• Royal Register

A Walk to Work

Tanishka Baratam, Grade 9

Trigger Warning: Mentions of self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Please do not continue if you feel this may trigger you.

You’re walking down the old, small-city streets. Winter has tired the sky; it has already gone to sleep at 5:00 in the afternoon. The white blankets the ground, buildings, and trees. The sprinkling of snow is decorating the toy-like people. The air is piercing but pleasing. A harsh thrust to push you forward. The streets are lined with black posts that have all been turned on. Even the one on the left that was broken yesterday, has been fixed and turned on. The lamp posts are dressed with extra lights. Warm yellow light glows from them. The scene was a painting of whites, browns, and colorful jackets. You are wearing an inky black jacket. The buzz of excitement floats in the atmosphere. Shopping bags in hands and fast-moving feet hurrying to the next destination. The shops with houses on top on either side of the street have doors wide open, and people call out to attract more customers. Today is a great day for businesses. Intricate flower designs of various colors are decorated in front of stores, balconies, and houses. The bliss of Diwali is in the air.

You, however, don’t feel blissful. What is bliss? You’re bothered, beaten, bored, bested. You think, “cheaper prices are more expensive”. You aren’t planning on taking the day off, but don’t mind taking your sweet time to walk to work. You are not going home to a family or friends. Today is a regular old day. Just a Thursday. Tomorrow is Friday, then Saturday, Sunday, and then Monday. Nothing new. What is the point of being happy and excited for one day? That day will go, you will feel empty, you will step back into reality. End of story. The air is not pleasing anymore. Your scarf is close to strangling you and you pull your hood up over your head and button it up tight enough to block out the merriment of the world.

Your walk is a good couple of kilometers, but at least you don’t have to take the wretched bus. The first landmark on your journey is the community park. A small little thing really, but children enjoy it. The snow stayed clear of the playground structures by keeping to the grass and wood chip ground. From behind the bars of the fence, you see today there is a young boy with blond hair and ocean eyes wearing a jacket that borrowed the pigment from his eyes, and a girl there, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the boy at the park. “Probably brother and sister” is what you think. Her hair is a lovely curly blond and she wears a bright pink jacket and a long skirt flowing almost to her feet. She is in a wheelchair watching her brother slide down the slide, run up and down the stairs, and swing on the swings. She follows him from the sidewalk. Her grin is beaming and her face is as lit up as the golden lights strung around the fence. Her brother shows her all his tricks and she laughs and urges him to continue. They are playing together without them both being on the equipment. The girl is just as content as she would be playing on the structure. Another black lamp post is illuminating their gleeful expressions. You unbutton your hood and loosen your scarf. You think, “what a tiny pathetic playground.”

Usually, after the park, there is a stretch of quiet. A nice lonely walk. The only lonely and quiet thing today is you. A wisp of gray. The large expanses of plain grass are spotted with make-shift stages with various songs and dances being performed. Every dance from Baratnatym to Odissi is present, and every genre of music is being played. All the sounds and cheers are merging together though you hear them muffled. Of course, Diwali is incomplete without singing and dancing. In a neglected corner, away from the energy and attention, is a man and woman playing in Indian attire singing some good old indie music. The song and attire are clashing, but they are in the theme of the day. There is a countable number of people watching them, yet that doesn’t bother them. To them, they are signing to the world. They are immersed in the song. They feel every rhythm, note, beat, and lyric. You think, “the world should hear this masterpiece”. It is so wistful, and peaceful. It is drowning and captivating. They have talent no one notices. No label or number one single. Struggling artists are what they are. An all too familiar feeling. However, they are artists with hope. The light is still in them shining just as bright as the lights that surround you. Your hood falls off of and the ebullient atmosphere streams in full-fleshed. So does the freezing air. You don’t care all too much. A thought goes through your head: “their dreams are soon to be crushed”.

You are back in the busy part of the city. Today you take in your surroundings. The shaky old couple, a young couple, a mom pulling her four kids in a wagon, a dad and his daughter. You pick out people in the vast crowd and study them less pessimistically. What they have in common is their hopeful and light-hearted spirit.

You decide to take a detour. Nobody at the post office really cares how late you are. You walk straight determinedly then take a right at the end of the street, and continue on this path till you reach the forest.

At face value the forest is exceptional. A serene place where people of all ages come to relish. However, its woeful truth is revealed as you venture further inside. There you will find a dark, deep lake. This is a place famous for those who have given up hope. The number of times you have come here to think. You’ve had dire moments, and other times you just left. Today you need to ask yourself why you are here?

Today you felt different seeing the brother and sister. The singers are in a similar situation as you. But did that spark any hope in you? Do you have faith that your situation will change? Do you believe that you won’t be weighed down each day by sorrow?

You are an aspiring author in one of the biggest cities. Everyone comes here to be something. What did you do? Get a job at a pathetic post office. A place where you are completely and utterly worthless. You are disconnected from everything and everyone around you. You aren’t going anywhere. Just stuck in one spot. You do not know where to go, or what to do. You’re just blank. Sitting and wondering what to do with your dream. You are tired.

How long will you wait for things to get better? Will they ever? You are quarantined in disappointment and rejection. You are isolated from the world. Are you living or just breathing?

Is it better to live without being able to provide for yourself? Without having anyone to fall back upon or go to for support? To live in misery, stress, and no growth or just stop.

You walk closer to the lake. One foot hovering over the surface. You don’t know how to swim. The wind, the weather, the leaves stand silenced waiting for an outcome. Your mind goes back to all those people. They all are weighed down by more than their shopping bags. Smile on their faces, but there is something deeper in their eyes. Everyone is like this forest, where they are beautiful on the outside and blackening from the inside. They had someone and something to live for. What do I have?

The moment has come you brace yourself for the panic that will follow suit and the hostility of the lake.

The wind is angry at you now and with a huge gust of wind; you are almost knocked to the ground. The wind will not stop. The trees, bushes, and plants might just rip out of the ground. The birds are having trouble holding on. There are two of them. Though it is hard to make out, one is yellow and the other dark gray. They are flying with their full might toward each other. One arduous flap after another. You are barely stable. How could these poor fragile birds hold on? Yet, they keep flapping their wings. They are not ready to let go of each other. They could easily stop, and fall to the ground, but they do not want to. Neither did the girl in the wheelchair want to stop smiling, and the man and woman want to stop singing. Why should I stop?

As suddenly as it came, the wind stopped. You run out of this place. As fast as you can you run to your most favored post office. The journey was spectacular. Fireworks of every colour and design boomed in the sky. The shopping ceased, and people of all kinds gathered with sparklers in hand.

Just a little further came the post office. You stand before it. The black lamp post with its mellow glow, made the forbidding snow feel warm. Today you will go in optimistically. Your story will be written, finished, and published for the world to see.

This is the meaning of Diwali. Good always prevails over evil and hope will eventually prevail over despair.

If you are struggling, please seek help.

Suicide Prevention Line: 833-456-4566

North Halton Crisis Line: (905) 877-1211

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