As the sun set, an ear-splitting scream rent the air. Within a heartbeat, the entire atmosphere became as silent as a graveyard in the darkest hour of the night. Sarah’s hands shook and her lower lip trembled at the thought of what had happened. Looking at her husband, Ahmed, with complete disbelief and helplessness, Sarah’s eyes began to fill with tears. As Dr. Bilal began to explain to them what actually caused Zara to become “crazy” the tears started to fall from their eyes. Sarah could not get the image of her 16 year old daughter trying to scratch her eyes out from her head. The fact that Ahmed and Sarah could not understand what was actually happening to their own child was now driving them insane. Gradually it was dawning on them that when Zara mentioned the “river flowing rapidly through her body” and the “violent drum that beat within her day and night” was nothing short of the truth! Dr. Bilal explained how Zara could hear every single sound that her body was making; the opening and closing of the valves in her veins and heart, the heart pumping the blood, and the blood racing throughout her body. Her mind did not allow her to hear the world around her; it was as if her inner demon had focused her hearing upon herself. Sarah and Ahmed were as still as statues carved out of marble, unable to move. Despite the utter stillness, Dr. Bilal could actually feel the air around them vibrating with mixed, turbulent and near-violent emotions.
The doctor explained that two of Zara’s major nerves had been swapped, causing her to hear the sounds in her own body, which worsened when she was stressed out. It was true! Whenever whispered words pertaining to her madness reached Zara’s ears, her expression would take a horrific cast. She would claw at her ears, making them bleed. The pain would reach such an extent that she would physically harm herself to relieve the mental anguish she was suffering from. Upon witnessing such horrific acts, Sarah would recoil from her daughter, unwilling to touch her; too scared to help her! Dr. Bilal went on to tell them how victims of this illness sought an escape of this mental anguish through any means, the easiest which was physical harm. As these words sunk in, Ahmed recalled the times when his innocent daughter would bash her head against the wall and scream uncontrollably.
Oh, how could they have done this to their own flesh and blood? Chained her up to the bed like a wild animal in order to save her from herself. Years of belief was shattered in an instance; the strength they had derived from the conviction that their daughter didn’t know any better, and they were only treating her this way to protect her, had dissipated. The terror they faced when Zara used to physically attack herself was now transferred into horror at how they would face her when they passed from this world to the next. Even with her last breath she insisted she was not insane, but they never believed her, not even once! The concept of her illness was unfathomable and never heard of, but that was no excuse for not believing and understanding their daughter. Faced with the horror of what they had done to their own child was the only emotion running through Ahmed and Sarah. No other feeling or thought registered. All they could think about and see was Zara’s lifeless face covered in scars, her body a pathetic mass of open wounds and broken bones!
Had they got Zara to Dr. Bilal sooner, it would have been a matter of an operation room, a surgeon, and a surgery! Unfortunately, it just did not work out that way. The fact that Zara could have been a healthy, happy, normal girl was a mind-numbing thought. It was a thought too much to bear and fragmented what little was left of their sanity into tiny shards. All that that was left was a gaping black hole filled with guilt and echoes of Zara’s screams!