Never before did I encounter my own identity.
Never before did my reflection look me back in the eye,
with a look so powerful that could penetrate my soul and chill my blood to a pale blue.
Never before did I realise how miserable I could be in my own company.
I had a strange dream the other night, the strangest I can recall in all the years of my life.
I found myself drifting in the most gruesome hallows of neon darkness with thick smog carrying a suffocating stench .
A smog that was dense and silent with virtues of inconsiderate unsympathetic thoughtless synonymical attributes.
It looked, smelt and felt so real that even now I’m compelled to question the fact of its existence .
Was it really a dream?
I didn’t look the same as I thought I appeared to the world.
The all so very secured, prim and proper, educated modern woman I imagined myself to be, seemed a myth of some kind.
That night I met myself over and over again.
Face to face, in a subconscious state.
Walking or I can say lost with no destination, just floating around aimlessly.
And then I saw this six month old unborn foetus, submerged in trash and covered with dust.
Her after birth still attached to her under-developed raw body by an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck that had started to rot.
Her skin was a shade of brutal purple, her eyes never saw her culprits.
She had been left to her fate.
A sudden hopelessness over powered me, when I noticed her features resemble my own.
I watched her carefully as the smog folded in slowly but surely until I could see her no more.
something weighed me down, an energy of some kind that had passed on from her to me,
leaving me feeling uneasy with myself.
Whose womb could this little angel have belonged to, who denied her of her life?
Losing sight of her I turned and moved in the opposite direction as fast as I could.
Not far from there I found a little girl Identical to the picture of my childhood that sat in a posh frame.
She was the split image of me except for the look in her eyes that displayed suffering.
She stood there with blood dripping down from between her thighs.
Her bruised face and body had scratches of cruelty.
Her clothes stinked of animalism.
She was silenced forever but her tears kept trickling in streams of agony.
She looked up at me before disappearing into the arms of darkness.
Her eyes kept that constant gaze while the smog slowly swallowed her in.
Who gave the right to snatch a child’s innocence just to satisfy an urge?
I shuddered with pain and shame.
I heard the sound of someone crying that was coming from a distance.
Restlessly I moved on to find a teenager sobbing under her breath.
The moment she emerged closer, I screamed with fear, and hide my face in the palms of my hands.
Destructive splashes of frustration had disfigured her youth.
Her hair hung in patches from her skull.
Her vision was strained.
Her shrivelled nerves had robbed her off her smile.
I couldn’t take the way she stared at me, for her eyes silently questioned my very being.
Why did they do this to her?
I stepped back as she once again sobbingly merged into the unknowns.
Confused and petrified I felt stuck in a different dimension.
The air around me started to get thicker and I struggled for an escape in desperation
until I saw someone coming towards me.
She looked a lot like me from a distance, I squinted and rubbed my eyes in disbelief.
Just an outline at first and then she grew more distinct.
She seemed married and searching for something.
Plastic surgery had gifted her a new face but that was not hers.
The fumes of petroleum were vaporizing from her flesh and soul.
She appeared to have been sacrificed for her poverty.
Her burning eyes pierced my heart, with a twinge that was unbearable.
Was she only a means of acquiring wealth?
The dense smog sucked her in like the others, leaving the empty feeling of nothingness behind.
I woke up in the wee hours of the night, with a heart that was as frozen as the wind outside.
Wiping the beads of cold sweat off my forehead I noticed the time, it was 2 a.m.
The clock and I were the only two witnesses of my nightmare.
I lay in bed afraid to get back to sleep in case I had a continuation of the same dream.
Mind over matter they say, for a while I did my best by thinking of happy times well spent with my family and friends.
And about how blessed I was to have had a warm and loving childhood.
How safe my surroundings where and now how a promising future awaited me,
I had always wanted to work abroad and now that moment had come.
My appointment letter jetted out of a book on the shelf, eagerly peeping back at me.
My only wish had come true, what more could I have asked for!!!
Counting my blessing made me feet a lot better.
My life had been a fairytale with every piece of my existence perfectly fitting in.
The thoughts went on and on, and then not knowing when my preoccupied mind took over letting in the memories of the horrible night that flooded in with a gush of anxiety.
Visions of their blurred smoggy images started to dance in the chambers of my mind.
In defence I quickly adopted the basin theology, one similar to Pontius Pilate and tried washing my hands off their sufferings I saw.
Justifying and answering my own questions, convincing my troubled emotions that I had nothing to do with them all.
Then who were they? What connected us and why did I see myself in them?
I didn’t even know their names, their aspirations or any of what they were or wanted to be.
How could I? I was always protected under the umbrella of warmth and love throughout my life.
How could I be bothered with or care to even know what people were going through.
Though I didn’t know them, yet they were not strangers.
There was this unexplainable connection that bound us together.
Yes!!!! I had seen them every single day of my life, It was not that I couldn’t hear them, They and their cries showed up and echoed day and night in every newspaper and television new channel.
In a fraction of time I felt my drowned conscience being washed ashore.
and I weeped my heart out for being so insensitive all this while. and I vowed that
Never again would I close my eyes to someone’s plight.
Never again would I take comfort in the fact that it’s not happening with me.
Never again will I refrain from speaking up just because it might not be a pleasant topic to talk about.
My dream showed me a mirror of reality and along with my sleeping that night broke the perception of the modern world.
Today when I hear about Female foeticide, Child abuse, Acid attacks and Dowry victims, I feel the same pain and agony I felt that night.
Perhaps, they were me and I, the woman in them.
© Annadine Charles.