Smoke invaded my pores, breaching my thoroughly scrubbed skin. Cars fought beside me, spewing fumes to fire their passion. My nose crinkled in distaste at the putrid smell of gasoline. My ears cringed at the squabbling of horns and every moment was registered as an enthusiastic hullabaloo of cacophony to my brain. I wove my way through ranks of restless vehicles, waiting, waiting anxiously for the light. In a clamour of engines revving and armour clanking, the soldiers burst forth, carried onward by the cavalry, the stragglers, needing to go somewhere, anywhere.
In war, all reasoning of sides disappears. Those who stayed besides you were now an obstacle. Another nuisance to be martyred in quest of reaching the opposite end. Whereupon you realise the end is just the beginning because life is not a day, but a time. Just as a problem will stop you time and time again. And so, the road must be. The red light will appear in due time, but for your own benefit. It may seem you cross streams to find oceans before you. Presently you may flounder, but nature is forgiving, and our nature is living. We look ahead to leave behind billows and bomboras. To navigate those waters, we never look down but seek guidance from the stars and inspiration from the horizon, for a palatable destination. Because on a plane the sea remains unseen, but the clouds are brimming with dreams. And if the journey ceased to exist, there would be nowhere to go and nowhere to be. You’d be riding the sunset, but life would be bleak. Since the view is much prettier from the beach. Yet the road says otherwise, and I follow it with need. The breeze whispers ‘travel with heed’, and so I agree, knowing no one’s really free. Because those clouds ran away while you sat and played. Reality came back and now we pray.
An irritated honk behind me broke my reverie. And a mental wall barricaded my thoughts, suspending dreamland. In the meantime, I proceeded to make a complete fool of myself by colliding head on with the train station barrier gates. Which somehow, I had subconsciously carried myself to, miraculously unscathed, if not for recent developments. Perhaps I owed it to the daily ritual I undertook to reach work, my destination. At a slight trot, I set off to find a cabin with a skimmer crowd as compared to the thick masses which occupied the first few.
God once more favoured me it seemed, for I manged to find some personal space against the adjoining doors. The train lurched forward, and in a blur of darkening colours spiralled into darkness. The window panes acted as a mirror, reflecting the compartment’s own light. My face flitted like a sputtering candle as the rail continued its concourse through the dimly lit tunnel.
For the first time I saw my image as a foreigner, and yet what struck me most was not the unfamiliarity I registered with my own visage; but the other ghoulish faces that flickered besides me, all of them on the same journey with different stops. Perhaps not on the right track, but chugging on regardless. To the window of opportunity, we all looked the same, but each set of eyes had a unique story to tell. And when our diversity was earthed, under cement and stone, we were still on a road of sorts. Except this one was built in trust, for even the eyes that set us apart failed in the dark, but the comradery of man was drenched in light.
Gradually the engine chugged to a stop, and I was blessed with the relieving beams of brilliance which saturated the mundane cabin. The reflections faded, along with my train of thought. I was alone with the fulfilling knowledge; no sage or guru could impart. Sometimes to shine light on our problems, we must step into the dark, and let the shadows tell their story. To find solutions, we must think like the problem, but also appreciate what is already fixed. Silently, I bid farewell to those still finding their destination, and thanked them for sharing my journey with me.
I stepped onto the platform and shook of the grizzle, letting peace seep in and settle the contents of my churning stomach and mind. Sunlight dyed the cobbled station with a whitish hue, bleaching the world of its colour. And I liked it that way. However, the white was tinted with smoke. It had made a home under my skin, and with me it’ll stay and go wherever I go. But maybe the dark is not such a bad thing after all, the ones to fear are those who stand in the light, brandishing the dark. Because they’ve gone where no one else dares to go. Each day, the smoke attacks me. I could block it, but the fight carries me forward, and if it’s for better or for worse, I’ll only know when I reach the destination everyone yearns to go.