This morning, as I was lacing up my shoes for my walk, it was still quite dark. Suddenly, childhood memories rushed back to me, and I was struck by how perceptions change as one grows.
I remember the times when ten o’clock was considered very late. I was usually safe in bed by that time, and hopefully asleep. I was terrified of midnight. I was terrified that ghosts and spirits would emerge from the darkness and have their ghoulish parties at twelve. We had this clock that would strike the hour out loud, two chimes for every count. When I lay awake and it began chiming, I would hope and pray that it wasn’t going to be twelve. I could not help counting the chimes, but I’d try and confuse myself in the counting so that I wouldn’t count twelve. How that helped in any way, I’m not sure!
We three sisters slept in a room at the front of the house. One night, we were woken up to a constant knocking. We were quite frightened, till my eldest sister picked up the courage to go and investigate and wake up my parents as well. Turns out it was just a calendar hung on the door that kept tapping against the door in the breeze! Every sound was magnified in the night, every rustle ominous. I would cover myself fully with my sheet, the darkness inside more comforting than the darkness outside.
During my college days however, this soon changed. I was often up till one or two, watching the late night movies on Doordarshan. I was still a little afraid of midnight, but the pull of the movie was stronger. I could never stay up to study though! 🙂
Now, midnight is when I wind up my day. Staying up past midnight is the norm. The darkness outside, the leaves flapping against the glass in the wind, the other strange sounds of the night are all familiar and not in the least bit terrifying. I know that in a short while, dawn will come creeping along and there will be light again.
The night, in some ways, has lost its mystery for me.