‘Socks’ by Sarvat Hasin

The first time their mother disappeared, they were in a supermarket.

You Can’t Go Home Again, the collection from which this story comes, is a delicate blend of the mundane and the mythic, charting the adult lives of a group of school friends who experienced a disturbing incident as teenagers. Throughout the collection, unease bleeds and tangles its way through often unremarkable circumstances and in ‘Socks’, I think this feeling is at its most heightened. Creating a world of stark daylight and creeping darkness, the story deals with parents and children, suggested ghosts and djinns, always counterbalanced by a grounding realism. Hasin is good at lists – at the cumulative power of objects, supermarket items, possessions, clothes, and the eerie aspects they can take on when shown in the wrong light.

Collected in You Can’t Go Home Again, Penguin India, 2018