[ultimate_heading main_heading=”My Way or the Highway – Short Story by Aayushee Garg” main_heading_color=”#1e73be” sub_heading_color=”#8224e3″ spacer=”line_with_icon” spacer_position=”bottom” line_style=”dotted” line_height=”1″ line_color=”#1e73be” icon_type=”custom” icon_img=”id^48|url^http://ashvamegh.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Ashvamegh-ICO.jpg|caption^null|alt^Ashvamegh Journal Icon|title^Ashvamegh ICO|description^null” img_width=”48″ main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_font_size=”desktop:34px;” line_width=”3″ margin_design_tab_text=””]talks confided to oneself…[/ultimate_heading]

published – Volume IV, Issue, XXXVI, January 2018

My Way or the Highway

“Tell me something about yourself,” said he, making me feel uneasy all over again.

He had been pestering me to tell the story of my life for a very long time. It’s not that I felt shy narrating my story. It is just that I have always been afraid that my story might be misconstrued. I don’t want my story to be misconstrued. But, something in me also doesn’t want my story to be fully understood by anyone.

I said again, “You know that it is never going to happen.”

“But, why?” He made a face like a snowman in a Disney movie makes seeing his favourite princess fall ill.

“I have never told my story to anyone. Others tell my story. I never do,” I tried my best to decline politely.

“But, I want to listen to the true story. From the horse’s mouth,” he giggled.

His obstinacy frightened me. Nevertheless, I didn’t lose hope.

“I don’t think you want to listen to an uninteresting story. It is not a page-turning one. You might sleep while I am halfway through,” I blushed surreptitiously. His eyes looked sad. “Moreover, I don’t think you will live long enough to be able to listen to the whole of it.”

“You think so?”

“Yes, they’ll cut you in a few days. All these leaves of grass are hastily being replaced by piles of concrete.”

Tree shrugged, and his yellow children nervously dropped and landed on me.

After a while, Tree asked, “Wish I could stop Time. Do you move, or have you always stayed still?”

“I do move. But, the way I move is different. In a world where change is the only constant, I neither move with Time nor with Space. My journey begins with stories. My journey mostly begins when someone uses words to describe one’s own journey.”

“Wow. This sounds interesting. Do you have friends, Road?”

“My best friend is River. I like talking to Sky and Moon too. They are all peaceful beings.”

“Hmm. I like the perseverant River.”

“Yes. She goes on. But, you know Tree, though I have always envied River’s patience and perseverance, I have one thing she lacks. She has to succumb to the gratuitous authority of Time and move in accordance with him. I do not have to move with Time in order to exist.”

“Wow. That’s a keen observation.”

I suddenly feel conscious of my jealousy towards my best friend. “How shallow am I?” I think.

“How is your relationship with your siblings? You get along well?”

“I do, yes. You see, it largely depends on the people who take me in their life. I am mostly a part of the journey of others. I find it interesting to look at how choosing one of us over others becomes a turning point in people’s lives.”

“It does?” smiled Tree.

“Of course, it does. You remember Alice asking the Cheshire Cat which road to take, to which the Cheshire Cat, in turn, asked where Alice wanted to go? When Alice told her that she did not know, the Cheshire Cat said that the choice of the road wouldn’t really matter in that case.”

“But, that was Wonderland, Road. An imaginary land in a children’s story. It wasn’t even real,” saying this the Tree heartily laughed.

“What is real, Tree?” I asked.

The tree was silent for a while.

“You are large, you contain multitudes,” he said becoming slightly serious. “So you were saying that your journey moves as stories move.”

“Yes. Stories create and recreate me. Have you read folktales of Russia and Iran? In those, I get formed as and when a ball of wool is rolled on the floor. The direction the ball of wool takes is the path the protagonist takes.”

The tree was amused, “And how do tales recreate you?”

“There are many who do not quite know since the beginning, which of us siblings to walk upon in life, and then when they reach the crossroad of their lives they decide. Remember how great and the powerful Oz realised that being good was far better than being great in this world? And then, there was Robert Frost also, who could visualise two of us and had the will to travel on the less travelled one. These are the moments when I am recreated by stories.”

“Well, I think, it is the other way around. You recreate stories,” said Tree.

“Maybe,” I did not quite agree.

“Okay. Who are your favourite people?”

“I prefer travellers over tourists. Travellers enjoy walking on me. Tourists crave for the destination. I am just a method to the madness for tourists. For travellers, I am the madness. Look at pilgrims. They believe the harder the way, the sweeter would be the fruit. Also, I like aimless wanderers. In a world running behind goals, I enjoy the company of those who lack ambition.”

“That’s interesting,” Tree was thoughtful at this moment. “So,” he paused for a while. “So not everyone is happy walking on you?”

“Well, I never thought of it. But, I get reminded of the Little Mermaid who wanted to leave the water kingdom and come and walk the Earth. She was too delicate for the world of human beings. I cried as she moved over me, as her feet felt to her as though she was walking on knives.”

“Really?” Tree was flabbergasted.

“Yes. Not everyone is wise, when it comes to choosing the right way, especially since love is blind. Well, that’s another story.” As I said this, Tree yawned for the second time. He was tired. And sleepy.

I felt more awake than ever.

The evening waves of River carried the golden fabric of Sun in their arms to make way for the silver echoes of Moon as the curtain of night slowly unrolled.

The tree had fallen asleep.

The pilgrimage had begun.

“I remember now,

I resume the overstaid fraction,

The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided to it, or to any graves,

Corpses rise, gashes heal, fastenings roll from me.”

Walt Whitman

About the author: 

Aayushee Garg is currently studying MA in English with Communication Studies at Christ University, Bengaluru. She is deeply interested in literature and philosophy. She loves reading, singing and photography. She feels grateful to be gifted with the ability to write poems. She often loves to play with words in her poetry.