Everything is Not Alright
This is a story of trauma that had been passed in my family and I am the latest victim. I hope it stops with me. I don’t want to sound like a victim desperate for sympathy, but just speak out what everyone might be going through. I know I am not alone in this. And I want everyone to know that. You are not that okay like you think. Everything is not alright. Everything that happens to you is not fate.
I had attended these ten days of group therapy after I had a very bad episode at office. I was unconscious after undergoing a strenuous mental dilemma. I didn’t know the reason. I couldn’t think of any. I was the happiest person in the world. I often wondered, Why this occasional attacks of instability? Why am I often falling into these deep, endless pits of darkness? When I look back to find a reason why is everything blank inside me? I believed that I was at peace with all that had happened to me and everything that was happening around.
In the ten days of therapy, I was asked to go back to my childhood. I then realized that I had not many memories of my childhood. I often wondered how people could remember what happened when they were in each class, what they studied, and so on. I just remember my childhood like just one big bad day. I don’t remember many good things. I remember everybody having a gang and their set of secrets, which they talked about and stopped abruptly every time I went near them. They would just stop and stare at me. When I asked what it was about they would say it’s their secret.
Well, I had my share of secrets too. I was raped by a taxi driver. My cousins came home in his car and they all stayed for a few days. We were playing hide and seek and I hid inside his car. I was at the backseat and he came inside. He held me against the back seat and took me from the back. I was four years old. I never understood what happened that day until I was a teenager. It slowly sank into me one fine morning. I was raped! I always wondered what part of a human body was that strong and hard! Until I discovered it one day, I don’t remember how.
I would say- to hell with your secrets. You know what another real secret is? Crying every day into your pillow! Mom always shouted at me. I just remember that much. The shouting would bring the house down. I never remembered the reasons. My grandparents would take sides with me and shout back for me. Minutes later, I will no longer be the problem. They would insult each other in every possible way; until they are sated. They would talk no longer and cook separately in the same house for months. I will be communicating for each of them until I do something wrong so that the next round of fighting can start. So, I have to keep it a secret that I am crying because if mom found out she’ll have another fit of commotion. If grandparents found out they will shout at my mother.
So I had to keep my secrets.
How do I know you are there?
How do I find you?
I hear voices, and I imagine your silhouette against my window sill,
I smell a wisp of your lavish laugh and I close my heart and seal it inside.
But, how do I know?
If you don’t press your hands against mine,
When I hesitate before the traffic;
If we don’t spit water on each other in the shower;
If you don’t blow on my face your morning breathe;
If we don’t look at the stars and
If we don’t have silent conversations holding hands.
My girl, how do I know?
That night he told me loved me
I woke up in a trance to see the sunrise.
I rushed down to the lake
to find a jet plane racing me
past the sleepy silver crescent.
I sat down near the lake,
me, the silent ghost of mist above the water,
the clumsy toad in mid-air,
the water bird, in its slumber,
before the day breaks out of its shell with a sigh!
What’s more beautiful than this moment of suspense,
Before it breaks open, before its let out,
or even just before the sunrise.
I had a voice, but it was inside me. It never came out. I couldn’t find the words to match that tiny little voice I had. But then I had to let it out before it died. Here it is!
The other day, at my therapist’s, she asked me to speak out. I instantly coiled into myself like a worm, snuggling into its woolen skin and prickly little thorns. Inside the cocoon, I thought, ‘where are my words?’ I found a few, all rusty and brittle, from the corners I had swept them into. I couldn’t make out what they were. I stuttered and I stopped. She didn’t ask me to speak again. “Ask me again”, I yelled inside, which only came out as a sudden gasp for breath. She looked at me sympathetically, and I back. I awkwardly lied on her couch, while she asked me to tighten each muscle of my body and release them. I clenched my fists, foot, and tightened my face muscles in awkward positions. “Breath in, Breath out”, she murmured, checking her planner for the next appointment.
I clung dearly to the tiny cushion she offered. It clung to me like a dutiful assistant, and offered comfort like it should, as the ‘case’ clenched its feet and fists and face. Every person that held it left a cringe on its face. I could see the stress lines increasing every week I came back to the therapist’s office.
As I left her office that day, I was able to look around, before a usual headache crept in. Suddenly, I felt lonely. I was alone and that terrified me. My phone rang but it seemed meaningless. I looked at every person around, and everyone was lonely. They desperately held on to the last few seconds of a call before it hung up, chained themselves to music about being alone, and the others looked at the mannequins through the windows. I felt nauseated and I wanted to run. To run in a green field! But I boarded the usual bus; I pretended to look outside and wondered where all these people came from, and where they were all going. It was maddening. Everybody seemed to know what they were doing. But I knew they weren’t. I looked at myself and repeated after the therapist’s sound in my head. Speak out!