Archive for July, 2015

The first time that I saw him, he was either smoking or coughing or perhaps a little bit of both I am not certain. I didn’t know him. I was interested to see a man who kept smoking his cigarette, despite the coughing that was induced every time he brought the cigarette to his lips. It had stirred my thoughts and made me ponder this question that why do people keep doing those things that harm them? I recalled some other such cases and on reflecting on this for a while I had even found a reason; pleasure. ‘Pleasure is a great folly’, I thought. I had finished my drink and would have given more thought to this perplexing riddle when I realized that all this exercising of my brain I was doing with my eyes fixed on this poor, smoking soul.
I was naturally very ashamed and more so when I found that the subject of my rude staring had also taken notice. I instantly called the waiter and hurriedly paid the bell. It was outside that café that he spoke to me for the first and the last time. Once out of the café, I had stood and waited for something to happen. I hadn’t known what then, but now I do. I was waiting for him to come and talk to me.

He had come and stood beside me, still smoking his cigarette. I looked at his face, which was too close for my liking. His features were not what people would call attractive, yet I found him attractive. I think when a person of opposite gender is at a certain distance from you, it is not difficult to find him attractive-a certain distance; not too close yet not too far; just the right distance.

I could smell the stink of cigarette that clung to him like a dying person clings to his life; faint yet strong. He threw the stub of his half smoked cigarette and killed the small red embers of the ash with his right foot.

I was frightened that he will talk to me and then there will be a lot of embarrassment. Half of me wanted to run away from this smoker who on closer inspection looked very ugly to me. Yet, there was this other half, which was unusually attracted to him and wanted him to say something to me. All this was in my mind, but what I was really thinking was something totally useless. I was thinking that he has used his right foot to kill the ashes so he must be a left brained or does that make him right brained. I was very confused with this thought when he finally spoke.

‘Hello’, he said. I looked at him and was confused what to do. He waited, and then he said, ‘you are very beautiful, you know’ I nodded at this, he smiled and said, “and vain too”

I shook my head at this. I wanted to tell him that I am aware of my beauty just as much as an ugly husband is aware of his beautiful wife’s charms that make him proud and hurt at the same time. My beauty reminds me of my dishonoring, and my silencing. At the mention of my beauty I am capable of showing two kinds of emotions; crazy anger or extreme delight.

My anger is the result of my remembering the greatest tragedy of my life that happened to me four years ago, on my sixteenth birthday. It was an exceptionally clear day and I was very clear in my mind as to what I would do with my life. Sixteen is an age at which girls all around the world become one in thinking that they have achieved some great feet, as if the mere passing of this one-year that turned them from fifteen to sixteen has somehow magically transformed them into a different person. As foolish as this concept is, I was a staunch believer of it and just as the clock had struck 12; I had in my mind and thought converted from an inexperienced and timid girl to a mature woman; an epitome of grace and wisdom.

Such was the fanciful mood in which I went to take a stroll in that wretched alleyway at the back of our house. ‘The dark side’ was what they used to call it and all the girls my age and younger were not allowed to step a foot in there. Even the sons of the gentlemen were discouraged to go there alone. It was said that this street was the dwelling of evil witches and warlocks and the stories that most vile crimes were practiced here were common. Yet, I was drunk on my idea of sweet sixteen and went to do what few other of my gender had ever thought of doing. Besides, I wanted to show Eliza, my nemesis, what I am capable of doing.

When I stepped into the street, it was already half past five in the evening. I had planned to return before six, to participate in the preparations of my birthday party. Initially, I was not frightened at all because I didn’t believe in the dark forces and I used to have this whimsy idea that my beauty is powerful enough to fight the evil or at least what would be evil to me. It was not so whimsical, though, for, I had on previous occasions used my beauty to avoid many retribution and flogging, for whom could possibly think of hurting such innocent and lovely a girl as little Margaret.

Little they used to call me in my younger years for as a child, I used to be very small, but now that was not the case. I was not only beautiful in the face, but I was and Istill am, what they call perfection in physique as well. I used to walk with such pomp as would be befitting a Queen. I was walking in a similar manner in the alley too. I was half way through it when I first felt terror. For a minute I thought I was being stared at and then it was confirmed as I saw two huge eyes somewhere in the shadows. I turned around immediately and walked hurriedly towards the light that was the end of the street, from where I had entered. I chanced a glance back and the eyes were not there anymore. I took a breath of relief, but just, then I collided with something. When I summoned up the courage to look at what I had collided with, I found a man looking at me and his eyes had what I dreaded they would have; lust. I tried to run, but I had not taken a single step before he thrust me towards the wall with his hand on my mouth. I was not given a chance to escape.

Why the mention of my beauty hurts is quite understandable now. No matter how much of an idiot I was, I knew that what attracted that man to me was my beauty. ‘The dark side’ had not been infamous for dark magic and the occult, but for the common day to day villainy. The kind of evil that is even worse than the practicing of dark magic for the forces involved here are humans and not some dark spirits. The bad spirits are expected to be bad and they do not do anything that is not expected of them, but humans in their act of felony only work under their own influence and make their own choices.

The mystery of my hatred towards my good looks is revealed, but what would give me a pleasure if it has proved to be such a bane, is still to be revealed. I feel delighted to hear that I am still considered beautiful and even happier, then I used to feel before this unfortunate accident. As it happens that before this incident, only men cared to indulge in the routine exercise of paying tributes to my loveliness. While women did not tend to find me so appealing and vehemently discouraged the praises I drew from the men of their kin by simply declaring that my looks are merely a matter of over exaggeration. Moreover, I used to discard such comments by classifying them as the consequence of a wicked yet highly common emotion termed as jealousy for I didn’t much care about women’s opinion. But now the women and men share the notion equally and if I start keeping an account of these praises it may not be very surprising if women superseded the men in this activity. For women are a very unpredictable species, they can denounce you when all the world is in your favor and yet they can easily find it in them to grace you with prestige when there would not be many who would like to stand behind your back.

I think we women, have usually very sympathetic or more likely empathetic hearts for a woman is a universal phenomenon and no matter how wide apart, it has spread in this world, it ends up facing similar situations and problems. I care for the opinion of my fellow gender now and their approval gives me a satisfaction that no other thing can give. People can react differently to the same suggestion. It depends on a number of things such as the weather, your mood, the colour of your dress, but most importantly, it depends on the person and his manner of approaching the subject.

In case of this stranger, for the first time in the last four years of my life, my instincts told me to show a different response than the two extremes I was in the habit of practicing previously at the mention of my beauty. I wanted to shout at him all of this that I have just written here, but could not. I wanted to tell him all the stories of my life from the moment I was born to the moment I stood beside him, but my tongue failed me.
It failed me because it was not in my mouth anymore. The scoundrel in the alleyway in that dark night had not only robbed me of my virginity, but had also taken my tongue as a caution for guarding his identity. I saw this stranger recede, just as I had seen the other stranger recede four years ago. Helplessly and with a longing to shout!

Iqra Aslam By Beyond Sanity Publishing

‘Why are we standing in the rain?’ her friend asked her a little agitatedly. She had nothing to say to it because she had no idea why they were standing in the rain. It was a beautiful day. The rain had washed the dust off the trees, making the greens and the browns extremely vivid. The sky was in a different mood, changing shades and never settling for one.

She kept walking under the umbrella that her friend was holding for both of them. She was doing so more for the comfort of her friend than for herself. The rain had never bothered her. She liked all the dirt and water. She wanted to be a part of it all, a drop of rain, a leaf of a tree soaked with raindrops, a small part of a cloud pregnant with water, ready to empty itself or a speck of soil waiting for someone to step over it.

His voice brought the usual mixed feeling that it always did. It was a mixture of lots of emotions varying greatly; a shade of pleasant happiness, a degree of unpleasant regret, an urgency to run far away from him along with a longing to stay rooted to the spot and an element of excited anticipation.

She turned to look at him. He was, as usual, babbling something about how badly someone had done something and how it could have been improved. This was the strangest thing, she thought. All her life she had been a supporter of ‘support the one who is doing it’ yet she knew perfectly well how this guy was. His whole attitude can be surmised as, “If you can’t beat them, criticize them”

Often, his critical remarks were true, but what is the point of trying o discredit people. She couldn’t like the people with this sort of behavior and yet she did. She knew he was a show off. All that he ever did was to try and impress people. Yet, between all his impressions were times when he was not impressive at all. Somehow, those were the moments; she fell in love with him.

She looked away from him. The easiest and the most difficult thing to do in the world, is to look away from someone. It is a decision of a moment. Either you do so in a second or you remain stuck there forever. Once you are stuck, no matter how much time you try to look away you remain stuck forever.

“Have you ever been trapped in a situation where you keep moving in circles, you move so much but never ever reach anywhere?” She asked her friend.

“Yes!” Her friend replied.

“What did you do then?” She asked.

“I opted out of the circle. Now I move in a labyrinth that shifts and changes, but I never find myself in the same spot twice”, said her friend.

“So, you just opt out of it. What if it is not a matter of choice? What if you are trapped?”

“My dear friend you are only as trapped as you think yourself to be”

She knew her friend had a point. She needed a labyrinth. She was walking away from him, planning to draw the most complex and difficult labyrinth around her. No more circles for her, she decided.

Both of the friends kept walking in the rain under the same umbrella. The road was beautiful, rising and falling like the body of a moving snake, moving away from a food that was not caught. It was a road moving away from its destination, instead of moving towards it. To move away from the destination is difficult, but even more unfortunate is doing so unknowingly. Yet, the most painful thing is to realize long after you have reached somewhere else that the place from where you started your journey was actually your destination. The start was the stop.

“But you are still lost, you know?” Her friend said.

“What?” She asked.

“In a labyrinth, you are lost”; her friend said, gazing at a building so far away that it looked like a dot.

“I choose to be lost than being stuck. Sometimes, you find in losing”. She replied back, not completely understanding her own thoughts.

They both kept walking, not knowing why they had been standing in the rain!

Iqra Aslam For Beyond Sanity Publishing

“Sarah, and at that moment, at that very precise moment he felt like he was thrown away into to the space with his soul ripped apart savagely. Backing away in fear, agony he slipped into vicious constellation of chaos, his past. And those terrible omens of death with their cunning cold burning auras sucked life out of the grey eyes. He was a terrible mess of was and is.”  Nathan’s voice broke. Closing his eyes tightly, he clenched his jaws tightly. He was playing with the miseries he had inside his brain. He was relating about the burns he had cloaked beneath the grave silence. There was a thick dust of time between the present and past. Hideous and terrible and loathsome. Taking a deep breath Nathan opened his eyes and looked at Sarah , she sat there frozen and broken. Her face , so pale and her lips closed tightly and her eyes, those hazel green eyes dimly lit. Tears trickling down her cheeks. Nathan nodded his head and began to speak slowly,” He kept waiting for you Sarah. You had to be there. Beside him, with him. It was never just him. It was about both of you. It was about the vow never to broken. It was not one soldier war. It was not Deans war alone Sarah. Why did you leave ? Just because he couldn’t get over the traumas he had to handle on his own? Just because he opened his heart to you ? It was his worst battle Sarah. I saw him ever fight. He was wounded, his soul was shredded. His grey eyes had long lost there shine. He was dead Sarah. He died the very day you left. He was a lump of flesh and bones just with a pouch of memories he had to fight with.” Nathan walked over to the chest of drawers with his hands in his pockets. Sarah had not spoken a word, she was crying silently. Her lips white. She looked as if someone had drenched all the blood out of her. Tears falling into her lap. She was apparently staring at her hands. But her mind was far away from her surroundings. She was at the Hudson Beach, she could hear herself saying how much she hated Dean, and how he stood there dumbstruck over her words. She heard Nathan’s voice in background.

“You see these letters Sarah ? All these letters he wrote to you but never posted. Just because he feared. Yeah, dean feared you. He feared the look in your eyes for him. He was paralysed over the words Sarah. And it took him years to recover and when he did, he had already left us. You know what he wrote in these letters? Not a single letter of how much hurt he was. Not a single phrase of mockery. Not a single statement of explanation. He just wrote… Sarah, all he wrote was how much alone he was… How  much he needed you beside him… in how much pain he was… “ Nathan jerked his head and turned around and hurried towards the window. He couldn’t control over his tears for long. With his hands over the sill of the window, he cried. Amidst the tears he began again,”  I saw my friend die in front of my eyes. I saw him laugh, smile and cry and whimper. I saw him dreading the agony and then living through it. I saw his laughter die away. I saw him in blood and bruises. I saw him ebrious and insomniac. I saw him bleeding and fainting. I saw him on his death bed. I saw his faintly opened grey eyes… I heard him Sarah. I watched him take my hand and speaking in his old husky voice. You know what he said?”  he swallowed a lump of tears.

Sarah lifted her head up, her face wet with tears and her eyes swollen with her hands over her lips.

“Promise me Nathan, you will never tell her about anything…she will hurt herself. Promise me Nathan, you wont for the sake of good old times…I know she will return one day…maybe with flowers in her hand and cranes to put on my grave.I had never been much of a friend for you Nathan… forgive me..”  Nathan sobbed harder and rubbed his eyes furiously and said,” and before i could promise him he left… he left me alone and went for the better place. I loved him like my brother but I couldn’t save him Sarah. I can never forgive myself for closing his eyes with my hands. I hate myself for putting him in his grave. I could have saved him. I could have… ” Nathan sank down exhausted onto the floor cushion. He threw his head in his hands and pulled his hair and wailed. And Sarah , her lips trembled and her eyes wide open with fear. She was shaking and she began to sob and whimper. She had flashbacks.

 Her face shining with tears, Dean wiping away the drops, holding her hands tightly.

 White dress, Cathedral, Vows, smiles. Candles, cakes, wishes.

Dean late night arrival, her voice shouting angrily , Dean bending down and giving her flowers.

Paris tours, miss calls, Dean excusing, Her voice complaining, dean coming with next flight, sick and exhausted. Making up her mood.

Dean fainting, hospital, reports, Dean hiding away the papers.

Sarah was shrieking loudly,” DEAN!!!! No!!!!!”

Hudson beach, i hate you dean. i just hate you. his pale face and trembling lips. backing away with fear. her anger, his fear.

Sarah wild with pain stood up and walked around crazily throwing away the vase and glass stands from the table. Nathan looked at her, she was a mess. Briskly rubbing his face and eyes hard he ran towards her.  She threw another glass at the floor and advanced to hit the table with her fists. Nathan reached and pulled her aside.

” What are you doing Sarah? Don’t do this!” Sarah pulled herself free from his grasp and threw herself over the glass table. The glass broke with a huge shatter as Sarah fell down on the marble.  Glass pierced in her arms and hands. She was bleeding badly. Nathan horrified, pushed her before she could pick up the fragments of glass and hurt herself.

“Listen to me Sarah. Dean has left. He’s gone. You are hurting him by doing this. Don’t do this to my friend.” shaking he pulled the glass piece from her arm but she was drenched in blood. She sat there staring at the open window with blank eyes.

Running over to the kitchen, Nathan looked over for the First Aid Box. He couldn’t hear the sobs and shrieks. There was all silence. Speedily returning to the lounge, he couldn’t see her on the floor neither she was on the sofa. Horrified he looked towards the window. She was there over the sill with the letters in her hands and a blend of mysticism and throes.

” SARAH!!!!!!! “ Nathan yelled his lungs out and ran blindly. But it was too late. She had jumped. Down… down … down…

—————————————————————————————

There was a pool of blood around her crumpled body. Letters all around her body. Nathan fell down on his knees and picked up a paper floating in the blood.

yours forever.

Dean.

and over the name was Sarah’s ring finger… the platinum band soaked in blood as the words engraved read,

“Avoir la foi, mon amour”

——————————————————————————————

Areesh Fatmee For Beyond Sanity Publishing

Under the ashen sky, Haider slowly walked as fiery blazes ignited inside his soul. For once, he was unable to control his anger and his despair. Fragmented and shattered pieces of his broken mind circulated inside his soul. His mind was astray, his thoughts liquefied and his emotions vaporized. Haider was kicked by the ungrateful scums of the society, he was ignored and his passions were named “useless!” Money and wealth, both having a tremendous value in society, were sadly, slightly shy from him. People said that it was because of his own errs; that he didn’t strive for it, didn’t absorb education and that kind of stuff but Haider believed that it wasn’t his fault that he was seeing these results; empty-handed, poor and nothing.

Just when the clock struck midnight, Haider silently entered his creaky home, only to find his weary mother with a sullen expression on her face. He knew that he was about to be bashed with her mother’s worried queries but unexpectedly that day, the only sentence he heard was,

Beta Haider! Where were you? You must be hungry, go have rest. I’ll bring some food for you.”

Haider grouchily replied with only a crude grunt and went inside. He lousily lied on the bed and in a few moments, was asleep. Her mother, finding out that Haider was sleeping, rested the tray on a nearby table and went outside.

Next day, at about dusk, Haider woke up with an evil plan in his mind, fire of revenge was burning in his heart, revenge from the cruel society. He quickly packed all of his belongings and was gone when the whole city was still sleeping, not knowing that the life of a man was about to change that day. Haider did leave a traditional note, but only for his mother so that she could know only that her son was gone.

The history of that family was about to change that very day.

Haider went to the outskirts of the town. There he found the man he was looking for, Jamal, he called himself. Haider could sense a grim look on his face but was suddenly too terrified to admit it. He knew what he had done. He knew into what kind of sinful abyss he had fallen into but there was no running from it now, there was no hiding because he had been trapped; forever!

From there, all the vices and crimes started. Jamal trained him to be a pro dacoit. As they were low on resources so they settled on street-crimes. Haider, silly as it may seem, always used to abide by Jamal’s commands. They used to rob once or twice on the same street and then leave the premises and move onto another street a couple of miles away. Both Haider and Jamal used to come on motorcycles with veiled faces. It wasn’t difficult to rob people. With a terrifying face like that, one was sure to hand over all his valuables and so, it continued just like this for two months. Then, one day, the tables just turned. It all just frighteningly and drastically changed that day. Haider, well he didn’t expect that!

It was just a routine night, thick fog make it easier to target the victim and the victim was just a poor, old, fully veiled women, in her 60s, standing by the bus-stop, desperately waiting for a cab to come. But it never was going to come.

“Ha! That silly grandma shouldn’t be able to see a meter ahead of her. She probably won’t be able to come after us!” snarled Haider as he eyed the woman.

They had been spying that woman for hours as she had went to a nearby ATM machine and withdraw a huge sum. The woman may have looked feeble but she sure bore a lot of money. Jamal accelerated his bike and Haider, who was on the backseat, got ready for the attack. As soon as they neared the woman, Haider lunged sideways and with one swift movement, he snatched her brimming purse from her, leaving her shocked.

“Help! Help! Thief!” The woman started wailing.

Unfortunately, in that little spur of time, an approaching policeman spotted their bike and out of nowhere, he started firing. The first bullet hit the tyres, crashing the path on one side. Haider knew that they had to reply so he started firing too. He fired a whole round of bullets and amidst that rain of metal, a metallic bullet came and whizzed past the woman’s skull. The woman thudded down in seconds. The policeman rushed to her aid, which made the gang flee.

Five Years Later:

“I have to go back, to mother, to little Layla and tell them that I’ll always be there for them. What bad if Abba left so soon? Of course, I am there for them now! I’m going to tell Jamal that it’s all over now. I am leaving and I won’t ever come back!” Thoughts raced through Haider’s mind as he settled on a decision.

A Week Later:

Knock! Knock! The creaky wooden doors rattled as a fist pounded on them.

“Who’s there?” From behind the door came a weak voice. Haider recognized it easily, it was Layla’s.

“It’s me Layla, Haider! Open up!” barked Haider.

The door was bashed open and then all the tears came thrashing down both of their cheeks. They couldn’t stop hugging each other. Layla, who was suddenly a grown-up, seemed all the same to Haider. They talked and talked, yet cried and cried, wanting to pull all the sorrows out.

When he asked of mother, Layla told her about how five years before, one foggy night, when mother went to withdraw her usual monthly pension, was attacked by a group of robbers and in between a clash of robbers and a policeman, mother got hit and died on the spot.

Hearing all this, Haider felt a sense of familiarity but suddenly, his heart skipped a throb when he realized the truth. He couldn’t believe it! In just a moment, it all came crashing down on him that he, he was her own mother’s killer. Actions, they just seem to be so reactive sometimes. One may think that it’s the fate that makes you make wrong decision but in reality it’s the actions. He thrust himself out of the door and was just gone; eternally! There wasn’t anything much blissful to come back for, so Haider just hid from the society, he chose to hide; forever!

Doom’s angel was happy that day, he had made a lone mother meet her troubled son and that’s all angel ever wanted. Haider, who probably could make his afterlife a bit more comforting, was eaten by the sorrows. Avenging his comforts was the only thing he could do but it was the only psychic extent, the only medium he had in sight. Had there been just a modicum of thankfulness in his life, all that he did would never have happened; never!

Zain Khan For Beyond Sanity Publishing

“Come.” he spoke in a small voice as he climbed up the stairs.

“Come.  Hold my hand.” he stopped and looked at her, forwarding his hand towards her. She looked at him for a second then slowly held his hand. He held it tightly and began climbing the wooden staircase. The stairs creaked as they moved. It was all dark around.

On reaching the top of stair case, he paused for a moment thinking hard and then turned to the left in the corridor. They didn’t speak for the next few minutes as they proceeded ahead. On reaching the end of the corridor he turned to his right and opened a door into the balcony. Fresh moon beams bathed everything. Their faces were illuminated. Sarah wearing grey long skirt with a long grey over coat and a muffler wrapped around her neck.

She looked beautiful even as the moon rays fell on her. Her white face glittering in light and her beautiful hazel green eyes sparkled. She was not smiling but there was a clear spread of peace all over her body. Dean holding her hand walked over to the bench along the wall beside the flower pots. She sat down, resting her one leg upon the other and putting her hands on her either side over the bench. Cold breeze blew, shrugging Dean pulled up the zip of his blue leather jacket and slipped his hands into the pockets of his black denim jeans. He stood with his arms resting on the wall with his back towards Sarah. She was sitting there with her eyes closed. As if she was trying to make the moon beams sink in her and to inhale in the peace. Dean looked towards the sky beautifully decorated with stars. It was like a constellation

in which they resided with flowers in their bloom and stars shining at their utmost and wind blowing the scent of euphoria and the hearts beating the symphony of love.

He turned his head and looked towards Sarah. He smiled at her as he saw her head rested on the bench and heard her small soft breaths. As the wind blew lightly, a flick of her golden brown hair came over her eyes. Automatically he walked towards her and gingerly cleared her forehead. She had fallen asleep in the beautiful night under the beautiful sky in the company of the most beautiful man in his life. Gazing at her for a while he sat down on the floor and gently took her hands in his own. The elegant aesthetic platinum band with tiffany and co craved on it was the promise he had made with her. The small diamond placed over the band glittered the lights of love and life. He brought the hand and placed it over his eyes. It felt so soothing and calm. He rested his head on her knees and with her hand over his eyes, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

Frame. There were meadows and birds and there was crystal clear pool. Next frame. There was laughter and yells and giggles and winks.

Next frame. There were mountains and hills and snow and igloo and sleeping bags and snow man. And there were again laughter and angry faces and tears and hugs.

Next frame. There was a highway. And a limo and bryan adams songs and laughter.

Next frame. Coast of Hudson. Holding hands. Running and laughing… her voice calling his name. Running in water. Sand palace. Garlands.

Next frame. Dine in. candles and cake. Sweet symphony. Soft clapping. Wishes.

Next frame. Window. Rain. Two coffee mugs. Her head over his shoulder. His husky voiced songs.

He woke up with a jerk. Bewildered he looked around for the reason that made him wake up. He felt a sharp piercing pain in his temple. Gasping he clenched his teeth hard and held the side of his head with full strength. He was blinded with pain. He moaned and groaned as he rubbed his head hardly. Hastily he looked up to Sarah who was sleeping peacefully unaware of him. With a lot of exertion he stood up and dragged himself to the wall away from her. He didn’t want to wake her up. But his head pounding hard he choked and coughed. He felt something stinging his face, something hot rushing down his nose. Shakenly he lifted his hand and rubbed it. His hand shone brightly with blood. He closed his eyes. It was not the first time. He looked down to his jacket and saw drops of blood. Unzipping he took off it and placed it beside him. With his sleeves he rubbed his face and wiped the blood. His face twisted in agony and his eyes dimly opened. It was cold yet he was drenched with sweat. He rested his head on the wall and breathed heavily. His temple vein throbbing and his eyes burning. Finally gathering up some strength he stood up and walked towards Sarah. He staggered and sat down next to her. Putting his hand over her shoulder, he moved her gently taking her name in his husky voice.

“Wake up, honey. It’s getting cold.”

Sarah opened her beautiful hazel green eyes and sat up straight. She looked towards Dean. She stopped for a moment there was something wrong. She rubbed her eyes and opened them to look closely at what was wrong whilst her frontal vein prominently patterned over her forehead. Before she could aske dean anything he moved forward and kissed her forehead and took her hand. Standing up he turned towards her and spoke slowly.

“Come before the frames stop swapping. Come before the winds go wild and the omen howls at the moon. Come my love.”

Areesh Fatmee For Beyond Sanity Publishing

Darkness. Cold,

Never ending darkness, from which there is no escape. I find myself running, trying to leave behind what is so deeply etched into my soul. I have been running for a long time now. I do not remember what it feels like to be free of fear, to live without its cold fingers burning into my throat, my silent screams piercing through the dark.
Sometimes, the running stops for a few seconds to be replaced by sounds. Voices. Cries.

“The beast. He must suffer for what he has done!”
“She is ours, she will be ours. We are her family.”
“How much longer? Why must she go through this? Will she never find peace?”

I often ask myself the same question. What does it feel like, peace? Does it mean the end of this black hell? Does it mean light?
My questions remain unanswered. The fear returns and I must run, even if it is in vain. I keep running, not daring to look back. I never look back, lest I should see him again. It is of no use. I cannot forget him, even if I try. Those dark pools, his eyes, that hid the raging fires of hell. His face, forever smiling mockingly, as if to remind me that he will always win in the end. What I fear the most, however, are his hands. They are long, too long to be human hands, and thin. I can never shake off their touch, the sickening pressure of his hands against my chest. Those fingers, toying with my clothes as I lie helpless, my screams stifled by sobs. The back of his hand, running along my body as he smiles at me hungrily. Finally, the chains. Those wretched things, pressed against my throat until I stop breathing. The taste of rust, fear and defeat. Over and over again, each time ending in a worse kind of death.
I die everyday. He kills me everyday. I have cried, screamed, fought. But I die. Every time I sense his presence, I die.
Oh, that Aruna should live without an Arun, a sun. That death should engulf one whose existence was devoted to preserving lives.
It is sad. I try to steel myself against him, but I can never succeed. He scratches all my wounds raw, giving me new ones each time he looks at me.
There he is. Again. Hungry, disgusting, vile. I prepare to run, but then I stop. This moment, it is different. I have never felt it before. I have never lived it before. The darkness is fading. I cannot run. Instead, I am falling. It does not scare me. I feel free, as if unchained after eons. I can breathe. Long, beautiful breaths. I feel different, too. I no longer feel cold. Instead, there is a golden warmth inside me. There is a golden warmth around me, too, rising from the dying darkness, like the morning sun after a storm.
And then, suddenly, it becomes bright, too bright. What is this? Is this..death? Is death not cold and powerful? Does death not drain you slowly, slowly, slowly, and then all at once?
It is then that it hits me. I have lived through death. What is this, then? I do not know! All I know is that it must be better than the nightmare I have lived in.

———————–

In 1973, while working as a junior nurse at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, Aruna Shanbaug was sexually assaulted by a ward boy, Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki, and remained in a vegetative state following the assault.
Shanbaug died from pneumonia on 18 May 2015 after being in a persistent vegetative state for nearly 42 years.

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Karishma Shafi For Beyond Sanity Publishing

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If you or someone you knew went through this traumatic experience, please support them!

If you or that someone wants to talk, we are here for you and for them.

You are not alone.

-Irum

The creamy orange color of the setting sun dived and danced gracefully in front of my eyes as I gazed upwards at the blue sky to see a huge flock of smooth-feathered birds, quacking and trying to maintain a straight formation. I observed them very carefully. Migrating to their new homes without even saying good bye to their previous ones, we aren’t like this.  We spend half of our lives living in a same place and ending up dying there. They, they change time to time. Actually, they have to.

—-

I glanced at my watch. It was time to go home. I had finished my today’s piece of art and it looked good, not realistic but still, I liked it. The painting on the canvas was both attractive and beautiful, which meant that my work for today was done.

I picked up the painting and handed it off to an inquisitive visitor nearby, and then I headed back to a tiny, wooden shack which I used to call my home.

To be honest, my life was good. I wasn’t rich, neither I had a loving family still, I was living happily. My job was to fill colors in faded and dull canvases as this was my passion. Being an artist was my choice but it wasn’t like this a couple of years ago.

“Daddy! I want to be an artist. I want to work as an artist. Not as a doctor or an engineer working his whole day off only to earn a couple of bucks and not enjoying his life! This isn’t me, Papa! This isn’t me!” I cried.

“But you have to become a civil engineer. You have to!” Papa suddenly shouted at me.

My whole body shook. I and Papa haven’t had a fight like this in my entire life. I became silent and innocently looked down.

Seeing me like this, Daddy stopped for a moment, kept his tone down and continued.

“Look Ethan! Both I and your Mom want you to be an engineer because we want you to live happily and don’t get financial problems, upgrade your life, earn huge amounts of money because, money’s the only thing you need to have if you want a good life.” He said calmly, like advising me.

I knew what Papa meant to say, was true at some limits but I wasn’t going to give up my dreams and my passion of art at that point. I was going to fight for it. Fight hard. So I said,

“Pa! I know that you want a better and a bright future for me but look, I don’t want to do this. This isn’t me!” I begged.

“But, see the whole society doesn’t accept this passion of yours. I, Vivian has a son who is an artist! The whole world doesn’t accept that, Ethan! Why don’t you understand? Our circle of relatives and friends are rich and on great posts and you, you are an artist! A poor, philosopher of art! This is absurd!” He started to become real angry with me.

“I understand! But I don’t care Pa. I don’t care what everyone says and what your thoughts are about this innocent passion of mine! I am not going to become an engineer. I am going to be an artist!” I bawled and walked away.

I did ask him to forgive me a few days later and luckily, he did! And even more fortunately, he advised me to stick to my passions and dreams and never care of what the society thinks.

It was kind of different to hear him utter such words. He was a completely changed man already. But I still could sense that something was about to give way and sadly, no sooner; it did!

And so, that was the last time I ever fought with Pa before he passed away, leaving me alone in this cruelest world!

—–

Beep! Beep!

The alarm clock sitting on the side-table of my creaky, wooden bed suddenly started to pout his aggression on me. I knew what it meant. It meant that it was morning and now it was time to go for another session of art-practice, preaching and selling.

—–

“Mr. Ethan! Don’t you realize that you are now bankrupt and also you have to payback a ton of loan you took, to pay your yearly expenditures? Your account has been ceased and because of you not giving your rentals, your home has also been taken away inclusive of all your things in it.

—–

Mr. Ethan! Your life is wrecked. As a friend, my advice would be that you should start doing a small business with the money you have in-hand and also borrow some from your friends and family. Give up all this “art-preaching.” It’d be good for you.” James, the bank manager said to me in a tone which suggested that he was trying his best to make me realize that the dream I was chasing, is going to stop at a dead-end; miserably wrong!

I was shocked. I didn’t expect it. Pa was right, now I realized it but still, the ignited love with my art and my passion hadn’t still been put out so I just silently, cut the line.

—–

“Hey Fred! Have you heard about that lunatic? What was his name? Ah! Ethan! Who silently sits at the corner of the street making paintings and giving it away to people for free?” Graeme asked Fred.

“Yeah! I know him. He’s such a mess. Wearing rag-clothes and he has such a pitiful look. He’s insane, man!” Fred replied making a weird face, like he had seen something very weird.

—–

They all have this habit of staring at me, giving me pitiful looks like I’m a beggar. Well, I am a beggar, a beggar of art, a beggar of love. I know I’m poor, living off on pavements is my routine but still, I don’t care what people think, you know what?

“You Can’t Amuse Everyone!”

Can you?

Zain Khan For Beyond Sanity Publishing