What is this place? It’s so dark in here.
Where am I? I can’t move.
Am I trapped? I feel confined.
I glanced around, swiftly trying to figure out this strange place where a moment ago I had just opened my eyes. I couldn’t see anything. Darkness and haziness completely engulfed me. It was so quiet in here until I heard a noisy scream. I could feel the intense agony in that scream which echoed in my ears for a long time. The scream resembled the sound of a shattered, injured, and tormented soul. I don’t know how I could tell; I could simply feel it. I felt as if it belonged to me or it came from within me.
The noisy scream continued for a time and, now it wasn’t quite so loud. The darkness turned darker and darker. All of a sudden, I felt a big push, and this little world of mine was shaken completely and turned upside down. It hurt badly. Within seconds, the serenity was gone and a ferocious noise reverberated in my ears followed by a sequel of loud screams. I could hear the painful cries and heavy breathing, which eventually settled. It was calm again.
The feeling was different and peculiar, like an aftermath of a storm leaving behind all the destruction. I started to feel warm in here. The glow was brimming with consideration, affection, and feelings. I felt protected and safe. The darkness did not scare me anymore. It was now filled with laughter, smiles, and joy. I could feel it. Be that as it may, I thought about whether this would keep going for a considerable length of time.
My short memory found that moments of screams and joys were almost repetitive.
A few more days in here and finally, I saw the light. As I tried to get familiar to this light, I could hear screams, a continuous rush of screams and adrenaline rushed through my veins, my heart thumping faster, but this time, it further strengthened me–making me more vital and fresh. The most intriguing aspect was that the screams were not similar to the ones I had been experiencing previously.
There was a perfect amalgamation of both joy and pain together.
The light was slowly taking over my dark world and I knew I was getting out of this place into the light, only to find that I was much safer in the dark. This place seemed different to me. Everyone had smiles on their faces, except for this one woman, who had a smile, as well as tears, in her eyes.
Her eyes were telling me a different story.
They had contentment and fear at the same time. What was she scared of? Was it the people around her or was it me? I wasn’t able to figure it out at that moment. I was in the state of confusion when suddenly I heard a loud, heavy voice shaking the entire room.
It was then when I saw fear in that woman’s eyes multiply at an exponential rate. She held me in a more protective manner and it actually scared me. I could hear that boisterous shrill voice continuously hurting my ears and shaking the entire room with terror. It was a déjà vu feeling for me. The screams, the noise, the cries, everything seemed familiar to me. I could see the man lashing out on that woman, with everybody else idolizing him.
A sudden surge of outrage filled my body, but I was helpless. I wanted to stop that man, but I couldn’t. My little fingers were only able to grab the skin of that woman and I tried my best not to let go. Minutes passed, and so did hours.
I knew it was time for it all. The loud voices, the screams, the noise, the tears, the cries, the love, the pain. It had become a part of me. Now it did not scare me anymore and it neither scared that woman. I believed it was time we both had accepted our fate.
As time passed, I began to learn more about this world filled with light. I began to realize that my dark world was much more safe and sound, but I could not run from the harsh reality of this world as this is where I would spend the rest of my years. In a few years, I did not have to hold on to anybody because I was able to walk. I often used this ability to hide myself behind a shelf every time I heard those heavy footsteps approaching the room.
I could now see the man beating the life out of that woman and calling her different names I could not understand.
I could only make sure he did not see me. Every time I saw him, fear caught me from within me and shivers ran down my spine. I couldn’t speak a word.
Now that I was able to roam around the place, I met other people. Some of them liked me, some did not. I was able to accept this fact and live on. A few more months passed and one day I saw a huge crowd in my house. Everyone surrounding the woman who loved me the most. I was wondering what was wrong with her. I could hear her screams once again and these seemed similar to the ones I heard long ago when I was leaving my dark world. I ran towards her and there I saw a cute little being continuously crying. I was able to tell what was going through that little being’s head as it was not long ago I had experienced the same feelings. Everyone was happy and smiles and joy filled the atmosphere.
But wait, something was about to go wrong. I could sense it, and not to my surprise, it was him. I could feel the anger and rage making its presence into this joyous ambiance as he entered. I was scared that he would again repeat what he always does, so I quickly ran towards my hiding spot behind the shelf and waited there.
Shocked to see, he held that little being in his hands and smiled.
This was the first time in all those years I had seen a smile on his face. I was happy, but puzzled, too. I could not tell what had changed his behavior. What was it that made him smile seeing this little being and lash out when he saw me? The next few days I spent watching him as he would come in the room more frequently now. I would not hear his heavy voice anymore nor the woman’s screams any longer. I was amazed to see this change, but at the same time I was content to know that things were now normal. I used to watch that little being for hours trying to figure out what was so different. The only thing I was able to tell was that my hair was a bit longer but this made no sense to me. Eventually I stopped looking for differences and started to love and care that little thing. Even though I did not like the huge difference in everyone’s behavior towards both of us. Eventually, I accepted that fact.
It had been five years now since I was here in this world and by now I realized that I was a lesser being compared to Zaid, my little brother, but I was not able to tell why.
As time passed, my love and care would continue to grow for him. I no longer cared about this fact that the man with the heavy voice, who was my father, loved me or not. All I cared about was that pretty woman, my mother, and my little brother. I would wake up with him in the morning and helped him to dress and prepare to go with my father. He would go somewhere every day carrying a cute little bag on his back which contained wooden sticks and colorful papers. I never asked my father if he could take me along as well. I would just wait for Zaid to come back and show me those papers with colorful drawings.
In the afternoon, I helped my mother with the household chores. I could still see the shattered hopes and a feeling of helplessness in her eyes every time she watched me with Zaid but she never uttered a word, and neither did I. Maybe it wasn’t necessary or maybe we both started understanding unsaid and unheard words. Even though it had been many years now, maybe eight or nine, but I would still hide behind the shelf every time I heard my father’s footsteps. It had become a habit for me.
I would still hear my mother’s screams and cries at night but in the morning we both would just stare at each other, say nothing, and carry on with our routine.
Lying in one corner of the house at night, hearing these loud screams filled with agony, reminded me of the time I was in my dark world. It was similar, as I was helpless back then and helpless now. How I wish I could go back or had never come out into this light. How I wished I could just end all of it right that very moment. What stopped me were those eyes full of hopes staring at me every morning and expecting me to feel that hidden pain. Things did not “seem to be” anymore to me, they were just obvious now. I spent enough time in this world now and was able to feel other people’s joy and pain. Most importantly, I was able to feel the pain and suffering which my mother experienced. I felt stronger from within, but weaker from the outside.
I was my mother’s pride, but my father’s disgrace.
I don’t remember doing anything wrong to him and I was still not able to find the answer behind his bias and hatred towards me. I just accepted that fact too, like all the other facts in my life. I knew I had that courage to speak up, I just did not want to. Not now–no. I had adapted this silence for good. But I was sure my mother would read every word in my silence, yet she said nothing, and I did not blame her for it. This world was really no different than the previous.
I was trapped then. I was caged now.
Time passed, and every day seemed like the previous days until one day, when I had to welcome another man in my life. I didn’t see his face neither did I know what was happening. I did what my mother asked me to do. In a matter of only a few hours, some people took me to a new place. I was told by my mother that this was my new home. Later that day, I sat alone in the dark in this new place waiting for nothing. I was just wondering how quick it was for me to switch homes. While I was busy thinking about all of this, I began to hear footsteps and the door slammed open.
There stood a dark, bulky man staring at me. I could see the thirst in his eyes.
For a moment I did not feel like a human being, but a tool. He shut the door behind him and walked towards me. He started to take off his clothes while staring at me. I could not gaze directly into his eyes, so I looked down. A few seconds later, it was the first time I remember that a man had touched me. During the next few minutes, all I remember was the blood, sweat, and tears. I could hear myself screaming and screaming. Yes– the screams were familiar to me. The only difference was that It was not my mother this time.
As days passed, it wasn’t something new for me anymore as it would happen almost every day. I would spend my day doing the chores, and at night, feeding his hunger. Once again, I had to let this be a part of me and accept this fact, too.
Thinking about all the years I had lived, I sometimes wonder, maybe I was actually a lesser being, maybe I was not worthy enough.
Everything that I had seen my mother go through, I was now experiencing myself.
The screams, the suffering, the tears, the pain, the cries, the hope, and maybe that is why it didn’t feel new to me when finally today, the first time in these 14 years of my life, I am surrounded by a crowd, along with my husband, awaiting the arrival of my child, and anxiously waiting for it to either bring pride or disgrace to him.