To Second Worlds

The road is lined with neat cobblestones. Horses trot along blissfully, in a most organized fashion, their hooves ferrying those who move about the city. The villas are neat and tidy, with broad windows to soak in the sun. The sky is a bright blue, and but for the slight chill in the air, it’s a perfect day in Metropolis.

Draped with my robes and boots, I look around apprehensively. Things have certainly changed since I returned. No, no, not the city. Me.

It’s strange because I used to think the outside world was vile, uncouth. It felt that anything beyond the high spires of Metropolis was chock full of lands to be tamed and people to be settled.

But then I dipped my toe into the Second World. Far from the city and its organized grandeur, I realized that sometimes, the people who live there have it better than us.

We have buildings that pierce the clouds, organized streets and cleaned off sidewalks. We wake to quiet rushing of business, briefcases and cushy saddles. The air is crisp here, sterilized. We’re organized and habitual, stable, serene, even.

In the Second World, well, that’s an entirely different picture. There I found noises, all day long, breaking through the din. Beggar children ran left and right, pulling on my pant leg and asking for a Copper. The air was stuffy with dust and the alluring aroma of spices. Vendors attempted to out-shout each other, hoping that the louder they got, the more business they would collect. Colorful sheets of cloth covered the stalls, and hovels boasted if they had clean water.

We have material. They have life.

Give me back the dust and clutter, the winding streets and sounds of chaos. The crying babies and cackling shopkeepers; the hot sun beating down on the village that has little in the way of restaurants.

Give me back those places, those Second Worlds of pure, wild, untamed energy. For this quiet, peaceful street in Metropolis will never complete me in quite the same way.

With one foot here and one foot there, I’ve changed. And that’s because I’ve lived.

Perhaps one day the Second Worlds I’ve visited will no longer be considered by me Second. Perhaps they will become my First.

By Saalik Lokhandwala.