Chasing Rainbow by Shaheen Rajan

There is a rainbow out there, with your name on it. But to get to it, you would have to brave through the storms. You would have to keep your face down and focus. There will be calls from flimsy shelters and bright bonfires. Don’t, my child. Don’t look at them. The shelter is holding up a thread thinner than a strand of your hair, and the fire is being fed lustrous bodies like your own. Look down, focus.

When rain makes it through your shoes and starts to weigh you down, pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Don’t let betrayal bring down your spirits. Use this moment to thank those soles with holes, for carrying you along so far. Plead for some more support. Empty them, put them where they belong, and march on. But this time, when you are looking down, also look for potholes. Your soles need a helping hand now, and you are all they have got. No more jumping in the puddles and giggling over splashes. Now these pleasures come at a cost. A cost neither you nor your over worn shoes can pay. But don’t worry. The road isn’t as long as it once was.

You march on, until a feral thorn gets hold of your cardigan and you notice a breath too late. It has claimed a piece of it, the piece that was crucial for your protection against wind. You gulp, visibly, daring to wonder what you know you shouldn’t. What is worth this journey? And then you look down at the thorn, and see it waving that scrap of cloth in victory. 

You smile, despite the offence. Is it possible for a thorn to look cute? You could swear that you saw its eyes crinkle and lips widen. All of a sudden, it was as if a grey cloud had lifted. You could feel it, though your eyes couldn’t see it. The storm was still dark and angry, yet the air was easier on you.

Pacing up, with a torn sweater and half a glass of water in your shoes, you continue on the trail. This is when you see the first ray of light on the horizon. You aren’t sure if it’s real or your mind is playing tricks on you. Could it be that the end is near? You dare not be hopeful. You know better than that. You know that being hopeful is dangerous. You know the power it holds. Yet, you hope, or at least part of you does.

Your gait is now cheerful, a spring in your step. Without realising, you are walking faster than before. Fastest since you started. Your feet want to close the distance between you and the rainbow. As soon as possible. Like a fervent lover, bending backwards to please the beloved. You go on, daring to hope, unaware of the perils. And then you fall, face down, hitting your head on a rock the size of watermelon you had yesterday.

It takes you a while to get your bearings again. You touch your forehead, with feeble fingers, only to realise that there is a gash. Blood seems to have made its way out. How typical! In that moment between feeling your blood and a sharp pain shooting from your left knee, you take the pleasure of being off your feet. The rain is no longer slapping your face and your shoes are quiet. No more swishy sound. Maybe the pursuit of that rainbow was a silly endeavour after all. Why else had the entire village stayed exactly where they were, instead of chasing an unlikely fantasy. This was good. This felt good. They were cuts and bruises and blood, but this was good. It felt good. You stayed down, a little longer than you should have.

It was your knee that forced you to stand back up. You were afraid of broken bones and wanted to be up again, to make sure all were intact. And indeed, they were. Mud on your face, bleeding forehead and forearm, torn sweater and broken shoes, you were a sight alright. There was victory in every unsavoury detail of your appearance. A resolve. A desire.

You turn back, ever so slowly, to look at the road just travelled. You have come a long way. The storm seems to have taken mercy and slowed down to a drizzle as well. That’s when you get your first taste of blood and mud, and you are not sure if you like it. You attempt cleaning your face with the back of your sodden sleeve, unaware that it hadn’t helped matters much. You could see again, and that is all that mattered.

Remember hope, that friend which landed you in a ditch? It has now been replaced by anger. An emotion that has no particular source or direction. It just is, fuelling your heavy steps and flailing arms. Your feet are almost stomping. Spring is now summer’s heat. You are going to get that rainbow. This storm owes you at least that much.

That light on the horizon seems to have lost some of its brightness. What just happened? You walk faster, almost in a sprint, draining whatever little energy you were left with, faster than would be considered sensible. You experience aches that are completely foreign to you. Stiff calves, tightness between your shoulders, stinging ears – your body had absorbed all the hardships that your resolve has refused to acknowledge. Like a bastard child. Someone had taken it in, and that someone now showed visible signs of distress.

You march on, towards the darkness, where once light was. It didn’t seem to matter that you no longer had any direction. There were no signs or markings on the road. Skies had halted all their merry making, to observe. What a silly child, it wondered, and opened its heart to you. And came down dazzling brightness. A zigzag of electricity and death. The lightening struck your heart, robbing it of the power of beating. You lost it all just as soon as the skies parted. Your eyes, once alight with resolve, were now glassy. 

You breathed your last, just as the skies opened their hearts to you. And then, there was a rainbow.