Short Story: Alien
Believe me when I say this, but the heat was enough to make me collapse. It didn’t help that the multitude of people decided they wanted to swarm all around me. Their curious eyes locked onto Tracy and me something we have grown accustomed to. I guess we are aliens here. Our golden hair and ocean-like eyes are foreign compared to their coffee-painted ones. Despite the tan, our sun-kissed skin was in complete opposition to theirs. It seemed as if they dipped themselves in melted bronze daily. Surrounding us is a variety of skin tones, where Tracy and mines are almost identical.
“Doesn’t matter how much we strip down there is no way we are going to leave this place without a heat stroke,” Tracy complained, wiping the sweat off her head.
“I’m sure you can last the week. I mean, look at all of them, they have endured this heat for years.” I attempted to motivate her.
“That’s cause they are aliens. No human can survive this.”
Giggling I passed her a hair tie. This is not the weather you can have your hair down. A cute messy bun should keep our necks relatively fresh. Once we arrived back in the city, by a ‘taxi’, vacant of any doors and seatbelts, we rushed to the nearest undeveloped shop to purchase a mass of mineral water.
“By the end of this trip, I’m going to have such bizarre tan lines!” I exclaimed as we walked to our hotel. I already had a tan on my arms except for the area where my watch currently sat.
“Woman this was your idea, you dragged me along so shut your mouth.” She grumbled. This scorching heat does bring out the worst in people. Once we saw the hotel name, Tracy jumped frantically and ran towards it like there was no tomorrow.
“Hey, slow down. Why are you so excited…” she was behind the doors before I could finish my sentence. I can already foresee the last few days here; we are going to get lost in this small city with an overflowing population. Upon walking in, I saw Tracy has already accessed our keys, so we made our way up.
“Why’d you run away?” I spoke with my hands firmly placed on my hips. Perspiration trickled down my body and jolts of irrational fear wormed its way into my mind at the thought of getting lost — collisions of disrupting emotions leaked out every pore I have. The heat is getting the best of my feelings as well.
“We need to get changed so we can get over to that place that smelled extravagant.” A crease formed between my eyes as we walked into the room.
“Can you be more specific, please? I mean this whole place reeks of spice and sweat.” But that is a right sort of ‘reek’. I have yet to come across a road that hasn’t been engulfed in divinely scented spices and herbs. So many different textures and colours of dishes. An infinite amount of options; foreign to my regular bowl of cereal, bits of grains that I know I cannot live without. One open restaurant that had drawn my attention had a mix of sweet dishes, ranging from a mildly sweet to stronger ones, as I walked along with it. A yellow, neither liquid nor solid, batch of yoghurt drew my attention. It was anything but healthy or sour like mum’s Greek yoghurt at home. Their yoghurt held an almost sweetly sick quality. The yellow yoghurt, was being sold by a skinny and short man who’s hair was wild but what drew me away was how he spat when talking, each drop of saliva landing on one sweet dish or the other. I began a search for the same meal elsewhere and found it in several places on this trip.
“The one where we had that hot and spicy soup. Remember, my tongue went numb, and I cried, but you were calm.” I jumped on the bed, belly down, and gave Tracey a coy look.
“Was the soup hot or the waiter hot? What was his name it started with an S?” Her face went as red as it did the night she had that soup. Shame, we’re leaving in a few days back to our cold, yet comfortable, climates. They could have had something special.
“Shifa is his name,” she whispered before running to the showers. An hour later, we were ready to go back to the restaurant, fresh, dressed and glammed up. She was going to leave an impression before we left.
We stepped out the hotel, and I took a second like I did every other night I was here, to take in the scenery. The public service made me question why I had such a strong desire to visit such a disorderly place. I believe I just wanted to see where my H&M clothes were made. No, it couldn’t be that maybe it was the way they interacted with each other? Strangers seemed so familiar with each other. Their bonds of communication, despite the harsh tone, looked stable. Or could it be the eruption of life in the markets? Abnormal trees and agriculture may have been a strong factor.
“You would have thought after weeks of partying here it would not still seem so…so”
“Alien.” I finished for her. “Yeah, this can be our outta space journey.” I giggled, pulling her into a cab with doors this time.
Humps and many bumps caused the vehicle to drive in anything but a smooth and straight line. At one point I was sure we were going to tip over, at that point, I clawed onto Tracy’s arm as if my life depended on it, which I’m sure it did. Her head rolled towards me and then she rolled her eyes. Shoving me off, she criticised my skittish behaviour. It’s not my fault this earth is a complete opposite to mine. Our land has tall buildings, not stalls made of wood; we have cars, not rickshaws, we have salt, not turmeric. We have healthcare, and from the looks of things, that is a foreign concept to them.
Just as our world excites them, their world excites us.
Lush and green and smooth wildlife surrounds us. Up and below, we are cocooned in a world devoid of technology and surrounded by the mother earth. Her beauty captures me and leaves me wanting more. I’ve learnt grasshoppers are fickle creatures. Watching as they hop from one branch, then a leaf and then a twig. Indecisive as they choose their next resting spot. Fickle, yet, free. They are not chained down by worldly things that me, the people from my home and the people here hold dear. This part of South-Asia does have tall buildings, but there is also evidence of beautiful nature. Sprouting here and there, I stare as petals and buds struggle to escape through the earth, impatient in their arrival to this world. I see how they so desperately want to be apart of our planet and inhale the air untainted by fumes. Even here it’s difficult to find land that hasn’t been tainted by our modern world. Difficult but not impossible. Tracy continues to trek through the forest as I terrify her with stories of tigers that are supposedly lurking amidst the trees.
“This…I…just wow.” Tracy breathes breathlessly, just as captivated by their world. Trees whose height goes on and on for miles upwards. Many have made their peak impossible for me to see. Do trees have a limit to how high they can grow?
Surprise hits me when we find that their beauty and unique quality lies in their water, in their beaches, in their rivers. Not in their trees. A vision that both provide them with the means to survive and the means to destroy. I am by no means ignorant. I am aware of the hardships the rising sea levels bring to these people. Their third world status does not in any way help them maintain their home, livelihood or even their family. Churning deep blue flows through their land and trickles out fish and means of travel. Bamboo boats allow them to face the sea and breath in the bitter, salty air. It’s as if Poseidon is controlling the water and the water moves following his emotions. When Poseidon is enraged, he ravages their lands and tears apart whatever he wishes. When Poseidon is content and feels worshipped, he is calm and flows with the natural order of things. Only then is he a beauty to behold.
Unable to remember the last time I just stared and admired the creations of God, I feel disappointed in myself. Maybe if I had grown up surrounded by butterflies and mosquitos, I would be better equipped to survive on earth. Instead, I have adapted to the world of humankind, where big houses and social taboos determine my life, although, their world is not exempt from social constrictions and ignorant minds.
I’ve seen, despite the apparent differences between our worlds; we share a similar culture filled with judgement and oppression. We are all fighting against the same humanity and our attempting to grow into a better version of ourselves. Maybe this world isn’t as alien as I initially believed.
“Remember that day when we came out of the hotel. We saw that man and a child across the road.” Tracy asked after a while of admiring the landscape. I wordlessly nodded still horrified by what was exposed to us that day. It’s crazy that such a beautiful land is home to such horror. The worst part was how no one batted an eye to it.
‘With full bellies, we hopped out of the hotel, eager to explore more of this plain. It wasn’t necessarily beautiful. It had crazy cars, deadened earth and as we were about to find out, a severely disturbed acceptance to abuse. His bones were protruding out of his skin, revealing how little food his tiny body receives if any. It seemed as if death had gifted him with a coat soiled with dirt, sweat and blood. We almost missed the sight of him, and I’m sure we wouldn’t have noticed him if not for the deranged man who pounced on him. Like a lion approaching a deer, the stall owner, or beast, dashed towards the boy. Twisting the young child’s ear, he lifted him. With a stick, most likely made of durable wood, he attacked his prey. Leaving gashes that mirrored a lion’s attack, the man’s voice roared louder than a lion. Unable to understand the rapid flow of words, we knew it had something to do with the boy hanging around his stall. The most heartbreaking part of it all, the boy didn’t utter a word of protest or scream. He stayed as silent as a deer hidden in a forest. Tracy and I attempted to race to the boy before the situation got worse. It was difficult we were trapped between a crowd of people deadened to the abuse this boy, and countless others, have had to endure.
We managed to reach the deer when the lion began to drag him away by the ear. “Wait, wait….erm stop! Stop.” I screeched trying to separate the lion from his prey, successfully. Tracy moved the boy behind him while I kept watching on the lion. Glaring at him, I accused him of such violent actions and questioned his sanity. Of course, he didn’t understand a word, but he got the gist. “Bed!” His dirty fingers pointed at the boy. “Bed for…for bishness.” With a shake of my head and a harsh arm signal, I instructed the idiot to move. As he retreated, he spat harsh words that remained unknown to my foreign ears.
Turning my head, I saw Tracey had clutched the boy to her side. The deer remained impassive to a random stranger holding him, accepting of his fate and uncaring. She bent down, and her eyes remained on his ribs. Her eyes glossed, and I had no words of comfort. “Mum?” the nameless boy turned his head to Tracy. His expression as impassive as ever. “Mum?” Shaking his head, he let us know he didn’t understand. I racked my head for bits of information to help. “Amma?” I hope that works.
No sadness, no pain or anger just a blankness. Devoid of emotion. “No, no, none.” He was alone. We tried to get the police to help us. I got the feeling they didn’t care about the orphan or the struggles he has to endure. After the three of us ate, he ate like a hyena finding their food after weeks; we walked off. Tracy and I tried to figure out what to do. I turned my head because I could no longer heart the soft clip of the deer’s feet tapping on the ground. Gone, like the watch that was on my wrist. Panicking we retraced our steps but it seems the deer had left no footprints.’
“It seems the kids here face the same problems we do in London. Messed up homes, broken foster system. Soulless humans seem to dominate the earth, no matter where we go.” The words came out quietly as if I was afraid to stain the forest with our tainted world. The forest’s world was indeed the most strange thing here. Not the world filled with people.
Heated and stuffy, we sat side-by-side, I insisted on the window seat, and she had no choice but to adhere to my will. My eyes, captivated, held onto the image below us through the glass. Certain areas were shrouded with light, forever seen and never hidden. Unable to escape my eyes and retreat to its private lair. I know it enjoys people absorbing it all in, being consumed by the lights and dazzle. It craves to be seen. My eyes however caught onto the darkness. What is hidden there, the beauty I may never set my eyes upon again. Twilight hides Mother Nature’s beauty in an attempt to sway the world from tarnishing it.
Leaving behind Posidon, the deer, many lions and Mother Earth was harder than I thought it would be. But this isn’t my home. My home is with city lights, semi-structured buildings, NHS and raging politics. My home isn’t alien to me at all, and I like that better.
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