'The Voice in the Well' by Thiva Narayanan

There are no gods and goddesses down here despite what anyone else might have told you. This is a very dry and ancient well. It is the very bottom of everything there is, everything that you know of. They do not send those with hope this way. It’s only those without a future that find themselves here. Round the stairs, round and down, did you look over to see the drop, as you made your way here? It’s quite a distance from the surface. Look up. That pinprick above your head, at the very center of the dark circle – that’s the sun. The outside. Everything you had known. Where all things are possible. Things like happiness. And hope. But not down here.

Look at me. Hey! Here. Look at me! There is no hope or such things here. It’s not that they are not permitted but it’s such a long journey down that – as fragile things require generous amounts of sunlight to survive– they dry up and wither long before reaching the bottom. This is the very bottom, right here, boy. Congratulations, you’ve made it. That’s the good news. But the only one I’m afraid. To get here, you’ve left behind all the things that would have sustained you in life. Love. Hope. Faith. Especially faith.

Don’t look at me that way. I’m not insulting you. Have you your faith still? The one that they taught you from birth? What kind of faith is it that varies based on your birth location? No, you no longer possess whatever variety of faith you’ve known. What you have is the discarded skin of the faith you once knew and held. You don’t believe me, do you?

Go on. Call them. Call the Gods and Goddesses you know.

Any of them. Any one of them. Go on. No, I am not challenging you to make them appear. That would be unfair and difficult to do even if you were up there. Yes, I’m pointing to the mouth of the well above us, boy. Even up there, you’d be hard pressed to call upon your Gods. No. Being a fair person, I only ask you to feel the presence of your faith. Can you can feel it, inside you? Is your faith still there? Go on, feel it.

I won’t laugh. I see the look on your face now. The look does not fill me with glee although it used to very much, at one time. You realize now I was telling the truth all along? If only I could show you your own face now. There is nothing more pitiful in existence than the face of a human being without hope or faith, who knows there is no salvation, that all expectations had been in vain. I have seen that look so many times and each time, it is unforgettable. I am sorry for you, boy. But now you are mine.

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