Don't you think we overdo this 'light at the end of the tunnel' thing? Tunnels are not created to keep out the light. They have been carved out to help us reach our destination. If anything, it is tunnels that have been relegated to darkness. Do we even consider the possibility of tunnels wanting to see the light?
One might, of course, rely on the obvious fact that tunnels are not people and do not wish to see anything whereas people are aware that tunnels are tunnels, which makes getting out of them so much more palpable.
This begs the question that if one knows what a tunnel is and what comes after that, what is the reason for the fear and the expectation? Do we not experience light otherwise? Why does getting out of a tunnel symbolise hope? Going into a tunnel is a wilful act, whereas the dark moments in life are most likely not. When we hope, we expect glad tidings, a reversal of misfortune, a fresh start. It is rarely a windfall. Quite often it is a knock on the door, a nod of approval, an offer, a strange encounter that is sustaining only because it is familiar. We 'light' up because we throw open the windows.
I am excited by small narrow mountain tunnels because I can reach out to their walls. There is something protective about them. On occasion I have flashed a torch and noticed the ridges running along its length. They appear like rough skin. I wish I could smooth out the wrinkles. I want to apply lashings of cream and see my hands chafe. When I form a fist and look through it, does it not resemble a tunnel?
As a child we often visited a hill station just a couple of hours away. As we approached the tunnel, my heart would beat faster. The wheels of the vehicle sounded like boots stomping. Everything seemed like an echo, as darkness repeated itself in loops. When we came out, it took a while to adjust the eyes to the stunning valley and the mountains covered by mist. I lost out on precious minutes because of the blinding light.
As the car snaked its way and I turned to look, the tunnel appeared forlorn yet steadfast. There was unusual beauty seeing it from outside — like a greying wizened woman, always awake, bearing the burden of travellers who don't look back. The inside of a tunnel is rarely captured in photographs, and that makes her such an enigma.
If I spoke to her, she might remain silent. She swallows stories and chokes on them. If she wasn't stone, who would risk passing through her?
When I embark on the new, and hope for hope with hope, I know it is the tunnel's dark womb that gives me intimation of light. It lies at the beginning, not the end.
© Farzana Versey