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THE PATH AND I

By Satya Pal Anand

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(Originally written in Urdu)

When I stop, the path raises itself a bit

Looks at me and says:

“Why did you stop? To get rid of me?

You know, you can’t escape me

Your feet and I are bound together in a chain”

And I say: “I walk ahead because

Far ahead my destination is beckoning.”

The path laughs, a little derisively:

“I’ve been walking with you all the time.”

“You’re but a path,” I say.

“You are stationery. How can you walk?”

The path stops in the midst of its laughter:

“All right, friend. Tell me how long have you been walking?

Ten years? Twenty years?

Fifty years? Or even more?”

I say, “I don’t know.”

It continues its harangue

“All right, man! Did you ever stop anywhere?

And if you did stop

Didn’t you feel it was the end of the road . . .

You don’t have to go any farther?”

And I say, “Well, yes, sometimes I did feel like that—

But it was true? Wasn’t it?”

“No, it wasn’t,” says the path,

“I never stopped anywhere

You see, when you stopped to take a little rest

I kept walking on and then looked back

And urged you on.

I never got tired.

I am still as fresh as I was at the moment

I started walking with you!”

Dejectedly I say, “Well, I am tired now.”

The path clasps my feet

And starts crying like a baby

“No, don’t lose courage, my mate,” It says

“Keep on walking. Look, I am with you.

Aren’t I?

Both of us will walk step-by-step together!”

The path and I are still walking!

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