A Leader

 On the beach, they come in waves to see you. It is late afternoon, and the once merciless sun is beginning to set, its rays slowly fading to give way to the imminent blackness of night. But the crowd defiantly takes no notice. To them you are always glowing, your glory surpassed only by your intrigue. They come closer, and with each step their minds become more focused, their movements more purposeful. The excitement is contagious- it spreads from the front- from the lone student in search of self-understanding who stumbled into your presence one Saturday, and to the back- to the father with his young son, who has already placed all his faith in you but knows little as to why. As the emotion of a thousand people escalates to its peak, they stop at your feet and look up with expectant eyes. They are no longer a group. They are all tied together by a singular, irrational desire to come closer to their leader, their saviour. And yet, there is little jostling for space. Not even the children who have come are resorting to their infantile levels of maturity. In fact there is total silence. For they are scared, fearful of causing a commotion lest they lose favour in your eyes. And so they just look up, and wait with baited breath for you to begin. Behind you, the waves come crashing down and the tide starts to come in.

         

On the closed road, faith drives them behind you. In the dark, the streetlights flicker on one by one- perfectly in line with your march, as if also wanting to be a part of your spectacle. But the people do not follow the lamps on the pavement. Instead, you are their light- guiding them past every obstacle on their way. Determined not to lose you, their belief in you has blinded them to see everything clearly, the world in its simplest form. Thus they remain your everlasting tail, and gradually, a song begins to sound. There are just murmurings from the front at first, but soon everyone is chanting tonelessly in celebration of what you represent. You lift your arms to quieten them, and with a resounding cheer they lapse into an eager silence. And then you speak. They can barely hear you, and those that can will not understand your broken speech, but it doesn't matter. They all feel that you are speaking to their soul. In an unprecedented, almost telepathic moment of eleation the crowd turns into a frenzy of bodies scrambling to reach you, and amidst the screams and the restarted dissonant singing, you signal to your guard that it is time to go.

 

And as their window of opportunity begins to close, they decide to follow you home. For even saviours need to sleep. The crowd gathers outside the door and watches you enter the house. As if to protect you, they wait until you are safely inside before reigniting the delirium. But this time it gets violent. Powerful men push past each other forcefully to reach the door and get inside. One boy, apprantly realising his advantageous size, rushes to squeeze through the narrowing crack in the doorway, but retreats as the door slams shut on his fingers.

 

And so they will stay there for you 'till the early hours of the morning, and, when they finally leave to go back to their families at home, they will still be singing in that same harsh tone as they walk, without realising the meaninglessness of it all, without considering for a moment that you never actually said a word to them, and that you merely watched as they tore each other apart. They are oblivious to all this, but you know the truth. They are everything to you. Your security. Your satisfaction. Your inadvertent slaves. And while the sun rises above for a new day, they remain in total darkness, waiting for you to emerge from some metaphysical doorway and direct them. And at the end of it all, you wave your warm farewell and turn back to make your graceful exit via the now narrowing opening, leaving the door to slam shut on the fingers of the boy trying to follow you through.

The End

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