Пост обновлен 10 дек. 2018 г.
The sun disappeared like the light had been turned off. When I left the cafe, darkness was submerging the little roads between huts and trees and everything turned into strange new places. A gusty wind shook palm trees with a shrill sound and the storm was threatening, with dogs barking in the distance.
It was my first night in this Indian village and it was hard to see where to go: there were only few streetlamps, but somehow I found my way to the staircase that lead to my house. The wind came again, stronger now and the last lights shut off. The utter darkness flowed like a sea.
The staircase was very long and divided into several segments with resting places in between. Half way home I met a flock of stray dogs, standing on the platform and lit by the moonlight. They looked very excited and barked into the darkness. Wool on them grew in clumps, naked skin showed rotting sores and saliva dripped from their ugly mouths. Their eyes, infected by conjunctivitis, were blind with blunt aggression and I tried to estimate how much vaccine would I need to not die if such a dog would bite me. I also wondered if my travel insurance will cover these costs.
I stood still, not knowing what else to do. I tried to remember all the rules on how to act with wild animals, like “hide your face and hands”, from when I was attacked by dogs in Russia. But that was in winter and I had many layers of cloths - now I was wearing just a dress and my whole body felt vulnerable. How quickly they will tear me apart? I stood absolutely still, pretending to be a tree.
After the first shock passed away, I started to slowly move backwards, gently feeling for the next step with the tip of my foot. I was afraid to turn around to get their attention. When my feet touched the last platform I made a strong exhale, it seems I did not breathe all this time. I was back at the same place. Street lamps were blinking from time to time, but still didn’t work.
Blasts of wind made palms hit each other, producing a loud, evil noise. It sounded like vague shadows were talking all around me. Some objects appeared near me and then dissolved completely, people were sitting in thick bushes and talking in an unknown language. A smell of marijuana spread in the air, some men were staring at me as distant barking turned into intense howls.
I quickly stepped onto the first road that I’ve seen. I did not like how these men looked at me from the bushes. I walked briskly and nervously, calming myself: “You can’t be threatened by dogs and raped at the same day, right? There must me some balance in the Universe”.
The road went to the mountains, so there was a hope that it would lead me to the side of the house. Sometimes motorcyclists drove past me, blinding me with headlights. It made me nervous, I didn’t want them to see me, but I had to choose between the road and the jungle. I didn’t know how much time had passed, but it felt like I was walking half of the night as the howling grew louder, as if every dog in the village had joined the concert.
This road made a circle around the village and finally led me to the house. My flatmates were already sleeping, I walked quietly in my room. I laid on my bed and continued to listen to the dogs. It was a heart-rending wail, as if the sound came not only from the throat and lungs, but from their entire being or maybe something bigger, from the gathering storm itself.
(This story was initially written in 2014 during my couchsurfing travels in India - I edited and rewrote it today)