For as long as I can remember, I have had the ability to see angels and devils on people’s shoulders. As a kid, I used to think of them as dolls. So, there is a white doll and a black doll. People who are good-hearted and have done good deeds have a whiter angel and a dull demon. And vice versa. I have seen people with translucent devils and opaque angels, opaque demons and translucent angels, and numerous other combinations.

Until yesterday, when I saw a solid demon and no angel.

A girl named Jia who I was supposed to meet at a café had no angel with her. The moment I saw her, I was terrified. My head started whipping up plans to stall our meeting and get away but I stayed, perhaps out of curiosity. We ordered some coffee and started chatting. Our casual conversation was interrupted every now and then by my distracted gaze which fell upon the solid black figure on her left shoulder. Whenever she caught my eyes on her shoulders, she looked back to see what I was looking at. Eventually, she gave up and asked, “What’s wrong?” I just shook my head with a smile.

After an hour or so, we got up to leave. She was a nice person. A funny girl who shared my passion for poetry. I just couldn’t feel that she was a bad person. So I decided that maybe my ability was failing. But then when we shook hands, her green sleeve pulled up a bit and I could see it––a deep scar which ran along her wrist.

I looked at her. Her flustered expression made me feel guilty. She immediately pulled down her sleeve. I somehow managed a weak smile and we proceeded towards the exit of the café. At last, she said, “I was bullied in school and I had no one to support me. So I thought…,” she stopped, her voice shaking. I put my hand on her right shoulder and said, “It’s okay. I’ve got your back now.” Her smile lit up her eyes and we agreed to meet the following week.

When she was walking out of the door, I saw it. A translucent angel sitting on her right shoulder and a demon, who was less solid now, on her left. I realised then, her devil was not there because she hurt others. It was there because she hurt herself. I understood then, that escaping is never the right answer. Surviving and learning to go on is always the only option.


– S. Mysha Urooj, Amity International School, Noida

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