Road to Discovery

I wanted to feel the thrill of the wild zinging through my teeth, so I pulled up fragments of survival into a backpack, enough to keep Sequoia hospitable for a week. And set off backpacking with a group of four, towards the Alpine zone.  The deeper we receded into the woods the harder it got staying on the trail. The storms the week before had done a nasty job of hiding the trails.

 I must have failed to keep pace with the rest of the pack, for I found myself farther and farther away until the distant heads vanished into the thickness of foliage. Before long instead of following a team of four, I found myself breaking trail through un-trampled greens. The map no longer fit the terrain, the trails were completely disguised with the havoc the storm had caused and there were fallen trees everywhere. As the sun dimmed its intensity, my hurried footsteps got more and more confused. One wrong turn led to another, and before I knew it, I was lost.

Night in the woods descends like a mighty eagle with its wings outstretched. Darkness is sudden and complete. There is no comforting light peering through embroidered curtains, or a mechanical buzz from the kitchen fridge, a sprinkler sputtering off at night, friendly chatter of the TV in the background, or the familiar clatter of silver ware and plates at dinner time. Instead there is the loud rhythmic thump of your heart beating against your ear drums. There are other disturbing noises intensified by the silence of the night. Like the rustling of leaves nearby, a sudden cry that resembles a baby shrieking except it is not, a howl, a hoot and an unnerving pair of yellow eyes watching from the distance…

A small shaking flashlight in hand and a poor job of a tent later I find myself strangely secure. It occurs to me that a human’s most fetal need is the need for security no matter how frail the promise of security may be. Thankfully, the fatigue from the day wraps its sleep laden hands around my neck and drowns me into deep slumber. For two days I hike senselessly around the green corridors of tall trees losing my way constantly. Until several miles, an abandoned baby stroller, broken shards of beer bottles, disbanded backpacks, and several cairns later I am convinced that I am well on the road to discovery.

The search team must have been thick on its trail, for it isn’t long before I hear myself scream, hands flailing like turbines in the wind. As two distant flashes of light glimmer like twin candles in the thick of the night swiftly growing in size. Woods

Blind Trust

It was a humid, sultry night. Smell of spices and burning charcoal filled the streets. The hawkers gathered their wares closing in on their busy days as the sun set on the old, pious town in Karauli, Rajasthan, twenty years ago.

A little girl holding her mama’s hand, gets off the train and boards a bus full of strangers. The long day sits heavy on her eyelids but she is trying to stay awake as she knows she must. The smell of incense wafts the air like a prayer. A thin old man is singing a country folklore. His milky eyes glazed over, rolled up as if in prayer and his voice is like the soft murmur of water flowing downhill on a shallow pebbled, river bed. In his hands he carries a wooden box of incense. A small black cloth pouch hangs off his right hand to collect money. He stops briefly at every seat, giving the passengers a chance to buy his incense. Lightly touching the seats as he passes for sense of direction and balance. 
Mama does not need incense but she buys some anyways and dutifully drops something in his pouch, making a tiny jingle. The old man nods and moves on.

When he is done he goes to the front of the bus and stands next to the driver to finish his song. Some of the passengers have joined him in his chant, others clap in tune. The bus draws to a halt at the next stop and the old man intuitively gets down and leaves.

The little girl tugs her mama’s hand and asks if the blind man will find his way. Her mother nods, “Yes,he will. I have seen him selling incense, since I was as old as you. He always find his way”. The girl smiles back wanly, wide awake now. The bus drives to a rest house and the two of them get out.

“But what if someone cheats him mama?” she continues clearly concerned. “What if someone steals his incense and does not pay him? He can’t see, won’t it be easy to cheat him?” Mama shakes her head and says, “No, they won’t my darling. Trust is blind…”

It’s been twenty years since that day, I never had a chance to visit that town again. Yet, I remember the day as if it happened yesterday. Memory is like a strange box, that can preserve random incidents forever, while the most lucid, current experiences escape it like air. I don’t know what happened to that old incense seller. I trust he lived a long and peaceful life.

A lot changes in twenty years. Today, trust and faith are commodities hard to come by. Yet I do believe that sometimes it is better to trust and be cheated than lead a life with the doors and windows of your heart closed. When I find myself helpless and in doubt, I remind myself of my mama’s words; trust is blind and faith fills our hearts like incense.

Karmic wine glass

Shattered glass and blood was splattered all over the kitchen floor. A body was lying face down with a knife still stuck in the back, dripping a thick pool of red.

Zoey was shaking convulsively, as she tried supporting herself against the wall. Rivulets of sweat mixed with tears and streamed down her cheeks as she let herself drop to the floor in a heave.

Could she really have done it? True, she had imagined it for years. She had wanted it, dreamed it and rehearsed it in her head over and over. But could she have actually gone through with it tonight? “Oh My God, Oh My God, what have I done?” she said looking at her hands. She had taken the kitchen knife and stabbed him repeatedly at the back until his legs could not hold the weight of his body. He thumped down on his knees first, and then fell on his face, bloodying the white kitchen floor.

Her heart beat so loud it would burst out of her chest, her head hurt and she could barely see. He had mixed something in her drink. Yes, he had to have. Surely he had dropped something in the wine before he handed it to her. She recoiled as she remembered his hand touching hers as he passed her the wine glass. How she hated him.

Now he was lying face down, dead and harmless. She had finally put the years of abuse behind her. It was going to be ok. He was far away from her now and could never hurt her again.

But she had to find her keys, she had to run, follow through with her plans. She remembered the plan clearly in her head, even though it pounded uncontrollably. Why could she not pull herself up? Someone or something was pulling her down. Her legs had become gummy, and her stomach seethed with pain. She instinctively put her hand on her stomach, to press the pain away. Her body felt sticky. In an instant she put her hands to her eyes, and looked at them disbelievingly, they were blood red.

Zoey had stabbed Charles several times in the back, but not before he had stabbed her in the gut with the broken wine glass.

“Cut” Shouted the Director. “Excellent shot. Pack Up”.

Inspired by Daily Post : Flash Fiction