Don’t Settle

I think we’re all just searching for oblivion,
sick of how our lives
don’t seem to lead anywhere anymore.
I stand at a crossroads
on all sides, crowds of people
come and go from all four directions.
They walk slowly, trudging forward
Not aimless, but tired–
they know what there is and have learnt to do better
than dream of things
that aren’t there.
They are hard, gritty as the gravel
that their aching feet walk on.

You’re a realist, aren’t you?
You’ve seen all the shades of grey
and everything in between.
You eradicated the unicorns and phoenixes
a long time ago,
For no rainbow ever left a pot of gold for you.
Whenever you saw one when you were young
and you ran towards it
You always found that someone else
had been there before you,
There was a big crowd of people
fighting for the coins.
And you left
Not willing to be pushed and shoved
for something that was rare anyway.
And slowly, you began to be okay with not having it
Eventually, you stopped running when you saw rainbows
You learnt to make do.
To settle for what you had.

One of the most exhausting words in the English language
A lifetime of compromises
that no one saw and no one appreciated
And so… we stop.

We stop looking at the sky
Why should we, anyway? It’s not like it’ll put food on the table.
Head down, shoulders tight.
We enter the mines in long lines,
Skin dark with coal dust, no lightness on anyone’s face to be found.

Keep your head down.
Don’t talk too much.
Keep to yourself.
Mind your own business.
Work and come back.
Don’t you dare have fun.

Use your picks, break darkness from the walls–
it’ll light up the world for your family.
Keep them warm when the sun sets,
and you keep them going until
they are old enough to enter the mines themselves.
And then they work for their families
until their legs shake with exhaustion and tiredness.
But still we march towards the sign,
that proudly proclaims–
“Abandon all hope ye, all who enter here.”

Aadya Gupta is a passionate feminist and a third year law student studying at Jindal Global Law School, Sonipat. Her interests include literature, environmental sustainability, and intersectional activism.

Featured image credit:愚木混株 Cdd20/Pixabay