“There is always light at the end of the tunnel.”
I have used this for sure. It irritates me, nevertheless. Of course, there is light at the end of the tunnel. But that isn’t the purpose of tunnels. There is light above the tunnels at all times. I know this is a metaphor, so fine.
It is about hope, that darkness does not stay long. Has anyone realised that when we are in the tunnel we are not walking through it, but driving? And darkness or hopelessness does not give us the luxury of travelling in a vehicle. We are on our feet, sometimes down on our knees, grazed knees, cracked soles, bruised, completely bruised.
It is not like we are sitting in a train or a car, hissing past.
I used to fear tunnels when I was very young and we passed them at least once a year on a short holiday by train. My grandma would hold my hand and mumble some dua. It was a long tunnel so it took a good ten minutes. In those days I did not think about how ten minutes can alter lives. They did not. Later, I got used to it. And that is what I am driving at. We get accustomed to darkness and hopelessness.
In fact, if you shut your eyes in a tunnel, it is as black as if you saw it with eyes open. Then, as one approached the end, you had to adjust to the light; on one side there could well be a valley. Looking down was even more frightening than the darkness of the tunnel. If it was a road you came out into, then you found traffic flanking you, as though people had sprouted from the soil, cars of different colours and sizes slithering by.
Did you for a moment think about the light? And do you look at the light? Why do we behave like something precious has been bestowed upon us only because we have gone through one phase of darkness when we know it is a phase, when we know we have wilfully taken the journey?
So, here it is: I am not looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. If during my travel I do come upon one I will look into the dark and feel it closing in on me. It is as good as an embrace. I shall hug it back and maybe my nails will touch a wall or just the still air. I will ball my fist and, once out, release it.
If my nails carry a bit of soot and my palms feel heavy, I will know that the tunnel did not leave me empty-handed.