Old Roads


Down the bottom of our smoothly-tarred, modern road and at the quiet beach lying there, there is a rock that runs into the ocean. It is less of a single rock and more a series of tightly packed rocks running in a straight line, like an ancient road. The rocks are old and cracked. They are worn where the wind and water have battered them, but they hold fast where they were laid many ages ago.

No cement or binding holds them there. No tar binds the rocks into this old road running the sea. They just hold there, like some mysterious force was protecting them against the pounding waves, the beating Sun and the blowing wind.

On warm summer days over the weekends, families will flock to the beach. Umbrellas will pop open like blooming flowers displaying various company logos across the sand. Deckchairs will fold out as clothes come off in a near ritual wave of familiarity under the warm Sun and to the tune of the softly, crashing waves in the background.

The children are the first to run to the waters. Shouting at each other, they splash through the cool ocean, laughing and shrieking in delight.

And right in the middle of these trivial excesses and family fun, runs the old, weathered road straight into the ocean.

I wonder what sights this old road has seen?

When childrens’¬†feet run pattering over it now, does the old road remember soldiers’ boot stomping down it? When children run over it¬†laughing and shrieking amidst their fun, does the old road remember the cries and shrieks of the fallen that walked it, their blood washing over it like the salty, cool sea water does now?

And, sometimes, I even wonder if one day the smoothly-tarred, modern tar road that I walked down to get to this beach will be like this old road. After the inevitable nuclear bombs drop, the virus wipes us out or the climate change starves us to death and the water level rises, will my modern road remain? Will my modern road–by then cracked and old–run down to and under the gently lapping, slightly-radio-active, ocean water? And would the original old road have finally disappeared deep under those dark waters?

Perhaps the old road would finally have been forgotten? Maybe there will be no one left to remember it. Perhaps it will finally have been given to the ocean that it has been leading to for ages. The old road would finally be able to rest at the bottom of the cool sea without any feet running shrieking over it.

And, sometimes, I then wonder how many past ages have come and gone? How many old, cracked roads potentially lie on that ocean floor? How many old cracked roads could there be, and how many feet may have walked them? All these forgotten and all the shrieks of their times lost to us, lying under our umbrellas and on our deckchairs in the sun and drowned out by our childrens’ laughter.

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