Dec 21, 2011

The Cage

By Zoha Jabbar

They throw you in, ignoring your pleas of innocence. All they have is a shadow of a doubt, but it's enough. You land face-down on the gravel floor, pain jolting through your entire body. You gag at the pungent stench of urine that hovers over you, envelopes you like a shroud. The lights go off, plunging the tiny cell into darkness, interrupted by the pale light of a single, naked bulb that hangs overhead. You go over to it, like a moth, desperately in search of even the tiniest flicker of hope. You pace around the miniscule cell, a caged animal, trapped.

You long to rest your head on a pillow, but all you have is a hard bench, and you lie on it, looking up at the pitted, pockmarked ceiling. You close your eyes and try to pretend you're under the open sky, but not even the strongest, most vividly imaginative mind can escape the putrid stench that permeates every cell of your body.

You need to empty your bladder, but refuse to use that revolting urinal in the corner of the cage. Eventually, sleep, your temporary saviour, takes you in its embrace. A wetness rouses you. It's still dark, so you haven't slept too long. The smell is more intense now, you've wet yourself. You jump off the bench and huddle in a corner of the cell, iron bars, cold and hard, pressing into your back.

You're shaking, and sweating. You lean back and rest your head against a wall, but a smear of brown catches your eye. Hoping it isn't what you fear, but knowing that it probably is, you curl up into a foetal position on the floor. You breathe through your mouth, tasting the salt of tears. 

They find you like that the nest morning. A guard unlocks the door and struts in, jangling the keys, and evil glint in his eye. He says something you don't understand. And when you don't respond, he kicks you in the ribs, hard. You shrivel under his malicious gaze and he strikes again. You hear something crack.
"Answer me, you bastard!" He yells derisively.
All you can manage is a low moan, you try to move but the pain is unbearable. He kicks you again, this time in the stomach, and leaves, slamming the cell shut. His laughter, your rushing blood and pounding heart form a steady beat that ricochets off the walls of your mind. You slowly sink into darkness. 

You spend your days sitting by the door, fingering the metal bars, watching your fingers flex and unflex as you stroke the cold lines that separate you from humanity. You no longer wish for the things you yearned for all your life. You only want a pillow, and the open sky. You long for fresh air.

The light-bulb flickers and dies, throwing you into darkness that presses down on you like soil on a coffin. You weep silently at first, and then the deep, heaving sobs ripple through your body. You cry with luxuriant abandon. You surrender yourself completely to your tears.

You hit your head on the wall, and scrunch your eyes against the pain. You must continue on. You rear back and hit your head again. And again. You repeat this like a ritual. It is religious in nature, of course it is. You will keep at it until you see heaven and hell and the gods and stars. You feel pain flowing through you, but you know it will not last. Soon, the comfortable numbness will take you away. This is the only form of escape left, you must keep at it. You will keep at it. It's the only option. You hit your head on the wall, laughing at how simple it is to escape. You laugh and laugh, and hit your head on the wall again. So simple, it's a wonder you didn't think of it before.


Sania Bilwani said...

Wow. Zoha, I wish I could write like you. I really do. This is brilliant.
"...watching your fingers flex and unflex as you stroke the cold lines that separate you from humanity."

Neshmia said...

A brilliant piece of writing. You have the talent of gripping the reader's attention and not letting it go until the final word has been uttered. It's a skill that not everybody possesses, so you should be proud that you do. :)

Farwa Haider said...

Dear God, Zoha! You never cease to amaze us all =) I think this is your best so far. I love how you've focused on the senses and feelings. It's all so real! My favourite part is the last paragraph especially the ending:"You laugh and laugh, and hit your head on the wall again. So simple, it's a wonder you didn't think of it before." The ending seems very easy to relate to. Awesome job!

Zoha said...

Those are the nicest things anyone has ever said to me <3 Thank you so much! I love you guys ^^

Afnan Imran said...

Wow! This is a really gripping piece. it had my full attention until the very end!

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