Shadowy Existence

It happened on one afternoon, when I was walking to a nearby restaurant with my friend, my friend walked ahead of me and got inside the restaurant and as I turned around to toss my hair behind my shoulder and take off my sunglasses, I noticed that I didn’t have a shadow. Needless to say, I was stunned by the lack of my own shadow. It was quite a sunny afternoon, where could it have gone? And what is this reckless abandon with which it seems to have forgotten the body that is the reason for its very existence? It might seem like a very silly thing when I say it like this, but I really did need to find my shadow. Now it’s no Peter Pan scenario, nor was I some child, but when you think of it, don’t you see why it’s so important to find my missing shadow? If no, I’ll tell you why it’s imperative for me to be locate it and tie it back to me.

It was on the eve of my 18th birthday. A milestone that we often tend to celebrate, not knowing that we would forever curse crossing the bridge into adulthood, I went out with my parent’s due permission to party with my friends. Not like how kids party these days, all we did was go to the food court of a mall, order pizza from a Dominoes and maybe get a soft drink. It was a big deal. Trust me.

The party went on a little later than usual and we ended up staying till past 7. My house was just a little away from the highway, so I decided to walk from the bus stop. As I was walking alone, my mind wandered to how pretty the streetlights were. They were a soft orange in colour, luminescent enough to light the road, and dark enough to have dark spots. But just like everything else that is beautiful in this world, there was a mysterious dark side to it. And literally with the street lights were the dark patches between two of them. It was as if the distance was carefully calculated and the lights were placed so that they could have little pockets of darkness. As I was walking down this road, I noticed that there was a group of boys sitting in one of these dark pockets. Their eyes shone in the darkness, reflecting the street lights and the lights of the passing vehicles. They were probably my age, some were maybe even younger. But with the way they sat there in the darkness, it was just an ominous setting. And like that little itch that forms up in your body when you know you are restrained and can’t reach it, fear cropped up in my head and I couldn’t just brush aside that thought. As I slowly walked, trying to keep myself calm and composed, I looked up to see that I was right under the lamp post before I enter the same dark pocket as them. I looked behind me to check if there was someone else on the road, but the road was empty… except for my shadow, which was right behind me. I looked at my shadow and it stood there, all black and all strong. And something about it made me feel safe, as if I wasn’t alone. I knew entering the dark pocket would mean that my shadow would get weaker and weaker until I would appear under the light again. But still I knew it remained connected to my feet and that gave me a strange sense of power. A power over those boys, who had spotted a girl walking on the street alone. The power was simple – I had something in me, that was as dark and as dangerous as they could be. My attitude and demeanor changed entirely, from that moment on. I crossed those boys with a confidence that seemed to bewilder them and I walked all the way home with a brazen sense of fulfilment.

Years later, today, as I embark on a hunt for my shadow, I find myself facing a dark pocket, but with nothing attached to me and suddenly I’m the 18-year-old girl again, walking down a dark empty street in the middle of the night. It made me realize, exactly how dependent I am. For all those times that I didn’t have anybody to fall back on, I created a fictional entity – my shadow. Because I knew it would never leave me and that way I would never actually be alone. It’s been a while since my shadow has left me and I can see why. I guess I was right about one thing; the shadow was indeed the dark part of me. But like practically everyone in the world, I disassociated that part from me and made it a separate entity. Now with the shadow gone, I’ve learnt to accept that part of me as something I have to love. You know those thoughts that you have? That you think are bad and it’s just wrong to even have those thoughts, so you don’t mention them to yourself? I stopped pushing them to the corners of my mind, and I’ve started to be completely honest with myself.

They say that the toughest thing to do is to let go. Try holding on – to those parts of you you’d rather not have. There is nothing more difficult than being completely honest with yourself. And without a shadow of doubt that is the concept of pure honesty. I might find my shadow sometime in the future, but I will never need it again. For the first time in years, I’m enough – black, white and all the tints in between.

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