Alias Grace

In 2015, Chennai, a city in South India, experienced one of the worst floods in its history. I was a victim. Stranded in an apartment alone for five days, I just had a couple of candles and Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last for company. Everyday, as darkness fell, I opened its pages, reading only a few at a time, for I was scared to finish it before the water cleared outside. I had gotten attached to Stan and Charmaine and their life in the Positron Prison. I shared their emotions, for I was in a prison of sorts. It’s probably the time that I picked to read that book, but ever since, I have been a Margaret Atwood fan. Later, I picked The Handmaid’s Tale, and binge-watched the series on Hulu soon after. A few months hence, I decided to start another of hers. Alias Grace. The book is unconventional in its format. With multiple news reports, and excerpts from literary masterpieces. While the first half was a drag, the second, leaped forward like a horse on steroids. Grace, a teenager with a somber demeanor and an alluring beauty, is accused of murdering her master and housekeeper, with the aid of another helper in the house. But was she actually a part of it? I assumed, rather strongly, ‘not’. My curiosity was tepid to start with. I found myself racing through the parts where she narrates her childhood and slowing down as the plot gets closer to the murder. There are parts concerning hypnotism and somnambulism which seem a little abstruse. But it’s padded with a good amount of drama, which kept me hooked. However, it felt wrong to sip a glass a lemonade and devour on it languidly under the bright sun… solely for the fact that there was in the late 1800s a real person named Grace. A ravishing beauty. Murderess. Talk of the media in Canada and the US. Most of what’s in the book was inspired by the unfortunate events as they had happened then.


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The end.


Lights out

When the bulb burns out.

The last few words of the chapter get swallowed in a cloud of black ink. It’s dark. And warm. Like someone forcefully wrapped an Alpaca black shawl around my face. The book mark slides off from between the pages. So I fold the corner of the last read into a small triangle, and keep the book aside. I curse the light bulb. What a time to die.

The sudden blindness is unnerving. I am reminded of Jodie Foster trying to find her way around in that particularly spine-chilling scene in Silence of the Lambs. Not a good time to think of Hannibal. Also, by now, the moonlight has leaked in from the curtains shining a blue glow on everything. I can see the outline of the bed, side table, lamp and TV.

But there are still corners in the room that are tar black. It’s hard to leash the imagination. The scariest scenes from the best horror movies coalesce in my head, and cast a blood-curdling trailer. Slimy creatures, babies with grey vacant eyes, worse, dolls with rosy cheeks and a fixed stare. A possessed Emily Rose. Hope it’s not 3 am on the dot. Something is hiding, waiting, ready to pounce. The torch seems light years away. The air seems too viscous. Legs turn into lead.  Drops of sweat blind my eyes.

And that’s when I hear a knock…

Followed by a distant voice, “Honey, I am home.”

Painting on a light bulb is a first for me.  It is so smooth, so easy, and so much fun.