The Path Less Travelled

An ostensibly withered, grey-black rock of indefinite dimensions smashed the river banks, relaying diverging ripples across its trajectory.

The hike was undeniably onerous. In addition to the many antediluvian remains that could be seen plaguing every crevice of the Alzette river valley in Luxembourg, the elevated pedestal offered gleaming views of the city beneath. The enriching fragrance of the summertime pollen wafted amidst the intense gusts, bringing with it a much needed hiatus from the scorching summer heat. Tourists—from Asia, Europe, and the Americas all alike—chattered unassailably in the background, marvelling at the vast beauty of the looming vistas. As I neared what seemed liked the highest point in the vicinity, a congregation of tourists—who hailed from various geographical locations from around the world—appeared to constitute an eclectic mix, not drastically different from the concoction of awe-striking castles, scenic valleys, and the especially breath-taking but remarkably placid river Alzette that flowed mellifluously beneath.

Le Chemin de La Corniche is aptly described as the most marvelous balcony in Europe. Yet it is not until one truly sees the dichotomy on display, the inveterate differences that distinguish the lower Alzette valley from this elevated pedestal of the Corniche, that one truly learns to bow in deference to the hypnotizing panorama on display.

I took a few brave strides forward, assertively progressing to the Corniche-Alzette viewpoint. It certainly did not escape my notice that I shouldered some disquieted tourists along the way, vying to secure my spot at the Corniche balcony in order to glance at the unparalleled fairy-tale on display. I glanced eagerly into the far distance, astounded by the Notre-Dame cathedral, the serene and lush green vegetation all abound.  Overcome by an unprecedented feeling of insignificance, I fell into a reverie of brooding, introspection and perusal.

Noticing the ripples that the collision of the rocks with the river banks elicited, I realized that much like the river, our lives are also a slate of turbulent events, of change, and of ephemeral presences and perpetual absences. It takes a word, often, to break someone’s heart, but why is it that it takes us forever to embrace our faults, to own up to them, and to apologize? Why is it that love, while all-benevolent in its disposition, fills us with melancholy and with unstated feelings of longing? Why is it, indeed, that we succumb to breakups, to failing friendships, to gratuitous statements, and do not, quite sadly, act within our remits to utter that one apology, that one last statement that has the potential to salvage the most ingenuous of bonds?

It often takes the unlearning of the connotation of pensiveness to relearn it as a part of ourselves—not as a display of impotence or discomfiture, but as an insignia of our passion for those who matter, for those who we love, and for those  whose “last seen(s)” we so diligently keep a track of on Whatsapp and other applications alike.

A pleasantly cold raindrop dribbles down my face, jolting me awake from my reverie. Still invested in finding answers to my questions, I realize that the resolutions and the most imperative conclusions have in fact been right before my eyes, flowing mellifluously a few hundred feet beneath me, if only in the form of the glistening Alzette river.

My eye finds the same dotted grey-black rock, my gaze fixated on it now. This time, however, I realized that rather than being withered by the turbulence—much like we tend to be by the turbulence’s in our lives—the rock perseveres, its grace not sullied or withered but in reality shaped by the uncertainties it endures, and the less travelled paths of pensiveness that it traverses.

I wanted this moment to last forever.

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  1. Zoya Khan says

    Love the way you write, Talal. Would love to have the opportunity to talk to you in real person. I am so very impressed not just by your accomplishments but more by how humble, how silently intelligent and how sensitive you are

  2. Amna says

    I remember speaking you at the Islamabad MUN Talal. I remember the conversation I had with you was very much about the theme of this article too, and I remember how everyone circled you as you spoke.

    4 yr have passed to that day and I am glad to still know that Talal is the same person and has not changed

    If possible please reply to this and catch up

  3. Narmeen says

    Who would not want to be in a relationship with you, be friends with you or be in your company?

    Loved this piece through and through. Let’s meet at the Islamabad writers’ lounge Talal. Would love to spend quality time with you!!!

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