My feet were moving in and out of the sand as I trudged along in the sweltering heat. The bright yellow disc in the sky was radiating in its full vigour and was blinding my eyes. It was going to be an arduous journey. However, the fact remained that I had chosen to do it. Only time would tell if Love’s counsel was right. “You see that over there!! It’s a mirage, Kartik.” The booming voice of Fear threw me out of my musing. I turned to look at his face. I couldn’t gather if it was a look of grave concern or a smirk lurking underneath.
I squinted my eyes and peered into the distance. I could only discern the blurry contours of the tent-like structure. She must be there. I had never mustered the courage to inquire about her place. And very strangely, she had also never told me so. One day, Love had out of nowhere revealed the location of this vast desert and cajoled me into coming here. Fear had been very reticent. “It is futile! That place only exists in your imagination.” However, I was willing to take a leap of faith and thus, had embarked on this arduous expedition.
My legs were already tired from the never-ending walk. Love, on the other hand, seemed to be very cheerful and was skipping joyfully. Fear was continuously passing him glaring looks and seemed to realize the futility of the venture. Suddenly, they broke into a verbal scuffle again. “You do not realize his affection towards her!” All the sweet memories came floating back. She was a diligent girl. It had always been my desire to see her happy and grow in life. I was going to intervene and hug Love tightly when Fear retorted, ” And You do not realize how so-called busy she was always to be with him. Don’t you foresee the consequences? He won’t be able to return once he attempts to reach that mirage! It is never going to be the same for him.”
That initial remark by Fear made me grimace in pain but I shook my head, or rather attempted to do so, as if it were a complete lie I was feeling irked by their incessant bickering and was about to snap at them when I felt the sand move under my feet. Almost instantaneously my ears were ringing with someone’s peals of laughter. I strained my ears to discern the identity of the persons. It was her, and another guy. I was never even told of the location while another person was spending time with her! My heart felt as if it was sinking down along with my feet. Immediately I regained focus and noticed the chain of events unravelling around me. In the far distance, a storm had begun to form itself in a tornado shape. The laughs were torturing my ears and my feet were sinking into the sand. I heaved myself and plodded forward. Both Love and Fear noticed my anxious face and asked what had happened. “Can’t you hear the laughter?” They both looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders. I knew what was coming. “Kartik, I think we should go back. The weather ain’t gonna be good.” Fear wanted to be out of the dunes of peril as early as possible. But I and Love were firm on our decision . I was going to encounter her today.
However, fate was not on my side today as well. I was barely a few hundred meters away when the sandy maelstrom growled out aloud and uprooted the tent. The sandstorm endured on as if a sabulous serpent had coiled around me and was digging its fangs into me. I was screaming in pain and my legs felt heavy. The swirling dust cloud was blinding my eyes. After a trepidation of five minutes, the juggernaut subsided. When I regained sight, the tent was nowhere in sight. The sky had become clear again. Back to ground zero. The pain was gone, and so was her abode. I felt a lump in my throat and took a deep breath. It had all remained a mystery. There was no way to know whether the tent had existed at all or it was a manifestation of the treacheries of the desert. That unknown male laughter was still ringing in my ears and tormenting me. I tried desperately to close my ear-ways with my fingers to no respite. Love placed his hand on my shoulders. “I am still here, Kartik. You couldn’t have done anything to prevent all of this since it was not in your hands.” I gave him a faint, painful smile and then noticed something out of way. “Where is fear?!!” Love gave a wry smile and said,” He also perished in the sandstorm and was obliterated out of existence.” Strangely, I heaved a sigh of relief on hearing this. “Ok then, let’s go back to our lives.”
I never saw her again after that fateful day. In spite of all of this, Love is still my constant companion and fills up my time with the cherished memories of me and her together. After a protracted period of torture that felt like aeons, I felt as if I was liberated. Or maybe the pain now was easier to bear compared to when I was sandwiched between Love and Fear. One thing was for sure: I was never going to have those same pangs in my heart for anyone else. The dancing reflections of the mirage would continue to pervade my dreams forever.
Kartik Sharma is currently pursuing BA LLB (Hons.) at NLSIU, Bengaluru. The world of imaginary tales is a respite for this 20-year old from the many-a-times humdrum of Law.