Ten-year-old Mathew was left alone at home that day. His grandmother had gone out to buy some biscuits for the child, who, she thought, was behaving strangely since morning. “Maybe, it’s because I didn’t buy him that biscuit in red packet he badly wanted,” she thought as she hurried to the bazaar that late evening.

What Mathew lacked in size, he made up for in maturity. So, when she locked the sleeping boy inside, she didn’t think she would have to worry about his being alone for a few hours. “Besides, I will be back soon,” she had reassured herself.


Mathew’s dreams that day kept him panting and perspiring in bed. He had not told his achamma that he had a visitor yesterday; a visitor which asked for the pappadam he was having with kanji. The thing had extended a hand through the kitchen window overlooking the old tamarind tree, but Mathew refused. As that long and bony hand slithered back, he heard an angry hiss; Mathew had shuddered in mortal fear.


Half an hour after his achamma left, Mathew woke up. It was twilight already. Sitting on the bed in the dimly-lit chamber, he heard the egrets settling in their nests on the old tamarind tree. He found their cacophony pregnant with a malevolent portent. As he descended the creaking wooden stairs, he called for his grandmother, but got no reply. He found the worn-out brass wick on the kitchen table and lit it, the flame dancing to the draught — minions of a heavy wind outside. Mathew peeped through the keyhole of the front door and saw a lit lantern on the veranda, and, in its light, he found his achamma sitting on the divan.

When she didn’t move to his repeated calls, Mathew took the spare key from the table nearby and unlocked the door. As he stepped into the veranda, he called her again, but stopped after noticing something different about her. As he began to close the distance between him and the wizened old woman, air started reeking of fresh bird droppings.

“Listen,” said a voice in his brain, “Why are the birds silent? Why is the air stagnant? Where has the wind gone?” Mathew looked at the human figure in front of him. He could not see her face; the greying hair was veiling her profile. “Achamma,” he called her again. After a moment’s delay, the figure slowly turned its head to face him.

The sight made the boy lose control of his sphincter and bladder. There was a metallic smell which, in his waning sanity, he knew his mind was making up. Framed by the mass of greying hair was a maw and nothing else. From it came forth a hiss, the same hiss that froze Mathew’s marrow yesterday.

Even as the last vestige of sanity seeped away from him, the shape, the ultimate horror, rose and drifted towards him. Bhrandhan Eesop, who happened to pass by the house, saw the boy’s in his final throes as it feasted on him. “Not a drop of blood fell on the floor. Not a sliver of flesh stuck on the door,” he would cry for the rest of his life.

There are 2 comments:

  1. #2Saranya shanoop's avatar.Saranya shanoop

    Good writing sreejith, go ahead 👍

  2. #3Joyel Pious's avatar.Joyel Pious

    Dark and thrilling!!!

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