Granny’s tales always managed to transport us to unknown lands – be it magic or mayhem. It was always tough to remember that ghosts didn’t exist and flying carpets… er, well I’ll save that for another time.
One of the stories I vaguely remember was about the caves in the hillside. To everybody else, they were just ruins. But Granny disagreed, as always. She’d get a faraway look in her eyes as she narrated,
“The hills were forbidden grounds to us even as we were kids. We were told that the caves hid ancient treasures within themselves, enough to last a city for a few decades. It was rumored to be guarded by a venomous snake. Those who went looking for it never returned… Of course, that was incentive enough for us to set off..”
That’s when I stopped listening. According to Granny she was the only one who lived to tell the tale and claimed she had seen the treasure. It was every bit as magnificent as it was fabled to be. The shine of the gold and precious stones was almost blinding. She had yet to see anything just as bright. I was enthralled, my six year-old mind jealous of her adventure.
Years later, I found myself fumbling around in Granny’s drawers. I came across an old book with tattered yellow pages falling out. I flipped through it. I realised it was Granny’s diary. I read a few snippets until I saw the longest entry she’d ever written, stretched over a couple of pages.
It was Granny writing about her friends who went treasure hunting in the caves. They hadn’t returned. She’d waited for months before giving up hope. She was supposed to go along with them, but had to stay back to look after her ailing sister. Every day after that, she’d sit and go over the events leading to that week. She kept thinking of reasons why they hadn’t returned. She wrote about them escaping their previous lives with all the wealth. She imagined the hypnotic shine of the gold, devoting an entire page to it. She went on describing all her theories. The entry had just been an outlet for all her pent up emotions. For the first time in my life, I understood my grandmother and her need to narrate those stories. She’d spent most of her life wishing she hadn’t stayed behind.
I realized she never mentioned her companions becoming prey to the legendary snake. It sounds far fetched, but it would’ve been the first thing that crossed her mind. She wasn’t referring to the treasure when she talked about the “shine”. For her, it was the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.