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Anya finds reality leaving her again. She sits down. Blinks, opens her eyes. Smiling, she starts thinking of new memories. Then she starts panicking.
Light pierces through the tiny space under the windows, but it isn’t enough to light up the room. A whiff of old socks moves around in the room’s stale air. The dying plant in the corner craves sunlight like the days in the Arctic.
Suddenly, the alarm rings disrupting the deafening silence of the room. A room that hasn’t heard any noises other than the occasional loud and broken sobs and sighs. Anya wakes up with a jerk but then again, she never was asleep.
‘How can someone be this sad?’ Anya thinks to her herself. ‘Two months have passed since the break up after all. The memes on Facebook show girls ending up happier after a breakup. So then why is it that I’m still in the f*****g dumps?’
“A pit of eternal abyss,” she quips aloud.
Anya sits up on her bed, ties her hair, or whatever is left on her head since, most of it has decided to be everywhere in the house except her head.
She knows she has a problem. A physical problem because every inch of her body has started shutting down but still, she refuses to visit a doctor. And yet she hasn’t missed a day at work. But she is struggling there too.
Anya sits down, wipes off the sweat trickling down her forehead and opens her laptop.
Riddhi looks at her dark circles and darker lips, and asks Anya out of genuine concern, placing his hand on her shoulders, “Have you started smoking?”
Anya shrugs off his hand, and answers without looking at him, “NO.”
She doesn’t like being touched without permission. Never a big talker, she has gone even deeper into her shell since her breakup.
Surfing through the internet, she clicks on an article absent-mindedly.
7 Signs That You might be having Hyperthyroidism.
By the time, she reaches ‘Restlessness,’ Anya finds her sense of reality leaving her and the oxygen in the room depleting.
Fresh air, fresh air…
She walks out in hurry and climbs up the lonely stairs and sits down, clinging onto the floor as if it is moving away from her.
No air to breathe and all she can hear is her own heartbeat.
The world around is becoming fuzzier and fuzzier. She feels a hot rush to her head like someone is pouring lava into her brain.
Her eyes close.
Then they open.
Anya is in a bus. A familiar scene.
She has been here before.
Anya looks down. She is in her school uniform.
She can’t believe it. Is this a dream?
Then she sees him.
Right in front of her.
Standing close to her.
An eerie feeling in her gut came back to her, overpowering her senses.
A middle-aged man, a face with bumps and hollow spots and a smirk that sends shivers down the spine.
If eyes are the window to our soul, his eyes were a testament to his wretched soul.
She knows this day and the scar it left.
Then she sees his hands come up slowly. She is reliving her nightmare.
His hands moved in slow motion with a devilish smirk on his face. And his hand almost reached Anya’s under-developed left breast.
She knew what was going to happen. But she isn’t a 14-year old anymore, at least not in her head.
She grabs his hand by the wrist before his hand can touch her and then she shouts with all her might. The smirk disappears in a blip and panic starts appearing on his face. He knows in that moment, his nightmare has just begun.
The collective public conscience of the bus does the rest to teach that man a lesson that would leave a lasting impact on his life and not hers.
Anya blinks. She is on the stairs again.
Wait, what just happened? What in the world?
Was it a dream?
But she knows it wasn’t, because things changed. Her memories changed.
Dazed and confused. “I am taking the rest of the day off,” proclaims Anya and leaves.
‘The road is shorter,’ thinks Anya. But she doesn’t know what to believe.
Anya gets into the lift and presses the button to her floor. Some kids have gathered near her neighbour’s house. She sees Omi crying with the kids surrounding him.
She asks, “What happened?”
Omi wipes his tears, looks up with his tear-stained eyes, “Doodle died. He choked on fish bones.”
Doodle was Omi’s pet kitten. Anya feels his pain.
“I know how you feel. I lost my kitten, too. She choked on my dog’s leftover bones,” she says.
She gives him a hug and leaves.
The reality is getting too much.
Anya opens her laptop and logs in to Facebook.
News feeds full of holiday, weddings and new baby photos of ‘friends’ she hardly knows. She controls her bitterness induced gag reflex as she scrolls through her feed.
Another ‘happy’ feed appears…
Karan is engaged to Ruth.
The heart skips a beat so loudly that Anya hears it in her ears.
“5 years with me and he chooses to marry Ruth after two months. What the fuck!”
The house echoes the same.
She finds her reality leaving her again.
And she sits down firmly.
Anya opens her eyes.
Dora is playing with a shoelace as she meows for attention.
Noooooooo! 30-year-old Anya shouted out of her 16-year-old body.
She runs to Dora, lifts and cuddles her tiny body. Then she puts her down, takes Sia’s the bowl of bones and puts it in the kitchen.
She blinks with sigh and she is 30 again.
Smiling, she starts thinking of the new memories with Dora.
And then she starts panicking.
“I don’t know what is happening to me. One moment, I am restless, can’t sleep and then I lose my breath. I am reliving my past and my memories are changing. What is happening! I don’t know what the hell is happening, doctor. Help me!,” pleads Anya
“Anxiety. You are describing a panic attack. Sometimes, anxiety leads to panic attacks. Since when do you think you are having elevated heartbeat, sleeplessness and other symptoms?” Dr. Rupert enquires.
“Almost two months.”
“What happened?” asks Dr. Rupert
“Broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years. We were great together. But I had…have some issues. He used to tell me to work on them. Helpful, supportive; he was a great guy…”
Dr. Rupert asks, “What issues?”
“I don’t know. We didn’t have any big problems. But he would always encourage me to be fit, in shape. I used to get angry when he insisted, then we would fight about my anger management problem.
“But he always said that size never mattered to him. I didn’t believe him. Anyway, I am digressing. How do I get transported to my past after my panic episodes?” Anya questions.
“That’s called gaslighting. Do you black out and the wake up somewhere else during these times?”
“So, no time difference then?”
“Okay. So, then maybe, your panic attacks are triggering incidents from your past in ways that seem real to you in real time. But in reality, you are possibly reliving those memories with outcomes you always wanted.
“After all, we all carry our past within us. But if you insist that you are being transported, then maybe we should look into that. Would you consider staying in the hospital for consultation, just for a few days?”
“Ahh.. No no Doctor, I am fine. Besides, you are right. There is no time difference. Panic Attack it is. I guess I just need some sleep.”
“Let me give you something for that. I’ll see you next week.”
“We all carry our past within us…”
Dr. Rupert’s words refuse to leave Anya’s head.
“We all carry the past within us…”
‘How is anything..that is happening is happening?’ Anya thinks as she stares at the long line of ants carrying grains of sugar.
Anya takes out her notebook and starts writing down all the big moments of her life.
What? How? She stares at them.
Then, 30 minutes go by.
Frustrated, she scratches them all out with a line.
She stares at the page. And then finally it strikes her.
A line connecting her memories.
My memories are connected through my consciousness and I carry them and the time gone by in my head. So, maybe… just maybe… my panic attack opened a portal to transport my consciousness through time.
My body doesn’t get transported, but merely my consciousness.
“Shut the fuck up”, Anya shouts “I am going f*****g crazy.”
She takes a sleeping pill and falls asleep.
The alarm rings. Anya wakes up uneasy.
“Thank god, it’s a Saturday.”
Anya promises to keep herself distracted but fails. She continues to look at the trail of memories and is struck with an unusual thought.
‘What if, I go to the day of the breakup and do everything differently?
Yesss! Then I won’t have to be miserable.
‘But how do I get there?’
Anya focuses on the day of her breakup but can’t conjure a panic attack.
The weekend passes.
A week passes.
7 days go scrolling through Facebook.
Exhausted, Anya goes out for a walk. She takes a long walk around the lake and stopds by to buy some dim sums.
A familiar face appears in the crowd and her heart stops. It is Karan; smiling, chatting and holding hands… with Ruth.
Run, run! Anya’s instincts kick in.
Anya reaches the lake again. Panting, exhausted, she drops to the ground. The reality leaves her again.
Anya blinks and there he is, Karan, furious as ever.
‘Finally,’ thinks Anya.
This is my moment to change by months of agony into happiness. I should be the one holding your hands, not Ruth..
Furious Karan says, “You are ungrateful. I made you better in these last 5 years, I want you to be better. And I know that you can.
“You have so much potential. These dresses are a size smaller so that you can work harder to fit into them. They are for motivation. But you are right I am the bad guy for wanting what’s best for you. Now I feel like shit. Thank you for making me feel like shit.”
Anya pays attention to everything for the first time. The words reveal a lot.
“Ahh…. Gaslighting”, says Anya. “You know what I finally get it. Nope. You can’t make me better. Never, you never did. It’s not your job, it’s mine. And I am happy with myself or at least I know I can be.”
“I thought I wanted a different future. All the pain in the world but… Guess what? I think this time; I am done with you. And I am breaking up with you.”
The lake is there, all serene. Anya feels unburdened for the first time in months, even years.
Anya starts walking. A familiar face emerges from the crowd again. It is Karan smiling, chatting and holding hands, with Ruth.
Karan and Anya, their eyes meet and share a moment of silence.
Anya smiled and nods in approval.
Karan smiles too, like lost friends whose paths cross briefly only divert again.
Both go their ways.
And Anya, she knows she has a power and this time chooses to hold on to it.
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