Monday, 1 May 2017

The Race

 Source: brothersoft


Faster! Faster! the voices screamed. His lungs were ready to burst, his head throbbed as if a hammer was breaking through from within. Every inch of his body ached, yet he kept running. Faster! They bellowed still. He knew he couldn't go any faster than that. Or maybe he could, but he just didn't want to. What was the point after all? he thought. To trudge his way till the end where he'd win some badge like everybody else, a badge he didn't even want...

His train of thought was cut short by another who'd just overtaken him in the tracks. It was no more surprising to find people casually jog past him while he struggled to drag himself forward. You're not trying enough! the voices screamed into his ears again. There's still time. Work harder! He clenched his teeth as he tried to ignore his aching muscles, mustering the mettle despite the hurt. Not until yet another one had crossed him with ease did he notice that he had hardly been moving ahead. His efforts had been in vain. I can't. he spluttered, staggering to a halt.



He looked around from his mark, the endless track dotted with the million lives rushing their way to the finishing point. What happens once you get there? He thought. But of course he knew the answer. You move on to the next race. And keep running until you die. Bent over and holding his knees for support, he was panting hard. Across the horizon, he watched the sea of humans striving to get ahead of the rest. Some of them were unfairly carried ahead. At first he'd thought they needed the help, but he couldn't turn a blind eye to the many who were as fit as him but were still carried in luxury palanquins (as he called them). The voices however had a different name for them, 'reservation'. He knew it was unfair, but then the race itself was unfair. This race called life.

Don't give up. the voices had resurfaced. You can be like them too, the ones you see ahead.. you need only just try. He wished the voices could understand it wasn't that easy. He sometimes even wished to knock them off his head. But then he had to listen to them, for the world danced to their tunes in spite of what they actually believed in. The voices of the society.

He straightened up, tasting the sweet relief of momentary immobility. Why was it that the others could breeze through the race while he could hardly inch forward with effort?  Was he doing something wrong? Was something wrong with him? Was he perhaps...here it was...the taboo term... a failure? Shaking his head, he tried to push the thought aside when he heard a soft humming from behind.

Swivelling around, his gaze fell upon the girl bobbing her head to the rhythm from her earphones. Her ponytail danced along as she lifted her arms high. The next moment she was cartwheeling ahead, going "Woohoo!" like an excited little kid. She paused right beside him to look at him, tilting her head. "Can I help you?"
 It took a while for him to register that he'd been staring at her. Breaking out of his reverie, he spoke up.

"How do you do it?"
She looked amused. "The cartwheel?"
"No. Be so light headed amidst this mess of a maze." Didn't she care about getting her badge? Didn't the voices trouble her? How could she be so free?

She raised her brows in response, and then sighed. Her mind raced through the number of times the voices had told her she was too carefree; or in other words, irresponsible.
"Aren't you worried about all the people moving ahead of you?" he was asking.

Aah. Another victim. She thought, secretly glad that she'd found a way out unlike the myriads out there.
" This race isn't about the others, boy." said she, "It's about you, and the badge you want."
But no one cares about that. He thought. They only care about how you can beat the rest.
She was shaking her head, as if she'd heard him.
" It's about how far ahead you've travelled from your past, and how much you're growing as a person." she continued, " Because you can't weigh your worth with that of the others."

He looked skeptical, but he knew he wanted to believe her.
"You're missing out on life, champ. It's the journey that matters more, not the destination!"
So saying, she began to jog away from him.

"B-but...the voices?" he called out, distraught at how one could break free from their obligations. She turned to face him, jogging backwards.

" The voices can't control you unless you let them. " she called back, before joining the crowd of puppets, a lone pioneer wading through a thicket of mere followers.


***

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