A nightmare while I was awake

By Qurat-ul-ain Haider

Mama and Baba, can we go back to home? You know I am scared. I am in terrible pain – why can’t I speak? This is unfathomable for me. I am uncharacteristically nervous! I want to become free – I want to be safe.

After finding myself in the hospital bed, I tried to change my direction several times, wanting to hold my teddy bear back and wanting to stand up, but I found it a terrible and painstaking task. Whenever some time passes while I am awake, an auntie in a white dress injects something in my drip and then things gradually become blurry and I fall asleep. However, since last week, I want to tell mama about the pain, about my nightmares but I do not know why I cannot talk. My uncles and aunts used to call me a chatterbox. This time I planned to ask the nurse to not inject any liquid in my drip because whenever I sleep I see a group of haunting large men who are chasing me, ripping my teddy bear which grandma gave me on my fifth birthday, this year. No doubt, teddy has lost its original color but I still prefer to place it with me before going to sleep.

Whenever I cry and tears drip down I can feel that the itch on my cheeks is becoming intense day by day. The terrible thing is that I want to move but I cannot. My arms and legs have become heavy. I cannot even lift them. I silently watch when doctor comes; when my mama sobs in front of me, when baba just nods in front of the doctor who probably talks about me. I have felt that baba has not slept for a week because his eyes seem watery and red. He looks too tired. Everyone was so happy a week ago.

I remember the evening last week when mama dressed me with a skirt and a blouse.  She carefully combed my hair and made a single pony on top of my head. I have been always very careless about losing my hair accessories when playing with my friends. Every time she has to open a new packet of it for me with the same old instructions about taking care of my things. However, in all this baba has proved that he is quite generous. He does not bother to count how many I have lost since and every time places a packet of colorful pins in mama’s hand. I remember the same goes for my erasers and pencils. Nevertheless, they have had a stock of them also. Now lying here, I realized that I am no longer wearing that blue skirt. My hair is undone.  I am stunned altogether.

I am horrified to see the marks of their bites on my arms. Whenever my sleeves touch me, the pain is intense. They are now gradually turning purple and ugly. Some of the wounds had to be wrapped in bandages because I remember my arms were also bleeding when their nails were tearing the flesh.

I know something very bad has happened to me. Something that is very painful and very new.  That evening I remember when I was playing in front of my house and the Azaan of maghrib had started. One by one, my friends started leaving the game because their parents have asked to come back. When I was going back to my house, I remember a man came to talk to me. He offered some sweets as well. I guess I have seen him in our street couple of times.

Then I also remember he was talking to me. Then he started walking while picking me up and when listening, I placed my arm on his shoulders. He was probably asking questions about me. Soon I realized during the conversation that I was no longer in my street. It was already dark. I told him that I want to go back because mama has always advised to come before Azaan. However, he did not change his direction and insisted I to listen to him carefully.

Things were soon changed. Now he was talking to some men. I felt my heart was beating faster because it was quite dark by then.  I was afraid that I was not with my mama and baba. They were complete strangers to me. Some of them started biting at my arms. It was painful. My clothes were torn.  Everything that was happening was alien to me. Then I was shrieking loud and loud because I was now drenched into my own blood.

I have a dim imagination when the hospital guard carried me when he saw me lying unconscious in front of the hospital. My body was placed in some sort of a moving bed and I arrived in a room. Then couple of doctors seemed disturbed after seeing me and then more darkness followed. 

I know I was hurt and injured. Whenever during playtime I got a bruise, mama always scolded me to be careful. Now she always cries. Baba always used to kiss me on my forehead, and would ask a couple of questions which my qari sahib had taught.  Now he does not say anything. I want to see my friends also. I want to tell them I would not be able to join them in the coming days because I cannot speak, let alone move.

Just a while ago, my uncle was telling my mom that police has obtained closed circuit camera footage of me. I guess it must be something useful for family and me.  The last time, when someone came into my room, they said police has arrived to ask me some questions. The very thought of strangers jolted me but before I could protest the doctor told him that I was not in a condition to do that. He is stranger but amazingly, whenever he comes he inquires about my health. I am grateful that he is not cruel.

I am waiting for when I will be able to talk and tell them about my agony and fears.  I remember everything and I am afraid that I will not forget it for the rest of my life.

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Tailpiece:

Section 376 of Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 provides that whoever commits rape shall be punished with death or imprisonment for either description for a term, which shall not be less than ten years or more than twenty-five years and shall be liable to fine.

When a rape is committed by two or more persons furtherance of common intention of all, each of such person shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life. 

Qurat-ul-ain Haider is founder & CEO at Amal (facebook: facebook.com/amalpakistan ) (www.amalpakistan) 

She can be reached at @annyzaidi And on facebook: facebook.com/anny.haiderzaidi

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