Wednesday, January 20, 2016

In The Hollow Cage

Hollow Cage

Written By: Midhat Amna.

I lay here still in eternal silence. The curtains are drawn back,allowing the morning light to pierce my eyes. I almost reach out to screen my face,until I realize the very undeniable fact – that I can’t. Diya thinks it’s inspiriting.”But you’ll feel good, jaaneman“, she insists whenever I manage to protest silently.” Let the light reach the cores within.”

It’s 9 a.m.The clock hanging above glares at my miserable self,cursing the living corpse that I am. My eyes lay fixed on the needle as it crosses every numeral-tick tock tick tock, it mocks. At last,the ticking growls so loud my body almost twitches to the torture. A rush of relief floods through me as the telly turns on in the next room,the ticking lost somewhere in the compositions of Keith Emerson. I still haven’t the slightest clue who lives there.My mind once again suspends itself into a million questions,playing over and over again like a song on repeat.

My soul starts dancing to the Trilogy,while I lay here locked up in my own body. The Locked-in Syndrome;it’s a pretty straightforward name for a disease, like no other word was considered more appropriate for it’s description. It’s worse when the night crawls in,like it literally inflicts physical pain. The loneliness,the darkness. It starts within the cores,slowly spreading to every inch within me as I finally drown in it.Every night. I try to scream,thinking it might be a way to let out some of the frustration,but not a single gasp escapes my throat. And it is then when I realize that the only thing better than this is death,the kind when you finally stop existing unlike you struggle to do so every day.Funny, isn’t it? Even death has it’s stages. I realize I have been staring at those hideously pale curtains all this time,how I usually do. Yet, I still haven’t been able to make of the shapeless,revolting patterns inscribed on the velvet cloth. Life is so much like this printed fabric.

Just in time,the door creaks open and walks in my best friend,Diya. Her china-doll face wears an unusually forced smile,eyes twinkling with tears she’s trying to conceal.Quietly,she walks towards my bed holding a blue file in her hand.As she sits beside me,she recites a few holy verses and holds my hand firmly,as if to keep me from going somewhere. Diya;just as her name suggests,has been the only source of light in the darkest corner of my life.The only person who saved me from falling off the very edge,that one person who refused to give up on me when everyone else walked away.I don’t remember the last time I saw her this way,but today she gives in. Something tells me all this has to do with me.I blink my eyes several times trying to force the news out of her,but she pretends to have never noticed.It definitely has to do something with me.

We’ve been best friends since high school, Diya and I. While she was always the quiet,collected kid in class I was the perky one who would drag her into parties where she’d rather sit in a corner and sip Cola,and keep herself prepared to save me from any trouble.While she had dreams for Harvard,I quickly got myself a degree from the local community college. “Are you even living?” I’d tease her every now and then.I think I’ve finally got my answer.Though after all these years,I’ve come up with the conclusion.It’s true,opposites do attract.

The phone starts ringing.A kid chants at the other end,it must be her son.I’ll admit,I wasn’t very delighted when he was born.Apart the fact that I’ve never liked kids anyway,even the thought of Diya giving anyone else her entire attention made me tremble upon my knees. She coos in response to whatever he babbles,and knowing I’m getting irritated already,she quickly hangs up after telling the nanny she’d be late. “Sorry….”,she murmurs,”kids.” Just then,the phone starts buzzing again.She doesn’t receive the call however.Once again,she holds my hand and whispers softly. “I’ll be right outside.But I’m here though,forever and always.”

The room is now dark.It’s a strange day,today.I wonder if it’s the file that has to do with anything.Not that I care, ofcourse,it’s just the curiosity that runs in my veins.I close my eyes,trying to grow comfortable to the infernal silence,and just then some footsteps interrupt my meditation. Gentle,familiar footsteps.As they get near,a scent as familiar permeates the room. The seducing, powerful fragrance of Dior Homme, stirred with the moments I now call memories.A thrilling touch,intoxicating kisses,the promises I still believe you wouldn’t break,it all starts pouring into my mind.

No…it can’t be. A part of me resides in denial,the other quavers in excitement.It’s like I’m alive again,as if all the incapacity,the inability was just an absence,the absence of this one man. I open my eyes,wide and eager and teary.It’s just like one of those dreams,except that this moment seems much more real.He stands a few steps away,the silhouette of his body lingering over me.He’s here,Michael’s finally here. I’ll admit I’ve played this moment many times,thinking it would stay only in my imagination,four months in a bed and how I’d never stop playing it.Hope never dies,I realize.No matter how many times it gets shattered or defeated,it never ceases to exist.It’s today I thank hope for being there at all. Nothing matters anymore,it’s just this moment that will stay with me till the very end.He finally whispers my name,this whisper that lights up every living cell in my body.And it’s when he turns on the lamp I can finally see him.I may have missed some wrinkles on his face,serene as ever.Nothing’s really changed about him,except for a pale mask of guilt he wears.He doesn’t avert his gaze though,his lips are just as sealed as mine,it’s actually the eyes doing the talking.

The last time I saw him was before the accident,and no matter how hard I try,I haven’t been able to erase any detail of it.We had fought before it,we may have even called off the engagement,but I still can’t get myself to the reason why he got so angry.So angry,that he never bothered to visit all these months.But it doesn’t matter anymore,does it? He’s here and that’s all. No,I’m not being naive.People make mistakes,it’s alright. He’s come here to fix it,yes,he’s come here to win me back.Right Michael? I watch him finally break into tears,as if he were holding them for too long.I curse my paralyzed body at this very moment,how I wish I could hug you Michael.It’s okay Michael,it’s okay.His tears roll down on my hand,it’s like those moments in the fairy tales when a true love’s teardrops could heal everything.I can’t move my hand though,but it’s like all the power is draining back into my body.Like everything that was missing has finally been restored.And now that I’ve finally been able to cry the tears of joy,happiness,hope yet pain and misery;all at the same time.I don’t know for how long we stay this way,it’s as if even the time is so stirred that it forgot to move ahead.

Slowly, everything starts getting numb.Except for his arms around me,that’s all I could feel.My eyes glow as I continue to fade into him,whether it’s sleep or death I’m drowning in,I don’t know and nor do I care.But be it death;it would be the most beautiful of all kinds.Or be this sleep,may this one be the deepest from all times.

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