I sat on the hill top, watching the clouds fly by; and the wind was in my hair. It was nearing twilight and I had to go back home. So gathering the wood I’d collected earlier and tying my hair into a bun, I started walking downhill.
This was my day, everyday. Going into the forest to collect wood for the fire in the afternoon, spending some quite moments on hilltop and then a return journey to my home where mother would be awaiting my arrival to commence dinner preparations. Just another regular day of my life, or was it?
As I was going down the steep road, the weather quickly changed…. Clouds started overshadowing the sky, and within minutes the entire place was covered with darkness. And even though I had been going up and down this path everyday for 5 years, a dread filled me, as I stood there with my eyes turned blind by the sheer darkness around me.
For the next 15 minutes I just stood there, filled with fear and anxiety, carrying the weight of bound firewood under my arm. Half of me was expecting and hoping the clouds would clear if I just waited a little patiently, the other half was too paralyzed with shock to know what to do.
My home was just a 20min walk from here, and I was getting late. I thought of my mother waiting for me, my crying brothers and sisters harassing her as they were hungry, my father who’d worked all day in the coal mine, would now be patiently waiting for his only full meal of the day. As these images flashed in my mind I overcame my fear and started walking ahead.
I had a general sense of direction, and thus was pretty sure that I was heading on the right path. Since it was pitch dark, my progress was slow. But as I slowly adjusted to this temporary blindness, my confidence increased and I started taking more resolute steps. Now thinking, that I had finally conquered this unknown demon who had tried to stop my way; I was now heading to the safety and warmth of my home.
Little did I know that more surprises were ready to meet me. And suddenly while walking, the ground under my feet disappeared and I fell into a pit. A pitch dark, smelly and moist pit. I was not too sure how deep it was, but I definitely couldn’t reach the top with my hands, and again I was too afraid to go and explore its width. If this wasn’t enough I heard the howling of wolves nearby.
So I was either going to be stuck in this smelly pit, or be eaten by the wolves. None of the options pleased me, I began crying, I was too young to die, and there were so many things I had to experience yet. My crying attracted the wolves and they were almost at the brink on the hole; I could see three pairs of eyes. Was I their dinner for tonight?
I instantly began praying, and memories of my life started flashing in front of me, not all were pleasant, my father slapping me when I was 6, my sister breaking my doll, I trying to wrestle my baby brother into the bath tub, my mother stitching a new frock for me… my quarrels with my siblings, my rudeness with my father, me sharing a meal with my two sisters, I feeling ashamed to show my friends my poor hatched house too small to house 7 children…. And so much more….
I did not know when fresh tears escaped my eyes, I didn’t know when the wolves ran away, nor did I know when the clouds cleared up, all I remember was that when I was down in the hole reliving moments of my past life I saw light appearing and slowly I began seeing things.
I have no idea from where I got the energy to climb over a ditch that was more than 8feet deep, nor that how did I manage to gather all the firewood; that got scattered due to my fall; and run all the way back home.
I only remember the strong desire to see my poor parents, to hug my irksome siblings, to be back in my dismally ugly and small home where I felt safe.
When I did reach home, my entire family ran to meet me, and we all hugged each other…. I kissed everyone, told them I loved them. And even though the supplies were scarce the dinner that night had the air of a feast, no family meal that I could remember had been so joyous.
And at night when I was changing into my night cloths I realized, that my dress was torn at few places, I had received several cuts and bruises and my hair could have belonged to a hag. But the mirror reflected a girl who was happy, her entire face lifted up with a content smile, her eyes twinkling in starlight, because by thinking that she was going to lose her everything, she had actually found what her treasures were.