He looks around, eyes quickly scanning faces contoured with emotions: the subsided fear, the standard issue paranoia, all released in rivulets through chocked throats and salt-less tears. Decades long walls of conventional wisdom are being shattered around him. A group of pleading faces tilted upward in an intent anticipation, impromptu supplications get louder and more personal. Glass shatter in the distance, heavy clanks of metal on metal. Shouts of conflicting nature, some urging caution and others beefing up morale.
The air is foggy with chemicals, and some bend at the waist to deflate its impact. But the fogginess of the air couldn’t cloud the clarity of the purpose. You want something, young man, you gotta go get it. You gotta earn it. You gotta run the track of steeplechasers drawn up by those whose job is to discourage and demoralize. But plans can’t be re-drawn out here on the blacktop; they can only be scrapped and defeated. You plug in to the collective energy and you are in. You are in on the big thing. The big thing whose momentous bigness could go either way, and you know there’s no hedging your bet once your soles hit the blacktop.
A comrade falls, and is carried along by all four as a few retreat. There’s anger now, a fury uncoiling in the guts and trapped in the mouth. The unfairness of this unfair equation aggravates it; the way injustice gets multiplied and scattered-shot into the crowds aggravates it. And the eyes play visual tricks on him. He sees the incandescent light of safe exit, tastes the hot scent of impending change, and wonders whether it could be made into tangibles, all this sensory stimulation. This uncontrolled upheaval of raw forces meeting rubber-stamp heavy-handedness. All hands are going to be heavy from hereon, he realizes. Heavy and callused and uncompromising.
The youth around him regroup now, and the supplications grow more personal and more urgent. There’s holiness to this scene, a hallowed aura of progressive developments and shifting potential. Like a choir in a church, in sync with the antimatter of the universe and the power that could crack codes and deliver messages of supreme importance. And here they are, making themselves heard, making a riposte to the spiel. Here is the counter-offer. Here’s upping the ante with no auctioneering caution. The grieve will come later, mourning the loss will come later. But right now, there’s no stopping the avalanche of repressed grievances.
And in the thick of it all, in the midst of mutual distrust and conspiratorial accusations, in the epicenter of this sheer combativeness and fatal dance-off; he wonders. He wonders if cooler heads will prevail. He wonders if there’s a nuanced formula, if this labor could give birth to a renewed reality, to a rejuvenated novelty. Could it be eventually realized that things can’t go on the way they are? That the status quo is untenable? Could an opportunity be detected in the cacophony of tumbling events? Could minds transcend the personal and get down to the core idea of who we are and where we’re headed? For even if all the characters stuck to the script, even if parties involved did their bit and pretended that their positions are validated, history won’t lie. History is the grandest reformer of them all. History will do its corrections and its revisions, until all lenses are true and aligned.
History is what we’ll become, and it’s our choice on which side of it we want to be.