An Eternal Night

Qadri Inzamam

Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night and feel someone standing in the corner of my room. I was afraid of opening my eyes to find out a Djinn or Khokh standing right there, staring at me, blankly. Eyes closed, I would crawl my hands on the wall, looking for the switch and turn on the light. I would then see carefully in all the corners to make sure no one was there, staring at me through the darkness.

But now things have changed.

Sometimes – and that is very frequent now – I wake up in the middle of the night and feel someone in the corner, hiding with a gun – a police man or an army man – and staring at me sternly. I do not open my eyes. I don’t want to open them. I can’t open my eyes. My eye-lids get strained, wishing to be let open but I am afraid of unraveling the gashed eye that can see no more. I don’t crawl my hands on the wall to turn on the light, for I know that can’t chase my fears away. I try hard to drift back into sleep but every time I find myself falling into a bottomless pit, at the end of which there is pitch darkness. Now, that man with a gun never leaves that corner in my fears. Maybe he really stands there.

I miss my fluffy teddy bear that I bought on Eid. I miss it not because I have lost it, but its pink color reminded me of cotton candy. Now I don’t remember what pink looks like. I no longer wish for cotton-candy.

Things are changing now.

I was afraid of darkness, always. Whenever I had to fetch something from another room at evenings, my father or mother – whosoever would be with me then – would call my name continuously to assure me that they were with me in the darkness. Their voices filled in the darkness as light and chased away my fears. I would quickly switch on the light in the room, paying all heed to the voice that came from another room from either of my parents, and grab quickly whatever they had asked for and run back to them, panting.

Indian forces inserted needle in five-year-old Nasir's left eye and filled it with sand.
Indian forces inserted needle in five-year-old Nasir’s left eye and filled it with sand. (Photo by Kashmir Reader)

But then things changed.

They no longer send me to another room at evenings to fetch anything, or during days for that matter. I don’t discriminate between days and nights lately. I have been robbed of that privilege. Now every time there is a silence around me, I feel myself trapped in that dark room, unsuccessfully struggling to find the switch. I feel the gun-wielding-man’s stare penetrating the darkness and choking me in my own fear, and in the absence of my parents’ calls that could light the darkness, I howl in fear. Then, abruptly, my mother holds me tightly and assures me she is there. Her voice is the only light in my life. I live in darkness now.

Everything has changed now.

My room is the first one to welcome the rising sun. The sun’s first rays would make their way through the window panes, piercing my eye-lids and warmed my eyes gently. That would wake me up. I would not open my eyes all at once; I would squint first, then close them again and finally welcome all the morning into my eyes. My mother would tell me that I would be a king one day, for I always welcomed the first rays of the sun. Those beams of the sun were a hope, a prophecy, an omen and a promise.

Everything changed.

I wake up anytime. There is no meaning of time in my life now, except that a complete silence means night and hustle-bustle is a day. But of late, the silence does not end. When I wake up in the complete silence, absorbed in fear and darkness, I pray within my heart that it must be day so that the corners of my room are not occupied. When the birds chirp on the window, I am assured that it is morning. That is the only time that makes sense to me. Rest is all darkness, an eternal night.

After the birds cease to chirp, the warmth on my face and eye-lids make me long to open the eyes and see the sunlight bringing everything to life in my room: toys on the shelf, my photo-frame when I was six, another photo-frame where my mother holds me in her lap in the kitchen of our old home, my fluffy teddy bear, the remote controlled car, my chair and table, the notepad I have hidden in the drawer, scribbles on it that no one but I understand, and the mirror that embraces all the word in itself.

I can see nothing now, except the darkness. The first sunlight means nothing to me now, except a lost hope, an unfulfilled promise, inauspiciously dangerous and the symbol of a king who has lost his battle.

They changed everything.


P.S.: Eyes of 185 persons, mostly youth and kids, have been damaged by pellets that Indian forces use on the protestors to quell them. Dozens of these injured have lost their eye-sight completely or partially.

P.S .: Indian forces inserted a needle in five-year-old Nasir’s left eye and filled his eyes with sand. He was waiting for his father in an alley. But before his father could take him, Indian forces had already blinded his left eye.    

Follow me on twitter @Qadri_Inzamam

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