lights will guide me home

i'm afraid of the dark: not the physical darkness of confined spaces which by itself is overwhelming; not even the darkness of poetry, depression and loneliness. darkness trains you to fear monsters. it's absurd and irrational. how do i explain it? my heart quickens all by itself. i put on my brave face: i wear a frown, my chin stays high, my bag, my feet, my clothes come closer to me, tighter. i walk much faster, in search for light and noise. i always consider going back to where i started. 

i always expect monsters to jump out of somewhere: they lurk in street corners, at chai dabbas, panwadis, thekas. they come out at dark and leer into your soul (if your soul was your entire being, if it manifested in your dupatta, in your bag, in your gait, the volume of the thoughts in your head). they live everywhere, but particularly in spaces cities ignore: back allies, parking lots, lanes where no buses go, buildings where no people live; marshes, ridges, land under litigation, spaces hiding behind facades in the middle of traffic. you're trained to pass over them with no thought; to register only their discontinuity, their blankness. they make you uncomfortable, so you walk around them. you cross the road, even if you don't have to. you take a different route, even if this one's shorter. 

no, it's not darkness itself i fear - nights hold me in ways days never accommodate me. it's what i'm taught to make of them. because that's what being foolish is about, right? riding into the dark, no holds barred? asking for it? 

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