Afterthoughts

The simplicity of life in hindsight

Isolated by the Beast

As the sun beat down on her, she could feel the twinge of her muscles as the pail of water weighed down on her, reducing her strides to those akin to an infant. She was guided less by her sense of direction but more by fear of what lay behind her, she knew that he needed the water, and more importantly, she knew that he needed her. She wondered how long he had, she wondered if he would make it to see her one last time. She prayed that he would.

It had infiltrated their community, and found him, and there was no escape. It was a matter of time before it found her and consumed her. She hated what it had done to him; it seemed to have slowly sucked the life out of him, it felt like it had chewed away on the insides and on the outsides at will. She could feel him burn, and she could do nothing but watch the flames engulf him.

She was almost there; she hoped the water would extinguish the flame. She could now see him from afar, or was it a mirage? She would never know. The woods played its own tricks on her; the woods had a mysterious way of giving hope when there was none. On another day, she would have sat there and listened to the rustling of the leaves, the wailing of the birds, the chatter of the crickets and maybe the odd roar of a wolf. Today, it felt like the world was closing in on her, it felt like the woods stopped singing, it almost felt like the beast had infiltrated the woods, her woods. Her feet started to bleed as it stepped over twigs and rubble, she could feel the blood clot over her feet, and just for a moment she thought that the beast had smelled her blood. She waved away those thoughts and forced her mind to focus. The sand was getting warmer under her feet and she took tiny steps. She could see the hut in the distance, and she could see him. She stopped and squinted, and she heaved a sigh of relief as she saw his chest heave in and out. He was alive.

The hut was in epicenter of the African wilderness, with no civilization for miles. She had watched him when they first moved here; she admired his resolve as he swiftly cleared the woods for what would be their humble abode. He had stood by her through her wildest of pursuits and had always stayed by her side as she dreamed of conquering the world. On that first day, as he cleared the woods, set the fence and even brought home their first meal, she thought to herself, how lucky she was to have him at her side. The hut had seen beasts come and go, but none attacked like this one had. Then again, none moved as surreptitiously, nor attacked with such deadly prowess as this one had.

She looked around nervously, and gently trickled water along the side of his lips, hoping that he would open his eyes. She could sense the leaves rustle around her, she hoped that it didn’t smell the blood at her feet. And then it happened, the tree collapsed, and it bounded towards them in fury and pounced on him and consumed him until his very last breath. She hadn’t noticed the beast take his life away, she kept giving him water hoping for a miracle, and then she noticed that his chest had stopped heaving and his eyes looked beyond her. She knew it was over, and that the battle was lost.

She loved him more than the world itself, but was it her greed and her desire to be among the elite that got the better of him? She was a microbiologist and he was a musician, he promised her when they took their vows that he would follow her to the end of the world, and to that last day, he did. She thought of the strain that she had come to isolate, she thought of everything that she lost in this pursuit of glory. She knew it was a matter of time before the beast got the better of her. She lifted him on her shoulders and took off to the woods to stare at the beast and let it take her, because without him, her life and all the glory that she sought meant nothing. She held his lifeless hand, and waited till it came and consumed her as well.

The virus that we call Ebola, whose name originates from the Congolese river where the first case was identified, has consumed lives of 20,000 people in different parts of Africa. The battle against the beast is always going to be uphill, but is one that we will win as long as we fight as one.

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