Trigger warning: death, grief
Here it is, below us: the paths of our lives, the layouts of our existences.
It’s 6 o’clock on a Sunday morning and the city is still blissfully asleep, not yet rubbing its eyes nor tossing in a half-awake state. It is so dark out that we need to measure our steps, to scrutinise the path ahead before advancing onto it.
It’s 6 o’clock on a Sunday and we’re climbing a mountain.
It’s not much of a climb, if I am honest. A long, serpentine path has been carved into the mountain, and asphalt laid smoothly on top of it to see joggers safely to the peak. But still, the way up is steep, the early morning air biting.
There are much better things to do at 6 a.m. on a Sunday. There are warmer places to be.
Yet here we are, hearts stuttering, beating briskly in the misty heights overlooking the capital. A cold drizzle has cut through the air and a smell of molasses is rising from the bushes, concentrated in the textured mass of thick, yellowing vegetation.
The smell of a flooded apartment.
Earthy and pervasive yet so very oddly soothing. There is a reminder enclosed in this scent, tugging at a memory in the far recesses of my mind. Remembering it is akin to pulling at a root buried deeply and firmly in the ground — it is tough and unyielding, refusing to be taken from the comfort of its situation. Then all at once, after rigorous tugging that seems to have done nothing to dislodge it, it loosens traitorously and gives way, sending me reeling.
And as I am reeled back, I fall into the depth of a moment passed, a memory once silenced in the graveyard of memories.
“We will all die.”
His voice is deep and rich; long stretches of silence settle between his words. There has always been something about the way he speaks, the way he delivers his thoughts that draws people in. I have never been able to emulate him in that or in much else, really.
“Young or old, rich or poor, today or tomorrow. We will all die. One day, I will die and—”
And it will all have been for naught. The homes we built. The love we harboured. The traces we left.
We make but ripples in the water — thrown by some mysterious Hand, our lives skim the surface of existence, disturb its deep waters before we run out of whatever magic lights up our eyes. Some of us get in multiple ricochets before falling, the kind that inspires awe, that makes you think there was more to us than flesh and bones. For others, it is the exhilarating feeling of flying, followed by a rapid and unforeseen descent. Most of us, though, make quiet ripples, lost in the herd movements of life. But one way or another, we all end up on the ocean floor, nothing but the fading comments (“This was a good one!”, “It didn’t go very far.”…) accompanying our slow descent into the deep unknown.
“One day, I will die and you will stay. And then one day, you too will die, and your children will stay.”
The smell of freshly-turned earth hung all around us, damp and tangy, so strong it bottled the moment, sealing it with this scent.
One day, this smell will get stronger. One day, I will be wrapped in it, in the stiff white robes, indifference and camphor crystals of death.
Note: So this one is going to be posted in several parts, as every part talks about a different theme and it’s all quite long. About this first part: I am very frank about the idea/topic of death. The way I was raised, death was not something that was hidden from me, it was not seen as something that should not be talked about. Death is a part of life and that’s…that. But it is a heavy theme all the same so I hope it wasn’t too disturbing to read!
As always, sending lots of love and good vibes your way!