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When we moved out of my childhood home in the summer of 2009, I was 13. Moving into an apartment was an exciting idea- a new house, new neighbourhood, new room, new furniture, a new fan whose blades would move fast enough to produce sufficient breeze, and a place to play in the evenings.

Old houses are dark, the wooden staircases and high ceilings and leaky faucets are the perfect environment for horror movie settings. As a kid I was positive that it was haunted. All the more reason to be happy about leaving.

After finishing my second year of college, I came back home for two months of rest and re energizing myself. On my way to one such day of re energizing, my car stopped in front of my old house due to traffic. My house was still there, the same maroon and green plastered walls, the large wooden panels covering the windows, the small grill gates and dark green doors. Suddenly I wanted to see more. I rolled down the window and leaned out to look at the second and third floors. The creepers breaking out of the hundred year old structure. The only form of life in the now abandoned house. Suddenly my chest felt heavy- like the money plant was trying to break out of me instead of the bricks- and a sob escaped my mouth. I could feel the salty taste of a tear that rolled down my face. I blinked a few times and my nose started to itch, like when one has a bad cold. As the car started moving once more, I looked out, stretching my neck out of the window as much as I could, and I could see the balcony, which used to be mine, the room where I was protected from the monsters if I had my stuffed chimpanzee sleeping with me and my blanket covering my feet no matter the season. The home, where my mother and I had spent days and nights waiting for my father to return from his stay in Germany. Suddenly I wanted to get off the car- it was suffocating inside. Like being stuffed inside a box with no escape. I wanted to run- press the rewind button and go back to the memories that was my childhood. I felt ashamed and stupid for being so irrational. It was just a house- your childhood is over anyway; stop being dramatic- I told myself. But I knew that I was lying to myself. My memories were fading- my palms started to sweat and I could feel a chilling sensation down my spine- how could one feel so hot and cold at the same time? I miss home ma- I whispered, so that only my mother could here me. Somehow she knew what I was talking about. She held my hands and I could feel my chest pounding against my skin less and less.

We came back to our house after eating out and I rushed to my room. My insides were trying to escape from my body. And my heart wanted to go back home. This wasn’t home- all I did here was eat, sleep, study and watch tv. What kind of memories was I collecting from this house- there was nothing worth keeping. I looked around my room and saw only a desk, a cupboard and a bookshelf with books I hadn’t touched in years and a cardboard box where my toys had being lying dead for years- and I burst into tears. There was a knock on my door- it was my mother, holding what looked like a really large spiral bound book. She sat down next to me and handed it over. It was filled with pictures from my childhood. My very first steps the first day of school and all my best and worst moments captured and preserved forever. My head suddenly filled up with the most colourful memories, which I thought I had forgotten. I was still crying, but some of the tears were happy ones. I closed my eyes and tried to picture every crack in my house and cover every inch of it- I could feel something build up inside of me- how could sadness be so happy and happiness so sad? It was like watching your favorite movie over and over again without getting bored. I could smell the rusted windows during monsoon, hear the gulmohar tree rustling outside my window, my grandmother and great grand mother fighting about the lunch menu, the pandit chanting away during durga puja and the sound of the conch and the bell, my mother running down the stairs to open the door to my dad- home after years. And I felt light- not just my head or my feet- but my whole self. I felt like a child again- full of energy and eagerness, looking forward to endless possibilities. There was no burden on my shoulders, no responsibilities and no sorrow. I knew that this feeling was temporary, but somehow it was all I needed.

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I always know when a storm is coming. Whether am asleep, or reading or simply staring out of the window. I just know.

The feeling slowly crawls into me, like when one drops ink in water. It slowly spreads- and takes over my body.

And when that feeling completely engulfs me, I run to the nearest balcony or outside and wait. And soon enough I notice it. The sky, a reflection of my mind. The first drop of ink falls into it- a shade of violet. It starts to blend in with the blue- not a royal blue, but like the lightest shade in Van Gogh’s starry night painting, to form the most beautiful shade of amethyst. The two colours spread across the sky like the perfect couple, not knowing what awaits them. But I do, and I wait for it. Another colour drop is added- the sky his painting- it seems to confuse the amethyst, but there is still calm left. The colours start the process of trying to adjust and accept the new entry. They circle the orange, like prey, test it and finally go for the kill. The blood spreads and soon the sky is red, like the aftermath of a battlefield. God is still painting though, and what I’ve been waiting for is yet to come. A few more drops into the water- and the sky looks like a pallet after a painter has finished a painting he is really satisfied with.

And then suddenly I can feel it, my head is suddenly filled with so many different emotions that for a minute my mind goes blank- like it was a colour wheel that someone had given a good spin- my mind was white. And then what none of the colours was expecting happened- the evil witch who wasn’t invited entered the sky- slow but powerful. Everything she touched turned rotten. The sky looked like the water container at the end of a painting- after the brushes had been washed in it over and over again. It was ugly and beautiful and powerful, and it filled up the entire sky. Something had to be done. I could feel the galloping of a thousand horses inside my chest, and my mind filled up with the colour of dust the thousand hooves had unleashed. I was blinded. I tried to rub my eyes, but what was the use, when it was my mind that had been taken over by this blindness. And then it came, my savior. Brighter than the brightest star, as silver as foil. It attacked the evil with its bright light and sharp claws. The blackness started to squirm, like when someone flashes a bright yellow light on your face. The evil fell from the heavens onto earth in the form of a million droplets. Whatever it touched on its way made it more mortal and as soon as it touched the ground, it died. It was now merely a transparent liquid, having to take the shape, colour and texture of what it came in contact with. It had lost its greatness and had no identity.

I looked at the sky once more and my eyes reflected the blue and gold. And once again I was free, till the coming of the next storm.

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I woke up every morning to the to the smell of the moist floor of my world. I loved it, it was my coffee and I was instantly fresh and ready to start my day.

My World consisted of a space oh so beautiful!  It was filled with empty canvases on the shelves, and painted ones on all the walls.

My mother always told me how lucky I was. I’d never seen her, but I can feel her presence. Sometimes we talk. She lives on the other side of the door. “My side is a horrible place Maya,” she always said, when I wanted to open the door and run to the other side.

I had a paints, pastels in every colour possible. I loved to paint my world. The shelves, the little desk, the two chairs, the ceiling and my blue china plate with the little crack.

“What a beautiful world!” I thought. No wonder mother asks me to never look out of the window or open the door.

Windows are small openings to the other side, a dark and horrible world. My mother was forced to live there, but she has made sure that I never have to. My window is tightly shut and nailed so that the other side can never find me.

Mother sends me food through the gap between my floor and the door. Food is delicious and I can’t wait for food time. Sometimes I wish food time was more than once a day, but mother says that only greedy people hope that.

I love sunshine. There is something called a switch, and if you press it once, the sun shines brightly on my wall. Sometimes though, the sun dies, and I have to ask mother to send me a new one from under the door.

When I’m on the floor, ready to sleep, I often look up and stare at the window. It is a constant reminder of the horrible world outside and I can’t sleep. What if someone from the other world breaks the window and forces me to go with them? How will mother protect me?

How will she stop new ideas from taking over my mind?

 

I woke up today with a weird sensation in my stomach. I opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was the window. It was as evil as ever. “ I’ll have to ask mother to do something about it,” I thought. I cannot live like this; it ruins the beauty of my world.

I heard a knock on my door. I got up, stretched and walked up to my table. My china plate was on it. I took the plate and slid it under the door. Mother put food on it and slid it back to me.

“Mum,” I said, “Can you do something to my window please? It scares me when I switch of the sun.”

“How can I Maya?” she replied. “You know how scary the other world is! You’ll be fine.”

As she replied, I felt something I had never felt before. My chest felt heavy and started moving up and down really fast. I felt my fingers tightening around my palm and suddenly it came in contact with the wall and water started trickling down my face. “Oh my! I can produce water myself!” I thought. And until now, I’ve had to give up a day of food for it!

Suddenly I felt something hitting the window from the other side. Oh! No, its that time of the time again, the outside world trying to capture me. And then the smell. The most beautiful smell. Moist, and damp, like my floor, but so much better. This happened once a year. My mother calls it the monsoons. I should be frightened. That is a feeling my mother says everyone should feel, but the smell! This is the only time I want to see the other side. I mean something that smells like this cannot be horrible, can it?

And then another sensation I had never felt before started to engulf me. My head felt light and the left side of my chest started to hit me really fast from the inside of me. I stared at the window. “No, Maya, don’t.” I told my self. What was happening to me? I kept walking to the window, even though I didn’t want to. The beating inside me started to grow. What was that? I had never felt it before. Frightened, frightened, frightened. Feel frightened. Please, just feel frightened, but alas! What if someone from the other side had entered my body? Was it trying to gain control over me? Why was it beating inside of me? I walked all the way to the window. It was nailed shut. And that made my fingers curl up against my palm again. Don’t Mays, don’t. But I wouldn’t listen. I walked over to my chair, lifted it up and threw it at the window. The protection glass came shattering down. It broke into a million pieces and fell all over the place. I was frightened. Finally. But it was too late. I waited for the other side to enter and take me away, but nothing came. I hated the waiting. I wanted to get over with it. It was my fault anyway. I would miss my room, the paint and of course, the sun. But nothing happened. I felt the thud against my chest again. Oh no, I thought. I started to walk towards the window. I stood in front of it and stood on my toes.

I looked out of the window and gasped.

 

     “I am moved by fancies that are curled

     Around these images, and cling:

     The notion of some infinitely gentle

     Infinitely suffering thing.”