You walk ahead of me. And I keep pace with you when I can. Often, I lose sight of you.
Suddenly…when I look down at a pebble I trip on, if I look at one of the sights that lie around me, if I stop for a moment to catch my breath. And you are gone, in one jiffy.
It has now so become that I keep my eyes on you and walk. Ignoring the stumbles and falls, the sights and sounds. You race ahead, sometimes look back, taking in all that is offered by this world, absorbing and singing, dancing and whistling a tune, a smile on your lips. The lips that I have been chasing for centuries now.
Why do you follow me? You ask that once in a while and I don’t know what to say to you. I don’t know if there really is anything else I can do. So I follow you because that is all I know to do.
But one day, I stop chasing and following. And I collapse and fall and lie down on the sand, face down, the sun beating down on me because my feet are too tired of following you. They will carry me no more and I must stop, body stretched beyond the forces of the will. I breathe, finally at rest, but panic building that I have lost sight of you again.
I look up once and see a mirage, an oasis and I am too tired to get up and reach the cool palms and the blue little pond. And I sleep.
I wake up after what feels like ages. I don’t know how long I have slept but it feels like it’s been a long long time. I am parched and I need water. I look up and the oasis is still there. I struggle to my feet and slip, get up again and the sight in front of me shimmers unrealistically. But I walk on, and I reach the oasis. It is not a mirage and I feel a stab of guilt at not having walked to it earlier.
I drink deeply from the waters and I see you, sitting a little way further, drinking from the waters too.
You look up and smile at me and I want to ask you why you are not running away from me now. It is exactly what I wanted, for you to not run, and now that you are doing what I want you to, I want to know why you are doing it…so I shut up and just look at you and manage to smile back.
You finish drinking and dust your clothes, wash your face and find a fruit to chew on. You take your own time again and finally, you notice me again and walk up to me. It is so odd to see you walking to me that I stay very still, afraid that everything will disappear if I move. You come and stand in front of me and offer a hand.
“Do you like this place?”
“Is that the question I want after centuries of chasing you?”
“May be not but do you like it?”
“Yes. Better than the arid lands.”
“I am glad you like it.”
“Why did you make me chase you?”
“I didn’t ask you to. You followed me.”
“You could have walked with me.”
“We would never have made it on time then.”
“I didn’t want to keep losing sight of you.”
“You had to. You were too busy chasing me to notice the sights on the way. So I had to disappear so you would look around a bit before resuming.”
“But you didn’t leave me much time to look around either.”
“Because you had to remember that the final destination is here.”
“What if I had not chased you?”
“You would have still made it here. All your roads lead to the same place.”
“But why did you ask me, now and then, the reason behind my chasing you?”
“To make you ask yourself that you do not chase me. You chase this and I am only leading you here.”
I stay quiet. You leave my hand. You ask your last question.
“Why didn’t you run? I would have followed. We would have reached the same place.”