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Walk straight down till you meet life

Shenni had been walking for over two miles without any sign of life. The humidity was unbearable. His water bottle was boiling and the huge rucksack that slung over his back did not help matters. His mother’s words kept ringing through his skull “Shenni you won’t need all that junk, please leave them behind”. “No ma, I need my stuff. I need to keep it going. I need to be busy.”

When the huge van pulled over at the gate of Dhafra Correctional Facility(DCF), and all the formalities were completed at the gate, the driver and the accompanying officer bade Shenni goodbye and the van made a u-turn from inside of the facility and out of the gate it disappeared. There was no sign of life. There was no sign of civilization.

“Walk straight down till you meet life” the officer snarled at Shenni.

As soon as Shenii stepped out of the air-conditioned reception office, he knew that this was real. They had driven over three hours to get to the facility. There was no sign of life whatsoever. It was bare and pure desert. The only place that had a sign of life was the air force base where air force maneuvers took place. Noises of bomber jet fighters could be heard overhead as they whooshed past. Intermittently they heard loud bang sounds as new missiles were being tested.

“This is so cool” Shenni said as he burped loudly.

Shenni was guzzling his soda as if a soda dispenser machine was right in the van.

“Hey kid take it easy with that soda. You will need it much later” the guard warned him.

“It’s okay. I am cool.”

The gravity of where he was heading hadn’t sunk in yet to his thick skull. He acted as if he was going to the camp site for camping.

After thirty minutes of walking and perspiring in the heat and humidity of the desert, he sighted some birds in a distance. They were vultures eating on a dead carcass. He felt like throwing up. The vultures did not move an inch as he walked nearer. The road was dusty. Whirlwinds erupted every now and then and he had to shut his eyes tightly as the whirl winds gushed towards him.

As he approached the vultures, the vultures started advancing towards Shenni. Shenni turned back. He had no radio, he had no phone. There was nobody and no help in sight. He began to run towards the gate, and the vultures went back to continue with their business. He must have ran for about five minutes when he saw from the direction of the gate, a truck racing towards him, raising dust and adding to the already humid conditions. The truck flew past him despite all his attempts to flag the truck down. He thought “darn, this is cruel.”

He removed his shirt and began to head back in the direction of life. “Walk straight down till you meet life” reverberated to him. He had lost about ten valuable minutes of walking time. He had lost energy. He had lost more fluid. There was no supply in sight. He was parched. He felt like he was going to collapse and but he didn’t want to be meat for those vultures. He thought about how mean, the folks here were. No one cared, even the truck that drove past in such a hurried insanity.

He was totally drenched in perspiration. He thought that the truck would have driven the vultures away. That idea propelled him to trot on. When he arrived the scene, the vultures were off the carcass though nearby in a tree, perching on top and watching over the debris of the meal. He decided to walk as far away as possible from the meal before the vultures would misinterpret his moves and come for him.  As soon as he walked past, he made a sign of the cross and moved on.

He stopped and calculated his breathing. There was no life in sight. There was no sound in sight. Even an animal at this stage would be a welcomed development. Some life, some form. He could not handle the level of desertion he was facing. He panted and bent forward and dropped his rucksack on the dusty road. He looked down on the red soil and saw what seemed like a bug. What a relief he thought, some friendly life.

“Come here little buddy. You and I are going to be buds. My name is Shenni, what’s yours?”

The little creature scurried away and hid its head in a little burrow in the sand.

“No man, you ain’t going nowhere. I need a bud with me on this journey. You know this terrain more than I do, so I need some company.”

He dug his fingers into the red soil and brought the bug out. He cleaned it and put it on his palm and allowed it to familiarize itself with its new habitat. Just as the creature was about to reach the cliff of his outstretched palm, he clutched it, picked up his bag and continued walking.

“Hey Mr. B, we are going to find some life. I was told to walk straight on till I meet life. I don’t know how long I have been walking for, but I am happy I have you as a bud.”

That whirlwind came again and he needed to protect his face from the dust. He lost Mr. B in the process and he felt so sad. Mr. B perhaps was happy to escape his jail house and to be free from his captor.

From a distance that same truck seemed to be returning. Shenni made up his mind that he would stand in the middle of the road and stop the truck. If the truck hit him, it would be for a noble cause, fighting for survival.

He stood in the middle of the road and raised his two hands. The driver was gassing down as if he did not exist. His heart was pounding now. Of what use was he anyways. If he got knocked down, then, at least the torture would be over. Then the guy screeched to a halt just five inches short of him. As soon as he went out of the way to walk to the driver’s seat, the car screeched off and left him in a frustrated state.

He couldn’t imagine what he had just witnessed. He sat down on the road side. He was lost in time. He didn’t have a phone, or watch, nothing at all to show time or direction. Would his friend, Mr. Google, have been of any assistance here? He now looked at the sun as it began its final descent for the night. He stood up, gathered his rucksack and started the upward trek to meet life.

He must have walked for about seven kilometres when he met a herd of camel crossing the road. There was no shepherd in sight and the camels seemed to know where they were going. One particular camel stopped and looked at him. It did not move with the rest of the crowd.

“Hey buddy.”

The camel kept staring at him.

“I lost my buddy about three hours ago. It wasn’t as big as you but was a companion nonetheless. I am tired. I have to keep walking till I meet life. This is the second life I have met that is friendly.”

The camel snorted and kicked the sand raising some dust, then it settled down on the floor.

“Hey buddy thanks for stopping for me.”

The camel nuzzled.

Shenni held the neck of Mettuh and gave it some embrace. The camel groaned and kept still. Shenni climbed on the camel’s back and Mettuh stood up and began to walk in the direction where Shenni was going. First it took Shenii to a well where Shenni was able to drink some water. He drank like he had never drank water before. Mettuh growled and Shenni was worried. “Don’t drink in such a haste and hurry. There is plenty water in the well”, the camel said to him.

He slowed down and drank some more. He felt bloated, he was hungry and starving.

Mettuh laid down again on the floor and Shenni climbed on top of Mettuh. They began to walk in the direction of life. The instruction he was given at the gate came back “walk straight down until you meet life.”

Uwem Mbot Umana©2019

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16 Comments

  • Tomioluwaleye Posted July 29, 2020 11:02 am

    when you Walk and read straight down till you meet life. You know how things work

    A captivating tale that does not only describe the journey of a young boy (Shenni) but also reveal the ups and downs in human’s life. Talking about how difficult the journey was including the disappointment from the truck driver, loneliness, a short lived friendship with the bug and finally mettuh that eventually assisted him out from the mess.

    what worked well in the story is the fact that the writer perfectly related Shenni’s arduous condition in the desert to his resistance to several warnings from his mother and the guard, the irrelevant junks and his wasteful usage of his soda drink respectively.

  • Marcus-Philemon Omotayo Posted July 19, 2020 11:21 pm

    I like the sorry because it teaches us not to give up in any situation.
    What worked well in the story was that Shenni found a friend that he could continue the journey with and that was Mettuh the camel.
    What I liked the most was that the camel carried him at the right time when he was tired and also he led him to a well to get water.
    What caught my attention the most was how the camel became friends with Shenni even though they had never met before and it could speak.
    What the writer should have done differently was to tell us how Shenni got to be dropped at the beginning of the story.
    The story even though it seemed scary makes us to know life can sometimes be rough and you have to face it.

  • Eseme Lilian Posted July 19, 2020 10:30 pm

    the story shows us the unexpected end of a journey that a young man embarked on with no guide line apart from a phrase. Keep walking until you meet life.

    What worked well in the story was the drive and determination of the young man to keep going,Even though it did seem as if he was not going to make it.

    what I like the most In the story was that the Carmel became so friendly with Shenni, even though they’ve never met before, the Camel still stopped by and was willing to help Shenni with a lift,water to quench his taste, and keep him company through his journey.

    What caught my attention the most was that there was no other perslon coming or going to and from Shenni’s direction which made it more difficult and risky for him.

    What the writer should have done differently was to tell us what triggered Shenni’s ambition to go on such a journey, his mission, and if there where other people ahead of Shenni and how they made it over to the end of their journey.

  • Joel-Levi Omotayo Posted July 19, 2020 10:02 pm

    Shenni seemed to have embarked on an unending journey but was determined to get there anyhow even dohee did not seem to see or imagine what the end of the of the road looked like as the journey looked quite discouraging and scary he kept moving on.
    What worked well in the story was that just at the point when he was completely worn out he saw a herd of camels and one of them stopped and took him to a well where he drank enough water .
    What I like the most what is the ditermination and courage.
    What caught my attention the most in the story was that after shenni came in contact with many scary vultures and almost gave up and also the disappointing encounters he had with the driver of the truck not picking him up on the Highways remembering his watch word walk straight down to the meet life.
    The story points to us can be a real puzzle at times but you just have to keep doing things and work hard to achieve your goals in life in spite of what you have to pass through to be successful.
    What the writer should have done differently was to tell us who Shenni is and what led him to have end up going to the Dahfra Correctional facility and why he was not given enough assistance to get him to his final destination.

  • Ogunyomi Joseph olumide Posted July 19, 2020 9:44 pm

    Walk straight down till you meet life.

    A captivating tale that does not only describe the journey of a young boy (Shenni) but also reveal the ups and downs in human’s life. Talking about how difficult the journey was including the disappointment from the truck driver, loneliness, a short lived friendship with the bug and finally mettuh that eventually assisted him out from the mess.

    what worked well in the story is the fact that the writer perfectly related Shenni’s arduous condition in the desert to his resistance to several warnings from his mother and the guard, the irrelevant junks and his wasteful usage of his soda drink respectively.

    what I like most in the story is Shenni’s optimism and perseverance. At first he turned down helpful advices from his mother and the guard which later cost him his energy, resulting into fatigue, starvation etcetera. Now he has learnt his lesson, he does not want to depend on his own philosophy alone anymore and that was why he decided to use whatever came his way as a propeller in getting his unknown promise land. The vultures seemed to be an obstruction and so he avoided them during the second approach by keeping enough distance.

    what caught my attention the most was the relationship between Shenni and Mr B (the bug), Shenni’s was excited about the company the bug gave which made me have the feeling that “this young man (shenni) finally find something that will accompany him to the place where life lies”. although the bug was probably not interested in the friendship but his interest did not matter, what mattered most was the company it provided. I read further more only to discover dat Shenni eventually lost the bug to the whirlwind .

    the writer should have emphasised more on the “life”, what life are we talking about in particular? , Shenni met series of lives i.e the bug, mettuh and even the water from d well but yet after all the journey still continued with the hope of meeting life.

  • Kalu Chisom Joel Posted July 19, 2020 7:27 pm

    Walk Straight Down Till you Meet Life is a story that correctly depicts life in general ; we are Shenni and Shenni is us. This story is akin to a parable in the sense that each encounter or thought Shenni faced or had have a deeper meaning when connected to life itself. The trials and tribulations he experienced are representative of the numerous problems man faces as he moves through the earth.
    Beginning from the onset, you see Shenni bearing a “huge rucksack” and a “water bottle” while remembering his mother’s words of advice. He ultimately decides to veto his mother’s advice and do what he feels is right, citing reasons as well. This is significant in the sense that a lot of people in your life will give you advice, wanting what is best for you but ultimately, the buck stops at your desk ; it’s your choice and if you feel that the advice being given to you isn’t the best for you, it’s fine to do what suits you best as you wear the shoe and know how best to make yourself comfortable.
    On the other hand, you see Shenni dismiss the advice of the guard to conserve his soda and as the story goes on, he evidently pays dearly for it; he is unaware of the problems that lie ahead of him.
    Shenni fleeing from the vultures only to go back and face them and lose time as well is a reflection of the times we as humans have problems and do not face them head on. Running from your problems is never the answer as is evidenced here, with the added negative of losing valuable time and energy also laid bare for us to see.
    I put Mr B (the bug), Mettuh the camel and the truck under the bracket of people we meet across our stay here on earth. Mr B represents those who we force ourselves on but evidently don’t want us in their lives. Though Shenni was sad he lost Mr B, he let it go. We also must leave those who feel we are imposing ourselves on them and do not appreciate our presence in their lives as we will be better off in future than them.
    The camel represents those few people out of the many people we encounter in our life who help us in times of need, whether we have something to offer them or not. They are the friends who will stay with you through thick and thin and shall stand by you always.
    The truck that didn’t stop to help Shenni the first time represents those people in our lives who regardless of how handicapped we are financially or physically, refuse to help us in our times of need. The truck that did stop but left at the first opportunity is reflective of those who when we ask for help, promise to help us but do nothing, rather leaving us high and dry in our moment of need.
    Once again, we are Shenni and Shenni is us. Let us endeavour to learn from his mistakes and be better people in life; we would be the better for it.
    A beautiful and thought provoking read giving insight into the heart of man.

  • Paul Elakhe Posted July 19, 2020 8:55 am

    The story is a factual prose with a small blend of fiction describing Shenni’s solo journey to an undisclosed destination to meet life. “Walk straight down till you meet life” was the only instruction he was given. He was probably a new cadet or military recruit reporting for training. He walked along a lonely path, where there was no trains or cars, he wandered within the maze of empty faces, with a muteness held in the air, overcome with silence of words not said, he was lost, lonely and frightened, with no life in sight, walking to cover a path unknown and moving to a fate untold, with vultures waiting for their next meal. He was running a distance not measured, presumably a path that dictates him walking alone, his stroll through that path was perhaps a test, a test that was truly torturous, no wonder the driver of the truck didn’t stop to pick him. His expedition was like a military welcome into a life of discipline and severity. Wow!!! The plot was dramatic and believable, the beginning was crafted charmingly and the story ended with a lingering impression.

    I love the writer’s style of of stringing words together, formulating ideas, and relating scenes and images to the minds of the readers.This writing is a proof that stories generally do not really have an ending, It is just the place where the writer chooses to stop, because I was hankering to know Shenni’s destination. I also liked the fact that, the story reminds me of my experience at the military base in Kaduna Nigeria, where I had to walk straight down till I saw life just like Shenni. The conditions of the path were similar: there were no cars or truck to land me at my destination, the wind stirred up the wispy sand and the sun’s never ending rays beat down on me mercilessly, salty sweat rolled off my body, my clothing was overwhelmingly hot and sticky. The stiff, dry desert breeze blew sand into my eyes and my lips were chapped and dry, longing for crystal cold water. Shenni’s desert experience was relatable and has been a familiar terrain for me

    I was stunned by the action of the truck driver when Shenni cried for help. His action was indisputablely deliberate. Maybe there was a law that prohibits him from helping, who knows? Nonetheless, the story shows that; if you must stand for your dreams, you must embark on a lonely journey just like Shenni, where you alone is responsible for it’s attainment.

    The story is a heroic experience of a young man, Shenni who was oblivious of the complexity of a simple instruction that says; “walk straight down till you meet life” . Hmm!!Simplicity is indeed not simple. Although his once dull, lifeless void was filled with colour and abundance when he finally saw Mettuh the camel, who led him to a well and backed him on his journey to meet life. It was excellently written but the story should have ended with a revelation of this unknown destination called life.

  • Yemi Adebiyi Posted July 18, 2020 11:33 pm

    Shennis patience and endurance was put to test in the tale. It was a correctional measure to help thecyoug protagonist.. He met many lives along the way ,the truck driver. The bug, the vulture and the camel. None of these expect the Carmel , Mettuh, tried to ease his pain and met his needs in the desert. Some life’s are not life – it is not everybody that one meets that have the milk of human kindness in them. A philosophical tale

  • Aimée Posted July 18, 2020 10:50 pm

    Walk straight down till you meet life. This story is a clear description of what life is. Most of us don’t know what lies ahead for us in this life. For Shenni, he had no idea of what his journey would be like. His mum told him to drop his junk but he insisted they would be needed on his journey.

    What really worked well was the writer’s ability to display different personalities we encounter on life’s journey. Some would breeze past you like you don’t even exist (the truck driver), some will be waiting to take glory in your downfall (the vultures), you might even interrupt people’s journey by trying to build relationships of some sort (the bug) while others would be willing to take a pause in their journey to help you complete yours (the camel, Mettuh). This goes to show that everyone has a different path to thread in life. No one knows what this journey holds and the kind of people we would meet along the way but be sure to find your path and walk in it.

    What caught my attention was the fact that people can be wicked in this life, and the writer was able to portray that point. Shenni was desperate for any help he could get at that time, the sight of the moving truck felt like hope. At last, he could stop walking under the hot sun . But to think that the truck would have stopped for him. Even when he stood in the middle of the road, the driver still drove off. This only shows that not everyone is put in your path to help you. What is yours will come for you and you will eventually meet the right people that will help you get to your destination.

    What I liked the most was Shenni’s perseverance. He did not know where he was going but those words kept ringing in his mind, “walk straight down till you meet life”. His environment was very uncomfortable, the weather was brutal, his journey was a lonely one but he kept walking. He found different aspects of life but the question was “are they the right people for me”. He could have given up and turned back but he kept pushing til he found Mettuh who stopped his journey to help Shenni continue his path. As a lesson to everyone, whatever path we are on, we should keep walking, with a goal in mind and not give up despite who might show up on the journey (it could be a truck driver, a bug, vultures or even Mettuh) but be like Shenni, who held on to those words and kept walking. Don’t let life’s circumstances break your determination to achieve your goal.

    The writer should have told us where Shenni was coming from. Also, what life exactly was Shenni supposed to meet if he had encountered the bug, vultures, truck driver and Mettuh. The writer should have told us what happened afterwards in his journey with Mettuh to find ‘life’.

    An interesting story everyone could learn from. A big thumbs up to the writer👍

  • Elnathan Posted July 18, 2020 6:21 pm

    *whatever we want to achieve in life

  • Elnathan Posted July 18, 2020 6:19 pm

    This story was so interesting that I wished it could never end. Shenni had a lot of confidence in his mother’s words “Walk straight down till you meet life”. He had a good quality of perseverance and was very eager to achieve his goal. I was very happy when the driver of the vehicle stopped for Shenni to get in, but to my surprise when he was about to get in the driver drove off. This saddened my heart and made me feel sorry for Shenni, but when he met the camel that was eager to help, a smile lit across my face and the feeling of fear of the death of Shenni left me.
    Perseverance is a good quality that we should aim to have, because it serves as a driving force that helps us to achieve whatever we want to achieve on life.
    I wish I could finish up the story.

  • Kosi Nwobi Posted July 18, 2020 2:05 pm

    Walk straight down till you meet life was quite a read.

    The short story is more of a lesson to individuals.
    Shenni, a young man, ignorant of the journey to be embarked on went unprepared. Shenni was determined on finding life although didn’t have a clear understanding of “Life”. He figured it was human life he’d expect only on the journey and was very disappointed when it didn’t happen as expected.

    The question between “do I continue or give up?” posed a struggle to Shenni as do most individuals of today. Giving up seems like an easy way out when going through a lot but perseverance still works.

    Shenni was a strong minded/stubborn individual who didn’t take advice from anyone. His mother initially warned him of the junk he carried but he didn’t listen.
    The guard also warned him but it was of no use to him. “The gravity of where he was heading hadn’t sunk yet” (writer’s words).
    On this journey, the character’s played different roles.
    The van driver was all about himself and didn’t plan on helping anyone.
    The vultures are individuals that didn’t care a bit of anything, they waited for his fall. They are only happy when eating carcass.
    The bug was happy where it was and Shenni comes along forcing it to go his own path. Not everyone has the same path on this journey of life.
    Mettuh (the camel) was the most accommodating. It took a break from its own journey to help Shenni. Mettuh had a clear understanding of “Life” (it didn’t move with the rest of the crowd) and offered a hoof.
    The help Shenni got eventually wasn’t what he planned. Like how would a camel (animal life) be the companion he needed? He tried earlier on with human life and it failed.
    Most times in life, the help we get comes from individuals we least expected.

    The writer should have given a background of Shenni and explained the world he lived in whether it’s real or fantasy (the talking camel). In the end, it was worth the read.

    Cheers to the writer.

  • Ruby-Elizabeth Posted July 18, 2020 12:22 am

    Shenni’s youthful ignorance of the place he was going and lack of preparation for what lay ahead was evident and unsurprising. This is because, it’s only when we’ve been through an ordeal that is enough to break an average man do we fully understand life and put things in perspective.

    The conflict in Shenni between the will to keep on moving and the frustration to just end it all is a battle that many people face in their lifetime. It’s easy to give up on life when we’re going through what seems like hell. It takes a great force of will to keep moving despite the setbacks.

    What caught my attention was that the reality of Shenni’s situation seemed a lot similar to my own. Shenni was in a desert looking for a hand to hold, looking for an interaction with another living being. It’s easy to feel that same level of isolation even in a place that’s bustling with life.

    The writer should’ve focused more on giving us a fully realized character. We never understand who Shenni is as a person. Also, he should’ve focused more on showing us rather than telling us what was happening. E.g. The writer should’ve shown us that Shenni doesn’t listen to instruction rather than tell us in a throwaway line that he has a “thick skull”. Due to this, Shenni’s character is underdeveloped. Furthermore, the writer should’ve also focused more on building the world and helping the reader to understand the world and the rules that govern it. E.g. The writer should’ve explained that the world that Shenni lives in is not like our world and may have been mere fantasy. This is because the camel spoke. Why did the camel speak?
    The story forces the reader to make leaps in logic and assumptions that detracted from experiencing it fluidly. E.g. Shenni arrived at a “correctional facility” at the beginning of the story and yet somehow found himself in the desert. This made little sense.
    The story lacked any sort of resolution and ended abruptly.

  • Boluwatife Dahunsi Posted July 17, 2020 7:13 pm

    Walk Straight Down Till You Meet Life

    Wow! Lovely! Interesting!

    This is a really intriguing and enthralling piece. Cemented with too many deep lines that centers on the credulity of life that can only be visible through much careful mediation.

    The writer deserves much credibility for this amazing piece; how he was able to create a vivid picture of the state of loneliness some people go through, through words, sentences, and paragraphs is no mean feat any random writer can do, and him being able to create a humour out of Shenni’s companionless joining to finding life really worked well; what with his determined (Shenini) determined resolve to being pals with an uninterested bug.

    Reminiscing on this story again, I can’t but to stop and wonder about the loving nature of animals, especially that of Mettuh the cattle. Come to think of its animals are best companion at times, they form faithful pets. But, seeing Mettuh choice to abandon his family, irrespective of tribe, spices, nature is something I can’t help but marvel about. Again, what caught my attention was the sensitivity of camel in telling Shenini not to be too hasty in drinking water at the well, that there is enough in it – at times, we’re too hasty, too much in a hurry, too busy in accomplishing certain tasks that we often forget caution and overdo things that makes us miss important stuff that matters most. As in the case of Shenini, he could have shocked from drinking the water in a hurry, it could lead to stultifying of his breath had it not been for the timely caution of talking Mettuh. – It’s one thing to have a friend, and another to have a friend that is always watching one’s back, always at the rear to call one to order when he is overdoing things – the Mettuh kind of friend.

    I think the writer should have either been more versatile with the title of the story or should have been more conspicuous about pinpointing what the “meeting life” entails. If coming across a herd of cattles, and becoming friend with a rather sensitive and talking one in a deserted place is not “meeting life” I don’t know what else is.

    Generally, “Walk Straight Down Till You Meet Life” is a very good story, and it’s one of the best thought provoking story I’ve read this year, so far. A story with more inept, deeper meaning of this kind; I would be very much delighted if this story can be adapted to a short movie, and it would be a much more greater joy seeing this story on screen.

  • Bamidele Mary Posted July 17, 2020 5:18 pm

    Forming an opinion about this story actually posed a challenge initially but then reading through the lines I have to laud the writer’s ability in creating quite a stark contrast between the cruel or inhumane attitude of that “crazy truck/car driver”, compared with the little bug and the camel who took a break from their own adventures to keep Shenni company, make his walk less of a burden, and jovial.

    When those soldiers instructed Shenni to walk straight down till he meets life, and he was actually on the lookout for humans like him that would lend a helping hand, help him through his ordeal in the dessert, he had no idea that a human like him would ignore his call for help blatantly, while mere animals were the ones who gave him “life” by offering a taste of companionship, which is the heartbeat of us all as social animals who crave for love, attention, and companionship.

    The loving act of the animals; the bug, especially the Camel caught my attention, I mean one can literally compare this part of the story to the tale of the “good Samaritan”, that Samaritan was of a different tribe and religion entirely but he took a break from his own sojourn and rendered help within his means to that helpless man lying on the road, compared to his kinsmen who merely ignored him. This was what the Camel, Mettu, did exactly, so selfless!

    I think this story “Walk down till you meet life” has a deep meaning, deeper than the plotline.

    Kudos to the writer!

  • Haniel Ukpaukure Posted July 17, 2020 12:56 pm

    WALK STRAIGHT DOWN TILL YOU MEET LIFE

    1. Shenni’s tenacity and ability to remain focused in his resolve to get to his destination, despite frustrations, like the truck driver’s refusal to give him a ride, and not being scared by a topography that looked like the end of the earth.
    2. The writer’s ability to paint a picture with words, which fires the imagination and makes the story interesting to read.
    3. Mettu’s recognition of what Shenni needs most, which is to get to his destination with minimal further stress, and his willingness to abandon his mates to provide that need.
    4. The writer should have kept to the instruction Mettu was given at the gate to “walk straight down” until he met life, which also forms the title of the story, rather than help him to get there on Mettu’s back.

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