Haunted By The Past

The lasting effects of emotional trauma

Maryam Pardesi

1 month ago|3 min read

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Haunted By The Past

A door creaked. Hassan got up from his uncomfortable bed. Halfway through, he remembered that the door was already rusty. Slightly relaxed, he lay down again. He was beginning to wonder if it was him getting merely paranoid, or the room really seemed to be haunted by creatures that bothered him every night. Then there was also the fact that the noises only came at night, and died down by morning. It wasn't that Hassan was not aware since he left early for work; they really did not exist even if he was working from home. That is, if one could call a small, shabby, deserted room, devoid of humans, home.

Morning seemed to arrive pretty soon. He woke up with a headache and tired eyes that resisted being opened. He recalled vaguely having yet another nightmare that had seemed almost real, but he did not remember the details yet again.

Nevertheless, he had to get to work on time. Most importantly, because he didn't like getting late. But also because he wanted to leave the room as early as possible. Not that his workplace was very welcoming. He didn't blame anyone though. He realized the fact that he was unacceptably sensitive for an adult, and that too in a competitive work environment. In a society where children were hushed up when they cried or were hurt, for the fear that someone might ridicule, or even take advantage of them, empathy for a grown-up adult, no matter how broken, was too much to expect.

When he returned home in the evening - after the same monotonous day at work - he looked for anything that had been moved out of place. If it would have, he would know at first glance, since he kept everything as organized as this small space allowed. It was a daily regime, now almost for a month, and not once had he found any evidence to support his whims. He got his chores done, had dinner, and laid down to sleep after reading a few pages from the novel he was currently reading. 

In the middle of the night, Hassan woke up to the sounds of screams - a woman's. He tried to look for the source, but didn't find any. It was instances like these when he was truly convinced that there was a supernatural existence in the room. He mustered up some courage, got out of bed, walked to the makeshift kitchen, and poured himself a glass of water. The screams having ceased by the time, he went back to bed. Not getting enough sleep was not something he could afford, since it would affect his performance at work, as well as his health. 

But sleep was not to come that day. He woke up frequently, badly shaking and sweating, with vivid images encircling in front of his eyes, of the nightmares he had just witnessed. Nightmares that were relivings of his brutal past. He had finally uncoded that which had been haunting him. In that moment, he figured out that the noises and screams were his mother's, as she protected his four-year-old self from his father's beatings; he figured out that the shadows that lurked in this room's corners were actually his father stealthily crouching to grab him and his sister out of their mother's custody, so he could do what he wanted to, what he had to. 

He had heard some of these stories from his sister - who had not dared to survive for long - but had never remembered them. It was now, after almost 25 years, that he was reliving the agony once again, so unbearable to his childhood brain that it might have decided by itself to block off the memory completely. But what exists, exists. And nothing in the world can erase what has once been written down in time. 

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Hi, I'm Maryam Pardesi.

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