A VOYAGER

The oldest of yellow wrapped the cityscape.

Car tires shrieked in front of a worn out structure, poisoned by time. A man in his full middle-aged glory stepped out, his hands reaching for the gate. Something in his heart tugged, as the iron peeped out of rusted memories. Home it was, finally.

Fallen leaves whispered among themselves. His steady gait was disturbing the solitude this place has enjoyed, since days no one remembered, no one, except for this lone figure. The doors that have cried silently for years, found their consoler in a moistened gauze.

He clearly remembered the last time he was here. A body wrapped in white, surrounded by curious faces and fake tears and him, promising to keep his words. His father had one grand departure.

At the end of this hall, stood a stairway, leading to his childhood abode. His steps stopped midway. An old foggy mirror greeted him, his father’s favorite. Twenty years ago, a reflection somewhat alike showed up with a determination to return, before sailing away. Not far that he reached, it took him the misery of two decades to keep his promise. Had he faked as well? The wearing out of the single string that held him attached to this place, hadn’t it been just an excuse to do what he had planned for years? His warm cheeks, honest this time.

The roughened iron staircase led him to a deserted kingdom, awaiting its prince. The dreams that a five-year-old created, mess that a twenty-year-old wanted to clear up, all there, nurtured by the loving hands of an earlier generation. His tender words scribbled on the walls. How could he not come back?

He crossed his room. There would enough time for this, later. As for now, he had to do something held on for years. The face of a fifty-year-old child flashed across his mind, as he approached the palace of the exiled king.

Pushing open the door, took all the effort left over in him. The perfect setting for a storyteller, he thought. The lazy man, who lived off his ancestral wealth, spent his entire life weaving fantasies for little souls, letting them breathe at his expense.

The grown-up son who never faced his father with pride was absorbing the entire scene, curious like never before. He didn’t remember the last time he had stayed here this long, not even when the owner was alive.  Having endured almost half his time, those stories made a lot more sense now. An art, he wished he could capture. His father would often leave stories incomplete for his son. Who knew, he would be searching for the ends lifelong.

Kites, drained of their colors, immature paintings, clay dolls adorned the walls. However, he could not find a single story written by his father. A wise man once knew scriptures were not needed for words to be immortal. An era that entraps feelings, would never realize such ideas.

“I’m here to stay”, he mumbled under his breath to a presence, nonexistent

The world receded. His next destination only a few steps away. Discovering himself was something he had spent his life on. Visiting the self would be interesting. This door wasn’t strong enough. A whirlwind of memories started unfolding.

The only room in the house, that had a photograph of the lady. He despised his father for not having one in his room. A man who could create colors for himself did not need them imprinted on a paper, he never understood. The innumerable ‘once upon a time’s that he narrated to his son, his wife lived in all of them.

A much-organized enclosure, this room hardly had anything left of his childhood.  An inexperienced storm, in its arrogance, had destroyed thousand years of civilization leaving behind a blank page. A neat and clean table, organized bookshelf, world map hanging on the wall, everything was as it is. Imperfection seeping only in the form of a layer of dust. How well he had prepared himself for the journey – no temptations, not even the one to be back home could deflect him.

He sensed pride, moments before a question popped, why was he back? Had it been as sudden as his decision to leave? Just like that one morning sun, telling him that it was time. Hadn’t this thought been residing inside him forever, even on the day he left! It hadn’t been sudden. Facing life in its best and worst, the desire has been breeding like a parasite, more painful lately. It was not a happy homecoming; a craved soul just wanted to return where it started. As selfish, as it could be.

He rested his back on the bed. The dust, not dirty anymore. The grandfather clock ticking away the moments till date, everything seemed to fall into places. Peace, he thought; convincing, he needed, a cold breeze putting him to sleep.

What seemed hours later, a reminder beeped on his phone. Not once had he checked it today. Why would he? All these connections ever did was to erode him and lead him back. Trying to do away with the reminder, he remembered why he had set it in the first place. The reason why he couldn’t sleep last night, his resignation.

He tried to do away with the thought last night, anticipating today’s events. Tonight, he had thought, would be different. Resting in the warmth of where he belonged, leaving where he had come to, would be easier.

He was comfortable, he knew what he had chosen, he kept on assuring himself, typing his resignation letter all along.

The newborn blue exposed the outskirts.

A car geared up in front of a lone structure, unwanted green staining its outfit. A figure hurriedly drove off, he was running out of time. He would have to join from the second half. The reframed email got a serious warning last night. Ships are not meant for the harbor, he convinced himself.

The neighborhood never knew that the night existed.

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