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Life not as we know it



He opened his eyes for the very first time. Light poured in and surged deep. A quick retrieval of his shaky eyelids rescued him from the painful penetration of light. The desire to see was powerful. He tried once more, this time, slower. He repeated the process a few times, each time he managed to keep his eyes open for longer than before.


He has been fascinated by the phenomenon of light ever since he had experienced light’s piercing power on his closed eyelids. Since then, he has wondered about this moment. His eyes were sore. Light was not the only factor: the murky liquid surrounding him did not help, either. He was forced to close his eyes once more.


“Don't give up, the worst is over... It won’t sting for long. Go on open them.”


Astonished, he made yet another effort. He could see a silhouette of a figure in front him. “I am not alone!” He asked in disbelief as he was rubbing his eyes.


“Alone, you certainly are not.” The girls said.


“Is this the life that we signed up for?" He asked. "Are we living in the world now?”


“I guess so. I opened my eyes just before you."


“It’s amazing! Light I mean, isn’t it?”


In agreement she nodded as she started sucking on her thumb. He used the silence and looked around. The world seemed like a very tight space. The two of them were immersed in a liquid with a cord connecting them to the edge of the world. He could hear the usual pounding sound although he was not sure where it was coming from. Vague whispers and sudden movements he could still feel; but, no sign of their sources, either. He could only see the girl who now appeared asleep.


“Are you awake?” He asked.


“Just about.”


“Do you know where these sounds are coming from?” He blinked.


“I am not sure. I have searched everywhere it is just you and me here.”

In a way he was grateful that they did not have to share the world with anyone else. There was hardly enough space for the both of them. However, the girl being there was a blessing.


“Life would have been too empty without you to share it with.” He stretched his arms and legs but as his foot hit the edge, he was forced to bend it again.


“I don’t think we should worry too much about loneliness. I have discovered some writing on the walls”. She frowned and pointed towards the writing on the top right corner of the world.


“Whose writing is it?” He shifted a bit but the girl’s body still obstructed his view. “What does it say?”


“It is written by someone who must have been here before us. It talks about the pain as the crown of the world comes down. Apparently towards the end, there is a lot of shouting and screaming.” She paused and sighted before continuing. “The walls squeeze you so tight that every cell in your body wants to explode.” She turned her head towards him and continued. “Yup! life is very short”.


“It seems so harsh. I cannot quite recall the content of my contract. What happens next?”


“My memory is hazy, too ... And nothing more is written on the wall. In fact, the last sentence on the wall is unfinished!”


“Unfinished? In what way?” His right leg twitching causing him to kick the wall.


“The force is directing me towards the tunnel that ... this is where the sentence ends." She shook her head. “But there is no sign of any tunnel or exits. In fact, if it was not because of the writing I could have not guessed that someone else was here before us.”


“So what do you think we should do? How should we live?” He asked.


“Having frequent naps is one way. I also like to listen to the beat. This one is too near to be from other worlds.”


“Yes. I think I would enjoy a nap whilst meditating on the sounds. After all we don’t have that long to live and a painful death awaits. Let’s make the most of it whilst we can.”


They smiled at each other, curved their backs with their heads and their limbs drawn together as they went back to sleep.




It was exactly one month after the death of his sister that he had a dream. In the dream his twin appeared alert and a lot healthier looking than she was towards the end of her life, well before Alzheimer took over.


“Shush! Don’t be so impatient. It will pass, just like the sorrow that you felt in the short gap between my birth and yours. We will be together again. Trust your memory to help you through this emptiness. It might not make sense now, but it will soon. Just remember the pledge, remember!”




***


This was one of the first short stories that I wrote about 17 years ago. In an Interfaith session today after Farah read The Parable, an interesting story about believing in mum, I remembered my short fiction and decided to upload a copy here.









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