She squinted through the hand-lens of her makeshift camera, and followed the golden stairway descending down all the way to the wet Earth. She was wearing her favorite pink pajamas and blue T-shirt she always wore the second day of her stay.
It was a part of a set of dress that had been kept aside in the Narnian wooden wardrobe, in her ancestral home. She remembers the day she had discovered her Narnia, right behind this house —much before the CS Lewis one.
She hadn’t gone there in a long time,and after the death of her Grandpa, she stopped her rare one day visits too.
She walked further into the woods, the damp mud covering her feet, taking in long aromas of the rain.
She could hear a familiar faint melody, and she rushed back towards the house. Just as she was about to step into it, through the backdoor, she felt a tight slap on her left wrist —which was at the hinge of the door.
“Where are your manners? Wash your feet before you step into my house.” said Grandpa.
She runs off to wash her feet under a tap,and rushed into the house with a glee. Grandpa gives her a stern look before slightly smiling to himself.
She was busy playing video games with her cousins at dinner—her mother running around with a plate feeding her. Then it was time to sleep. She could barely see her face in the mirror atop the washbasin. After she was done brushing her teeth, she jumped — barely managing to see a fragment of her face for a second. It was Grandpa’s mirror.
She squiggled into the bed between her cousins and closed her eyes. Mosquitos kept sucking the blood off her,and she managed to kill a few in her sleep. Then she fell into deep sleep.
She was wearing a pretty black dress,and standing at the centre of something, but there was too much smoke in the air for her to ascertain. She looked up at what looked like a glimmery moon in the night sky, rotating at a high speed; her mouth exhausting clouds of smoke into it. She was in the middle of a crowd of zombies,moving with great random rhythm —strangers.
Or were they?
The music slapped her eardrums,and she almost lost her balance for a while. All around her were people,throwing their bodies at the music against the glimmery lights, like lightning piercing the night. She stared so hard into blurred faces, searching rigorously for some glimpse of recognition.
As the music dropped to a distant subconscious level, she felt a vague sensation of elevation; her body moved involuntarily as it wished. She walked backwards slowly, drifting away from the crowd, when a voice absorbed her back with great force.
“Where do uh think you’re going?”
A hand slipped around her waist, pulling her closer to a handsome face. She was unable to observe his features further, but she did feel her lips break into a smile. She danced. Danced like a three year old, as if nobody else were around. She jumped, and revolved. She flipped her head in all possible directions, her hair defying gravity. Tired she walked away, and took a seat. The guy followed, and asked her wha she’d like to have. She failed to recollect the last time people around her had been so nice to her. This new kindness from a stranger, which she couldn’t completely digest,made her suspicious. Did she know him? Were they together?
A random girl walked upto her with a glass, and started talking, as the curtains slowly went down.
She woke up with a start, and still could feel the foggyness in her head. She was on the cold floor with part of her blanket. She was panting.
Her eyes finally adjusted to the darkness around her, and she gradually recognized her room. She held her head in her hands for a second, confirming that it was indeed where it should be. She let out a long sigh, a loud whisper in the dusty silence.
She dragged herself up, kicking out the blanket entangled to her feet. The night lamp shed an eerie shadow of yellow in her room and she swept up the blanket, which had dutifully followed her as she fell from her bed. She swallowed mouthfuls of water as she sat on her bed, trying to recollect her dream.
But she didn’t remember anything, not even the part where she rolled down. She stared into the ceiling of her room, pulling up the blanket upto her eyes. Weird, she thought, or perhaps she meant interesting. The fan just went round and round. It was least bothered about whether she was still on her bed or not, whether she was still breathing or not.
It just went on and on, as long as it was fed with electricity.
Round and round and round.
Round and round.
She had to blink at least five times to be able to see anything at all, like when you stare into a tubelight for an undisrupted minute. She struggled to keep her eyes open. Her mortar skills were completely dead, yet she discovered her body was in motion. She could hear the wail of a white van.
She spotted red scratches on the van, and a few blots on a hand. A random force had transported her into the white van, which was becoming more white every moment. The wailing confused her — at one moment it was unbearable, and the very next it was barely there. Just when she would stop searching for the noise, it would blare into her ears.
A while later, a force similar to the previous one, perhaps stronger, deported her to a mobile platform. There were a lot of shuffling around her — she was not sure whether they were people or paper. A cool breeze blew her hair, but part of her hair seemed to be stuck to her forehead.
Then somebody — there were probably more than one person — swooshed her through a long neverending road. Like a train passing by another train. But she was not sure anymore if she was the stationary train or the one in motion.
Then she saw the sun. In a room. A bulb?
The sun melted into concentric patterns,and she heard somebody say, “We’re losing her…..nu…”
Is this my end?
The separation. The confusion. The many questions in her head.
She let out a big sigh, and opened the terrace door. She could hear it on the other side of the door. It was time, she decided, to meet her best friend. Again.
As she walked over to the edge that held the view, it softened. There was an awkward silence amidst it’s rhythm. It was sad.
Had she ignored her best friend? Had she simply watched as her best friend was being poisoned; corroded? A little each day. Had she failed to be a true friend; or even a good one? Had she chosen not to be bothered when her best friend helplessly became something it was not? Forced and imposed on it? Had she forgotten all those times her best friend was there for her? By her side?
A drop rolled down her cheek, parallel to her tear. With great effort, she finally managed to speak.
“No means no. It is too slippery over there, and you will stay inside the house.”, said her mother firmly.
That was the first time she had been prevented from playing in the rain. Her neighbour had had a bad fall the day before, as the continuous rains made the neighbourhood slippery.
She was sad, so much that she was almost at tears. But as she stuck her head to the window, her friend reassured her : Better luck next time.
Another day, it had been the fear of acid rain. How can my friend harm me?, she wondered. She asked. A drop fell on her right eye, and rolled down. She had to wait days, looking out the window, before her friend finally returned.
But all of these were mere temporary restrictions. The real one came when she was sent away to hostel for her higher secondary education. She was absolutely banned from playing in the rain, and the barely got the chance to meet her friend. These rare occasions were followed by sessions where the wardens would scold her so badly that even the drops would shudder.
And then, little by little she got so much into that vicious circle of life, she no longer waited at the window. No longer searched the skies.
She woke up early in the morning, died, and came back to life after she realised she had mistaken the chair to be a stranger in her room. She opened the blinds just enough to let her desired amount of sunlight rush in.
Amaya was between The Great Wall of China – her father, and the Fortress – her mother. Both were sound asleep, but she was wide awake. It was Sunday – her play day, the only day when she woke up on time, while her mother happily slept. But play was nowhere in her mind. Somebody was grumbling, and she was very sure that it was not her tummy.
The noise was coming from beyond the Great Wall, and she slowly peeked over it. And there, at the door of her bathroom stood a shabby Sand Monster, growling angrily, or maybe hungrily – she could not tell.
“Amma! Amma! Wake up. There is a Monster in our bathroom. It will eat us.” , she cried.
“There are no monsters Amu, come here.” , said her sleepy mother, and pulled Amaya closer to her.
However reassuring the gesture had been, she could still see it’s hand extend out to get the three of them. It could step out of the bathroom anytime.
And then there was a loud crash, followed by a heavy downpour – overwhelming every other noise. She peeked over the Fortress, at the window, as the drops catapulted over the window to reach her.
The bathroom was empty once again. She went back to sleep with a smile, mentally jotting down that Sand Monsters are scared of her best friend.