I walk down the cobbled pathway, my head down. For a reason unbeknownst, I always felt comfortable walking with my head down. Not from shame, or guilt. No. I just felt better like that. I just did. The cobbled pathway has changed, I notice. Wildflowers fill the tiny spaces, and little pieces of grass are visible, if you look closely. Or maybe it is my imagination, I’m not sure.

I almost reach the end of the pathway, and I take a deep breath, preparing myself for what’s to come. I slow my pace down at first, but then my entire abdomen goes berserk, and my legs feel wobbly, I struggle to walk. I stop but then pick up my pace. Somehow, I force myself to run. I shut my eyes close, I close them tightly, to even block out the light of the setting sun. I count my steps; I walk blindly. After a minute, I reach there. The place I dread. I know I have reached, I just always know. I slowly open my eyes. As my eyes fully open, I draw in my breath.

I am surprised, beyond surprised. Because I didn’t expect to see what I saw. In all these years, many things had changed, but not this. Never this. No matter how many times I wept and wished, it never changed. Everything did, but this was stubborn; like me perhaps. Tears well up in my eyes, as I walk towards it. Towards what, exactly? Towards an empty space.

Yes, I was happy to see an empty space. But why? Yes, that place stood for all the sufferings, all the pain in my life. But didn’t it also contain a memory of those I loved, things that I once treasured? But I know it doesn’t matter, not now, after all these years. I stand where the grey building once stood. That building with no windows, no doors, no nothing. It was like a box. But now it is not there. I gently remove some of the dirt from the ground. Something is written on it. My name. As I read it, I smile.

I wake up. To another mundane day, someone might say. But I know this day is special. I mark it on my calendar. As I make myself a cup of coffee, I ponder upon my recurring dream. It was more than a dream, I always knew. It was more like a hidden passageway of my brain, and my heart too, perhaps. The Place, haunted me. Somehow, my misery used to trap me inside of me. I was caged in a box, with darkness all around. But I finally found the light in the darkness, the white in the black and the stars in a starless sky. I finally let go.

– Ishita Gupta, Amity International School, Noida


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