Creatures of the Dark

“I was scared of dentists and the dark.”

— Vance Joy, Riptide

When the sun sinks into the horizon and darkness blots the sky, familiar sounds begin to fade away, and fear slowly creeps into your mind. You might thank your dull imagination, but at a time like this, that’s no defence against the stillness of the night.

1

“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.”
― Terry Pratchett

Every summer, my siblings and I, would visit our hometown for the holidays. If the days were hot and dull; the nights were filled with nervous excitement. We’d spend some nights at our maternal grandparents’ ancestral house and the others — at our paternal grandparents’ house. Each house was different and each had a story of its own. The night made each story come true in our minds.

3

“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”
― Mark Twain

In a small town, night comes a lot sooner than you’d expect. We were happy to have the few street lights, on the empty winding road, to my maternal grandparents’ house. Back  then, before construction killed the trees, it was hard to find the red-tiled rooftop house with its flowered iron grills, stone well, and front garden. The house was surprisingly deceptive from the outside. It looked small and yet, had a lot many rooms. As kids, we weren’t allowed to enter all of them, and I, unlike my elder sister, never questioned why or found the courage to explore. When it rained, the lights went out, and the candles cast more shadows than light. We’d all sit together in one room and hope the shadows wouldn’t move or when we’d close our eyes — we’d remember that we’re asleep.

4

“Be hole, be dust, be dream, be wind/Be night, be dark, be wish, be mind,/Now slip, now slide, now move unseen,/Above, beneath, betwixt, between.”
― Neil Gaiman

My maternal grandparents’ house didn’t survive for long and after a while; our summers were only spent at my paternal grandparents’ house. Their house was relatively modern (it was rebuilt in the seventies) in comparison to the other house. It did have the characteristic red-tiled rooftop, flowered iron grill, stone well, and was surrounded by dense tree cover. During the day — my siblings and I — were invincible. We were explorers of the wild and untamed, green wonderland. At night, we’d transform into shy kittens, who wouldn’t move an inch without their parents.

5

“Maybe all the people who say ghosts don’t exist are just afraid to admit that they do.”
― Michael Ende

One summer, my aunt (my father’s elder sister) who lived in the house, told us (my sister and I) about occult rituals practiced by the neighbours, on the opposite side of the street. In the days that followed, we tried hard not to believe what we heard. But the red dome of that house was hard to ignore. The harder we tried to forget what we knew, the more it played in our minds. One night, my sister and I were the last to sleep. As we struggled to sleep, we heard a soft voice out of the window. A shadow, at the front gate, was calling out. We tried to focus our eyes on what we thought we saw or didn’t. The dim lighting didn’t help in deciphering shadow from darkness or fear from reason. Terrified, we covered our eyes, and tried to sleep. The next morning, I thought it was a dream. But my sister remembered it too. Everyone else laughed at us and dismissed it. To this day, we remember this strange collective experience from our childhood, and even if, I’m not so sure I believe in the ‘otherworld’, it’s something I could never explain.

27 responses to “Creatures of the Dark

  1. That is quite scary, not being able to pinpoint what exactly happened at night when you were kids. That soft voice could have been anything, could have been someone trying to break in or maybe some mysterious creature out there. Maybe other kids or others in the neighbourhood experienced the same thing later. There is something unnverving yet beautiful about the darkness and night. Personally I am a night person and am more active at night but I do not like roaming the streets when it’s dark – preferring to just stay at home. Beautiful moon shots by Basil. So clear, so sharp 🙂

    • I think a part of me is still quite terrified of the events of that night. I doubt it was a burglar. I don’t think we could rationalise what happened that night. But then, the mind is pretty strange. When you are programmed to believe ‘something’ chances are you will believe something that may not even exist — without questioning it. Who’s to say what’s real and what’s make believe? 🙂

      • That is so wise the way you put it. You just don’t know what’s out there, and none of us will probably ever discover everything that’s going on around us. So why not believe…and just go along with it 😀

      • You sound like Basil. He’s into paranormal activity and this post was inspired by a movie we saw 2 weeks ago. Have a good week, Mabel! It’s always good to hear from you. 🙂

  2. Memories of childhood are so precious. But then over the years, many parts of those stories gets “erased” by aging!
    Looks like these houses you mentioned were in Konkan!….Red tiled…

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  4. Childhood memories are both the strongest and the most deceiving, I think. What did we really remember, and what is family lore? Nice description of your family summers; I’ve been thinking about many of mine lately myself – sweet, wonderful times.

    • Couldn’t agree more, Lex. Some memories linger and are hard to shake off. But, yeah, there will always be a part of you that wonders what’s true and what’s made up! 🙂 That’s the joy of being a child.

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  6. I was 19 years old, living with my widowed mother, and waiting to fly overseas in three month’s time to pursue an undergraduate degree in the UK. While trying to keep myself busy, I decided fiddle with my late father’s Ham radio which had been stored away and forgotten since he passed away 13 years prior. After spending about two hours trying to connect the wires together, I decided to unassemble everything and make a fresh start the next day. I left the components on the table and went to bed. I was woken up at around 3am by a strange sizzling sound that appeared to come from outside my bedroom. I waited for the sound to stop but it persisted. So I went outside to check the source and the sound got louder as I approached the radio on the table. I couldn’t believe it was coming from the radio and put one ear against it. Without a doubt, the sound was coming from there. The wires were neither attached to the components not the electricity supply. At that point, I felt as if someone something was trying to communicate with me. I went to my mother’s bedroom and said, “Mom, there is a strange sound coming from the Ham radio. All the parts have been separated and wires disconnected. So I don’t know how the zzzz sound can come out”. Without shifting her position, my mother told me to go back to sleep. The next morning, I jumped out of bed to check for any sound from the radio but there was none. Needless to say, I decided to abandon the idea of putting the radio together, shoved everything back inside the box and stored it away. My mother and I never discussed what occured that night. So that’s my creepy story for you.

    • Wow! That’s quite an experience, Helen. 🙂 We all have that one ‘creepy’ unexplained experience in our lives, don’t we? Maybe, that’s what makes life far from boring and we can always look back to that ‘unreal’ moment. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I quite enjoyed the vivid description and suspense.

    • I think as an adult things haven’t got any better! 🙂 I’m still afraid of the dark and things I cannot understand or see. lol. How have you been, Gin? 🙂

      • Oh dear, I have been a bit … hmmm… busy with that wedding thingy. The pound has crashed, so everything is costing up to 1/3 more than our original plan so it lead to a few crisis 😉 Now it’s kind of sorted out but my dad also had some health issues and it has not been easy.

      • Omg! I can imagine how stressful everything must be. Planning a wedding can be a nightmare. 😦 And to factor the currency fluctuation…(I’m so glad we’re done with it aeons of years back)! I hope your dad is doing better. It cannot be easy all of this. I totally get what you’re going through. Hoping for his speedy recovery. Take care! Say hi to Le. Sending you warm hugs from sunny Seoul!

      • We don’t need anything warm at the moment as we are experiencing a terrible 25 degrees heatwave :p:p …. just kidding!! I will take every hugs I can, even the sweaty ones!

      • haha…we’re have few cool days here (after a heat wave) with the rains making a late entrance. Definitely good for keeping the sweat at bay! 🙂

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