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The Traveller

The traveller set out just before the break of dawn, when the streets were largely deserted, save a few somnambulists, who roamed aimlessly about, still in the midst of a dogged pursuit of reclaiming their fugitive dreams. As customary before every journey, he looked cautiously up. The sky, which was yet liberated totally from the dark spell of night, had on him a peculiar attraction. His initial dread of the unknown was overridden by a mounting feeling of ease and security; the mists that cast seamlessly over the sky were to him the wings that ensured his anonymity; even his solitude seemed less palpably felt.

Not a trace of clouds was visible in the mistbound heaven. Although he fancied he saw, hanging at the furthest end of the perceivable distance, a faint glimpse of a big, bright sun. Blood red.

Quite unexpectedly she appeared, nipping her way to a point of unknown. Her gait was nimble as a hare, but at points hastening like that of an escapee, desperate to put off scent the approaching pursuers. In his remembrance she was always more assured in states where one’s senses were the least certain. She pledged allegiance to the nocturnal; blinding lights gave her violent shudders of fear. Throughout the day she was resigned to shutting in on her own. Once in a while a roguish boy, always under the same pretext of retrieving a lost ball, would stray into her garden on purpose, hoping to seek confirmation of the rumors he’d been hearing, of a grotesque, wizened old lady who developed an instinctive repugnance of daylight, as it reminded her the brutal clarity of the day her lover went away. The sun was brazen, emitting shafts of lights that assailed her from all sides. But she continued to look on, with eyes burning with fire and tears, vainly clinging onto the hope that the departee would soon be moved by her staunchness and turned his head. She persisted until the wind chilled her bones, and the owl cried.

Whenever she closed her eyes the lights would still be dancing in the extended darkness, and the scene of that fateful leave-taking replay again and again, her tears and his relieved sighs. She took to habit of scouring the earth as though in a trance, with only the fading moonlight as her trusty guidance. Stoutly she maintained in her unwavering conviction that her lover would soon return home. Night was the time she felt closest to him; every spectral form that brushed her past she discerned in it a face that, until this day, she failed to expel from her memory.

Quite some time elapsed since he last saw her. A glimpse of her fleeting presence still gave him tremors, of roused sentiments or lingering guilt he could not tell. The same tremors that weighed down his pace to that of almost a trundle, as he walked resolutely away, that day when the sun was blood red, and everything throbbed amidst the scary illumination. Not once did he turn his head but he was listening, the irritable sobbing that erupted convulsively and showed no sign of ceasing; but ceased eventually and he looked back aghast- she was not there.

There was an invisible gap that opened up between their worlds- she the ghost of yesterday, he the eternal traveller. He felt himself transcended, hardening against all tender feelings and sweet illusions. The somnambulists were straggling home with their shattered dreams; the ravens mocked at their folly, relentlessly till they were choked by their own venom. She was plunging further still into the growing darkness that would soon engulf her and her fruitless pursuit. He waited until she became no more than a small, obscure point, still struggling to bob up above the overpowering tide of her illusive reminiscences. And then he hastened on.


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