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  • Carol Mascarenhas

A Road Scarcely Taken

So, why do we travel? Or better yet, what does it connote? Oh wait, you’re asking me? Well then, come along and let’s (try to?) find out.

I walk in rubbery boots, armed against the pouring, unrelenting rain. Why? Because I feel like it? I’m not quite sure, this is all a bit trippy to me, but get used to it. Marching, jogging, skipping. I feel like a kid again, right before I got told off for the umpteenth time for playing around in the muck. But was it muck? It all seemed like fun to me. What’s a little fun in front of everything else? Waaaiiittt……I think I had groceries to buy…

Okay, I got them, so back to what I was saying before…...oh great now it’s snowing. Maybe its because I’ve never seen real snow before. Isn’t it supposed to be all glittery and pretty? Well, crunch crunch goes these lazy boots. There’s this cat walking along with me, but is it really a cat? It looks a bit doggish too. I SEE WHAT IT IS! It’s a shapeshifting cat! Not as cool as a time-traveling one, but whatever this one works too. It’s cute, what’s not to like?

I suppose you’ve noticed I’m not much of a narrator. This is because I’m trying a thing out here okay? Moving on, it has dawned on me that I can convince this cat to grow wings to fly up this super high peak I see right in front of me. I am a bit afraid of the blue mist I see floating around though. So maybe I should acquire a bribe.....

Oh hey good morning. I admit I might have fallen asleep so things have changed. Anyway, getting back on track it turns out the cat took me up anyway. Strangely sweet of it. It also took away my imaginary supplies. There is this boat here I probably need to steer around though. So, I guess I'll try that and let you know what happens.

I see this picturesque meadow with grass that looks like it’s made of Swarovski. Maybe I'm mixing up things here. But it adds to the aesthetic, hence it shall remain. An owl perches on my shoulder and gives me a comforting screech. So, I set off on this epic sounding journey, along the lilac brick road. I wonder where my friends are. They probably did the sensible thing and said goodbye before this journey got too jumbled. Maybe this is a self-discovery kind of trip after all.

Therefore, you should know I was very surprised when the owl flew down and jumped to the ground a sleek cat. Right, should’ve figured. But its nice to not be completely alone. Though I wouldn’t mind that either. Jog Jog Jog. Exercising like I haven’t in years. The cat gives me a scornful glance. I don’t mind it. I walk by piles of pebbles all made of this glowing indigo stuff. Perhaps it’s a sign for what is to come next.

Splash I go into a pond of water I hardly anticipated. Just my luck. Here I was hoping for something so mind-blowing I could run back to my friends and boast about. Oh well, guess I’m skipping this part for that conversation. Speaking of which, why exactly do I care so much about them? It isn’t like I recall what they look like.

I suppose you must have realized much before me that time possibly runs differently here. Time is such a strange thing. It helps you measure the span you have left to live. Not like that matters here. Clearly, I am far beyond it. I have been walking an eternity on this road but haven’t the slightest idea why. Nothing even surprises me anymore. But I’m not really sad about it. Perhaps I’m actually starting to learn more about myself. The feline approves of this thought.

There is no road anymore. Just what I reckon you would recognize as sand. Sand that is as smooth as water. I walk my way.

It has been so very long since I’ve encountered someone who speaks. So much so that I believe it completely acceptable that it happens to be a unicorn. A mythical creature? Not quite so anymore. It smiles. That’s a bit creepy.

“Welcome,” it says. “Have you found out what you are? Have you ‘found’ yourself? It has been what you were searching for, is it not?” In response to this philosophical inquiry, I croaked hoarsely, “Eh?”

In hindsight, I suppose it makes sense. I, like many other clueless human beings, feel trapped, misunderstood, dependent. Maybe that’s why I left home. I left everyone behind. I wonder if I thought it was selfish of me back then. But my memory hasn’t been the greatest to begin with. Once again, I’m trying to piece together a puzzle whose answer evades me each time. Who am I?? You only know me as ‘I’, after all. But you don’t really know me either.

Maybe that’s where travel helps. It helps you discover who you are. The kind of person you are, when you are finally untethered. To visit the places you’ve never been, both outside the barriers of your home, and in the expanses of your mind. In a book. Via a train. On the back of a unicorn, with an agitated cat hanging onto your cloak for dear life. You get to define what travel is for you. On your own terms.

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