Ismail's Demon

Ismail woke up with a start. He was sweating all over. On other days his lucid dreaming somehow helped. Provided an escape.

But the things he saw just now leaves him unsettled. Vivid isn´t the right word.

Nightmarish? He is surprised he can still smile after going through all that just now. No, nightmares are something else altogether.

This was something scary. Something out of control. Not at all lucid dreaming-like.

His subconscious mind was affected. He knew that from even years back. Damaged. Beyond repair? Maybe. But he was trying to salvage what he could now, hoping against hope that his brain will still be able to function as a workable model to help him survive the remaining part of his life.

He thinks back to what he had dreamed.

Now that he was calming down, slowly, it didn´t seem so scary. It seemed more that there was desperation in the dream he just saw. He wondered why.

It always took him a while before his logic made sense, even if reality was staring right at his face.

Years of mental abuse had done it, and his going into substances made it only worse, but he had realised that too only later, as his twisted logic at that time seemed to be saying that getting a fix will somehow solve all his problems and ease him into reality.

Going to a psychiatrist helped him to become aware of his problem. The discovery and finally the recognition of what had been affecting him all these years came as a shock.

His whole life was a lie. A delusion. Divorced from reality.

Over the years, he, realised, he had built a wall in his mind against all the bitter onslaught of criticism. The dreams which were hindered from being realised. The things that had been made unattainable, deliberately or not, by his family and society.

After the initial shock, he was surprised that he still was able to function as a human being. Though his mind was devoid of the feelings and emotions that should be evoked when faced with certain situations, he was surprised that at a basic level, his mind still applied logic - though in a cool and a detached sort of way - and that he was able to deal with people and even manipulate them.

And because his weakest point was loneliness, which was psychologically just unbearable to him, he was aware and willing when people manipulated him in turn. As long as they gave him the company and the attention that he needed, in the doses he required over any given day, he was perfectly satisfied.

After the initial shock died down, and he became more cognizant of the nature of his problem, what he then experienced was something akin to a spiritual experience, something unique, something that he was only aware of, only blessed with, an experience that other human beings were not aware even existed.

The unusual experience in question was he could "see" the changes in his moods. Like colors slowly worming away and mixing in water. The fluid transition of one mood swinging into another.

It was almost surreal. He could calculate the transition of his moods as they slowly gave way from the melancholic to the ecstatic, from hatred to humanity.

But he still found it hard to control his mental states. At a particular time when he is in a particular mood due to a particular situation, he would know why he was feeling the way he felt and he knew that it was just a stage and that it will pass, but he was surprised that if could recognise it, why the mood still persisted - why for instance he couldn´t just switch his mood from sad to happy if he recognised what he was depressed about.

He guessed that that was why he needed the cognitive behavior therapy. But the shrink was quite vague in his claims that it was bipolar disorder.

And Ismail knew that he had to work hard on his cognitive behavior before he could firmly place his mind in reality at will. Tragic, isn´t it, when his brain cannot grasp and need to be constantly reassured of everything around him even though he can see things clearly with his naked eye. Perhaps his psychological problems had affected his brain circuits and the neurons were finding it difficult to establish a connection with the corresponding emotions and feelings that each vision brought him.

His friend Ibrahim had another theory. "We are all built with natural instincts and biological needs. Look at relationships. You know it´s messy and you don´t have any guarantee that it will last, but you still need it, because a part of our being needs it, gets comfort from it, despite all the excess baggage, and that´s why, despite all the bitterness, we all opt to stay in it. Of course, some of us are asexual and we fall in love with things other than people like Nature, cars, motorcycles, and other gadgets. But that´s only a few."

May be, just may be that was his real disease. And his demon was only the visible demonstration of it.

By: Hilath Rasheed