I remember that old door;
the one that used to fling open with the wind.
Grandma would hastily rush to close it.
She always told me how my parents
would be alive if that evening the door was closed.
We lived in an ancient nook of an anonymous city,
obscured from the world.
It all seems black and white now;
like a 60s movie that we would watch together
and grandma would ask me to explain the story.
I remember grandma’s hands,
they were soft with loose skin but they always held my hand so tight.
She used to smile and you could see her front teeth were
half-chipped from having fallen from a guava tree as a kid.
She used to comb my unkempt hair
which she called as rough as abandoned wild grass
that used to grow in the jungles of Ranigunj, now a coalfield.
I comb it twice a day now to feel less forlorn.
The bedtime tales she spun always made me laugh.
She would clear her throat and say
“The Dark gnaws at this world,
turning the sky red, ink blue, and then black.
its claws reach for the moon and break it in half.
It knocks on your windows and doors
creating shadows. But, never answer.
It whispers insidiously, casting spells that put children to sleep.
Listen closely, and you will hear it.
Hush now or you will have a bad dream.”
Nowadays, after the indefatigable work,
I come home to empty rooms and microwaved food.
I sit at the window and I look the Dark in the eye
because I have seen uglier demons
creep behind me even in broad daylight.
The ticking of the clock makes me dreary.
I leave the bedroom door open behind me
as I climb into bed because claustrophobia
is more haunting than ghosts.
I often wake up in the middle of the night,
to find that it is closed.
(Some doors never close.)
This piece has been authored by Paridhi Poddar. She is a seventeen-year-old student studying at Modern High School for Girls, Kolkata. She is trying to come to terms with the world and when she cannot, she builds a world of her own with ink. She believes that the clicking of keyboards and typewriters is as cathartic as music.