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.




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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