on the usefulness of stars by Sriranjani S.

(Listen to the piece, read by the author - here)


I had dark dreams. They flitted against the edges of reality and sucked me in at night. I drowned in their hollowness, pulled in like a twig in a tornado. I couldn’t escape them. They reclaimed me when I rested my head against the pillow, seeping into my body and engulfing my senses, smothering me in their thick blanket of despair and grief.

One night, lying down and trying to ignore the sleep tugging at my mind, I thought of the stars. They were, invariably, lights in the Void that is space. They lit up the entire sky and gave travellers guidance. They illuminated paths and maybe if I looked deeper, I would see the secrets of the universe. I thought of the stars.

I flung myself out of bed and grabbed my equipment. I didn’t sleep that night. I spent hours working on the idea that had struck in those wee hours of the night where the only sound I could hear was the beating of my own heart. The deepest darkness is always the most enlightening, they say. Now I know why.

It took me two sleepless nights to finish. I welded and hammered and sweated the days through, not allowing myself a wink of sleep. Finally, it was finished.

I took it to my terrace when the night came and I looked up at the stars. There were so many of them; all sprawled across the sky for me to harness and hold. The bottle in my hand was warm. It was made for especially this purpose. I had made it from diamond dust, hope, the gravity of a black hole and some good ol’ fevicol. I’d poured some of the Void into it so all that was in my bottle was a seething darkness. I uncorked it and the stars fell in, swirling gracefully into the bottle until they glittered in the small space, populating the unyielding darkness with pinpricks of light. When it was full, I put the cork back in place and the rest of the stars dispersed back into the sky.

I keep the bottle beside me as I sleep every night. The stars still twinkle merrily and when I sleep, they’re there with me. I don’t have dark dreams any more.


Sriranjani is a 19-year-old college student at Jyothi Nivas College, Bangalore. She spends her free time reading, writing, and watching YouTubers

Star trails, image courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mlazarevski