“Listen to me carefully kid coz I’m givin’ away wisdom here”, my grandfather would wheeze at me late at night, his drunken breath whisking the last bits of sleep away from my 7-year old eyes. “People call life many things. Many, many things. Fruity smart men call it an adventure, some call it a fantasy, hell, and some call it a journey. Give the turds a shovel! Get them to shovel coal up from the mines with fire in their lungs and urine down their legs and they will know life for what it is. It is a dungeon. The longest, deepest dungeon filled to the brim with shit and fire and darkness. You go through it, initially trying to avoid the filth and the stench. You try to focus on a tiny shaft of light at the very end. You tell yourself, let me get to that light! All will be well when I get to that light. You put everything you got into moving towards that light. You let the shit squelch under your bare feet and the fire burn your hair down, but you move, keep on moving towards the bleak hole in the rock that’s let in a tiny bit of paradise. And you get there kid. You reach the light! You are fist-pumping thrilled. Here I come, my redemption, my legacy, you say. And just as you stretch your hand toward that magical light, with tiny particles of dust floating in it like delicate angels dancing just for you, the ground gives way. You fall, kid. You scream till your lungs give out, but you keep falling. You hit against the sharp rocks along the walls of your infinite abyss and you bleed. Blood pours out from your elbows and knees till you feel no pain, just boredom. You just want the fall to end so that you can die. You no longer feel scared with the fall. You start cheering... cheering for your upcoming death, death, that sweet release from this dark dungeon.
And then you land. You land, kid, not squash against the bottom like a tomato under a cart-wheel. You land as gently as your mother put you to bed when you were a baby. You land gently on a new dungeon, even deeper, even darker. You are now anew. All the blood is gone and all the pain is gone. What's left in their place is a weariness that you cannot explain. You are brand new, but feel infinitely old. You see a light in the distance. Brighter and closer than the previous one which fooled you. You are in a dungeon, millions of miles beneath the ground, what else could you do? You start moving towards the light.”
“Grandpa, please stop! I am scared! And I am tired, I fell down while playing at school and my knee hurts. Let me go back to sleep”, I protest meekly, horror shimmering on my eyes in the form of inchoate tears.
“Shut your bung-hole before you wake up your father. I don’t care for a lecture from his highness, not tonight. I will let you sleep kid. Just remember, life is a dungeon. An infinitely wild dungeon. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you meet someone, whose dungeon is the same as yours and together you can move towards that wretched light.”
PS: This is an attempt to publish a novella as a series of posts. I am not sure if I will have the discipline to see it through, I hope I do! But, let's not get ahead of ourselves :)