On Thursday, August 6, 2020 at around 10:00 PM, I went to my room in a mood to read a book which I was planning from post Eid (Elif Shafak’s 10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World) as I had already been reading a poetry book (Rumi’s Little Book of Life: The Garden of the Soul, the Heart, and the Spirit translated by Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin).
So, I wanted to read something side by side as the poetry book was about to finish and I needed something interesting and I thought better to read Elif Shafak’s book.
The reason behind choosing Elif Shafak is that I have already enjoyed The Forty Rules of Love by her so I took 10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World to my study table and began reading about Tequila Leila, a prostitute who is being murdered and dumped in a wheelie bin in the dark, damp outskirts of the city.
But in 10 minutes and 38 seconds, after her heart stops beating, her mind continues to whirr, ranging over her memories, their scents and flavours. I loved it but I was feeling tired. It was obvious that I couldn’t read more as my eyes were in a tussle to rest. I placed my favourite bookmark in the book which reads as “Just one more chapter. Read, eat and sleep.” To be honest, currently sleep was the only thing my mood was to opt.
As the silence of night fell, at around 1:25 AM, I woke up with my eyes still half-open. I looked for my phone so that I can check the time and put its torch on. After a couple of seconds, I realized my eyes are still closed while I am trying. I checked the time from the phone lying on my right side; I put its torch on and grabbed the water bottle. While sipping water, I tried to calm down myself and deviate my mind but the flashback of the nightmare still kept disturbing me.
What I saw was disturbing me. It was an Urs of some religious place on the top of the mountain while the sea of people assembled in the half-watered ground below that place. Everybody was having bags full of small multi-coloured pebbles.
I couldn’t understand why were they counting those beautiful pebbles and putting them back in the polythene bags as it still seemed a mystery to me. They were chanting something which I was unable to understand but someone was shouting, “Hey! Look here, they killed him.” I saw a pool full of blood that turned my face pale. I was running here and there in between those unknown faces.
Suddenly the scene changed. It was a palace where Zulekha is. Basically, I had watched the Documentary on Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) a couple of months back on YouTube so it was somewhere in my subconscious mind. She was taken on the shoulders of women who were wearing silver jewellery, long hair extensions which looked like black knitting wool on their heads and crown, made of some gold shaped Cobra on their heads, black eyeliner on the eyelids and smudged kohl in eyes with red cheeks, long cloak hoodies of golden and silver colour which they were all wearing.
Someone told me to hold Zulekha’s hands; her long metal nails were so sharp and more than normal I felt. But before I could hold her hands, they said there is this condition which will be your punishment: If we don’t find many people eating Wazwan, she will pierce her nails into your palms.
They kept counting the number while I was able to heave a sigh of relief. Suddenly, she opened her nails and was about to pierce them into my palm but I somehow managed to counter back and her beautiful face turned to some deviled face which was unpredictable. Suddenly, my eyes blinked and I found myself in the same ground from where I came running to this palace.
I found one Aunty. She was one of my relative whose identity I don’t want to disclose. However, she was conspiring against me. Don’t know what was in her mind and suddenly, she disappears from the scene. I searched everywhere but could not find her. I kept walking towards the left and the road seemed straight so I kept walking, seeing torn faces, some without legs, some without arms and hands, blood oozing from their mouths, and that smile which was so horrible, some were eating each other’s flesh and smiled while seeing me.
I was pressing as if they were normal human beings and suddenly that Aunty sighted in a crowd of people and started calling me by my nickname Nazuuuuuuu… I don’t know why she used called my name for so long. Without looking here and there, I kept running to escape untouched by those Zombies.
Amid this, I saw myself reach into a half-wooden half-concrete room but couldn’t understand why I came there. Someone suddenly just put the hand on my shoulder; I looked around but couldn’t see any face as it was so dark like the night had fallen on that side. The person then asks me, “What you are doing here?” I was not in a position to return a single word.
In the meantime, she hugged me and I felt like it was my maternal grandmother, asking me what happened. Between so many voices, I could recognize her voice. Yes, my heart told me that she was somewhere around. I told her that my Radio’s wire broke down into pieces as that wire was made of some glass. I lied to her as there was one fat young man standing next to her. I didn’t want to disclose what actually had happened.
There was a hole in the small square-shaped plywood from which I peeped and showed the half plug in the pile of rat faeces to my friend. The fat man somehow managed to reach the next room which was too small. One had to bend down in order to reach that room. I could feel the stinky smell of faeces and I wanted to go home where I was. After some time, that fat man came up with that radio lead. I didn’t want to touch that. “My friend, I have so many,” he told me.
Suddenly, I realized where I was. I was actually sleeping. I ought to sleep as I had to wake up early in the morning. But my heart was pounding so fast as I was still thinking about that nightmare. I thought of praying – two Rakats – and sleep peacefully that would be much better than thinking about it.
So I performed Wudu (ablution) and prayed. I felt much better and slept until I heard the Azan of Fajr (morning prayer). I had forgotten about that nightmare and got ready for the prayers. Prayed again and I slept this time thinking that there’s nothing to worry now. I said to myself that I won’t see anything unusual as it’s like Raat Gayi Baat Gayi. So, I forgot about what happened last night and concentrated on my sleep.
However, within no time I found myself in the same position the way Zuleikha was taken by those women in the palace but I was in the hospital with open abdomen, blood oozing from my half-stitched abdomen. I was half-conscious. I could hear people roaming the corridors of SMHS. I felt this was never-ending and I was still hearing half-spoken words like abdomen..blood… run….doctor…anesthesia…oxygen…tranostat…
But I got a call from Seerat. My mama picked up and said Seerat is calling. Hearing this name, I opened my eyes and shut again while touching my abdomen and the blood in my hand.
Suddenly, I found myself in the basket which was in the middle of the river and that basket reached towards the shore. A short and trimmed-bearded, 6-feet tall young man wearing a long Kurta with blue jeans, who was there waiting for something, abruptly found me in the basket and took me out from that basket and then to his home.
He asked me to go to ‘that’ room and sleep. I was looking towards his face which was slowly getting invisible. I rubbed my eyes, and a little kid somehow appeared and started laughing. The room walls were half-painted and before I could say anything, I slept.
After three hours, I found everything is fine. It was just a dream. I checked my abdomen and looked here and there. Then, I started thinking: Why I was in SMHS Hospital? What had happened? Who was that young man who saved me?
I thought to jot this down but couldn’t get the courage to write this. After two days, I started to recapitulate each and every moment and began to type it on my laptop.
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