“Have you ever been trapped?” a young deer walked up to another and asked.
“Funny you ask, I have been trapped in a fashion I haven’t heard anyone get trapped so far… that I am here to tell the story shows God was on my side” the other replied.
He continued, “I used to dwell in a faraway forest, beautiful with its rivers and streams and greenery. If you notice, I look a little different from you. My skin shines in the sunlight – a reason why I don’t get adventurous in the day, it’s difficult for me to hide from the predators. I look different from you because this is not my native place. Back in the old forest, where I was born, I have many like me. My mother and my father still live in that forest.” The deer bent to drink water from the lake. Looking at his reflection he got lost in thoughts.
“So, how did you get trapped?” the young deer interrupted.
The golden one seemed distracted. “I feel lonely sometimes. I feel life is done for me. I am away from my home and no one wants me there except the trap. But I miss them; I miss the times when the trap wasn’t there. Now that the trap is there, there is little space left for anything else in their hearts or mine.
I know from your face that you are exasperated. No one here talks to me much, and you came out of the blue and touched a sensitive nerve. I know you just meant small talk and expected either a drawl of an escaped hero or a wide eyed shudder of a sheltered ignorant that you would have accordingly reciprocated. Mine’s a different story however.”
The young deer shook his head vehemently in his attempt to fake interest in the story. The deer took a long sigh and continued.
“I was a happy child with an honest open heart. I made friends easily and loved them like my own. Once there came a pack of wild dogs and surrounded my friend who was recuperating from an injury. While the others ran away, I stood in front of my friend, eyes wide open with fear but feet held on the ground, shielding him. I don’t remember what noise made them scamper away, but the moment they were gone, I collapsed on the ground unable to stand on my knees. Everyone except my mother was happy about my spirit. She on the other hand scolded me for being so brave. She said no one deserved such goodness, that I should only fend for myself. But I never understood and went about making friends and embracing them through rain and shine.”
“The forest we lived in had a little hill dividing it into two. None of us ever ventured to the other side. This ignorance fed fear and evil stories of what lied on the other side were passed on from one generation to the other. Once as I was resting under a tree overlooking the hill I caught glimpse of a beautiful doe. She was an angel with big hazel eyes. She was so close to the hill top that I stood up with a start and called out for her. Seeing me she got even more scared and dashed to the other side of the hill. I panicked and ran after her but she was already gone. I waited at the foot of the hill for a long time but she did not return. Fear gripped me. I decided to walk up to the top of the hill and peak to the other side. If she would be close by, I would drag her to this side and mother would take care of her. I trudged on, scared and worried. Standing just before the peak, I stretched my neck to take a look from a distance. I saw her. She stood at the foot on the other side busily telling her friends about something, pointing towards the peak of the hill. She was fine; in fact better than how I had seen her earlier. There were many like her, like me, on that side. That side of the forest was just like ours. Gaining some courage with this revelation, I stood at the hill top, fully exposed to the other side and shouted, “Oi! You alright?” She looked up and blushed as her friends started nudging her mockingly. Not knowing what to do and still not too sure about setting foot on the other side, I turned and went back home.
I told my friends about what happened. I told them the other side was just like ours. They listened in awe and disbelief, asking me the details and then shaking their heads and saying I must have been dreaming. When the elders got to know, they got worried. Their beliefs could not be so wrong. They decided to take matters in their hands and gathered in my house. Instead of listening to what I had seen, they told me what they believed in, forcing me to believe it too. But I had seen otherwise. I reasoned in vain. I was amazed at the stubbornness of the elders. Furious, I sought support of my lifelong friends asking them to come with me to the other side. I told them it was safe and if anything did happen, I would lay my life to keep them safe. They seemed torn between fear and friendship, or at least I would like to believe they were. They finally refused to go with me, and I still live in the hope that it was a tough choice for them. Shaken but not deterred yet, I decided to go alone. When I would return to tell my story, everyone would believe me I thought.
And off I went to the other side of the hill. It was as beautiful as our side, and its dwellers as guileless as us. Having spent two nights there, I started for my home. I told my folks about the other side. I insisted that I was alive and hearty was a proof all was fine. But no one talked to me! Reason had long left our abode. They saw me as a traitor; they refused to accept me as their own. Broken I went and wept in the lap of my mother. She was forbidden from speaking to me, but she let me cry in her lap, caressing me every now and then, tears falling down her eyes. I knew what she meant; I was a fool to have bared my heart to these people. They did not deserve me. I stayed in my house, lying in a corner. My friends deserted me and no one at home spoke to me. Everyone went on with their lives, while I lay there waiting for mine to end. I felt my whole life was a trap. I didn’t need a predator or a hunter to trap me, my own people were enough. That God made me catch a glimpse of the other side was so unfair. If he were to not change my circumstances, I was better off ignorant and happy like the rest of my people.
Then one day after almost a month of seclusion, my mother came to me distraught and asked me to leave the forest forever. Weeping she caressed me and said she could not see me like this anymore. I cried bitterly. The thought of leaving my mother was inconceivable. I told the forest was where I belonged. I even lied that I was wrong. That when I played the events again and again in my mind, it seemed I had been hallucinating. That I would do anything to be with her and the rest of the people and I would forget all about the hill and the other side. My mother was beside herself with joy and told everyone about this. My friends came and embraced me, the elders blessed me. Everyone seemed alleviated from an unspoken indictment suspended on their heads. But blame my seclusion or my feeling of being betrayed, I began to resent everyone around me. I was not the same frolicker who would laugh freely and play around with everyone. I was not the selfless friend who would bare his soul and love unconditionally. I had seen the ugly side of the faces smiling at me benevolently. Now that I kowtowed to their beliefs they loved me again, while I like a fool had been, loving them for what they were and laughing off their flaws, respecting them regardless. Negativity crept deep inside me and I felt trapped in my own seething rage. And my rage was trapped in my silence.
Nothing they said or did felt good. I was like a serpent in captivity – looking at everyone with hatred, observing their every movement with caution, willing to bury my fangs deep into anyone who came close to me. This went on for more than a year. I was not happy and no one who came in my company could stay happy.
Then one night I had a dream. My mother was in it, crying, cursing, and asking me to go away before day break, before anyone saw me sullen one more time. I woke up in sweat, it was still very dark. Did I hear her heart murmur? Even in my delirious state, she was the only one who I thought meant me well. I quietly walked out of the forest and never looked back. I left the place where I was born, the friends I could once die for. I left life as I knew it. And I have been wandering since then.”
The deer listening all this while looked uncomfortably. This was exactly the kind of people his mother asked him to stay away from. Also, the day was coming to an end and he had not foreseen his friendly hobnobbing would lead to such a long monologue. Wanting his way out he smiled and stepped back.
“Ohkk.. Nice you got your way out. It was good talking to you, see you around!” and tottered away.
“The worst thing about a bad phase is that no one understands. Found my way out? I wish”, the golden deer thought to himself as he bent down to drink from the stream.
I used the Inspiration Monday prompt – “Heart Murmur” on this one.
A long tale to end the spell of inactivity on my blog! If you came this far, I am indebted! Thanks from the bottom of my heart! 🙂