ONCE UPON A TIME
Neela wandered the lonely streets in vain on that fateful summer night. Her twin was home burning with the fever that had killed so many over the last few weeks. The sour stench of death permeated the house as the fever ate its way into her brain and frail body. Neela knew she had to save her for she couldn’t envision life without her twin. She ran as fast as her little legs could carry her only to find herself lost in the labyrinth of alleyways and passages that was the town. It was a no moon night and the light from the lone house across the street did nothing to help assuage the rising bubble of fear and panic that was forming inside of her. They came out of nowhere. They were called the shadow dogs. They were the forces of dark and light, the forces of death and rebirth, the forces she had come in search of.
The townsfolk found her the next morning, curled in a foetal position, a smile on her stiff lips and a dried tear drop on her soft, smooth cheek.
The desert heat rose up to hit her in the face as she ran as fast as she could across the scorching sand. The shadows stretched, tall and long, and the black dogs, or shadow dogs as they were called, closed in on her. Finally, her weary legs gave up on her and she turned around to look into the menacing jaws of death.
I sat hunched over on my bed trying in vain to keep my droopy eyelids open for I knew I’d dream ‘the dream’ again. For the past so many months, on the first night of the dark moon I’d feel it creep up on me and no matter what I tried the end was always the same. I’d wake up shivering and sweating, lost in the land between dreams and reality. Tonight was going to be different though, of that I was determined. Tonight I would look death in the eye and I would live. As absurd as it all sounded I knew it to be the truth of sorts, for it was about time I conquered the dream.
They came out of nowhere. They were called the shadow dogs. She ran across the desert sands, as fast as her legs would carry her. The faster she ran the harder they chased, until finally, at that point where the shadows end and the darkness closes in, she gave up and turned around to face her tormentors. The darkness deepened until the shadows disappeared. Through the tunnels of time she saw her twin, the twin who had died so she could live. The same twin was now begging her not to squander her life away. “I didn’t die so you could throw your life away, now did I?” her twin asked. “No, you didn’t,” she replied. “Then turn around and find your inner light,” whispered her twin.
I woke up with a smile on my lips and a dried tear drop on my cheek. Had the dream visited me last night? Maybe it had, and then again, maybe not. For once I couldn’t remember a thing. What I did know was that I felt whole again. That empty, restless hole in my soul felt renewed and at peace. I had found myself again.