On that cold night she stayed awake looking at the big bold sky through the only eye that would let her. She hoped nothing but only looked in awe at the massive blue velvet that had on it scattered the numerous little diamonds, shining a steady gleam.
Someone polished them so beautifully. She wondered at the tenacity of these little diamonds. Sometimes they winked, they consoled and at other times they encouraged. They gave a hope, reassuring they won’t leave. Even the day’s light would finally give way to their serene twinkle.
She felt the earth moving beneath her, but the sky – full of stars – remained stationery. She knew nothing of her destiny. She only knew she was being moved and didn’t know where to stop.
Sleep left her at the early hours of night. She sat up trying to cover her exposed feet. They felt like ice. But even the cold couldn’t deter the spirit she was carrying that night. It was made of solid rebellion with a metallic scent of freedom.
She went back to her reverie, stargazing. She was enthralled by the dark blue of the night, that particular night seemed more magical than any she ever experienced. The royal shade drew her in, engulfing her in its august, jewel-studded majesty.
The blue had started to melt the rebellion. Her spirit mixed and stirred softly with the deep cobalt and as the defiance diluted, it turned into a cerulean hue of ambiguous emotions. It was impossible to decode what she was feeling. She translated it to fatigue, but deep in her heart she knew it was fear and longing. Longing to be home, to be safe.
She had weathered sandstorms but never had she thrown herself at the stranger tides she seemed to be now approaching. She was anxious about what the morrow would bring her and where she would be by dawn.
As worry germinated like a tiny little sapling at the bottom of her heart, she resolved she wouldn’t let it grow. So, instead of pondering about her destination and feeding her worry, she directed her thoughts toward home.
As soon as she did, she felt her heart sink. She knew she was doing what she always wanted to – wander like a free spirit – but little did she know that her heart was tied. Her heart belonged at home. She missed the smell of her house, the scent of her mother’s skin, the air of her homeland.
For the first time that night, she realized she was travelling and was miles away from home. She couldn’t turn back even if she wanted to now. She felt the worry flicker again and rushed to repress it. No, she just would not let it conquer her, not yet.
The journey was short, she thought, for the movement had stopped. Her destination, so they said, had arrived. The morning was colder than the night. The sun wasn’t out yet and as she set foot on the unknown ground, she felt the worry shoot like fire through her veins.
Repression never helps. It only stokes, she recalled. The worry that she so fiercely resisted throughout the night had finally evolved into a full fledged noxious weed that spread its vines through her body. It numbed her feet, her mind but spared her heart for it still burned with a fire of hope.
She found herself freezing under a street light. She knew she would figure something out, as long as she could speak and as long as she held on to dear hope. That same hope jolted her back to reality. A few men arrived, offering to take her where she wanted to be taken.
She knew a name of an inn but hadn’t the slightest inkling where it was located. She understood she had to trust someone, especially in a stranger land she knew nothing of. As a child, she was trusting of everybody. She wouldn’t once think suspiciously of a soul. But age and experiences saw the trust depleting. She was hurt too many times, bruised and marred.
But trust was her only prime now. She quickly decided to put her faith in an elderly man, who very nicely offered to drop her to the inn for a minimum price. Though she decided to trust the man, she knew better. She acted as if she knew the place well. She masked her anxiety and worry with a dark veil of silent confidence and knew she would get through with it. It helped her many a times in the past.
The man drove her in his rikshaw to the inn, which wasn’t very far away from where the ride dropped her off. The inn was closed but the elderly man was courteous enough to wake the inn men up, who hastily unlocked the doors and let her in. They slept in the lobby.
Bleary eyed, they checked her in and handed her the keys to her room. One of the inn men led her upstairs.
She entered the matchbox-sized room, which only had one bed, a plastic chair, a small unkempt bathroom and a dresser drawer which doubled up as a bedside table. She was disappointed. She had seen some pictures of the inn on the internet but the reality wasn’t quite as what she had seen. The room smelt of cigarettes. She found an ashtray and a lighter in the dresser drawer and concluded a smoker had occupied the room earlier.
She could have asked for a change of room, but her fake confidence was faltering, the worry showing through. She fought the worry too long and now needed rest.
She decided to let the damn thing be, placed her belongings neatly, like she always does and lay down on the bed. The blanket smelled strange.Her mind could not help but think it was probably what the smoker smelt like! Did the inn men even care to change the blanket? She decided to leave it on the chair and wrapped herself in the shawl she bought along. She was cold and that reminded her of her warm, clean home.
She suddenly felt her eyes welling up. It started getting hard to breathe so she sat up. Took two deep breaths. Nope, Not working, she thought. And in that moment she broke down. She was crying copious tears.
She was homesick, heartbroken and confused. What was she doing in this strange place? Why was she doing this? Would she ever go back safe? Though it was only a three-day trip away from home, her utter desire to be home was shattering her. The longing to be warm. To be safe. But here she was in a misery she inflicted upon herself, she thought. Why was she putting herself through the torture? Will this storm wash her clean?
She cried it all out and when she felt empty enough, she decided to sleep. So she did.