The Grey Castle
P had finally decided, after days and cold nights of indecision. The indecision wasn’t in regard to whether he should leave the field or not. Everybody has to. That is the rule. The decision was on when to leave the field. No one can stay on the field for more than a week. P had already stayed for five days there. He could have delayed his decision by another two days, but no more. He picked up his belongings – a small bag, and stepped carefully over the numerous people sleeping on the field. The Fields were always crowded. The field on the other side of the village is said to be more luxurious, but no one knows how true or false it is.
P left the field and walked down the road to the village. A few flickering lamps could still be seen at this hour. Beyond the village the ghostly outline of the Castle, atop the hill was barely visible on this foggy, cold, dark night. He had still to decide where to go. He had hoped that the long lonely walk on the road would help him in making that decision. But, presently, he was more busy shivering because of the cold and out of fear too. The fear wasn’t because of the dark night and the lonely road. He was actually enjoying it. He was afraid that he still hadn’t decided where to go and the village was approaching.
P was chilled to the bone by the time he reached the main road of the village. A wild idea now struck him and he toyed with it hoping that it would keep his mind off the disturbing fact that he didn’t know where to go. The idea was to go to the Castle and that night itself! It wasn’t forbidden to go to the Castle. Infact P did consider, going there, the previous morning. There is also nothing wrong with going to the Castle in the night, though it is not customary. But …….
“Hey traveller. Why don’t you come inside? It is cold out there”, said a man looking out of a window. Was it out of pity? Or was it to earn some money or worse still was it to rob P?
“I’m going somewhere”, replied P even as he was considering accepting the offer and walked toward the wall under the window.
“But, why do you have to go somewhere?”
P didn’t reply. He walked to the wall and looked up at the man at the window. A few moments passed without any one speaking anything. Finally, the man sensing that P didn’t really want to come in, said, “You can atleast spend the night here. You can go somewhere in the morning. It is very cold and you are shivering.”
“I’m going to the castle.”, said P as he turned away and started walking down the road.
“But, you are going down the wrong ro..”, the man’s voice faded away in P’s joy at finally deciding on his destination, at least for now.
A few hours later, atleast it seemed to P like a few hours, P was at the foot of the hill. As he climbed up the road, he reflected on what made him decide to go to the Castle. Was it because the thick walls of the Castle would shelter him from the cold better? Surely not. It cannot that cold in the village. Was it that the grimy wall under the window turned him away from the village? No, P didn’t recall being disgusted or having similar feelings when at the wall, though he was somewhat annoyed. But, was the annoyance with the grimy wall or the pestering man or with himself? Or…
P had just turned at a corner of the winding road and the brilliant rising sun glowed on him. P then decided to postpone his reflections to enjoy the scenery.