The World Beyond

The World Beyond

In the dead of the night, she walked aimlessly. The dim street lights played hide and seek. The overcast sky threatened a downpour. A drop from the heavens landed on her forehead. It slipped onto her nose before merging with the countless drops that wet her. 

It looked as though the heavens were bursting open. Thunder and lightning that struck the earth were akin to the chaos in her life. How merciless the weather was! Rain lashing out, wind whirling around…. was the weather playing the spoilsport or was it sympathising with her situation? The outward upheaval was in sync with her inner turmoil. 

Defying the rain she walked, as though in harmony with the wind that swayed her. 

‘Come, hug me, you tyrannical winds. Take me into your shelter, for I bleed inwardly, incessantly. I shriek, I wail to no avail. My heart seeks solace. And only this tempestuous nature can heal my wounded soul. Let your vibrant gales lift my fallen spirit. Shatter me to rebuild me….’ Her heart cried aloud but was hushed by the ever-increasing sound of the thunder. 

She shut her eyes and allowed the rain to drench her to the core. 

Despair had consumed her without an outlet.

Then it happened.

Something shiny, a metal perhaps, glittered in the dim light. It was a coin. What an irony! Just when she had almost given up hope, signs of life cropped up from nowhere! Hesitantly she picked up the coin and looked around. Not a soul around. The cold surface numbed her fingers. She held it tight in her fist, hoping it would give her the warmth that she yearned for. A faint smile lit her dull face.


There still seemed to be hope in her life, otherwise, why would the coin be in her hand?

 Some cinder glowing inside to revive a life! 

She tossed the coin and as it fell into her open palm ‘Liberty’ and ‘……1916’ caught her attention.

Wasn’t she seeking to liberate herself from the wretched, unsupportive environment? 

Restore life!

Life was meant to be lived. 

1916?The angel number 1916 means living a life of your dreams; never doubt your potential.’ she had read. 

Messenger – the coin. 


The sun rose alike for everyone. It never discriminated against humans or nature. If the river shimmered in the rays, the soil heated up with its intensity. It sparkled on the tiny leaves as much as the tall grasses in the field. 

How unbiased the sun was! Ruth loved this thought. She always woke up to the warm sunrays peeping through the open window. Her mother never allowed her to draw the curtains or close the windows. This remained an intriguing question in her mind. 

“Ruth, let the windows be open, like the sun, we allow people also to peep into our homes.” 

It was strange but she remained silent.

As the sun hid behind the mountains and slowly disappeared into the sea, the mild sounds of anklets, accompanied by harmonium and other instruments, drunken voices, giggles of young women, and cheap conversation…. hit Ruth emotionally. She was disturbed but couldn’t voice her feelings. Her mother was never available at night. The day passed quietly but the nights were loud and unbearable.

Then surroundings dipped in death-like silence. 

She failed to understand the odd looks of her classmates. She felt uncomfortable when the male teachers touched her in the wrong places. 

Why did they behave differently with her? 

Her determination to study was unfazed by their repulsive behaviour.


“Stay at home. I am growing old; you need to take over my business.”

“Amma, you can’t do this to me. I have my dreams to live for.”

“In our business dreams and ambitions don’t exist. Face the reality.”

 Ruth now understood why she was nick-named ‘Red-light’.

‘No matter what I shall not allow my dreams to shatter.’ Ruth walked out quietly, never to return.


“Sir, I am here to fulfil my dreams. I am not ashamed of my background. Our ‘kind’ exist because ‘you create it. I am here to prove that life exists for those who cherish to leave an imprint. I am one among those few. If the interview is over, I will take leave. 

Mark my words Sirs, you will see me at the other end of the table.”

Heads turned as she made her exit majestically. The coin in her blazer pocket beamed in jubilation.


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Shashikala Gadepally
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