The following is a fictional and original story based on the current pandemic.Reading time: 4 min 19 sec
I woke up to silence on the bed. The room was dark with a peak of light from the space between the window and the mid-wall curtain. I tried to remember what day it was and what I was doing here but I could not remember. I was scared.
My hands started sweating and I suddenly started to feel out of breath. I wiped my hands on my clothes, and took a big breath in, and exhaled out through my mouth. I tried taking big breaths to stop the anxiety attack that I knew would be coming if I do not calm myself down. I closed my eyes, not that that was needed since it was already dark, but it was an automatic response to my anxiety attack.
‘Keep calm. It’s going to be fine’, I said this out loud and I almost smiled.
This was a routine that my dearest friend, Shamima, and I used to do whenever I would be in uncomfortable situations. I waited for a few moments and tried to think of what to do next. I needed to get out of this room to find someone, to try to understand where I was. I tried feeling the space around me to look for a light switch. On my right, there seemed to be a bare wall and on the left, I felt what seemed to be a closet. I was scared of what I might find if I get down the bed since there was no light. I yanked the curtain open. The windows were dark and it seemed that they were covered with dark paper from the outside and one of the paper/tints got loose and that’s where the light came from.
I got down the bed and my feet landed on wooden flooring. I took one step further and tripped over a slipper and almost fell. I groped the closet, but the wardrobe had a glossy finish and my sweaty hands just slid off and I fell hard on my knees. I wiped my hands on my clothes again and groped the wardrobe again. I took small, cautious steps and continued fumbling on the wall next to the closet for a light switch. The walls were bare with a socket on the bottom. A few steps further from the wall, my sweaty hands encountered a metal knob. It seemed to be a door. I could feel air coming through from under it. I tried yanking it open with no luck.
I started feeling hot. After the door, there was a wall and there was a piece of wood encroached on the wall like a table. The table ended just next to the foot of the bed and that made me realized that that was all there is to the room. I felt trapped. My legs were trembling and could no longer support me. I gripped the ‘table’ but my hands felt weak as well. I sat down next to the table with my legs flat out. Tears streamed down my face noiselessly and I passed out.
From the crack in the door
A bright and effervescent light came in
Eroding the darkness I was in
A light so bright blinding me
But I still stared at the ray that mesmerized me
A gamut of sounds echoed in my virgin ears
Chirping, rustling, honking, swishing, and swirling
So different from the nothingness I knew
Feet touching the ground surreptitiously
So soft and furry to the hard and prickly edges I was used to
Closing my eyes
Taking the wind in my hair
The warmth on my face
The leaves under my feet
I moved forward
Going where my impatient mind and feet took me
With excitement, exhilaration, and fear
A new world was waiting for me
I opened my eyes upon feeling droplets of water on my face. There was a sudden change in weather. Dark, grey clouds covered the blue sky I was sitting under. I wore the jacket that I had kept on the bench next to me. I opened my bag for the umbrella that I always carried with me. I opened the umbrella and took the path to the exit. I walked leisurely, with no care for the rain that was about to drizzle down. I took in the beautiful flower gardens, the fountain, and all the people around me. I stopped just before the exit, in front of the big screen that showed the number of people in the park and other key numbers like the noise level, temperature, etc.
My eyes opened to the light. I quickly got up and saw black spots around me. I closed my eyes and held myself against the wall. I waited for a few moments for the dizziness to subside. I then opened my eyes and looked for water or liquid of some sort. I found a bottle half full of water lying under the makeshift table. I got down on my knees, grabbed the bottle, and drank thirstily. I retried opening the door and it opened at once.
I continued down the wall to what seemed to be the living room. An open suitcase full of clothes, packs of bottled water, toilet rolls, and boxes of canned food were spread next to the only piece of seating in the room. I went and sat on the couch and stared right ahead of me. I was tired, hungry, lonely, angry. I remembered then.
I went against my parents’ advice and came to an unknown land to make it as a consultant for a small marketing firm. That job turned out to be a fake one and I had to make a living by tutoring children. That was before the pandemic. I lost my job as the tutoring institute no longer had a budget. Borders were closed and that meant I could also not return to my homeland. I had no shame to go back. I just wanted to be safe at this point. I had very little to continue to meet my basic necessities. I applied to different jobs, successfully bagging one or two interviews but I would always lose out at the final rounds. I would go for walks in the nearby park to get out of the lonely apartment I lived in, but that little escapade only made me feel more isolated. There seems to be no end to this murderous virus that made the world go still for more than a year now.
I should have posted a book review today for my recently launched book club but I haven’t finished reading yet. In order to absolve myself of the guilt, I tried writing a short story.
See you next week for a new post.