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.


Karishma Shafi For Beyond Sanity Publishing


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    Liked by 1 person

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