The Wonder Years

As a child, I was fascinated rather than scared by the idea of monsters under my bed. The bed in my old room in my parents’ house had the tiniest of crawl spaces under it, maybe about three inches high, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how any monster could comfortably hide there. But never once however did it occur to me to question their existence, these monsters that I knew were lurking under my bed.

One I recall vividly. It was purple and shaped like a brachiosaur, with a long serpentine neck and razor-sharp blades all along its spine. Its big bulbous head, dominated by two giant green eyes that had glowing red slits for pupils, seemed to have no mouth when you first looked at it, but those eyes were part of the disguise. Hidden under those enormous eyeballs was a deceptively small mouth housing teeth that could shred steel. And I’m reasonably certain that’s what it used that mouth for, because you see, this monster – let’s call it Metalhead – ate metal for food.

Often I heard it crunching away, slobbering over a scavenged scrap of steel, grinding it down with those nasty gnashing teeth before swallowing it in one big gulp. I wondered how it kept its teeth sharp, and if it needed to brush every night before bedtime like I did.

I blame the monster for all the missing pins and screws and nuts and bolts – those must have been like a snack mix for it! And yet, while I imagined it chowing down any hapless piece of metal that rolled under the bed (or was sent to its doom by me – the details are a little foggy), I cannot remember wondering how that monster was comfortable under there. It just was.

As a slightly older child now, I have wondered about this and tried to reason it out. Maybe it could shrink at will. Maybe it had a miniaturising device. Maybe it was just us humans that perceived space as big or small. Maybe I will never know, because this monster, like so many others, has long left the refuge of that little nook my bed for some other little child’s room.

But what I know for sure is that the innocence of youth is a powerful tool. It transcends the limitations the adult brain imposes on itself, and I am still trying to figure out why. The older we get, the less important our monster friends become, and the lesser we let them into our lives, the less fantastic we become.

 

As I’ve been told today, maybe it should be fed, just like the monsters under my bed, and that will help it escape the confines of a head. Just like your words have.

Happy reading!

Richa Mehta

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