The Walk

This story is dedicated to the following lines by Albert Camus;

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”

Months after it was sown in the most anally retentive manner, the gardener with a watering can in hand surveys the garden with the exactitude of a hawk eyed hunter and music leaving like chopped wood from his chapped lips. “Lush”, he said with sarcasm as a fine line of perspiration was making way behind his ear. Months of grind had produced a shapeless patchwork of green and brown that without proper water, manure, and sunlight showed reluctance to coalesce, much to the agony of the gardener. A couple of furlongs behind the bungalow among the labyrinth of irregularly planted apple and plum trees lay the mound of concrete, steel and earth from the newly constructed bungalow. Shade is an unending season in this hopeless mountain of refuse, but tufts of delicate green grass with small sharp blades have made their way through like a guttersnipe does all his life in pursuit of survival. The grass here sucks up human filth from which even its producer maintains a fair distance.

I believe in justice and the concern for the hands that bring it about do not in the remotest way concern me for the end here precedes the importance of means that achieve it; all my life I have tried to find ways to break the walls of desperation that only get thicker and bigger more from my inaction. I am in a separate cell because my answers at the Court were so true that they could not have been uttered by a man of sane disposition and so I can be a threat to the prison inmates; in any way I hate these gormless convicts and love the peace of the cell, which sometimes becomes boring but never intellectually idle. All my life I had been a pedestrian filling the unimportant gaps, waiting to become something from which hope and courage would spring but all I ended up doing was cleaning the world of a drug pusher by injecting many doses of Meth into his anatomy in a fit of convulsive nervous energy. I am trying to picture the act, the trial, and everything from the mind’s acceptance of the initiation of act and its final purpose seemed to reverberate first and then dwindle; I felt some peace that even in the act of, let’s say, murdering people I had acted with some kindness when seen in the light of my firm conviction that it’s not a crime to do what the courts of justice fail to do in time. Years have passed, yet the desire to get out of the mire in which I have become numb is as fresh as when I entered because from the depths of abyss does one really desire the smooth white light that comes many a time from path of action and never from hope that is masquerading in guise of blissful ignorance and slavish obedience of a system of exploitation.

More refuse, and the winter that is same for the stone by the roadside or the sapphire in the crown have ended the struggle of the grass. Without any desire or remorse I was walking listlessly along the narrow muddy alley between the barracks with an uncommon spring as opposed to the leaden footedness I had become used to when a convict of weak constitution and quirky behaviour shared a piece of bread with me although his eyes spoke nothing but hunger. I ate some and put some of it on the windowsill of my cell, perhaps for tomorrow, and as I was laying on the cold floor my back felt like the cracking of autumn leaves under the feet of running children. I know not when but while looking at the piece of bread that I had brought down from the windowsill, I quietly slipped into the lap of sleep and from there into some densely wooded valley bereft of anything living; I was walking with uncertain steps following the smell of unknown plants or maybe flowers when I sighted on my right under a great oak tree, a turtle trying to climb on to some rocks. It started to snow, the stitches of my manky shoes could hold on no more. I walked a long time in haze and storm till I reached a natural exit to the wooded valley with mud and dead leaves clinging up to my waist and before me was a burning field of corn with a broad road in the middle of which lay a harvest table fully laden with fruits and pots of juices and alongside the table were steps raised towards a half finished pedestal. I hesitated for some time and even took a few steps back but then I walked up to the pedestal and lo and behold! A cherub in a silver basket lined with fleece was playing with the shadow of the tree on the basket; the silhouette of the skeletal tree against the orange sky creating enthusiasm with the sun calling after brief hiatuses from behind the tree. Beyond the mountain and towards the sun, I continued.

Yasir Yousuf Bhat

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