Enclosed by snow-clad mountains and hills is a small town, embedded in the meadows of the valley. On one such hill, stands a beautiful, old white house – old in a way that tells you generations of people have died in the same house. Although its windows remain open during the day, they emit a sense of fear. A rusted TV antenna points east on the brown roof, attempting to get a better signal.
I wonder how anyone can live in a nearly haunted place like that. The small front lawn is home to tall deodars. These trees take time to grow, requiring daily watering and care. But I have never seen anyone watering those trees. Maybe ghosts water them, I once thought. The house stands alone, with a singular flight of cement stairs to connect it to the rest of the town.
The town’s other houses buzz with life. Children play cricket in the park in the evenings and get shouted at by angry neighbours for destroying their kitchen plants.
It’s a normal day, the sun’s defeated the tyranny of darkness to illuminate a clear sky. When, seemingly out of nowhere clouds appear on the east side of town. A cold breeze whimpers as it picks up speed, rattling open windows. On the sunny side of town, kids playing cricket shout, “Out! Out!”
But nature is brewing a fierce storm, preparing for destruction. It will uproot the immovable poplars, it will subdue these houses forever.
The eastern clouds rolled in, their darkness a flattering contrast to the sun’s brightness. But then just like that they consumed the sun. The poplars, standing in a row, began to rattle, shaking off their leaves in terror.
The roses that had surfaced through the cracks in a wall, lost their petals abruptly, leaving only thorns behind. A great noise filled the town as the roofs began to vibrate with the force of the wind.
Then came rain, giving voice to the sombre, silent clouds. Silence now swamped the streets. Lightning tore the sky open, unstitching and then stitching it back.
The storm destroyed every nook of the town – Sheds, poplars, little trees, kitchen gardens, window panes; even the plastic wrappers and bottles, and withered leaves that littered the ground.
The storm had swept away peace from the town.
And just like that the clouds and winds disappeared. The light which had shone on a tranquil place now illuminated the destroyed payments and broken poplars. The sun peered out weakly, like a lover undone by his beloved.
Mir Umar is an English student at the University of Delhi.
Featured image credit: Josep Castells/Unsplash