Thursday 2 May 2013

Is this scary?

The unexpected is sometimes scary. I don't mean waiting for a bus and now there are two; or getting a letter from someone after years of silence.

I mean situations that burst into our personal mind space dislodging what has become accepted as usual. Suddenly there is something else, and it just shouldn't be there.

At the very least it can be unsettling.

There is a Japanese ghost story which unfolds along these lines. I don't know its author, or whether it has been told and retold through the ages.

It goes like this:

Back in the feudal days a wide avenue skirted the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. One late night a farmer made his way home, alone on this wide, deserted street. Suddenly he noticed a little girl, all by herself hunched on the kerb. He went up to her and said, "Hello, little girl, what are you doing all alone this late at night?" But the girl did not move. So the farmer went closer and asked again, "My child, is there anything wrong?" Then slowly the girl raised her head, and her face was smooth like an egg.

In Melbourne there is a small niche at the end of Degraves Street which is filled with graffiti. It reminded me of that ghost story.

Would the following situations be scary?

Lying alone in bed at night, sticking your foot out and suddenly feeling some touch.

Looking over your shoulder in a dark and lonely street, over and over again (try it!).

Closing your eyes for a moment, opening them again but you can't see.

Closing your eyes for a moment, opening them again and suddenly there is a face staring at you.

Your daily routine involves getting up in the morning and catching a train to work. One day you think the alarm clock is wrong, you get up in a hurry and rush to the station. There you notice the clocks don't work either. At that moment, what is your perception of time? Have you ever experienced this?

We like to believe life is ordered. Yet it doesn't take much to shatter our peace.

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