I felt bewitched.
I saw you push me back in bed.
Your palm touching me just below my neck.
A painful shove.
It woke me up.
I can still feel it between my collar bone.
On my skin, your touch.
I have a memory, wedged deep into me, from years back. It is not a shadow of thought but something more tangible. It is physical, this memory and it is resting near my heart, dangerously close and ominously opaque. Threatening to grip my being, tightly and forever. I must have been six years old. Maybe five. It was a game of push and pull with my brother, pillows, bedspread and a favorite uncle. And somewhere in that plethora of playfulness I got trapped. Literally.
I found myself buried in quilt and something else, something that was stopping the air from reaching my lungs. My brother had me by the shoulders, his hands around my neck, his weight on my back. I could hear him laughing with mirth and accomplishment. I remember his voice ringing deep in my ears. It was the only thing I could hear. And there was no air.
I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t make a noise, my mouth muffled in cloth, my arms crushed under my weight, my legs twisted painfully and not in my control. There was nothing to do but wait. Wait for a breath of air to reach me. Wait for fate to intervene, show death the door. Wait for Raiyan to stop laughing.
It can still make me cry, that feeling of utter helplessness. The thought of not being able to breathe. To not have control. To be in the hands of another person. That’s a terrible feeling. Of not being sure. Of not knowing. The bleakness of it all. Something that I decided I never wanted to feel again. Something that has dug deep into me a seed of fear. A need to be in control, always. Of never losing myself to another person. Or loving with no inhibitions.
Someone pulled Raiyan away and fished me out. Lifted me to my feet and patted my back. It rattled me, that thumping that was meant to reassure, to let me know I was okay. I was anything but. Between heaving sobs and hugging mama I tried to explain to her what I had just been through. She didn’t get it. No one did. And no one will. And that’s what has made all the difference.
When you say you understand, you don’t really. But I appreciate you lying to me. For me. Do you lie? Do you hide the truth? I am smiling. But truth is not synonymous to honesty, DiCaprio said. And if he said it, it must be true. Call yourself an honest person. Wash your sins away under feeble pretexts. Believe that your heart is not changing colors. Believe whatever you wish to. Because what you think is what you are. You think therefore you are. Cogito ergo sum. Je pense donc je suis. Just in case you didn’t get it the first time. Or the second.
Sleep is clogging my mind, restricting free flow. I want to stop it. These seemingly unfinished conversations. The silence is deafening tonight. Nothing around me feels friendly. Comforting. The house too is aloof, the walls turned away from me. Is it something I said? I would apologize, if I knew for what. I would grab your hand if you tried to walk away from me. Fall to my knees and shed a few tears. Swallow my pride and beg you to stay. To forgive. To smile.
Of us in a house.
I rushed to get out
But the door was locked.
I turned to you
Scared and out of breath.