Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Haunting by SBK

Gasping for air, I woke up from a bad sleep. Beads of sweat gathering on my forehead, I reached across the bed, my hands frantically searching for him. I really needed his arms wrapped tightly around me. That was the worst nightmare ever. I felt as though I was drowning; being thrown in the ocean from a great height. The feeling was so intense, so real. I could not figure out how I had survived through that.

I sat up and walked towards the bathroom, dragging my feet along the cold marble. Why was it so impossible to seek comfort? Why couldn’t I be at peace once and for all? Nightmares like these really befuddled me, and it was impossible to go back to sleep. My mind had started to act oddly yet again. I could feel the thoughts inside my head swinging like a dagger over a prisoner’s head. They went left and right, left and right, till I could take it no more. My agonizing screams had caused a stir in the building and the young couple from next door eyed me suspiciously from their balcony window, whenever I stepped outside for a puff.

I hated this, or maybe that’s what I wanted to portray. Maybe I was too afraid to move on. I knew for a fact that I was not trying hard enough. My doctor always said, either you try or you don’t. There is no middle road. Well someone should tell him to sock it. He drove me insane.

Three months and fourteen days ago, my life had changed in a split second. Ali and I had been driving happily after a long day of Christmas celebrations. Festivity and zeal had been bursting all around us and the cool, winter breeze kissed our faces lovingly as we steered towards home – our home. We had just finished a hearty meal of roasted, succulent turkey and mashed garlic potatoes at his parents’ house. His mom then served up large portions of her infamous cherry pie and rounded it up with heavenly cups of coffee. It had been absolutely wonderful. Ali loved his parents very much and I had grown quite fond of them too. Such a lovely couple; they had kept their promise of growing grey together and the two of us wanted to do the same.
Parking outside our well lit building, he turned towards me with a mischievous glint in his eye. His boyish acts always made me chuckle. I wondered what he had up his sleeve this time. He slid his hand inside his leather jacket and pulled out a small, velvet box. My eyes widened. It couldn’t be! There was no way this could be happening. And then, he spoke those four words I had been dying to hear.
How about it then? Will you marry me?
And that was that; a perfect moment in our perfect relationship. We could have really pulled this ‘happily ever after’ stunt off. It had sounded queer when I had said it out loud, but this man really was my soul mate. We were made for each other, and he had known it as well as I did.
We had gotten out of the car, my newly ringed finger in his big, warm hands and started towards the building entrance. This would be the start of our new beginning.

Little had I known that a week following our engagement, Ali’s dead body would be the only thing staring back at me. I still could not wrap my head around it. How could my man, the strongest in the pack, fall in the deadly hands of a car accident? He had always been so careful whenever on the wheel. It was impossible, and I was almost sure that my Ali was somewhere, safe and sound. That corpse had definitely been someone else’s.

I had been numb ever since Ali passed away. No feelings, no emotions; just a pool of tears surrounding me all the time. Death was a word that did not do justice to him. He was too perfect, too happy and too kind to have his body crushed like a pile of rubble. That sight of him, wrapped in a white shroud, being carried towards the graveyard was unreal. I wanted to beg him to wake up, pound on his chest so his heart would start beating again, but nothing happened. That day still haunts me and I can never, ever forgive myself for Ali’s demise.

I had killed him. I had been on the phone with him when the car lost control. I had distracted him. It was my fault – and nothing in the world would get me over the remorse and guilt of murdering my one and only. I could not stand being alone. The world felt like a strange and unknown place without Ali, where I was as lonely as a rusty leaf sprawled on the highway. I did not have the strength to face the next sunrise without him, but I had no choice. I had grown claustrophobic over time and the fear of spending the rest of my life without my love was just too intense. I had trusted him; depended on him; expected him to be there through thick and thin but he was gone. How could he be so cruel? Why would he leave me alone, when he knew I was nothing without him?

Sometimes I felt as though I was being too selfish; caring too much about my own feelings, but I felt hollow from the inside. I could sense a huge, gaping hole in my heart where feelings for Ali had once resided, and there had been times when memories of our past seemed to fade away. That scared me the most. It was the only thing I could latch on to, and I cursed my psyche for being so vicious to me. There had been instances where I would panic and black out, lying on the bare floor for hours; no one coming to my rescue. I did not expect anyone to care; even though my eldest sister, Sabin used to drop by a few times a week with food, groceries and occasionally, a new pair of shoes. We used to sit in exposed silence and her big, round eyes used to stare at me with sympathy. If only she had the slightest clue of what I was going through.
I knew I had brought this suffering upon myself, not letting my guard down for anyone. I used to lie in bed for hours, staring at the ceiling, wondering how happy I would be if Ali was still with me. I was in so much pain, but it was all in my head; completely intangible. I could not see it, nor could I cure it.

 I had grown greatly terrified of that odd little thing called love. When I passed by the park on my way to the doctor’s every Thursday at three, couples would be sitting happily, speaking their own dialect of love and compassion; not giving a dime about the world. Why me? Why not them? I was not a saint, but I did not deserve this brutal act of mercilessness either. God had given up on me. It was a feeling which made me twitch with shame.

Everything around me had grown black. I saw no light; neither did I see a way out. All I did was ponder over the past, and remain lost in my wishful thinking. If only things were different. If only.

One odd day, as I sat near the television, I started to reminisce on the haunting memory of killing my Ali with my own hands. It was extremely painful. I had photographed my years with him; a photograph shot by the heart, to make it last forever, but it seemed like a mind game all over again. I got up, tightened the robe around my waist, and started towards the kitchen. Behind my jar of coffee sat an old bottle of sleeping pills. Suddenly, I felt as though a curtain had been drawn from my eyes, to let the bright light pour in. The haze and fog from my mind started to disappear and I knew exactly what to do. My answer was right in front of me, and very soon, Ali and I would be reunited again. Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier? I emptied the contents of the bottle in my left hand – Tonight, I would finally sleep peacefully and wake up with my companion beside me.


  1. LOVED it! SBK, your technique of asking rhetorical questions really creates the right effect as the reader can feel the confusion and uncertainty.
    You wrote "thoughts inside my head swinging like a dagger over a prisoner’s head", does a dagger swing or the noose?
    What a fun image "whenever I stepped outside for a puff." you showed us so well the character smokes.
    Absolutely LOVE the flashback "Three months and fourteen days ago, my life had changed in a split second."
    Criteria: Short Story, definitely all the parts are there. The Haunting, yes it is! Guilt - clear. Terror - I wish it would have been clearer. Grade - 8/10.

  2. The intro of this short story explicitly reflects the genre. It seizes the attention of the reader as he reads through it. the start only, makes the reader realise that the character is having flashbacks of an appalling event that took place in the past. the story tells us what suffering one goes through in losing a loved ione. The way the writer has used the diction, enables the reader to get deeply involved in the story and actually feel the pain the character is going through.
    Paragraph 6 basically inaugurates the feelings of remorse when the husband dies in an accident. ',but this man really was my soul mate. We were made for each other,' actually brought tears in my eyes. In life, you dont always get what you want. Life can be very biased. the writer used rhetorical questions very often like 'how could he be so cruel?' 'why me? why not them?'
    Later she becomes so depressed and claustrophobic that she starts blaming herself for his death and feels that there is no reason in living anymore. She lives her life in regret and sees couples loving each other and making vows to each other everyday. the writer tells us that life has a lot of tough times where one has to stay strong. She gives us an idea of what pain one goes through. In this case, the wife cannot accept the absence of her husband and so-what many would do- commits suicide in order to join her loved one.

  3. your expression of emotions is excellent. so always use it in your essays.
    the only thing i feel is lacking is her response to his death. while there is guilt and grief, i dont see fear. the kind of fear i expect in a traumatic story like this. maybe something like, she stared at the figure, encased in pristine white sheets and her breath struck in her throat, eyes widening as suddenly she couldnt breathe, the realization followed the horror, he was dead. he really was. the reaction u showed to his death seemed a bit detached, thats all.
    otherwise, commendable effort.