T h e E x a m
Your exam called The World starts now. Good luck!' a voice alerted her as she lifted up her head slowly, trying to comprehend where she was.
Ahead of her stretched out long, narrow concrete paths; one heading straight, and the others heading to both the right and the left side in uncountable numbers. However, all of them emerged from a single point, which was just in front of her.
Someone or some group had come, and placed her there. She tried to recall more, but she couldn't remember what they looked like or anything else about that.
She felt her heart shrink -- which way would she go?
Suddenly, her eyes fell on a cubical structure, which had "manual for examinee's use" engraved onto its stone. The stone was pure, white and crystalline. She hadn't noticed it before. It lay between her, and the projection point of the paths. It stretched out as far as her eyes would go, all to her right only. She went closer to it in small steps, and started reading it. She went through letter after letter, word after word, sentence after sentence; trying her best to understand them.
Her heart gave a leap when she came across the words, 'Indeed I am near. I respond to the call of the caller when they call on Me. ' She swivelled her head from side to side-- no one was around.
She went on with her study, and came upon the words 'Indeed after hardship there is ease.'
What's hardship? And what's ease? She thought to herself.
After a while, the long note finished, and she went back to where she had begun.
The paths went on their own winding ways.
Someone near can hear any call even if not visible, she realized.
'Which way do I go? Please, please help me,' she spoke out loudly but earnestly.
Now, when her eyes strayed to the outstretching paths, she felt that she ought to pick the straightest path right in front of her. She winced, as she felt a little weird that she herself hadn't thought about it -- it was like someone told it inside her brain.
She took regular strides as she went along the path. She went and went, but alas!
An intense heat scorched the sole of one of her feet. She collapsed into a sitting position onto the ground. The place in front of her emitted extremely hot radiation, though to the eyes it was just normal concrete, like any other part of the street.
Looking around, she discovered that the other paths had vanished.
Feeling a biting sensation, she paid heed to her sole. It displayed a bright red hue.
So this is hardship; she understood. It seemed too much.
She felt tears scuttle down her cheeks as she hunched.
'O You Who is near. P- Please, please help me out,' she pleaded.
Then, something surprised her.
The heat abated, and went away. She placed a toe from the healthy foot to feel the place, and it was all normal.
Who knows when the sole would heal, so it wouldn't be wise to just sit idle-- things got to get going, she thought again. She continued her journey by limping.
When will all this finish? The muscles at her core writhed with impatience.
Her stomach grumbled with hunger. She came across a person with a blurry face, about to munch at a ruby-red plump apple.
She felt the urge to snatch it and have it herself, when there was the inspiration inside her brain that warned her of it. She remembered that it was also in that manual that she was being watched, so she dared not.
It didn't belong to her, so she had no right to have it.
She turned her head aside, and with firmly shut eyes, hurried past the person.
She went on, but not much, when her eyes caught something -- Far away, something glimmered. It encouraged her, and she increased her speed.
Her sole too felt better and better with every additional step as she neared it. She was soon able to walk normally again, when she could make out a small portion of a place with beautiful green leaves of big trees on a carpet of grass.
A pleasant breeze and fascinatingly sweet perfume of fresh fruits caressed her face as she went even closer to it.
Afterwards, there was no concrete street. There was clean green grass with vibrant and chubby fruits kept on top of it, with a label on the same sort of white stone from which she had read before. It said 'for you'. Large garden trees encircled the spot.
She discerned that she had got more -- not only did her foot heal, but she had also found things much better than the apple she had seen before.
She felt really thankful towards The One Who had supported her the whole time -- The One Who was near.
'This is ease,' she smiled to herself.