My life is empty. It’s broken. Meaningless.

Day after day, I stand here, amidst this dirt and filth, gazing at the students walking to and fro, their smiles so full of vibrancy, their voices so full of vitality. I used to run like them, I used to laugh like them, I used to live like them. Sometimes, their laughter drenches me with bittersweet nostalgia, but other times, it feels like a mockery of my anguish. It is like they are taunting me, and the agony is excruciating, almost unbearable, like having a thousand heartless daggers penetrate my mind.

Now, after all these decades of standing here, I have become no more than an inanimate object.

I would have escaped a lifetime ago, but I am lashed onto the earth, like a powerless prisoner. My body is mantled with a layer of dirt and dust, the saffron on my skin gradually fading away and peeling off to reveal the crimson beneath. My once-crisp white hat is now covered in fulvous rust, and my lifeless limbs are tied to the ground by merciless chains, my feet sewn into the dirt beneath me, pinned down by screws and nails.

I can’t seem to recall how I wound up here – the memories are like shattered pieces of a painting sinking through a bottomless lake, fleeting further away with every passing moment. Sometimes, I have these flashes of remembrance, but they are ephemeral and distorted, as if I were perceiving the memory through a tapestry of broken glass. I can’t quite see it, I can’t quite reach it, I can’t quite grasp it, but I know it’s there.

I used to wonder what life would be like, the person I would be, if I weren’t this helpless prisoner. But I stopped dreaming about that a long time ago, because those dreams are nothing more than fragments of impossibility.

My worth, my humanity, my life. It’s all locked away in an unreachable chasm that doesn’t even exist.

And without it, what am I?

Nothing but a pile of ashes.

Nothing but a perished flame.

Nothing but a barren wasteland