That last night haunted her for years.
That night powdery rain covered the landscape like dew. It had rained heavily the whole day, but now it seemed the clouds were beginning to lose steam, as if to say, ‘this is all we’ve got’. The slick roads of her small village glistened in the moonlight like oil on water. The heavy percussion on her tin roof had ceased altogether now and the crickets were back to playing their orchestra with the croaking frogs.
There were flashes of thunder and lightning here and there, that illuminated the surrounding flat grasslands for a fraction of a second. But the night’s show belonged to a train of twinkling lights, far out on the flats, across the miles, right on the horizon. The big city was never visible in the day, as if it would go underground like a vampire. But come nightfall, it would shine like string lights adorning the very horizon. It looked like each night was a celebration.
Those lights from the big city, they meant everything to her. They represented a world she had never known. A world where her dreams may come true, where she won’t be just another girl, but a somebody. Each night she vowed she’d strike out across those flat miles and reach those twinkling lights on the horizon to make her home there. Each night she told herself ‘you’re born to be great’. Each night, when she and her family would finally retire to sleep on wooden pallets in the courtyard of her hut, she promised herself just before she closed her eyes, ‘someday‘.
Someday came sooner than she thought. And not the way she wished for it.
That last night, they rained hell on those twinkling lights from the skies. At first it felt like thunder. But then there was the unmistakable crack of bullets being fired, the abominable sounds of the earth rumbling with the impact of air raids, and the glowering fire of the city burning to death. The air suddenly became dry and suffocating. The orchestra of the crickets and frogs was quickly overtaken by the odious wailing of a dying city.
Her village somehow survived the raids. The hunger and destitution that followed is what killed it. She had quickly enlisted to help, hoping there was still something of those twinkling lights left. But what she found was only rubble and charcoal; a dead city and dead dreams.
But oh, how she thanked her stars for never making it to the city!
Copyright ©2017 Pradita Kapahi.
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