by Vani Viswanathan
What does the soul look like? Who knew? She didn’t, but Arti was sure that that vague cloud moving around in a flurry in her room was her soul. She watched it, her eyes following its frantic movement. She wondered what her self, her body now meant, if her soul was wondering about outside. But she lived, she breathed, she watched.
The cloud was translucent. Translucent. Funnily enough, though she’d learned the word in school, the first thing that came to her mind when she thought of translucent was onions. Onions! They always had to be translucent before she added anything else – to make one of those north Indian gravies or upma or whatever. Translucent. Not burnt.
This translucent cloud slowly floated out of the window. She stood up and followed it dreamily, and clasped the window grills. Down it floated from her second-floor window into the darkness of the night. It floated dangerously close to a black dog howling furiously. The dog stiffened as the cloud passed by him as if he could sense its presence. Fear gripped Arti: what if the dog bit into it? It was air, no doubt… or was it? What would one do if their soul had a tear? Would it deflate and dissolve into nothingness? What would become of her then, she who was already deprived of her soul?
Thankfully, the soul blissfully floated past the dog. It hovered a few inches above the dog as the creature yelped and tried to reach it. Like giving the dog a pat on its head, the cloud floated just above the dog and then away.
Arti adjusted her view so she could follow the cloud. Street lights flickered as it floated by, reminding her of Dumbledore’s ingenious invention (what was its name? The thing he bequeathed to Ron). Like that instrument, Arti wondered whether her soul, too, would pass on messages about things she was worried about at present. Would it lead her to solutions, convey how sorry she was to those who mattered?
The cloud hovered to a stop. Arti strained to see if there was something else that now caught her soul’s attention. Another creature of the night? Another living soul that it could communicate with? A non-living thing that it wanted to latch itself to?
Nothing that she could see. Slowly, the soul floated down, closer and closer to the ground. And then she saw, it was a puddle. How strange! Would the soul get wet? Would it reflect the black of the puddle? Or like they showed in movies with ghosts, would it pass through and come out unscathed, untouched?
The cloud was now almost touching the water. And then Arti saw something strange. The soul was… drinking the water. Not like she could see lips or a straw or something, but it was drinking. Huh? Souls felt this kind of thirst? Who knew?!
Something tugged her back to bed as she watched the soul drink. A slow consciousness took over and made her sleep… only for a moment. She woke up with a start and realised her throat was dry.
She reached out to the water bottle she kept beside the bed. In those groggy moments between sleep and wakefulness, she remembered Amma saying that one should always go to bed after taking a sip of water. If not, the soul would go searching for it at night, looking into puddles and moisture stuck to soles of shoes.
Pic from https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajoamb/