It starts with a bead of sweat on my forehead. Then a tinge of pain in my chest. Gradually, it affects my breathing. Soon, I am gasping and fighting hard to keep my heart bursting through the rib cage. My stomach contracts and shoves up it’s contents, if any, up my throat.
At this point, my head is covered in sweat and my vision is replaced by white light. A sense of panic takes over, my muscles spasm and I start to shiver. On some days, my otherwise calm and compose bladder becomes overactive and leaks. My body is not in my control anymore. It refuses to listen to me. I feel like I am falling. I am not actually falling, just what I imagine it would feel like to fall from a 60 storied building. The adrenaline rush, the sense of uncertainty and an overarching fear of impending pain. You get it..don’t you?
What is happening to me? You, being a first time observer wonder. He must be in the midst of a terrible nightmare. Should I wake him up or wait for him to wake up on his own. You can see my wet pillow, my shivering body gasping for breath and probably the wet bed, if you happen to catch me on a bad day. What would you do? For all you know, I might be fighting with death at that very moment.
You choose to wait and allow me to suffer. Why would you do that? I don’t know, probably you want to see how it ends or may be you find it funny and decide to continue being entertained. Ask yourself, why?
Luckily, for me (and probably unluckily for you), I wake up, SCREAMING (imagine the loudest scream you’ve ever heard)…AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA……I take a minute or two to realize that it was a dream, a bad one at that, but for some reason the panic continues. I am still gasping for my breath, my muscles still spasm, my heart is pounding like a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 CC and I am still screaming…AAAAAAAAAA…AAAAAA.
Meanwhile you, the silent observer, are trying to calm me down. I hear your voice but your words are lost on me. You pat my back, hand me a glass of water, shake me violently and do everything else you could to bring me back. But your efforts go in vain. Frustrated, you decide to get physical. You hold me in your arms, look me in the eyes and bring your hand closer to my face.
Finally, I stop. I Look around and give you a tight hug. I hold you like a drowning man holds a wooden piece. You try to sooth me. It works.
You apologize for slapping me. That explains why my cheeks sting.
I am gaining my senses, slowly. I look at my bed and I feel ashamed. Ashamed that you had to see that. Ashamed, for it was a bad day. Ashamed, because I can’t control it. Overwhelmed, tears well up in my eyes. Unable to face you, I bury my face in my hands.
Things calm down a bit but there’s something, something that’s bothering you. You ignore it and we talk. But that something doesn’t go away, it snowballs. Then you place a finger on it. With great courage and overcoming the fear that you might send me back into that panic state, you ask…
“What was that about ?”
I look you in the eyes. Surprised by your question. For a moment I think how could you even ask that question. I look away and walk to the window to get some fresh air. I stand there wondering, how can I explain the horror, lurking behind those four words. There are no words..no words to express what I had been through..no words to explain What was that about.
I know I have to give you an answer, for you have done the mistake of asking the question. I know it would be cruel to keep the truth from you but I also know that telling you the truth would be crueler. Aren’t there things you wish you would have never known after knowing them? That kind of truth I am talking about.
I try to dodge your question by silence, hoping that you would understand. But your inquisitiveness gets the better of you. You walk up to me, place your hand on my left shoulder and say…“You can trust me.”
Oh! I know I can trust you but I can’t trust the truth, it may ruin you. If only you would understand that. I know someday I’ll have to answer that, but why now?
“Fine. If that’s what you want.”
I shift my focus to the moon, my quantum of solace in such times, and with a heavy heart and a long sigh…Huuuhhhmmmm…I begin…
“Around two years back, I was out celebrating with my friends. It was my birthday. We had gone out to dine at a nice place in suburbs. Of course, we had drinks. Probably, too much. After a point, I don’t even remember what all we drank. I was dead tired when I came home so I went straight to my room and slept.
Next morning, I didn’t woke up. I was alive but I didn’t woke up completely. I could hear, I could feel but I couldn’t move, speak or see. Initially, I thought it was all a dream but then my alarm rang. I wanted to snooze it but to my frightening surprise I couldn’t move my arms. I knew I was awake for I could hear the sound of the alarm but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t move.
As the realization sank in, I got frightened. I got afraid. I wanted to scream. I wanted to scream so bad. But nothing came out. Tears flowed down from my eyes, but without emotions they were just salty water.
It was probably the first time in my life, I felt so scared and alone.
Later, my parents came in to check on me but their efforts were in vain. For a moment they must have thought, I was dead. But I was breathing so they were confused and shocked. Oh! I could hear it all…I wanted to tell them what was happening. But I couldn’t. In that moment, I was helpless. As helpless as a person can get.
After the medical checkup, doctors said I might have consumed something that had elongated my Sleep Paralysis. Fortunately, they said it’s curable but it would take time. I took me six months to recover.
There are no words in which I could explain the horror of those six months, all I can say is that it was the living hell. Even that’s too mild. Ever since, I am scared to sleep. What if I don’t wake up?
On most days, I calm myself with a drink or two or a sleeping pill but some days I sleep without them. I sleep knowing that that would occur but I do it anyhow. I do it to keep the hope alive. The hope that one day I would sleep normally.
They say time machine don’t exist. You can’t go back in time. I say they do. On days, such as this, I travel back to that day and live through the horror all over again. All in the hope to find my way back again.”
There, my dear Silent Observer, is the truth you wanted to know, so desperately. Now that you know, tell me. What would you do next?