Trading cities 4, Ersilia
Viewpoint: A man who has chosen to stay back during the migration of the people from one place to another
I am tied down like a puppet on strings – controlled and dependent on something so much weaker, yet strong enough to destroy everything my life has been. My senses have numbed – yet I know that only a ruined city awaits me outside – a chaos of sand and dust and a million other things that don’t mean anything to me. And here I stand, beneath a layer of strings – some old, some new – trapped. They feel rough on my skin, but that does not matter. Long and sinuous, like worms, but that does not matter. My house is gone, my life is gone, my people have gone. How can anything matter when one is breaking down piece by piece, from the inside? When everyone you have known has torn down their end of the string and the string is dying, and so are you – because you chose to stay? The supports stand, like memories of an unforgotten past, holding me down with these threads, these relations. The threads seem fragile, but I know I can’t break them, because they have the power to break me. They cut me with unusual sharpness. I can see beads of blood trickle down to the white hot sand. The world around me is made up with strands of black and white and grey, in sharp contrast to the bright yellow of the sand and the sun. I am alive, but just barely. They won’t let me die, they won’t let me live. The supports are falling now, just a tiny little give away that something is changing. The foundations have weakened, and so has my hope. They won’t be back now. Fear is filling my mind, like a tsunami flooding a city within moments, like a wave of loneliness after watching couples in the park. I know I won’t survive. The strings are loosening and crashing down on me one after the other. They hurt like cuts on your wrist – painful, yet addictive. And suddenly my mind is clear. This is what I want and this is what I have always wanted. I close my eyes. Every moment seems like a million years. I can imagine the houses that were once attached to these strings, I can imagine my house, which broke down before I did, like the body of a soul after death. I can imagine myself lying down in the middle of a desert, buried underneath strings, with my eyes closed and my body spread-eagled and vulnerable. I can imagine my city building up somewhere far away, with the elders chattering and the rhythmic hammering of wood and nails by the young men setting up their new homes and the women setting up their cupboards and children playing and infants gargling. I have never felt more alone. There are noises everywhere, chaotic, distracting. I want to scream. I want to run. But that is not an option. I wanted this, I remind myself. My body stills. My pulse is throbbing in my head, matching the ticking of a time-bomb that is about to explode. The strings and supports are breaking apart. I can hear a tiny rip as each one goes down. They have gone. They have gone. The words echo in my head, and I wish I could refuse. I stayed back for the strings. I stayed back for the supports. But it is they who are now killing me. One more support is left. I try to reach out, it has to stay. My heart is beating fast, and I felt more alive than ever before. The sun and the sand is in my eyes, burning bright and the anarchy around me is glimmering as light shines upon it. The fallen supports, the torn strings, stone-like, pinning me down and I know I can’t survive anymore. The last crutch plummets to the ground. There is one single moment of insanity – where the world is twisting and dark, and everything around me is broken and cruel and the silence deafens my ears and my mind and the voices in my head are loud enough to drown out the universe. And then I am free.