Link to the short story: In The Twilight Age
Abrar Rahman has done it. Finally a story about twilight that doesn’t have anything to do with Vampires, The Legend of Zelda, and the Dot Hack Franchise.
I had a talk with the author before I sat down to write this review and in his eyes he envisions this as a “not” coming of age story about a teenager who has made his own share of mistakes. As the boy is transitioning into adulthood, it dawns on him that his responsibilities will only continue to grow from here on out. This causes him to indulge in escapism and withdraw further into the abyss of his comfort zone.
Interestingly when I read the story I interpreted it quite differently. I like my characters dead, hence I took the sea to mean the place where he drowned, the sand to be where he was buried, the twilight (right after sunset) to be his eulogy, the sky to be where he will be ultimately ascending to, the forest to be his life, the wet footprints in the sand to be his legacy in the life he left behind, the wind to be his guide (Like Virgil to Dante), and the lion to be his family trying to bravely accept his death and move on with their life.
First off, let us address the title.
As you can see, the second meaning of the word can be closely related to the story.
“In The Age Of Decline” is how I see it.
Perhaps the narrator treaded water, and, unfortunately, had an encounter with a box Jellyfish, thus spelling his demise!
This line is truly food for thought, “The water was not salty. It tasted of a flavor that I could not understand. It tasted like everything, and nothing.”
Our atoms are 99.99% empty space, yes there is a bit of nothing in everything. Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” After considering his life in hindsight he arrived at this conclusion, “Do I regret what I have done? No. I don’t really regret the past. Not much, anyway.”
A question raised by the story is this one, “The wind whispered into my ears, ‘You can’t imagine what you don’t truly know, can you?’”
One can imagine a war vicariously or live through someone else’s story, but can they visualize a new color? I think not. There are limitations in place.
The narrator laments about not being able to swim or climb trees. This stops him from exploring to his hearts content and prevents him from gaining new perspective. While it is true that he can sink to the bottom of the ocean while drowning and still view what it has to offer, this will cost him dearly. Had he learned those two skills more doors would have been open to him in life.
“You must be wondering what happened in the forest. Well, nothing. Nothing happened in there. I kept on walking around until I felt calmer than before.” These sentences are anti-climatic in nature. It off sets the excitement which had been building up, demonstrating that life isn’t always as grandiose as we make it out to be.
The narrator further contemplates about his life and asks a question asked by philosophers then and now in the follow lines,
“The wind showed me the way out. As I stepped to the edge of the forest, it whispered in my ears, ‘You’re leaving already?’
It sounded melancholic and distant. I questioned, ‘Does it truly matter?’”
I could continue to do a line by line analysis or tell you bluntly that the overall message the short story gives, to me at least, is that, “the answer is not yours to give. It is mine to find.’”
Whether or not we look with blurry eyes (bias, lack of clarity) or enlightened ones is up to us.
Yes even lions yawn. (Ps. that’s Aslan from Narnia)