The Rustic Nightmare


Besieged amongst timeless mountains, torn apart by relentless rivers, and shrugged under boundless forests, a tiny village of Nakieti nestles in the Northwestern Georgian region of Racha, where my family often visited. As our car followed twisted roads hanging on high cliffsides, the promise of leaving the noise and dirt of the capital behind removed any fear of the dangerous drive ahead of us.

On our journey, we always stopped at our favorite tavern which was full no matter when we visited. Inside those wooden walls, there was no rich or poor; intelligent or ignorant; beautiful or ugly; famous or alien—everybody was truly equal. People were genuinely happy—of course, with the most minimalist and fleeting happiness, but be it crude and ephemeral, at least it was a happiness of some sort. No one even noticed the extreme dimness in the room; the cheerful faces of socializing patrons in a carefree state seemed to light up the room. The most delicious food. Wine. Tobacco. Music. Who could ask for more? This feeling of fulfillment imbued the atmosphere with a unique tranquility.

After leaving the tavern, the remainder of our journey lasted five songs. In the village, all youngsters, visitors or locals, pursued storytelling with a frenzy. Reciting scary stories and remembering seemingly fabricated nightmares under the star-saturated and playfully icy cover of the night were a religious experience of the Biblical proportions. The rawest emotions and most elusive thoughts had to be poured out via words. My sister and I were no exceptions. Once we joined a group of mish-mashed teenagers heading to the silvery waterfall. On site my sister began recounting her story, but, of course, I could not not interrupt, and so we continued interthreading our narratives, one by one:

‘A bright light cuts my sight. So many stars out there: yellow and red, nucleonic and titan, but even the tiniest of them are bigger than I am. I am just as big as our Sun, though it cannot be seen anymore—I am in a more remote part of the galaxy. Here, swimming nebulas dominate. They are pretentiously multihued, but the sole role of those blatant colors is to camouflage a lost spirit. Nebulas are stale. Their joy is frozen in time. I do not want to feel their lifetime pain. I swiftly drift away to colorful rings orbiting around bouncy planets. Oh, how I wish to have one of those circling rings, but I am just a wandering star. I am lost! I am lost in the amorphous sea of galaxies, moving without a purpose.’

‘Cold. I’m in the woods, one of the ancient trees: pines, firs, cedars, cypresses, junipers... We all dance, sluggish yet melodic, but mostly menacing, as our cumbersome feet might smash blossoming flowers hiding within whispering grasses beneath us. Flowers are the authentic colors of the forest, not the leaves, not the leaves that were wiped out by the tyrannical wind, striped away. Actually, it keeps blowing, making our dance even more dynamic. The ground is shattering. We move even faster. My balance is gone. I am trapped! I am trapped in the twisted network of tree roots, meandering on ground without any function.’

‘In the distance, far, far away, I see a colossal red ball drowned in waltzing rays. It’s so massive that it curves the fabric of the space. It must be the biggest star in the whole universe—the origin of all kinds of life in our universe. One or two minutes more and I will cuddle in its burningly embracing arms suspended from the serene harmony of the cosmos. I’m scared, but wait! The star is waning, shrinking from every side. The star is bleeding due to an invisible injury. Oh, if only I could help! In seconds, there is no giant red star anymore—just a tiny white dwarf, the miniscule remnant of once a great empire. Its whiteness is ethereal, as if originating from the Creator itself. The red star’s sacrifice was worth the outcome: this new star is much purer, born out of the pivotal forfeit for the greater good. We, the universe can move on.’

‘I have no idea where I am. I am lost! The rain gets only more and more torrential. I am all alone in the woods. I have to get back home, but I have forgotten the path. I cannot move. I am lost! It gets darker and darker. The murky clouds have already fully engulfed the moon and with it my last bits of hope dissolve. The wind is completely relentless; it is passing right through me. Suddenly, chinkas, the untamed spirits of the forest, appear out of the cracks in the suffocating air. I am besieged. I cannot survive! They are too many—enough for a soul! As my life force fades away, my homeopathic suffering enables those spiritually emaciated non-beings to transform into physically replete well-beings. Darkness. Escape! Cannot, but I can still hear their morbid murmur.’

“I think, um, it’s time to return home,” someone murmured indeed, but, betwixt and between the sighing forest and the condescending sky, it was impossible to decide exactly what and where home was.