Sid woke up. His vigil under the tree had gone on for long enough. Was it three days or four? Across from him he saw the people who had come. A holy man, a holy man was with them. Sid was not holy, he was just lost, he was just in search of meaning. Call it depression, call it a crisis of self, he didn’t know what the people waiting wanted to hear and he was certain even if he did, he wouldn’t be able to say the words they wanted with conviction.
A girl was to his left, she crept closer. Curious. Sid felt ashamed, he was an imposter, he had made these people believe. He had drunk and eaten little, although food had appeared before him in the last two days.
‘Are you going to stay here?’ she finally asked.
‘Nothing is permanent.’ Sid mumbled back.
‘Are you a holy man?’ she was coy with her question and looked away as soon as she asked, as if it was not allowed. The sun shone off her dark brown skin.
‘What does that mean?’ he was interested by the girl, small, maybe nine, maybe younger, he could never tell. She darted around the tree.
‘I didn’t mean to make you angry’ she was apologetic.
‘I haven’t the strength to be angry, anger is a punishment.’ He replied.
‘If you hold onto it, it’s like holding on to a hot stone, it’s why I am here’ he trailed off. It was why he was here, he didn’t want his anger anymore, he wanted to be free from it.
The girl scuttled away towards the crowd. Sid held out his hand.
‘Have no fear’ he cried, ‘I am your friend’.
The crowd moved closer, the girl had vanished away.
‘Illusion’ he muttered to himself, the crowd looked interested.
‘What do you mean?’ a man asked. He was a farmer by the looks of him, a man who worked with his hands in the fields.
‘I suppose life is an illusion at times’ Sid replied.
‘Tell us more’ the man said.
Sid spoke for a day and a night to the people who came to see him. They gave him food, which he then gave back, eating little and drinking less despite the heat.
The girl did not return.