Ten miles, the sign said. It had wonderfully left out the travails ahead. Such as the constant thunderstorm that had devalued her once dazzling appearance and equated it with one of a drowned rat. It also forgot to add that the ten miles were an expanse of murk and grime punctuated by potholes, sticky mud, and everything that creeped. Smooth? That was a foreign word. One Didi neither understood, nor cared to understand at the moment.
What Didi cared to understand however was her co-traveller’s ever smiling demeanor. Hope was odd. And that was putting it nicely. Hope had smiled as they dug the shallow graves which they used to bury their former co-travellers. She smiled when she had malaria that nearly killed her and slowed their travel pace. Despite the constant thunderstorm, her ratty, disheveled appearance and the complete terribleness of the entire journey, hope smiled.
And even now, as they trudged on, half dead, fully drenched, famished, amongst other things hope whistled and laughed with glee, as one would at Disneyland.
“Are you mad? Hope. Are you mad? ”
And it was a valid question. All was possible in these parts.
” No. I’m hopeful. Today might turn out to be my best day yet. ”
Yes,Didi thought. Hope must be mad. To be a place as horrible as this and still see the world through rose colored glasses, one must have attained the highest possible level of madness.
“There is a beauty of sorts in all of this. If you can try to look past what you see you’ll find that there is so much to smile for. ”
“Like what? Our 8 dead co-travellers? My body tattooed by mosquitoes? The heavens constantly mourning our doom in the form of this never ending storms? Or the song of hunger in my belly? Which is smile worthy? ”
“did you ever watch game of thrones? ”
Didi just stared. Wondering how madness could sound so calm and collected. Eerily sage even. Hope continued
” Are you familiar with the saying, ,’what is dead may never die?’ We all began this journey in search for utopia. And though they didn’t find it here, they have moved to the utopia beyond. Their watch here is ended. The next begins. You still have skin, skin for the mosquitoes to tattoo. That’s a miracle. There’s so much to smile for, Didi. You just aren’t looking in the right direction.”
And while Didi pondered Hope’s words, Hope began to cough. Heavy heaving sounds punctuated with phlegm and blood. Sounds that resonated the footsteps of death.
“Hope, you’re dying. Please don’t die. Please, I can’t go on if you die! Please don’t die!! ”
And somewhere in between her coughs and approaching death, she said “Hope never dies. It’s everywhere. In the breaking of dawn after the darkness of night, in the blooming of flowers, the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. Hope lives in all of this. You just have to open your eyes to all of it. I am dying, as every mortal will. I’m also not dying. I’m passing on to the utopia beyond, I live forever. What is dead may never die. ”
And with a gentle smile on her face, eyes closed as one anticipating beautiful sleep, Hope passed on. To the utopia beyond.
Didi dug the shallow grave. Alone this time. And although tears flowed from her eyes, a smile was plastered on her lips. 10 had begun, one was left. That one was her. Although the rain raged on, Didi smiled, she was being given a free bathe. And the mosquitoes angrily feeding off her skin reminded her that red looked good on her. Hope was right. Hope is everywhere. And so, she walked on, in her heart Hope’s song played endlessly.
Didi did find Utopia. It was a beautiful city. And much like the one she’d left behind, it was not perfect. It had rich and poor, it had roads, some bad some good. It had bad people and sad things. However, it also had sun, air, rain, a roof over her head and good food. It had people who walked the street with a smile. It had hope in its corners and in its lines. Most of all, it had the promise of dawn. The signature of hope.
The world is a big IF! Nothing is certain. Here’s the beauty in that, in uncertainty, all is possible. Don’t let temporary setbacks kill your hopes. Your dreams may as well be invalid, if they aren’t fueled by hope. Keep your hope alive!!