It was a starless night. The wind howled like a lone wolf outside and the little filtered by the mosquito net barring the window carried the promise of a heavy downpour. We gathered inside the tiny room housing two of us as was our ritual, were we would talk about everything and nothing in particular. A candle stood regally upon the study table, casting its warm glow upon the room and beside it sat a Bible in its divine glory, one of the most show-cased and least opened books.

They said I never say much. I smiled. As always there was little to say. We were but different people brought together by providence. They talked about study, boys, family, religion, food, sex, love. I smiled and laughed on cue, all the time thinking of how much we had changed.

Yes, there was always so much to talk about. The conversation went on around me, one minute building into a crescendo, followed by a barrage of laughter and the next, a sound no louder than a whisper.

I looked to my right and sniffed the air again, rain. Then a muffled sound snapped me out of my reverie. I held my breath as my heart raced and adrenaline pumped into my muscles numbed from sitting Buddha style. Something was out there. The conversation went on, and into fear grappled mind words finally began to filter through: slut…not so beautiful…poorly dressed…likes men…sleeps…lecturers…

I shook my head to clear my mind and turned back to my companions. Lightening flashed and from the corner of my eyes I caught a glimpse of a silhouette huddled behind the door.

Few minutes after the door opened and she strutted into the room. A quick glance at her downcast eyes confirmed my already budding suspicion. She’d been listening. I glanced at my companions who moments ago struck by dumbness, so artfully recovered and now launched into new horizons like they weren’t moments ago gossiping about our once absent friend. She flopped on the mattress and joined in the conversation, her sentences so often punctuated by childlike laughter.

I wondered at humans– the length we would go to make ourselves feel better. How easy it was to misunderstand others simply because they lived different lives from ours, or at least what we are used to having around us. Why it was so easy to forgive a child for being too trusting, looking at the world like a playground, and choosing to see only the inherent good in others; while with adults we brand them honorary titles like slut. But do we really grow out of our childish nature or does our shell just grow bigger? Do we don new clothes, fresh masks every day, live like society dictates and find a drug for our unhappiness and frustration? We carry bibles; hide behind religion or whatever else makes us feel good, pretending to be upright, but inside we are simply a bitter lot, people very much unsatisfied with life, hoping for redemption.

Behind each girl was a story– experiences, mistakes, choices, life. I saw dreams that could best be likened to fairy tales woven in the web of time and left to gather dust because of fear– fear of society, and fear of the unknown. But she was different, brave. So much had changed around her but she seemed untouched. She’d wrapped her past around her but was never deterred by it. She was life. She was like the candle: tall, regal, warm and full of light.

The flame flickered, casting a shadow. Its light shifting, changing, and then it was back to normal.

From across the room our eyes met and held. She regarded me briefly and I read the unspoken questions in them. I burned in shame. Then slowly her lips curved into a smile and I knew all was forgiven.


I wrote this a year ago (June 2014) and since my brain is slightly short-circuited right now, I figured it worth digging up stuff from my archive. This was one of my earlier attempts writing something that looked like a story, 🙂 I can’t tell if I succeeded or not so you can be the judge.

See you around.

23 thoughts on “Shadows

  1. Uju,

    I know you’ve heard this over and over, you write beautifully. It felt like I was in that room.

    I suppose it’s more convenient to pretend not have heard when one eavesdrop on gossip about themselves, but the real magic is being able to hold no grudge against the gossipers.

    Walk a mile in my shoes…


  2. Wonderful piece.You did brilliantly well.
    Somehow, I feel its inferiority complex combined with the ‘feel good’ sensation one gets from talking about others while masking/ hiding his or her own shortcoming. I know it is much more complex than that but you did be surprised when you think about how we talk about others while analyzing the words and sentence structure used. We make everything look like we are in a kind of competition and we want no one to do better than us.

    Lovely article!
    Need a movie to it, come get it in my head, it played out just fine and I could picture those actresses talk about Tonto as she stepped into the room… lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “We make everything look like we are in a kind of competition and we want no one to do better than us.”—
      I love this angle you bring into this. We feel better about the people we are (worthy even) when we spend our time finding the faults in others. I think that this is what Jesus was trying to check when he said that one must remove his own logs before pointing out his brother’s speck.

      Lol maybe a short documentary instead 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Finally! She updates her blog.
    I really loved this post, your descriptive powers are top notch! I watched the story clearly unfold in my mind’s eye.
    I think judgement of others comes from a place of dissatisfaction with our own lives. If you’re happy with your life, you won’t find the time to judge another.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha I’m always around babe 😀 Thank you (at least I’m getting something right.)

      “Dissatisfaction”– I agree with you. But wouldn’t it be better to spend all that time on more profitable ventures like say, developing oneself?
      It’s just bad that one would choose to bring another down simply because they’ve been dealt a bad hand.


  4. A story and yet also some penned pondering I think and why not? They’re very good questions you’ve posed….does that shell get bigger? Do we grow out of our childish nature? Very good questions indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Seriously good writing. And I have not paid this compliment much on WordPress. Good descriptions and use of simile: “looking at the world like a playground”.
    Lovely, thoughtful piece.


  6. Interesting Story.. I enjoyed every bite. our attitude towards life and how we treat other people mirrors who we truly are. Truth is, when we judge others, we have no time to love them. Well done, Uju.

    Liked by 1 person

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