A walk to remember…
A walk to remember…
The sound of silence slowly creeps around me. The wet road snakes ahead, seductively flaunting its voluptuous curves.
A solitary walker, I tread softly lest my footsteps shatter the peace of the hour.
It is an early hour…ten past six on a day the world observes The Sabbath.
I walk on, flanked on both sides by a burst of green.
Blades of grass sway in greeting. Dew drops wink.
I smile a thank you.
I hear my breath. I feel my heartbeat. I haven’t felt it for a long time. Strange, I am suddenly aware of the sound of my heart, a sound that goes on incessantly in me, a sound that keeps me alive.
The road gently rises to hug the mountain on its bend.
My pace slows, my breath heavy.
As I come around the bend, I hear bells. The sound comes from afar. First faintly and then loud enough for me to catch the melody.
And then they moo, befitting an orchestrated crescendo.
A few steps ahead, I see them huddled in the middle of the road – ruminating on an interesting piece of gossip.
The smell of fresh dung rushes up my nostrils, stoking nostalgia for all those early vacation mornings spent with Granny as she went about collecting fresh dung in the cattle shed.
I fondly recall the flood of emotions…first disgust, then curiosity, then the sheer joy of getting my hands dirty. And all this, while eavesdropping on Granny as she jabbered away to the kind-eyed bovines.
Then, holidays meant getting your hands dirty.
They stop their deliberations as I approach them. A lazy glance is all they offer me, before they go back to their chewing. I walk past, breathing in deeply as if to store the earthiness of the moment for later retrieval.
The road flattens out.
I begin jogging, my feet thumping the ground rhythmically.
The wind whistles past, gently whispering sweet-nothings in my ear.
The sound startles me.
It comes from right above me. I stop jogging. I look up.
The branches above me are heaving and swaying.
That barking sound again! Then I see them. The two monkeys are wangling over something. A third one appears out of nowhere and clambers up the tree trunk in a trice.
The closest I have even been to monkeys is with a cage or a car windshield between us.
City fears begin closing in on me.
My loneliness suddenly stands like naked truth in front of me.
The green thicket casts dark shadows on the road. I feel raindrops on me. The silence around is menacing.
My solitude scares me.
I am petrified. I cast a glance over my shoulder.
I want to see people.
Even unfamiliar faces.
Please someone, please anyone, come.
My fervent prayer is answered. I see an auto come gasping up the sharp incline.
I wave frantically.
“Monkey,” I say to the old man hauling up the auto. I am gesturing animatedly at the trees.
“Oh! they won’t do anything,” he assures.
“I will blow the horn, that will scare them,” he reasons. “Anyway, there’s a big group of people walking up,” he informs.
The shrill horn pierces the stillness of the wilderness. The sound warms my cold-with-fear heart. I feel at ease.
I walk beside the auto as it huffs and puffs its way up.
I feel safe.
My senses ache for human company. Minutes later, I hear voices behind me. Male voices…and a little later female voices, too.
I sigh in relief.
Forty minutes later, I reach my destination.
I have walked in great comfort. The laughter and chatter behind me had kept me in good stead. I am happy with the accomplishment.
But, my heart is not singing.
I am afraid to admit what I know.
The ecstasy of childhood has succumbed to adult fear.
Assumptions and apprehensions cast aspersions on innocence and faith.
A successful trek behind me, yet, I do not feel like a winner.