The excitement of the new project had begun to fade away. Adventure became regular in face. My enthusiasm level was at five then, not completely worn off but I was in need of a caffeine shot to wake up from the drowsy non-happening routine. I had already been to all the markets and captured culture on a reel. The initial terror of being in a slight war zone area had also withered down the scale- mercury didn’t shoot up when I heard the local clamour. The neighbours had accepted me, though I still felt out of place. I was hesitant to ask them to lower their voices. I didn’t ask the landlord to provide me with darker, heavier curtains, I got them done on my own. I realised that it is not my home and that people will not be aware of my preferences: silence and darkness.
I had to be there for another seven days. I lay crouched on my bed making a list of farewell gifts. I made a couple of new friends. I have been a fan of goodbye gifts so that if it is the last time to see a person, along with their glistening eyes, even their smile that hides unuttered emotions is captured in my eyes.
I remember waking up from this dreamy patch in a frenzy. My parents were trying to FaceTime me and my laptop went on. I got a little scared, to be very honest. Such loud notification noise and laptop vomiting light in the otherwise candle lit room. The fright of being in such a place never leaves one’s body, I suppose. They couldn’t connect for the longest time and then I lost hope and energy to try a millionth time. They left me a message instead, to which I couldn’t reply. They saw a news clip of a possible attack or community war and wanted me to shut myself up. I should have been updated by the police or by my company. So I got up yet again and walked to my window to look down the street. The breeze was cold and unusually silent. The lamp posts had been switched off. I could see a few shadows. This pinched me a little.
I had been in this city for two months now. No terror activities. I was told that my love for darkness would turn to hatred for it. No one looked suspicious to me. In fact, I was surprised and it jerked my sensibilities to find such beautiful humans. I had learned and trained myself to expect the opposite all my life. What I saw seemed to defy every report I read and every clip I saw and every picture I looked at. This couldn’t have been a war zone. And I was proud to be taking back such immense pleasure in my heart and calm stories in my files.
I was about to resume my agenda list when I heard a deafening noise. The building shivered, it was so loud. I quickly kept a glass on the floor. I guess, more than knowing, I hoped that it was just an earthquake. Human mind is so fickle. Loss caused could be as severe as a blast but it still seemed like a better wish in that moment.
Another blast. That was closer. Shut windows didn’t do a great job of cutting out on voices. The murmur turned noise was even more terrifying because I didn’t know what to make of it, how to comprehend this panic stricken language. I quickly reached out for my phone to inform somebody. But the network had been cut. A pang of terror hit my nerves.
After 1800 seconds, another blast. It punctured my ear drum but I wasn’t yet deaf. I had to go through the pain of listening people cry for help and their agony. I had to listen to my teeth clattering. I still listened to all that before falling asleep. I was glad that I was sitting in the dark. Light meant fire, torchlights, blasts. Light meant human life—which I feared. I didn’t want to see the faces of whoever was carrying out those activities. I feared looking into a face that I had given my heart to.
I loved dark rooms. They developed the pictures I clicked. They were the rooms where I buried my secrets. “Dark room,” the game, was the liveliest memory of my childhood. It is from a dark womb that a child comes into this world. 3am is the time I write. In the darkest of hours, the most vibrant pieces turned to ink. You could cry and no one would notice. You could smile and light up a dark room. Darkness was personal and private and a secret keeper and a love bearer. Absence of light saved me again that day. No light meant no existence in the eyes of the world. They didn’t know that a life breathed cautiously in the dark on the fourth floor of the building that stood alone at the end of the fifth lane called Mehr.
The only terror-stricken piece from my stay there.
I am sitting on wet bathroom floor. I used to jump when I saw a cockroach but this turns me to iron. An iron that is ready to melt but doesn’t know how to. When I know that death might be ringing the bell at any moment, I need ink. The sweat trickling down my forehead doesn’t allow me to write. My hands shiver. Language in my arm turns to gibberish on the paper. I don’t know who is killing them. All seem innocent in their own right and violators too. What is the religion of humanity?
While waiting for an unwanted guest to arrive; those relations I’ve made in such a short span, light my nerves and current runs through my spine.
BOOM and life turns to ruins again.