Returning

(A small story for you all)

Ganeshan had been travelling and trekking across that vast beach with his shovel, digging hole after hole, but still it had been virtually mission impossible. The skies were blank. Queer place, queer world, haunting but beautiful. The white ghost of a sky hovering above the world, showed little flecks and patches of pallid ash hues here and there. It all fell upon him, the lonely dreariness of a place that should by rights be new, full of life and love. However, Ganeshan knew that that slight color would fade.
The grey went fast, swallowed up into the belly of the white beast that floated there, with no expressions at all. Ganeshan wanted to be swallowed up too, his task a failure. He started back towards the only signs of development around him.
The hard, gravelly ground beneath his feet felt better than all the soft sands of the beach, even beside the silent, ashen sea. This road was all that gave this little stretch of coast any sense of solidarity and triumph. But it only reminded him that it was all something that he had missed.

No shadows were cast today.

No matter how long he walked, no stray rays of sun could break through the dead, white sheet.

Broken, tumbled skeletons of houses, looking like the grey corpses of fallen giants were everywhere, an eyesore and not a graveyard. At least in graveyards, the bodies had their tombstones and were in good order. Here, though, chaos had been unleashed as flames and thunder roared across the coast. One could, in fact, walk for hours there and feel the ghosts of the dead among the dead homes, their weight bearing down on the chests of the living, as Ganeshan felt, as he dragged his shovel behind him.

He paused momentarily.

A wind seemed to lift his spirits as he thought of that day. The evacuation of his entire family, their life as refugees, vagabonds, dogs on the road, everything came back to him as he pulled out an equally grey photograph. The last surviving remainder that his father ever had a father. A loving, jolly man, but even that photo was torn. His permanent smile was erased forever, and only those eyes could coax a tickle of laughter out of Ganeshan. His grandfather had died here and his most prized possessions-his gold watch and his beautiful ebony canes, steel lighters, jade and garnet-inlaid amulets, objects that would be worth hundreds today-were buried on that beach.

Ganeshan’s cheeks had the slight stains of tears on them. Why could he not find anything?

After all, he had lived through the war in safety after their life on the run, sheltered but never blind to the truth. The truth that the world, their beautiful Jaffna, was now upside-down, a hunting ground for the most vicious killers on the face of the earth. These plunderers could do anything, rip a family’s history right out of its roots if they wished, for example.
Ganeshan kept looking around.
A few small children, poor by the looks of it, began to play around. New memories and histories were being written down, it seemed. The children ignored the stranger as they laughed and raced around, beneath the clumps of trees that gave shade from a newly-emerging sun.

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5 thoughts on “Returning”

  1. I liked the story. Looking for a past, where the past was buried! The photographs, the last reminder that his father had a father is lovely!Its a very gloomy story, it gives a sense of hopelessness and yet, its still nice and beautiful. and amazing descriptions

  2. This was a haunting story… At first I thought: Why is this man searching for material possessions when he seems to have lost his whole family? Shouldn’t he be grieving for the relatives instead? And then I got it. He's been driven to the brink of sanity by all the misery around him… I think the clouds are supposed to be symbols, but can you explain it a bit more to us? Yes, amazing descriptions… I loved the expressions like “feel the ghosts of the dead among the dead homes, their weight bearing down on the chests of the living”, “rip a family's history right out of its roots if they wished” and “a newly-emerging sun” The appearance of children at the end is the most beautiful event. It says that hope survives, even at the depths of an abyss… The title is fitting because this keeps returning to my head. There seems to be endless interpretations 🙂

  3. Well, actually, thing is, his grandfather was rich when he was alive, and yes, the man does grieve for them, but still he wants to find some proof of his grandfather's existence, simply because he loves him so much and wants something by which to remember him for the rest of his life, something that he can touch and hold and say that this was his.But then, I used the environment to bring out what the man is feeling inwardly too.Well, there is not much symbolism where the clouds are concerned.I mean, they're just clouds that block out the rays of sun, the light which to the world indicate hope. Thanks, Rochelle, I love these gloomy, dark descriptions too, and it's fun making them. 🙂

  4. Ah! Ok! That is a fair enough reason for his foray… Searching for proof of his grandfather’s existence is a clear indication that Ganeshan misses him badly. How could I overlook that? … Gloomy and dark, yet full of meaning! Nice!

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