As I now walked through the narrow corridor, I saw an inhabitant of our village, who I did not know by name, exit one of the rooms like mine, and turn heading towards me. I made way, as I moved to the side of the wall. As he passed me he muttered something under his breath and although it was inaudible to the other villagers around me, I heard his words. I recognized the words to be one of those curse words that many villagers used to throw at me for no apparent reason.
Over the years, however, I had learned to ignore those vile comments that some of the villagers made to me, as I learned that it just worsened my mood more than anything else. So retaining my cool, I walked on, to the end of the corridor. Thankfully some shopkeepers and most of the younger generations did not even mind my appearance and were very open, even giving to me simple things that otherwise, I had to fight over.
I now came to the end of the narrow corridor and entered the common room where some people used to live. It was a large hall with a staircase to the side of it and the walls were covered with wood which, due to the people living there, was in good shape. Two kids were playing in the center of the hall with makeshift swords making a whole lot of noise. I crossed the hall in silence and got down the creaky old stairs.
Reaching the lower floor, I opened the heavy metal door that held me from the world outside. As I stepped out into the outside world I felt a hot gale hit me and I smelt the familiar smell of fresh flowers from the shop directly opposite to the Chawk. Then came the bright light and my eyes had to adjust to the sun in the sky that threw an orange light over everything it fell upon. I held up my hand to block the sun as I stepped out, walking towards to market area that was just opposite to my Chawk. As my eyes adjusted, I could finally see the familiar sight of the crowded market place that was selling everything from cheap toys to everyday food.
Different scents of flowers, spices, and fruits filled the road as I passed through each shop and even though the shops were makeshift shacks of wood with nails, the colors of the various range of goods they were selling, casting a colorful light on what would have otherwise been a dull road. Even though it was pretty early in the morning, the market place was crowded with people selling and buying the various goods in the only market place in our village.
Villagers were bustling along the street moving in every direction, dressed in various colors of dark brown, maroon, faded green and the color of ochre while few wore faded dresses that had small holes or dirt on them like they had been used continuously. Weaving through the many villagers on the road I walked towards a big Ceiba tree that was present next to one of the bigger shops that were selling old second-hand books at a reasonable rate.
Walking towards it I passed through many shops most of whose owners stood up from their seats upon seeing a potential customer. Other more desperate shopkeepers went as far as to come up to me, or anyone else who passed through that road for that matter, and show they’re product off, which like most other customers I would just ignore and move on. I then finally arrived at the tree I was looking for and then used the sun to reflect the light off the green gem in my chain that I had around my neck, to a particular hole in one of the branches of the tree.
I had to wait a few seconds before a small little figure jumped out of the hole. From that high up in the tree, the landing was bound to be a hazard for such a tiny thing like him, but he had adapted appropriately.
For a few seconds after free diving, he opened up his four tiny membranes that were attached to his front and hind legs. He then gracefully glided over and landed right into my open hand. He was small for a lizard of his kind and that served as an advantage. He was also quick, agile and smart enough to perform some basic tricks that I had taught him and unlike lizards of his kind, he had small sharp spikes running down his spine and had bluish-green skin with dark blue spots that covered him. He even had sharp claws on both his front and hind legs that helped him climb up trees with ease. But the most fascinating about him had to be his ability to light his tail on fire whenever he felt hungry, threatened or just extremely happy. The flame was small and glowed in the same blue color as his spots and it was always fascinating to see his tail light itself on fire.
He now, as of in cue, lit his tail on fire and that could have meant one of two things. Happy or hungry. I went with the latter option as I thought that little Nibbles here saw me more as a food source than a friend. ‘Or maybe he was, in fact, happy to see me!’ I thought to myself, silently chuckling about such a thought.
Walking back onto the road Nibbles settled himself on my shoulder as I started wondering where exactly my sister was. A few meters later I reached a shop selling meat and spoke in Gorse. “Good day Serosa!” and the fat figure turned around from his work of chopping of meat. “Good day Aiden!” he replied “Want some fresh meat?” he asked in his heavy and thick Gorse accent. If it wasn’t for my mom I would have never understood what he had said and I silently thanked her for teaching me as I replied. “No, only for the little guy.” Serosa gave a slow and sluggish nod as he tore a small piece of meat from the rest and flung it into the air towards my shoulder were Nibbles sat patiently. Nibbles was quick as he caught the meat with his long chameleon-like tongue in mid-air without even moving an inch. “Anyways,” I said as I caught Serosa’s attention again. “Any idea where my sister would be?” I asked. Serosa seemed to think a bit before answering. “Yes, I did see her a couple of hours ago walking towards the citadel,” he said. “But she hasn’t returned yet.” he continued and I thanked him for the information and the meat as I left towards the ruins of the bastion.
As I turned around to head in the direction of the bastion I saw a boy, young of age with a thin frame and long black hair that almost covered his eyes, running towards me. He stopped right in front of me, panting for breath. I recognized him as Vare, one of the younger kids around here who was also one of my friends. “I was just coming to you.” He said catching his breath. “Your sister….” He said and he took in a deep breath. “Yes?” I asked growing a little concerned. “She is caught up in trouble with the Gurzal gang!” He said. “Not again!” I muttered under my breath as Vare took to his heels again in the direction where my sister was.
I followed close by and few turns later we were in the huge garden of the abandoned fort. The place had been beautiful back in its hay-day, with flowers blooming in vast garden and pillars holding up several structures such as important houses of the previous ruler’s right-hand men and several other edifices that served as guest houses to other honorable visitors or meeting rooms where talks of utmost secrecy were spoken. Now, however, there were broken pillars of concrete everywhere and the plants of the garden were long dead as weeds and thorny bushes took its place. As I ran along the border of an abandoned and run-down house, I saw my little sister, her back facing me, all alone against the Gurzal gang, four of the most overweight, barbaric inhabitants of the whole village.