She walked down the lonely dusty road. Structures pulled up around her. The narrow winding lanes cut each other at every other angle but at right angles. The structures bore no paint and they had lines that looked like doodles by a student bored in class. She traced her steps and let the structures grow smaller behind her while those ahead of her stood imposing as she came closer. Silence filled her up and stirred her insides each time her courage gave way. She stopped and looked around. She let the images fill her senses. A bare wall on her left stared back at her and the cracks sketched a picture that she couldn’t decipher. She didn’t want to decipher. The shapes devoid of colour made her insides squirm and she felt sick. She felt as if she were being watched.

She decided to take a turn and she was spoilt for choice. Slowly she walked and found herself at the beginning or maybe, at the end of yet another empty lane. She looked at it with blank eyes and the cobbled street stared back at her. It was deserted. The houses that lined this street were dead. They bore no signs of life. None that existed and she couldn’t see how life could exist in future either. Immobility set in and couldn’t find lift her limbs to take her through. A small voice in her head told her, “Move.” She couldn’t. She tried and just as soon as she took a step forward, a gush of wind blew right in her face and there it stood in front of her. As close as it possibly could. She closed her eyes, retracted her steps and her hair covered her face. A gutless shield, she thought. Her heartbeat escalated and she quickly opened her eyes. She was scared of what could come but she wanted to see it when it came. Once again, a small voice in her head told her, “Move.” She tried. One step ahead. A second step. And then she felt the wind hold her hand and tug her along. She wanted to scream but she couldn’t find her voice. She wanted to stop walking but an invisible hand pulled her along. After a dozen steps she stopped resisting and walked along. And, then the lane had no life to claim except for the wind and her own. Inexplicably, she now felt safe. The wind guided her and gave her quest a direction or rather, a sense of direction. She no longer felt alone. She knew that behind one of these closed doors she would find what she was looking for. And, this time she had more courage to claim her own that would help her look beyond the doors. The wind would open them up for her and rush in before she did.

They walked together as if on an adventure seeking the unknown until, she came to a small structure. She thought if the wind tried to open the door it would fall apart. She asked the wind to let her open it and suddenly everything went quiet again. Once again, silence engulfed her and a sense of fear started to tick within her. She went closer and her hand reached out for the door. She pushed it. It didn’t budge. She tried again. It creaked. Another pushed. It stayed unmoved. She called out to the wind and received no answer. The wind was gone.

Slowly, darkness started to fall. It felt lightly at first and then came bearing down on her shoulders later. And once again, she was all alone. This time darkness wrapped itself around her and silence seeped within her. She couldn’t see anything except the twinkling stars above her as and when the clouds parted. She saw a bright star among them and she knew that if she followed it she would get out of this town but, away from the door. A voice inside her told her, “Follow it.” But, she wanted to find what lay behind the door so she didn’t move. She stood there. Waiting for the wind to come and open the door. Watching as the stars played hide and seek among themselves. She was scared to open the door and equally afraid to follow the bright star.  She watched as the star covered itself with a blanket of clouds and she called for it to wait. It didn’t.

She knew that she had to either follow the star or watch it go. She had to choose between escape and confinement but she didn’t know which was which. She could go to where the star took her or she could stay here to find out what the door concealed. The darkness grew and she tried to talk to it but it didn’t seem to hear her. She found her voice and tried to talk to the wind, the darkness, the door and the star. No one was listening as she spoke. She told herself that she could wait till dawn, find out what the door concealed and then walk out of here in daylight. The small voice in her head asked her, “What if daylight doesn’t come?”  She said, she could still follow the star; and just then, all the stars went into hiding leaving a black inky sky. She had to wait for daylight, she told herself…

…But that one star peeped in and out of the clouds
And smiling at her, she did see
The door remained silent and unmoved
Walked away or stay; did she?