Thud…I hear a sound. I become alert. Thud…I hear it again. I can hear my heart beating loudly. I somehow feel the sound coming closer to me. With every moment I feel like the end is near. I pause for a moment, unable to decide whether I should run or stay back. Several thoughts are crossing my mind at this moment. Then suddenly I see a shadow crawling at a distance not very far away from me. At that very moment I begin to run. I run like there is no tomorrow. Until I can run no more and have covered a considerable distance away from the shadow. I am panting heavily and gasping for breath. But I am relieved that I at least got rid of the shadow.
Phew! I sit on a rock beside the river to rest for some time. That is the time when I realize, I have been in this place before. It looks very much like my room, just that now there is a river flowing through it. The room somehow feels like it is a never-ending stretch. At every step I can see a different scene through my window. One moment it is evening, the next moment it is night with the moon shining brightly. Wait…am I dreaming? Before I can think about it any further I see the shadow near me again. Just that this time it seems darker and bigger. Chills run down my spine, I am petrified. I try to shout out for help but no words come out of my mouth. With all the energy that I have left in me, I manage to get up and start running across the river.
On my way I see many other people running. At first I wonder what they are running away from, but then I notice they are all running away from a demon and that demon looks very similar to the shadow I am trying to escape. Panting heavily, I finally realize that I’ve left the shadow behind- for now. Days, months, years pass by but this game of hide and seek with the demon still continues. I get more and more restless as time passes. I begin to wonder why this demon is following me. What does it want from me? But I am so afraid of it that I can never get myself to try and find out.
It is now a distressing part of my life. I feel like I am stuck in a labyrinth of darkness. I do not see things clearly anymore. I feel tied down, chained to something. I am unable to move ahead because every now and then I keep coming back to the same place I have been several times before. It is an endless stretch but still confined and limited. I wonder if it is the surrounding or my mindset. I long for days without suffering, pain and fear. Then suddenly one fine day I find myself sitting close to the same stretch of river, on the same rock on which I was sitting a few years back. There is absolute silence. No one is seen around. I lean in to look into the water. And what I see scares me more than ever before.
My reflection is no more myself. The dark shadow stares back at me from the waters. I push myself away quickly and run as far away from the river as I can. After I slow down and eventually catch my breath, I realize that the time has come. The time for me to face this shadow once and for all, whatsoever may be the result. I piece together every sliver of courage I can find in me, and prepare myself for the meeting I had been avoiding for years together. Just then I see the shadow peeking at me from behind a tree which is now within my room. The first impulse is to dash away, born of years of this pattern. But I stay still. The shadow gets closer and closer.
I am standing still as a rock, not even blinking my eyes. My heart is skipping beats from time to time. Something makes me feel like the end is near. The shadow is now right in front of me; but a strange calm has descended over me, there is surprisingly no trace of fear. With all the grit I can muster, I ask, “Who are you? And what do you want?” There is no response.
I try to look deeper into it. And then in an inexplicable moment, the shadow transforms itself into its original form, and what I see leaves me speechless. The demon I have been running away from for so long is no one but me!
The darkness around me disappears. The unending space around me reverts to its original form. The air becomes clear. There is no negativity. The game of hide and seek has ended. The reflection, the demon, is now smiling at me; and before I can react it disappears, leaving me alone with my soul set free.