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  • Writer's pictureSemesta Cruinne

Retelling: The Yellow Wallpaper

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

On reading the short story - The yellow wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Stetson, I wrote another story based on my interpretation of it placing the protagonist in Indian context. Thereafter I took staged photographs to present the story in form of still images, with subtitles that are lines from the text.

Link to 'The Yellow wallpaper':

These are diary entries of a 14-year-old girl:

He probably means to do the best for me. It seems I am sick. I am quiet now but, in the evening, I was in the garden, crying. I wouldn’t have done that if the urge was not strong enough. My friend and I were roaming around before I broke down. I asked her to leave me alone. I did, many times! I wasn't planning to involve her in my grief! It felt good to be attended and so I couldn't mean it when I asked her to go. Maybe it was very selfish of me and that’s why when aunty saw, she pulled us to the main street where everyone walked. Aunties and children gathered as she announced that I am a witch and put people under evil spells. She said that I had done something to my friend and so she looked sad. With the tears in my eyes, I could only see blurry people standing around staring, but I could hear the silence. I wanted to scream of pain and shout in anger, that I am not a witch but I was tired, so I walked home quietly. I came to my room and lied down. I wasn’t hungry for dinner. Papa just came to say goodnight, he kissed my forehead and said that I shouldn’t go out for some time because nobody wants to talk to me. He probably said that for my good. I feel guilty for making my friend sad, but I am not sure if I am. 23/11/13 9:40 pm

I have only begun to notice that my room is huge and empty. Today morning my mother came with some black threads that grandmother gave her. She wanted to tie them on my wrist and ankle. I denied and had to shout to make sure my voice was heard. She didn’t put the threads but I am not sure if I were actually heard. I am not going to school. I think I did something wrong when I let them see me cry. I don’t think I should do it again, let them see me cry. It is lunchtime and I am served in my room. I have gathered energy to be polite, I am hungry.

24/11/13 2:00 pm

I am sorry I forgot to tell you how grateful I am to have you. Thank you for listening to me and please don’t let anyone know all this. A spider just went from one end of the ceiling to another. 24/11/13 4:00pm

My room’s window opens to walls of another building. I am bored. 24/11/13 9:30 pm

Someone broke the locks of my room. I think they did it when I was asleep. I just noticed when I wanted to close the door after a bath. I feel like they don’t trust me and that makes me cry. I think it would be best to not discuss. I don’t know how long I won’t be going to school. I don’t like my school so I don’t want to complain. I feel like the room’s been contracting, still empty though. 25/11/13 11:30 am

I wanted to draw today so I set my paint, brushes, paper, a mug of water on a newspaper on the ground. Mumma always says I should put a newspaper before painting so I thought she'd be happy to see it. But when she came with lunch, she was angry. Mumma asked me to pack all my materials and study. I don’t understand and I could study later. But she can be strict. So, I am studying now. I mean right now I took a break because I keep losing focus after every two paragraphs. I feel like crying but the door is open and I am scared to change that. I can’t paint but I can hide you inside my school books.

25/11/13 5:00 pm

It’s getting really lonely here. Maybe that is why I want to go to school.

I am allowed to go to the dining room to eat now. My sister is there. We don’t speak. My parents keep opening my door and ask me to keep it that way most time of the day and night now. I am tired of passing smiles at them. I feel so distant. Last night after everyone slept, I took my paint out and started painting. I switched on lights of the washroom so that it does not escape anywhere beyond some parts of my room. I was engrossed, so I didn't realize when Papa woke up to go to the kitchen for filling water and I got caught. I apologized but he took away all the paint. He speaks so calmly and coldly; I fear to argue. He also inquired about you. I don’t think we are safe anymore. He said that I should sleep so I did. Need to go for lunch.

26/11/13 2:30 pm

I am infuriated and hurting! I was hoping to find some paint here and there, so I started searching in my cupboards but guess what I found? A bunch of black threads and some diagrammed illegible sheet kept under my clothes. I called my mother and asked her about them and she told me that she kept them there for my good. When I threw the sheet on the ground angrily, she started sobbing and saying 'it's okay, you'll be fine' and tried to caress my head, and I wanted to be loved and understood and I wanted to cry too and my heart was hurting and my eyes were burning but I didn't let her touch me. I don't think we were crying for the same reasons. I cried after she left. My parents are like strangers.

26/11/13 10;30pm

Mother exempted me from studying yesterday evening and better even let me close my room and be alone. I think she felt bad, maybe about what she did or for me, I am not sure. But I was glad to get some time alone.

I also searched for paint colors later in the evening and found a few little bottles of blue, black and reds. I always keep those in extras. I felt ecstatic and painted two pieces last night and painted a bit before everyone woke up today morning. I was happy and smiling at breakfast and lunch. My mother said that I seemed to be doing better.

27/11/13 3:00 pm

I heard that aunty come in in the evening to give some cake she had baked. I heard my mother and her talk all normal and laughing. I felt my eyes reddening in anger and pain as I stood near my room’s door. I had found a cloth drying rope in a drawer the other day and I have an idea in my head.

27/11/13 5:40 pm

Today, since breakfast I have been allowed to close my room and ‘study’. Father asked me how I was during breakfast and smiled at me and then mother when I said fine. For a moment I thought I am loved. Anyway. I have planned to execute my idea tonight and I am excited. Mother’s calling, I have to go for dinner.

28/11/13 8:00pm

I DID IT! Yes, I did! I have locked the room with the help of the rope. I tied the door handle of the room to the doorknob of the bathroom. It’s midnight and no one knows! And I can paint as much as I want now!

29/11/13 00:30 am

I stayed up all night and painted three sheets and then they were too small for canvases so I painted the floor and some parts of the wall!

29/11/13 7:00 am

Papa came to invite me for breakfast and couldn’t open the door. I told him I couldn’t either and that I don’t know what’s wrong. They are kicking and trying to open the door. My paint has reached the mirror on the wall. I want to go to the bathroom but can't. I should have thought this through and not used the doorknob of the bathroom door as the anchor.

29/11/13 8:00 am

They think the door is jammed or something and now the locksmith is here. I will open, they just can’t be patient! Also, now I HAVE PAINTED MY FACE TOO! I feel so beautiful! Okay, I need to go to the bathroom so I think I'll just let the rope loose. Bye!!

29/11/13 9:50 am

I rushed and peed quickly. When I came out, my parents, my sister and the locksmith stood in front of me, quietly, until... Mumma began to sob.

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