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Seeking the Truth
Nehal had anticipated this very day for as long as he could remember. As he packed some clean clothes in a rucksack, he fondly welcomed the nostalgia, recollecting his Gammy’s exact words, “To seek the Truth, one must be prepared. One must be ready to accept the complexities of something so simple.” He had never really understood what she had meant, but he did know that the Truth was something very few men had found. Not because it was hard to find, but “because many know they cannot accept the Truth once they come face to face with it,” his Gammy had said. ‘Simple, yet hard to face?’ Nehal thought. He had always been a little wary of his Gammy.
His journey began and ended in the Forest of Nogobak. The name was as deceptive as the rapacious land critters, known as Fibtures, and the dense foliage that so made it up. It was easy to get lost, but funnily enough, not arduous to get out. One could turn back whenever they pleased if their quest for the Truth had not been in the least appeasing. As Nehal stood at the very beginning of this treacherous land, he noticed a nip in the air that shouldn’t have been there. The sun was high up in the sky, glaring and obnoxious. Yet, he felt cold. He trudged along the winding roads that seemed to lead back to where he started, yet, in full honesty; he had no idea where he had to go. Gammy had said he’d know the Truth when he saw it.
So far, nothing had tried to attack him, nothing had tried to hinder his brisk pace. The air, however, managed to get colder and colder as the sun managed to position itself right over his fair head, taunting him with its lack of warmth. His lips had turned an unnatural shade of blue and the stark outline of his breath against the raw air worried him. He had heard a few distant calls of Tattlebirds and Shapeshifters but so far, nothing had crossed his path since he had started. He was starting to think that, despite the frost, everything was going his way.
That’s when he heard it. A melodious titter in the air.
And as he revelled in its enchanting musicality, an apparition of mesmerising beauty materialised before him. Nehal watched, captivated. The Lieoness was a tall, scintillating figure of ivory skin and raven hair. She smelt of all things wonderful and she stroked Nehal’s jaw with her supple fingers. Her eyes bore into his.
“You have found what you have been looking for. There is nothing beyond this, nothing beyond me,” she said, her sensuous lips curled into a tender smile.
“Have I, really?” Nehal asked, dreamily. As enamoured as he was by her beauty and her soft spoken-ness, he didn’t feel happy. He didn’t feel right. She was lying to him, definitely. But, he couldn’t bring himself to retaliate, didn’t want to disagree with what she said. She seemed so pure, so benign. ‘Maybe, she means well. Maybe, she knows of the dangers that are yet to come,’ thought Nehal.
“There is nothing out there for you, brave one. I am the very Truth men seek, the One you seek.”
Nehal knew then. He was sure of her deceptiveness. “The Truth will not proclaim itself. You will know it by the feeling,” his Gammy had said.
At that moment, Nehal reached into his rucksack and brought out two flasks of an amber and violet liquid. “Courage and Determination. The two most nourishing supplements that one requires while on the voyage to seek the Truth. Courage to face the hurdles that will hinder your progress, to help you brave the different Fibtures that will deceive you, to enable you to shun petty Lieonesses who will entrap you in their fraudulent rapture. Determination to give you the will and strength to move on from it all. You can use this only once. After, it needs to come from within.”
His grand-mother’s words rang loud and true, bringing him back to sickly sweet reality.
He took long gulps from both flasks. He could feel Courage and Determination coursing through his veins, through to his heart, through to the core of his very being. He felt warm. He felt worthy.
He cupped the Lieoness’ slender face in his hands and looked her dead in the eye. He moved in closer and whispered in her ear, “Not this time.”
And as swiftly as she had appeared, Nehal vanished into the thickness.
He ran. He flew. He was triumphant. He had not fallen victim to the Lieoness’ spell. He had not fallen victim to a lie. A lie that could have cost him the Truth.
He knew where he was supposed to go. He didn’t know how he knew but he was sure. So sure. He had no idea as to where he was but he knew he was on the right path. He would find it soon.
“Tread with caution, my child. Impulsiveness makes one believe anything.” Gammy had warned.
Nehal slowed down abruptly. That was when Doubt crept in, as if on cue.
‘Am I on the right path?’ Nehal contemplated. He looked around and the leafage and frostiness seemed to enshroud him in uncertainty.
A lofty form in a hooded cloak looked on as Nehal stumbled through the forest. The cloaked being approached him, ever so silently, and spoke in a voice like the whistle of the wind, “Dear boy. Are you lost?”
Nehal licked his lips in apprehension before proceeding with an answer, “No, of course not.”
“Are you sure? You seem weary. Perhaps you’d like to rest a while.”
“No, I’m certain. I mean, I know where I need to go. I seek the Truth.”
“Oh, a Truth seeker? No wonder you look weary. You would be lying to yourself if you think you can succeed.”
Nehal affirmed the Fibture’s identity through his foreboding, despondent words.
“I’m sure I’ll be fine. Thank you. I must be on my way.”
Nehal started to walk on but It held on to his shoulders with a reinforced grip.
“Tut. Tut. Not so fast, my boy. I doubt you’ll be successful. Why hurry?” Nehal could almost feel It’s victorious smirk and mocking eyes play with his mind, instilling what he knew was doubt. Doubt in his motive, doubt in him. Doubt was in his way.
“You must never let Doubt take possession of yourself, young one. Trust yourself and you will find the Truth.” His Gammy’s words had come to his aid, just in time.
Nehal looked in the face of Doubt and heaved against him with all the Courage and Determination he could muster. He watched the decrepit Fibture fall into a crumpling heap and sped on, without looking back.
His pace quickened. He had conquered Doubt. By entrusting himself with self-belief, he had thwarted the lucrative attempts of Deceit itself.
He crossed a shallow stream and noticed that the foliage seemed to get thinner further up the bank. He trudged on with trepidation yet he felt more and more optimistic with every step he took, a growing sense of finality welling up inside him.
He reached a clearing. The array of plants and flowers that enclosed it emulated the different colours of the rainbow. There were Truthers fluttering in the air, their kaleidoscopic wings so distinct in the clear, blue sky. Little Verity Fairies flew about, a trail of glitter left in their wake. There was a pond right in the centre, glistening in the warm, brazen sun. There were no hushed rumours of fraudulency, no ambiguity hanging in the air. Everything was as it was, as it should be. Everything was true.
Nehal walked up to the pond, surety in his gait. He knelt down beside it and looked upon his vivid reflection on the undisturbed waters for a few moments of time. ‘Anytime now,’ he thought, bordering on impatience.
And then it hit him. He finally realised. In its simplicity, it had revealed so much. He had discovered the Truth.
Nehal did not want to believe that the Truth was as simple as this. After all he had encountered, this was almost unbelievably trivial in comparison yet the magnitude of this enlightenment was immense.
Nehal took in all that was around him and any feeling of resentment vanished. He revelled in the purity of this revelation – he understood. This was what Gammy had been talking about all along.
“The Truth is not a reward or a final result, Nehal. It is a process. A process we endure our whole lives because of our want to find a greater meaning within ourselves and of other things. And here’s the Truth, Nehal; most of us have already acquired it and continue to find it every day, for it is this continual journey that is the Truth.