I hung back after school that day. The serenity of the long, empty corridors crashed upon me like a wave of cool breeze on a sunny afternoon. It invigorated me; I felt free. Free of the metal chains that bound me every morning as I headed to school.
Free of the contemptuous expressions.
Free of the angry glares, and of the scared faces.
Free of the constant buzzing in my head, and of the occasional screaming.
There is nothing wrong with me! I’m a normal, sane, twelve year old girl.
I remember sobbing and screaming through the night of the big storm, years back. The clapping thunder sent shudders down my spine, and I thought my head would burst at its invisible seams. I wish it had.
Mother, scared to her wits, had rushed me to the hospital to get my screaming to a halt. I was heavily sedated but the words of the doctor reached me, and I remember them as if they were spoken yesterday.
Ligyrophobia. Fear of loud noises. Maybe even hyperacusis.
Seeing the horrified expression on mother’s face, he continued, “Just think of it this way- a pen falling sounds like a gunshot to her. There is nothing wrong with your daughter, Ma’am. She just needs you to not think that she’s a freak.”
Mother has called me a freak so many times after that, that I have lost count.
I have mastered the art of shutting out my auditory senses when I need to. It has been difficult, but I have been persistent. Save a few incidents; like today. In geography class. I’d sat agitated as I realized the constant murmuring in class was gradually gaining momentum. I looked at Sister Augustine as she furiously scribbled away, silently begging her to ask the class to settle down. But she didn’t. The voices grew like a rising inferno around me; surrounding me, smothering me; till they grew to a level beyond my endurance.
The next thing I knew, I was sprawled across the floor, my hands clamped against my ears, screaming uncontrollably. I knew Sister Augustine and the students had encircled me; I knew they were whispering. I could sense the scared faces, and I heard sobbing too. I didn’t care. They were indistinct, shapeless forms to me. Blurred and insignificant.
There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m sane; I wanted to shout at them. Hold each one by the shoulders, and shake and rattle them till it became engraved in them.
The empty corridors after school, however, were cathartic. I walked around in a trance, savouring the quiet solitude. And then I heard the whispering.
She’s crazy, you should have seen her on the floor today. I think she does it intentionally, to get everybody’s attention.
Jamie. The closest friend I had.
There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m sane. I thought you knew.
I walked around looking for the school cat. Kitty, come to me. Kitty. The big, black cat followed me all the way to the fourth floor. Meowing.
Yes, I know, you probably think I’m crazy too. But I’m not. Come, kitty. Keep close.
Class 9A. In one fluid motion, I picked up the teacher’s desk and brought it crashing down on the cat’s head. I didn’t give her a chance to react. Stupid cat. I looked at her mangled body, her green eyes still open.
A shocked look.
I grabbed her by her tail and dragged it around with me as I roamed about the dark, empty school corridors.
There's nothing wrong with me.