“What is it?” I asked my sister, S, who was sitting besides me, staring out of a window into the dark. It was a hot summer night, and would we usually leave our bedroom window open and curtains drawn to let the fresh, cool air in. That night, my two sisters and I slept in one bed after staying up well until midnight sharing childhood stories. The bed was placed against the wall, just below the window, where I had been lying. S was in the middle, and N was fast asleep at the other end of bed, away from the wall. I woke up from my sleep and found S sitting besides me.
“Nothing, Appi.” She answered casually, and lay down besides me. “Nothing? Why were you staring out of the window in the middle of the night? Is something bothering you?” Being the oldest, I had to know everything. That’s when she finally told me, “I saw a girl; she’s crying.”
Those words were enough to give me the goosebumps. I had been terribly afraid of the unseen ever since the incident happened when I was still too young to commit to memory all the details. I went into the kitchen to get a glass of water, and when I didn’t return to the balcony right away, where the family had been gathered for some coffee, my Mother got worried. She found me unconscious on the kitchen floor. My Mother later told me that I was very frightened when I regained consciousness, and told them about a dark shadow blocking my way. I do not remember the details, and perhaps I’m glad that I don’t.
But S is different. She doesn’t get scared. I assume it’s because she sees them so frequently that it has become so natural to her. But how can someone get used to these sights?
During summers in Karachi, we would go to the roof at night whenever there’s power failure. The breeze is cool and the skies are clear so we enjoyed gazing at the stars until we fell asleep. Sometime during the night, my Mother would wake us up and tell us to return to our rooms downstairs. The roofs of the houses in the neighborhood have low boundaries or walls, and people say that thieves usually pass through these roofs to make their way into the next house. So it wasn’t considered safe to sleep there. But one evening, S came down telling Mother, in a very calm tone, that she saw an old man with a long, white beard telling her to return to her room, and that’s why she came down.
I tell her not to discuss these visions of hers with me. I am not comfortable, and never will be. I think I have seen shadows and the sort, but nothing too detailed for me to make out what exactly they were. I would usually end up reciting the Ayatul Qursi, and feel so much safe afterwards.
Since marriage, however, my fears have subsided dramatically, Alhumdulillah. I know that I must not let these fears consume me. For if there’s someone that should be feared, it’s the Almighty.
“…and fear Allah, for He knows well the secrets of your hearts.” [Quran 5:7]
How about you? Have you seen them?