was away at work. He would rush home after school to see how each brick was laid. He had told us all the stories of getting inspired from the workers he observed. He aspired to be like them. The charm of his stories and his loving face was associated with these stairs. A heart-warming memory.
Emotions overwhelm me as I step on the stairs that nurtured me; that gave a spring to my steps and taught me to climb higher. I did but I left them behind. Almost forgot about them. I sit and share many stories that I had buried into the fissures of my heart and realize how tiny moments are more precious than achievements of life – in fact they mold us. A cheerful and free childhood is a blessing.
The blue door opens and children rush out to play games on the stairs. They look at us curiously as if we were blocking their playground. We stand aside and watch – games never change.
He sits at the beach. Alone, abandoned. The glistening sea seems to mock at him. The horizon is hazy; the beauty of the beach seems meaningless. The shimmer they soaked in sizzles within.
This sea is never going to be the same. Never. It had swallowed all he had, stripping him of his securities. The waves devoured her and he looked helplessly, shrieks died within his parched throat. He could hear them even in his sleep.
Why he comes back each evening – a question that haunts him. His eyes never seem to tire; he watches each wave with the hope of seeing her, mingled in the elixir that endows us with life! Some ironies are so ambiguous.
People passed by, reveling in their rendezvous with waves but he drowned in the aftermath, struggling to come to terms with a life, bereft of all smiles till this girl shook him.
“Want to be friends?”
He looked at her with blank eyes.
“Why are you sitting here alone?”
“I don’t have anybody. I lost my mother.”
“So what? I lost mine too and there are many who don’t have their moms around them.”
“Is your love so shallow?” he grimaced.
“No, I love myself. My therapist told me to make one new friend everyday and smile at him. I’ve learnt to smile.”
A desolate path. A path that glowed with hopes. A path that you chose and we looked at you with pride. A path that is waiting.
A vista that made our summers blissful but you found wider ones, away from us, from the hills that raised you. How easily do we forget the fun of growing up!
You said you would come back. I know you never lie. Each day we sit here and rush back to our cottage to hear some news about you but the only connection we have with you sits mute.
You said you would keep in touch. I know you never forget your promises. Your dad disagrees. He says, “I don’t care.” But I can see his moist eyes; a lump in his throat is also visible.
I don’t believe what he says. I tell him I care; the umbilical cord is throbbing within me. I know the call would reach you.
The path gapes at me. The flowers don’t bloom any more. Birds look at my face and wonder whether they should sing a happy song. Only wind witches around me.
The candle is burning, its flame may be threatened by the wind but it refuses to die down. I have many more to brighten my evenings. The flickering flame exudes a thousand messages. I can discern them.
Dark, rumbling clouds stirred him out. He stretched and looked around. Some of his friends were flying high but he couldn’t miss the sound – muffled yet clear.
“What are you digging?” Vendatta stood at the edge of the valley.
“To lend… to exchange.”
“Really? But souls are said to be free. They soar higher than clouds.”
“Beliefs don’t misguide me. I know my passion.”
“Where do you find them?”
“Some are buried and some fly high. Some I capture and bury.”
“Can you lend me one?”
“Sure,” said the Digger.
“Can I keep it forever?”
“Depends! If you have the inclination and the strength.”
All his depression melted.
Vendatta was a changed man now. He knew his destination.