Posted by: miilee | March 22, 2011

The Scream


(Note: Yes, that’s me in the picture but the story is fiction. Well, most of it. For one, I don’t have a bike yet!)


She observed the wound closely. There wasn’t any sign of dirt or mud; she’d managed to clean it well. But one couldn’t take the risk. So she uncorked the bottle of tincture, soaked a piece of cotton with it, and without a second thought, pressed it to her knee. She bit down hard on her lower lip to stop herself from screaming. It wasn’t like anyone could hear her up there, yet she wouldn’t allow herself to scream.

Pain, she thought was a challenge. She liked winning challenges. Screaming due to pain would be giving in to it.

She held it for a few minutes and then dropped the used cotton into her trash bag. Within minutes, she’d dressed the wound and packed her things back into her back pack. She had a long journey ahead before the sun went down. She hoisted the bag on her back and swung her good leg over her bike. But as she bent her knee, a sharp pain shot up her thigh. Once again, she bit hard on her lip and kicked the engine to life.

Within a mile or so, the pain settled into a dull, constant throb. It pulsated, keeping time with her heartbeat, which in turn throbbed in time with the regular beat of her bike as she snaked her way up the rocky mountainside. Soon, it would be sun set and she had to cross to the next human settlement before that. In that part of the Himalayas, even sunsets were a harsh and abrupt beauty like the jagged edge of the great hills which opened wide towards the skies, like a massive jaw opened wide to swallow the blue in its entirety.

There came a sharp turn to the right and she negotiated it skillfully, following the barely wide ledge as it clung to the mountainside. She’d learnt by now, that every turn opened up to a whole new world of beauty. But nothing prepared her for the unfiltered, raw magnificence of nature’s dance that met her eyes around that bend. It was like she’d crossed that thin line between life and beyond.

So overawed was she that she had to stop. She got off and hoisted her bike by the side. Like a child inching towards an enchanted bush, she took slow, unbelieving steps towards the edge of the road, towards the steep drop into the valley below.

The magnitude of beauty around her took her breath away. The golden orb of light hung some distance above the horizon, like a diver on the board, poised to take the plunge. The snow capped range was a picture of brilliance and shadows, rippling over miles, making them look alive. A soft breeze whispered an ancient lullaby through the whole expanse, like a mother tenderly putting her children to sleep.

She looked up to the sky and smiled; all the pain, all the years of hard work and money saving, all the late night hours, stingy money saving meals and apartments had been worth this one moment. The last decade flashed before her eyes in a blur. There had been times when she’d contemplated if it was worth it; if all the hard work would pay off. And it did pay off in a way larger than she had anticipated. Right at that moment, she’d have given her life, just to fill a lifetime with that one glorious moment.

It was some time before she realized that she had been holding her breath. She let it out in a weak wisp of air. Once again, she let her gaze sweep the floor of the valley below and climb the heights of the mountain ahead and widen to the infinite bronzed blue above. Pure. Clean. Clear. Calm….

She took in a deep breath, wanting to fill her lungs with the sacred purity of the air that touched those heights. As the cold currents went into her lungs, she felt a sense of wonder, of awe ripple right to her fingertips.

Then before she registered what she was doing, she let out all that air in a scream. All the cold air from her lungs, she pumped out in the loudest scream that had ever left her throat. It echoed in the valley bellow and rang to the highest peak above her. It went on and on, in an endless tide of pent up emotion of the years. It wasn’t a scream wrenched from the soul by a stab of pain. It was the lusty siren of an avenged rebel, a call of victory over the endless stream of jeering and name calling and a cost paid for being different. It was a triumphant yawp for the ears of those who’d snootily denounced her for not conforming to the image of womanhood. It was a shriek of freedom from the years of bearing the taunts of a society unwilling to accept her for her grit; and of all, it was a call to challenges and hurdles uncrossed. A warning that she was on her way and that she’d conquer them all, on her own terms… It was the call of the last man standing.

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Responses

  1. Nicely written. The surroundings and the background of story.. Good stuff..

    • Thanks… 🙂

  2. Stunning location!! Is it by any chance Ladakh?

    • Yeah, it’s Ladakh… went there last year..

  3. I expected something totally different to happen… n then… she screamed…!!! 😉
    Great article…! 🙂

    • Thanks sameer… glad you liked it.. 🙂

  4. The writing as well as the photo is very impressive.

    Your profile photo is so beautiful that I keep coming back to it.

  5. Loved the details of the beauty ! I was transported there for the time being 🙂

  6. The Climax of the piece, including the visually arresting moment of truth, the scream, and especially the various motivations for it were EXHILERATING!

    I am very intrigued by those beings who spend a large portion of their lives trying to VISIT a particular place on their planet! Are there really such desperate seekers of singular visual moments in reality! Seems funny,yet, if true, fascinating! R they really seeking heaven on earth, or hoping to hide away in a secluded and uninhabited place of the globe, or is it just the journey which is exciting for these adventurists, is it some fixated vision/ blocked fantasy from the past/childhood, or a mystic regressive call!!

    Whatever it is, thanx for sparking this interesting thought!

    Cheers!

    • Hey, thanks for reading!
      And honestly, those are a lot of words…. This story is complete fiction but as a traveler myself, take it from me, it is the sheer raw feel of experiencing nature. I think we as people analyze things too much! Why does there have to be a childhood memory or a mystic call or some urge to hide or run? Nature took pains over millions of years to decorate this planet with all sorts of landforms and life….. A true traveler peeks into the bosom of nature to behold the magnitude of creation, to sense the enormity of it, realize one’s relatively minute existence, glory in the detailing of that minute fragment and know humility for the rest of one’s life.
      I don’t know much about you but when we travel miles for days and trek for hours and take that one bend in the road to face a vision of such beauty, peace and serenity, there is no feeling like it!

  7. Great…. just for the record , my comments r NEVER intended to be personal in nature!
    I guess I was reacting to, or trying to understand the passion and desperation that lead to the protagonist’s scream in the climax, as a backstory, and not trying to question the infectious spirit of the adventure-seeker!
    I completely appreciate surreal visuals and feelings thrown by nature, but being a complete BELIEVER, I don’t feel the need to be humbled or look for HIM in nature.
    By the way, the moment of the bend in the story completely transported me!
    Cheers!


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