Tales

Zara (Part 2)

The Day It Began

Zainab tucked in Zara and left, Zara started feeling better in a while. She took her diary; there was a thread hanging there as a bookmark. She had picked the thread when she was in second grade at the backyard forest. They lived with her father in Kerala at that point of time, and Zara loved to scout the woods like any child of her age. One fine day, as she was walking through the forest, she came across a polythene bag and some other mysterious things around it. There was horrifying stench that emanated from that spot.

Zara was taught not to touch any mysterious things, so she rushed to tell her father about it. On the way, a little way from the plastic she found an unusual looking thread and this eight-year-old child brought it home. Zara reached back and informed her father about the package. There was weird gloom on the dinner table that night, and the guard never lets any child in the forest after that day. Zara did ask her father about it, and her father dismissed it saying it was roadkill and the deer’s carcass was probably dumped in a polythene bag to feed wild animals. He also warned her about dangerous animals.

Although after Zara slept that night, Fahad was livid at everyone for letting Zara anywhere close to the woods. The police kept visiting their place throughout that night which was always a rare sight to find them around the army quarters. Zara did watch a reflection of the red lights on her ceiling of their reading room as she placed the thread in one of her notebooks. She heard the incoherent conversation between her father and the police as Zainab put her sleep.

Later that night, Zara saw a dream that a lady was staring at her from across the bed. She was unable to breathe. She recognized the lady from somewhere, and her wide eyes kept piercing through Zara. The lady merely smiled at Zara. The smile burned Zara’s face as she woke up screaming, but there was no sound. There was plant growth all around her, and the feeling of fear overtook her body.

Fahad’s day had just ended, he entered Zara’s bedroom, and as he turned on the light, the sight of Zara terrified him. She had her eyes open staring into the ceiling and seemed as if frozen in time. Fahad didn’t breathe for a minute as he woke her up. She woke up and looked very reasonable as if she just woke from sleep. He kissed her sleepy eyes good night and went back to sleep. He dismissed it as a one-off incident. He didn’t want to cause any stress to Zainab, so he kept her oblivious to the event.

Zara started behaving weirdly in school the next day. She was quiet, at first, her teacher ignored it, but her grades started dropping. But she kept noticing Zara staring out of the window during her class. Every time her teacher saw it, it was as if a sociopath was staring at her. The teacher quickly took the matter to the school therapist, and Zainab met them days later.

Zara acquired a peculiar habit since that day, and since then she has been having premonitions.

 

 

Tales

Zara (Part 1)

“Zara uttered her first coherent word in the 8th month,” her mom said as she spoke to her therapist. Her mother Zainab didn’t believe in the dark arts or superstitions of a similar sort, but Zara’s sudden silence puzzled everyone who knew her. Zara’s English teacher was the first to point out. That was the first time Zara knew that her silence was scary to people. “Her silence is acidic, pungent, makes my skin crawl. Something very bitter about her. It’s as if something evil has possessed her.” Her teacher whispered her words to the therapist. Zara was outside waiting for them to finish, the little girl was oblivious as her mother accompanied her home.

“Zara, darling, is something troubling you?” Zainab asked that afternoon at lunch. “They bully me if I talk and get me in trouble,” she said through her sobs. Zainab let out relieved laughter. Zainab and her teacher resolved the matter in school, and everyone moved on. From that day onwards, Zara knew her silence had to be a secret. She concealed it with all the noise that she could conjure up. She grew up to the most chirpy girl in the tenth grade. That episode sunk in the background as if it was a distant memory in everyone’s mind until that morning.

Zara came down with a terrible back pain radiated to her chest. It was as if a million horses were racing through her spine. She felt the hooves piercing her back. The sensation radiated all the way to her chest, and every breath hurt. Every rib stung when she moved. She threw up a couple of times. She saw a myriad of colors as she straightened herself. The nerves in her head began throbbing, and she couldn’t open her eyes. Zainab rushed Zara to the emergency.

Zara had a robust immune system unlike her younger brother Zaid. Zara was more like her father who was currently in Africa on a UN peacekeeping mission. Zara had always been her dad’s darling. Zainab didn’t bother him with details that would have him worry. Unfortunately for Zainab, she had aged prematurely with all the work and family stress. She took out her cellphone to call her husband. However, she decided against it. She was sure it was some viral infection.

As Zainab grew restless, a resident intern checked Zara’s vitals. She asked Zara, “Did you meet with an accident or did you fall perhaps?” “No,” Zara replied. The young doctor was baffled. She examined her back and her chest and found absolutely no external marks of injury. She walked out with caution to her senior doctor. “Doctor, her vitals are fine, but her pain seems mysterious to me,” as they walked to where Zara lay. The senior doctor had a daughter of Zara’s age. He knew that he had to handle Zara delicately. As it is puberty was already hard on them. Despite being a doctor, he was always fascinated with how women were a miracle of nature.

“Zara, you have to tell me the truth, did anyone beat you up, playfully or even unintentionally?” Zara merely shook her head to say no. At least from what he saw, the girl wasn’t lying. There was something icy about Zara that he could feel in his bones. She looked so beat up as if she’d never been able to wake up again but her eyes pierced through him. He felt as though he was in the middle of a deserted land covered with shards of glasses and all sorts of plant growth. He wanted to run and never return. However, when she spoke the doctor thought that the warmth had returned. He was back in the present.

The doctor gave the go-ahead for other diagnostic tests, and all of it turned out completely normal. Finally, they let her off with a painkiller injection. Zainab took Zara home, and Zara recovered in a couple of days. The mysterious illness appeared again, and they went through the same cycle with the doctor. The senior doctor was puzzled. But he never saw her again after the second time. She was on his mind for a long time.

To be continued….

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Prose

That night…

Who am I, I wondered as I looked at myself in the mirror, my eyes were smudged, they were dark circles, my own eyes freaked me out. My lips were swollen and bleeding. Every bone in my body ached like I got into a bad fight with a raging bull. As I felt my bare skin from head to toe, where were my clothes. This wasn’t me, I was nothing like this, I was healthy just last evening or was it ages ago. I looked around, this wasn’t my home. My home was bright and radiant, there was light, there were people. There wasn’t any sunlight here, there wasn’t a living soul around me. But, it wasn’t empty as if there was something dark around, I couldn’t see it but my body felt its presence. I didn’t know what I was doing in that place with huge bare walls. My body felt so sick I threw up, it was only water. I didn’t remember what I had for dinner last night, but was it even morning?

I searched my clothes all over the place. I couldn’t help but notice, the beauty of the place. It was breathtaking and at the same time very dark. What was it about these dark things that always seemed eternally beautiful. It was dusty as if no human had set foot in years. On the other hand, all the things were so neatly arranged as if someone just put things in place. There in the corner of the living space, I found my shorts and a t-shirt that was not mine. “How drunk was I”, I wondered. But I had stopped drinking long ago. My bones ached more from the cold, I wore the clothes. I wasn’t the kind to experiment with a haunted house, what was I doing here. Was it haunted or was it all my fear of new things. There were knocks from inside the shoe rack and I thought it must be a rat. I didn’t want to confirm ignorance was bliss right.

There was a hollow space behind the kitchen area, it was so hollow, it seemed like a barren woman. The door was partially open and that annoyed me, I slammed the door shut. I didn’t want to go further inside that space. But I didn’t want to leave for once, the darkness appealed to me. I hadn’t been to the church for long, it was as if I was pissed with God, with family but mostly with myself. But when I breathed again, darkness was cold, and suddenly a part of me missed the warmth.

Where was everyone, I didn’t even remember who that everyone was. But there were shoes, different kinds unfamiliar but mine were missing. What day was it? I didn’t matter I didn’t how long I was out for. There in the corner of the kitchen was my phone. The screen had cracked and it was off. Yes, the screen was cracked for a long time. Why wasn’t I leaving?

I finally mustered my strength to walk out of the door. It was hollow as if someone had sucked the life out of it. The man in the neighboring space stared at my chest, I didn’t care. I slowly walked towards the stairs. There were a lot of people going up and down the stairs. All were staring at me. I wanted to scream that I wasn’t a whore but I didn’t have the voice.

I remembered how young I was when a man first entered my body and contaminated my soul. I was angry because I was alone and helpless. As the anger faded I remembered that smile on his face, the first love they say. His laugh echoed. As his laugh faded, I remembered that girl from college, she called out my name from the top floor, I turned but she wasn’t around. I saw my dad, I wanted to reach out to him, I couldn’t. There was a pool of mom’s tears on the bottom of the staircase, “woman! stop crying”, I almost screamed but there was no sound. I remembered the heartbreak, but it wasn’t my heartbreak but why could I feel it as if it was my soul that was hurt. I climbed down those never-ending stairs. I was cold and I was tired. When I almost gave up, a ray of sunshine hit me and I walked out of that space, embraced the sunlight and collapsed.

Newspapers headlines dated 19-09-2014: A unidentified body of a female found under a construction site. Around the age of 20-28, dressed in khaki shorts and a white t-shirt. Suspected rape and murder.

Prose

You killed me or Maybe I killed myself.

When we were on the verge of moving apart, I went into a state of mental paralysis. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation or just mere anticipation of the moment that drove me mad. I was like a country that was suddenly being attacked by forces it couldn’t comprehend. I held on to every little thing in a bid to salvage whatever remained of me but I was failing. I became too technical about the entire incident. I watched videos read a million articles on the science of the heartbreak. I somehow believed it was the only thing capable of saving my life. Heartbreak affects the same part of the brain as cocaine withdrawal and this fact was my painkiller. I refused to see it as a human, became more of a machine every day. The human in me revolted and it was like a civil war breaking out when the country is already being torn apart by external forces. I sought a doctor who could kill the human inside of me. She reluctantly enabled my access to drugs that would make me a machine but save my life.

I wanted to unsubscribe from those early morning dreams of you, a million questions I was throwing at you that you believed you didn’t owe me answers to. I think you knew, I’d be gone once I found my answers. So you decided to play with my head. You knew me so well, and it was my undoing of self. I gave you the right to destroy me and destroy me, you did in a bid to never let me go. You patronized me instead of just blurting out the truth. You were scared of the truth. From where I was standing, I wasn’t the least bit scared of it. Those pills couldn’t stop my dreams, but they stopped my ability to process them. I saw you like you were a movie on TV. I woke up, rushed to the cabinet where my pills were neatly placed. Those pills burned my stomach so I had to eat and I had to keep myself hydrated. At least, I was consuming food.

I could see my world falling apart, shattering glasses and orphaned shoes on deserted streets but it didn’t faze me. The human inside me was dead and you could see it in my eyes. I broke down every now and then, but the drugs worked well to keep me stable. I ate them for 8 weeks. Did you know, it takes 4weeks to make something a habit? In 8 weeks I was sufficiently a machine who could mimic a human so perfectly my folks were pleased. It was like building a swanky makeshift mall in a graveyard. When the lights went out, it was the playground for ghosts. Ghosts of our past.

They say it’s no big deal, and time would sort it out. If only time could bring back the dead. You left me vulnerable to the vultures that told me if I could be used by you, I could be used by them. Fortunately, now I was run by a fuel and not emotions, so it was okay to hear such disgraceful words being said. I was asked to stop dreaming and start conforming. What was my fault? I let you get away easy or that I loved you.

I told you that I wanted nothing to do with you. I wanted to left alone in my own world. It was easier than choking on your lies every day. You acted like a victim but I was the one who died as a collateral damage of your cowardice.

Prose

My World View at 25

4/21/2015
13:29

1. We are actually stuck between Gen X and Gen Z. With Baby Boomers almost out of the equation (See the PMs Cabinet), Gen X think we are over smart for our own good, and Gen Z think we are too dumb. My little cousin just told me, “Arre that was your time, now things are different”.

2. Physical Limitations are real and no one seems to comprehend that. Thanks to our awesome working cultures and great lifestyles, it is just migraines to leg pain to backaches all the way up to abnormal growths.

3. Gynecologists and Proctologists are real. Ah… it is a painful process that involves stripping and wishing that it is not cancer.

4. Income Tax is real and please remember, cloth bills and shopping bills do not account for reductions. Damn them!

5. Weight fluctuations are real. Do you miss being size 0 / size perfect for years? Me too.

6. Apparently, cheese cubes and Nutella isn’t considered a staple diet.

7. Everyone is worried about your marriage, regardless of whether they are related to you or not. Like the famous Gabbar Singh, “Shaadi kab hai, kab hai Shaadi.” You are annoyed to a point that, even when your dog looks at you, you exclaim, “Et Tu Brute” (Brute, being the dog’s name)

8. You are in a relationship that’s in a consistent DTR mode, where you don’t know whether your mate wants to marry or not

9. Us against the world is all bullshit, the world will happily break us apart, and we might even cave in

10. Apparently, clothes aren’t going to wash/iron themselves, groceries aren’t going to walk home, food doesn’t cook itself. This whole magical process doesn’t happen anymore

11. All your friends are getting married and suddenly there is no common ground between them and you.

12. Career? What is that? You first tell me, what’s my package?

13. They tell you, you look pretty now. You are like, ” So I wasn’t before?”

14. In-laws of all kinds are real, brother sister mother father, and sometimes they are vicious creatures that Ekta Kapoor warned you about.

15. Money comes Money goes. Fuel bills Gas bills Electricity and phone bills are real expenses. Where did the days go where these bills were all miraculously taken care of, hmmph.

16. Being broke, hung over, dumped by your partner, friend zoned, being jobless, being lost and confused are normal feelings

17. PMS is real, you know that abrupt breaking down into tears, tantrums, mood swings, bitch modes are real. Unlike Sanitary Napkin Ads, buying Stayfree doesn’t make you win an Indian Idol. For the love of God, I would not move an inch from my bed if I had a choice

18. Greys are real, when mom told you umpteen times, oil your hair, you laughed it off? Now, do you see the strands shining like vampire skin in the sun? Serves you right!

19. Texting is no longer considered the real conversation. It seems we have to call and talk

20. Your wardrobe has a confused combination of clothes that you make you look like a kid, and those that make you look like a mother of 2, ones that make you look like a refugee and others that make you feel like its a ballroom party. No middle ground

21. Don’t even talk about shoes, apparently the one pair that goes with all your clothes doesn’t exist.

22. People are going to die, move away and life will still go on as normal

23. The world really doesn’t give a damn whether you are happy or in pain. Each one is finally left to their own devices.

24. Priorities will keep changing and so will things and people

25. Regardless, it’s awesome to be 25, because even Maharashtra Government allows drinking.

On a serious note, with quarter-life already behind, a million dreams to unravel, things to accomplish and miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep.